KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 12/19: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon fallout from Clash of Champions, Shinsuke & Orton & Styles vs. Sami & KO & Jinder

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)


DECEMBER 19, 2017

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves 

Send your thoughts and questions about tonight’s episode of Smackdown to wadekellerpodcast@pwtorch.comwhich will be addressed on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast on Podcast One, dropping around 2 a.m. ET a few hours after Smackdown ends. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or on the Podcast One app or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Just search “Wade Keller.” 


-They opened with a montage of images from the Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon controversy at Clash of Champions two nights earlier.

-Philips introduced the show as the camera showed the crowd. Then Bryan made his ring entrance to a chorus of “Yes!” chants. They went to the announcers at ringside. Bryon expressed disappointment that Bryan and Shane couldn’t keep their personal feelings out of doing their jobs as referees. Graves said Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are relieved.

Bryan said he first wanted to address the announcement on Raw last night that the Royal Rumble will feature the first women’s Royal Rumble. “It’s gonna be huge, it’s gonna be awesome, and it will be a turning point in WWE history.” (That seems a little much.) He said they also have a great show for the fans tonight. He announced Sami & KO & Jinder Mahal vs. A.J. Styles & Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura. Shane McMahon’s music then played and he came out, patting his heart. The pop for him is gone.

Byron wondered if Bryan and Shane had even talked since the Clash. When his music stopped, he took note of the cold reception and even scattered boos. Shane asked the crowd how they were doing. A little response. “What’s up, Newark?” A little bigger pop. He said the Rumble will be awesome, but first things first. He said after a perfect RKO on Sami at the Clash, he was ready to count to three and send Sami and KO away forever. Boos from the crowd. Shane said Bryan tripped and stopped his count. Shane said it was an accident, but he didn’t know it then. He said when he went to count three a moment later when Sami had Orton rolled up, he began to count to three, but then remembered what KO did to his dad and what Sami took away from him when he saved KO from his fate when he jumped off the Hell in a Cell. He said he also thought about KO and Sami screwing Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. He said his emotions got the best of him and he didn’t make the three count, but stopped at two.

Shane said then Bryan got in his face, and he said he backed up and began to walk away. Then Sami rolled up Orton and then he dove into position and counted a very quick 1-2-3. Bryan nodded. The fans cheered. He asked Bryan to explain what was going through his head. Bryan said he did what he did to protect Shane from himself. “Thank you, Daniel!” chanted the crowd. Shane looked around, perhaps feeling a little betrayed. Shane said with all due respect, he doesn’t need protection from him. Boos from the crowd. Bryan said, “With all due respect, yes you do.” He said Shane eats, sleeps, breaths Smackdown, but his passion can turn him into a hot-head. He said he did what he did to protect Shane, but also their idea. He said he took the job as G.M. because he believed in a shared vision of “The Land of Opportunity.” He said it is a land of opportunity for everyone, not just people he likes. He said he might not like KO and Sami, but he was trying to take away their opportunity.

Shane said he understands how Bryan has empathy for Sami and KO, but he warned him to be careful because when those two are done playing his empathetic heart strings, they’ll stab him in the back. He said from a business standpoint, it’s imperative he doesn’t show them favoritism because it will come around and bite him in the rear. Bryan mocked Shane’s patronizing tone. “From a business standpoint, everybody,” he said. “Are you saying I should have done what was best for business?” He said he has fought against those words. He said if they have a different vision, that’s Shane prerogative, but if he wants to fire somebody, “fire me.” The crowd chanted “No! No! No!” Bryan said, “I don’t want to see Shane-o-Mac turn into Mr. McMahon.” Shane let out a big exhale and soaked up that dig at his father. The crowd chanted, “Who’s your daddy?” at Shane. After a pause, Shane turned to Bryan and said, “I respect you implicitly, I trust you, good luck with the show tonight.” He nodded and handed him the mic and walked away in an understated way, perhaps selling the idea that he was trying to be bigger than the suggestion Bryan was making or just emotionally soaking up the possibility that he is at risk of being like the bad parts of his father.

Graves said it was a tense moment, but it seemed as if Shane took Bryan’s words to heart. Phillips said Bryan has to tread carefully. Then they plugged the six-man tag team match. [c]

(Keller’s Analysis: I wonder if WWE writers had any idea how much this storyline would lead to fans siding strongly with KO and Sami and essentially turning against Shane. I’m curious how they compute the crowd reaction and if causes them to reassess how they book and who they book in certain roles. I did like Shane warning Bryan that KO and Sami could turn on him as soon as he’s not useful to them anymore.)

