Hello and welcome to this latest edition in my WWE vs. TNA series, where I am committed each week to reviewing and analysing the main content of both promotions and picking a winner.
The Christmas period and my personal festivities saw me fall behind in regularity for this series, and so there's a little catch-up to be played. To remedy this there will be something of a doubleheader, with one article today and one tomorrow. Following that, I will be back to the familiar single article every weekend.
Today then we'll be looking back at the Raw, Impact and SmackDown of the Christmas week. If it seems a little distant then, to remind you, it's the week when Alberto Del Rio ran Santa over. Let's take a closer look.
Raw opened with the kayfabe-obliterating video of the locker room singing a cheery Christmas song to us fans. They needn't have bothered on my account.
I was filled with immediate dread at the announcement of it being a Christmas show and even Santa Claus guest-hosting. It's no doubt great fun if you're there, but the same kind of thing is all over every TV show at this time of year, and the last place I want to see it is a wrestling show.
Salvation came quickly in the shape of Alberto Del Rio's BMW running Santa down, and then a Christmas tree falling on his head for added slapstick effect. It's a shame it was a week too late for the Slammies, as I can't think of a better moment of 2012.
Cody Rhodes was hoisted by his own petard as he lost against Kane when his turnbuckle-exposure backfired—making him not look weak, just a little incompetent.
As amusing as Santa's car accident was, it was heavily overplayed throughout the whole show. Not a minute passed without Michael Cole mentioning we'd be getting updates throughout the night. It's a pretty big push for Santa, in fact.
Sheamus defeated The Big Show in a great Lumberjack Frost match. It helped that there was enough doubt about the result and that there was no interference, just a good close match with a clean ending.
Zack Ryder won a supremely boring match against David Otunga but received a pretty big pop regardless because, for reasons I can't fathom, he's popular.
The Great Khali defeated Brad Maddox, and he then danced with Hornswoggle. Booker T and Teddy Long specifically promised that this would be great television, making it all the worse. It was so intolerable post-match that I was convinced it was a set-up for the latest Shield attack. I was sadly wrong.
CM Punk gave a typically entertaining promo as it was announced that Ryback would be facing him in a TLC match for the WWE Championship on Raw. There's not a doubt in my mind that Punk will retain, but with Sheamus defeating The Big Show cleanly earlier, it would be nice to see more upper card results on TV.
Daniel Bryan defeated Damien Sandow, keeping the latter pushed back down the card a bit. It also makes it look even more impossible that The Rhodes Scholars will defeat Team Hell No.
The closing match of John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight was rubbish. It was, of course, played for laughs, and Cena continued to shout "Santaaaa!" as he had done in every appearance throughout the show—I get it's meant to be like 300, but he just seemed like a South Park character. Utterly awful television.
A Raw Christmas show should theoretically be kryptonite to me, but though the final match lived up to that, the rest was surprisingly good. The Big Show vs. Sheamus was very good, and though its eventual conclusion was horrific, the moment when Del Rio hit Santa with his car was brilliant. A pass then, overall. It was about what you'd expect from the WWE at Christmas.
This week it was Open Fight Night, in which anyone can call out anyone else. Opening was Bully Ray calling out Hulk Hogan, except not to fight but to talk, as though it was Open Talk Night. Brooke Hogan came out instead, and very little happened.
Rather than being Open Fight Night or even Open Talk Night, Robbie E declared it was, in fact, Open Bro Night. This led to him, Jesse and Robbie T posing, dancing and being silly and ultimately seemed to result in splitting up the Robbies.
X-Division Champion Rob Van Dam defeated Christian York, which I think ends a fairly exciting push considering how close York came to toppling Jeff Hardy some weeks back.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian continued to prove their ongoing worth with some hilarious mockery of AJ Styles. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez then challenged them to a match, which, as you'd expect from their previous encounters, was great. As you'd also expect, the champions won.
Gail Kim defeated Miss Tessmacher, giving us clarity regarding the current hierarchy of the Knockouts division.
I've mentioned time and again how insufferably awful the promos in which we hear Jeff Hardy's thoughts are. Never before, though, have we had one during a match, which was an unwelcome distraction from Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode.
The two competitors both getting annoyed with the referee and collaborating to take him out is something I don't recall seeing before, so that was fun. Clearly we're on course for a TNA Championship Triple Threat at the next pay-per-view.
Impact was OK. That's all I can really find to say. The high point, as ever, involved Christopher Daniels and Kazarian. The rest balanced out as average.
SmackDown's opening recap promo and Sheamus' subsequent in-ring promo suggested that, rather than a parting shot keeping Sheamus from looking too weak, instead the Great White's win on Raw would mean his rivalry with The Big Show over the World Heavyweight Championship would continue. This is disappointing; I've loved their matches, but I've not enjoyed the buildup each time nearly as much.
What followed was quite interesting and fun as someone was randomly selected to face The Big Show that night for his title—and the winner was Santino Marella.
Following some very ordinary matches and a promo in which Santino injured himself like a comedy idiot without the comedy, Ricardo Rodriquez was selected as Show's opponent instead. Show then knocked him out for a laugh, which is illogical to his cause as surely he'd want to make sure his opponent isn't a real danger, and instead his opponent would once again be in doubt with two of the easiest taken out of the pool.
Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz after Miz got distracted by the presence of Big E Langston (though I'd be distracted just by his name being around). I'm sure Ziggler and Miz could put on a fantastic match, but this one just didn't seem to spark for me. I hope they face off again sometime soon.
Brad Maddox was squashed again, this time by Sheamus. I don't see how it's interesting or where it could be going, but I'm entertained by the man himself if not his matches.
Another squash followed as The Usos defeated The Prime Time Players within three minutes via roll-up pin. I like The Usos, but not so much that I wanted that to happen. Why not give them a hard-fought win with a decent amount of time?
Alberto Del Rio was finally selected as Big Show's opponent for the championship match, which ended via countout. The show ended with the unexpected combination of Sheamus and Del Rio teaming to kick Big Show in the head.
The thread running through SmackDown, the question of who would be fighting the championship match, was a good idea and kept proceedings interesting throughout, even if clearly the belt wouldn't change hands. As a whole, SmackDown was quite enjoyable.
Show of the Week: WWE SmackDown
A rare and easy win for SmackDown this week, whose theme throughout of The Big Show's championship defence was unusual and entertaining. An average week of wrestling on the whole, but then you wouldn't expect anything big at Christmas.
Match of the Week: The Big Show vs. Sheamus
A clean finish between two main event contenders on TV is rare (and rarer for the WWE), as well as a clean finish in a Lumberjack match. Better still, the action was very good. Nothing else really came close, though Impact's tag match is the runner-up.
Thanks for reading and all comments are welcome. Keep an eye out for tomorrow's article covering last week's WWE and TNA shows.