NOTE: Check out our new weekly “PWT talks NXT” podcast, part of the PWTorch Livecast line-up. The show drops every Wednesday night. Catch the premiere episode from last week right now HERE and then check out this week’s show on Wednesday night as PWTorch Specialist NXT Kelly Wells makes his debut as the host of the roundtable format along with Justin James (NXT TV reporters for PWTorch for years) and Tom Stoup (our on-site Full Sail University NXT TV taping correspondent). Also, search “pwtorch” to subscribe to the free PWTorch Livecast line-up with six new shows per week, each covering a different niche in pro wrestling along with our “Best of” edition every Friday. Tonight’s Livecast features “MMA talk for Pro Wrestling Fans.” Last night’s show features a live call-in format reacting to WWE Clash of Champions hosted by Pat McNeill & Greg Parks. That show is available to stream or download HERE.


During the Gable & Benjamin ring entrance, they showed freeze-frames of the Usos winning the Fatal Four-way tag match to retain their WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Byron said Shelton has instilled a win-now attitude in Gable where their goal is to win gold quickly. Saxton said he’s known the Usos ever since they entered the WWE developmental system ten years ago and he never imagined they’d be this good at this stage of their careers. Gable rolled to the floor after a flurry by the Usos and they cut to a break just past 1:00. [c]

They stayed with the action on split screen. Shelton tagged in and had control after the break ended. With Uso and Shelton down, both were slow to get up and then both made hot-tags. Gable avoided a Samoan Drop, but seconds later Uso landed it on a second try. He landed a hip attack in the corner. Shelton entered the ring, then exited. When Uso dove at him, he kneed him. Gable rolled up Uso for a near fall with a yank of the tights. The other Uso superkicked him and ran to the top rope. Shelton met him up there, but got knocked down. Uso then went for a frog splash, but Gable lifted his knees and cradled Uso for a near fall, which was broken up by the other Uso. Gable gave him a nasty German suplex. Shelton gave a knee to the legal Uso as the ref checked on the other Uso. Gable gave the legal Uso a German suplex. Then they finished him with a double-team move with Gable leaping off the top rope.

WINNERS: Gable & Benjamin in 8:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: At eight minutes with a commercial break interruption, it didn’t feel like a full-fledged match, but a significant win in the tag division that moves Gable & Shelton up a notch to the top tier for sure.) [c]

-As Charlotte made her ring entrance, they threw to a video package on Stephanie McMahon’s big Royal Rumble announcement. They showed various tweets from WWE women. Then Charlotte stood mid-ring with her peacock robe. She let out a “woo.” She said, “That package was pretty amazing; I’m standing out here with goosebumps.” She said she retained her Women’s Title at the Clash against Natalya. She said nothing makes her happier than having the honor of carrying this title. She then said the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble made the night even more special. She said the fans “took to social” and made a difference and management listened. She said whomever wins that match, she will be waiting to defend her championship at WrestleMania.

Out came Naomi. She said she is declaring herself the first entrant and she will see Charlotte at WrestleMania. Charlotte smiled and said, “WrestleMania it is.” Then out walked the Riott Squad. Naomi said, “If it isn’t the Three Stooges that won’t be entering the Royal Rumble match.” She said the Rumble isn’t about sneak attacks, it’s about every woman for herself and surviving the numbers game. Naomi said: “Charlotte and I have survived everything you chickenheads have thrown at us.” The crowd chanted “chickenhead” (which is slang for a woman who gives oral pleasure to everyone, or can more innocently mean “dumb female,” which either way is a wonderful followup to Stephanie’s oh-so-inspirational speech last night). Charlotte and Naomi laughed at the chant. Naomi said they’re ready to teach them how to rumble if they’re willing to step into the ring with them. [c]


Logan took it to Charlotte early on including clipping her knee from behind. She tagged in Ruby who continued the attack on Charlotte’s leg. Naomi eventually got tagged in and went after Logan aggressively with punches and a scorpion kick followed by a springboard enzuigiri. Riott broke up the subsequent pin. Charlotte knocked Ruby out of the ring. Logan headbutted Naomi to take over. Graves called it a “backwoods styles of fighting.” Naomi avoided a charging Logan, who ran into Morgan on the ring apron, and then Naomi landed a Rear View for the win.

WINNERS: Naomi & Charlotte in 4:00.

-Backstage New Day were heading to a Christmas-themed furry convention or something. They were pushing pancakes in people’s mouths. Then Kofi showed off their new holiday shirts. In walked Rusev and Aiden English, who were also dressed up. Rusev was dressed as Santa. He held up a new “Happy Rusev Day” shirt. He said he only has one list, a naughty list, and everybody is on it. It just gets more kinky. English then began singing. Rusev shoved a pancake in his mouth, then threw it to the ground and stomped on it. “You done flapped the wrong jack, sucker! You want a fight, you got it!” Big E said, yelling at maximum volume.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was as weird as anything you’ll see on WWE TV.)

-Graves plugged that Dolph Ziggler would celebrate his U.S. Title win next. [c]

-Ziggler walked out. His music and entrance video played at first, but then came to that screeching halt and the stage went dark. He walked out, dressed up nicely, and carried the U.S. Title belt over his shoulder on his way to the ring. Graves said Ziggler silenced his doubters in Boston. Some fans began a “You deserve it!” chant. “I told you so. I – told – you – so!” he declared. He said to those who doubted his reason for being in the U.S. Title match, he proved he belonged.

(Keller’s Analysis: Just because a 3-13 NFL team gets to compete in the Super Bowl for no good reason, other than having won the Super Bowl five years earlier, and if they were to score an upset win at that Super Bowl, it doesn’t mean they deserved to be in the Super Bowl in the first place.)


He said this is the start of his second U.S. Title reign. He pointed to the big screen for a clip of him beating Kofi Kingston in June 2011 with a sleeper hold. Phillips noted he had Vickie Guerrero with him then as well. Then they showed freeze-frames from his win at the Clash.

Ziggler said he’s just getting started. He said he is also a five-time Intercontinental Champion. He threw to a video compilation of his wins including in August 2010, August 2014, September 2014, December 2014, and October 2016. Bryon said 2014 was a big year for him. (Yeah, he couldn’t keep the IC Title for very long before losing it.) Ziggler then said he also won the World Hvt. Title once. A clip aired from July 2012 of his Money in the Bank victory followed by his April 2013 cash-in. Graves said he couldn’t remember the WWE Universe louder than at that moment. They showed him pinning Alberto Del Rio.

Back live, Ziggler said he is one of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history. He said night after night, year after year, he proved it to himself and to the world, and yet he has gone unappreciated. He went into his yelling zone. “You’re not worthy,” he said. “You’re not worthy of my presence. None of you are.” He dropped the U.S. Title belt on the mat and said they can have something to remember him by. He walked out without the belt.

(Keller’s Analysis: All of these booking schemes he’s part of are just stunts that lead nowhere, but are meant to generate buzz. Why not just be an interesting character with better promos instead of every storyline with him revolving around the fans not appreciating him, which totally ignores his losing streak and grating yelling promos and lack of any reason to get behind him the last several years? Why can’t they just book him well instead of booking him as someone who is upset that fans don’t appreciate him or someone having some crisis over his lack of success? Yawn.)

-Backstage KO and Sami approached Bryan while he was talking on the phone. They were all smiles. KO presented Bryan with a bottle of champaign. He thanked him for doing the right thing on Sunday. Sami said he did the right thing for them and all of the fans. KO said the Sami & KO Show is the best part of Smackdown. Bryan handed the bottle back to KO and said he doesn’t drink, but thank you. Sami and KO said they remember Randy Orton stealing his title all those years ago in 2013. Sami said he was the centerpiece of The Authority that tried to break his mind, body, and soul. He said ironically enough now, that’s what Shane is trying to do to them. He said Shane will try to do it to him next. KO said all that matters is on Sunday, he got the last laugh on Orton, just like they got the last laugh on Shane. Bryan called them delusional. He told them to wipe those smiles off their faces, he might fire them. They walked away, looking to be jolted out of their celebratory mood.

-The New Day were shoving pancakes in people’s faces and prancing around backstage. [c]

(Keller’s Analysis: Is it okay to go back to booing these guys again, like when they first arrived? Their sole existence now seems to be to josh around and sell merchandise.)

(3) AIDEN ENGLISH & RUSEV vs. THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods w/Big E)

They all wrestled in their costumes. The New Day frustrated Rusev early. The crowd chanted, “Rusev Day!” Xavier and Kofi commandeered Rusev’s Santa gift bag and began throwing things from it into the crowd. They threw some t-shirts to the crowd. They stopped when they discovered boxer briefs that said “Happy Rusev Day” on them in black marker ink. Rusev and English attacked them from behind. They cut to a break. [c]

Back live, English squirted whipped cream onto pancakes and tried to throw Xavier face-first into it. Graves called it Christmas magic and a holiday miracle. Eventually English was sent face-first into it. And what could be funnier, right? Kofi laughed uproariously. Xavier threw English into the ring and then kicked him. Then he landed a flying elbow off the top rope for the win. Phillips said, “New Day saved Christmas!” (Or WWE ruined it. One or the other.)

WINNERS: New Day in 9:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Maybe WWE can add a WWE Network weekly show targeted toward kids under age 8 and then save stuff like this for that show. This just went so far slapstick and zany that it was hard to move back into the regular world WWE presents where you’re able to readjust to the main event.)

-They went to the announcers who hyped Total Divas. [c]

-Ring entrances took place for everyone. [c]


Orton took it to Jinder early, including at ringside. A minute later Nakamura yanked some hair out of Sami’s chest. They cut to a break about five minutes in. [c]

Styles got a hot-tag and went after KO. Jinder, though, yanked open the ropes and Styles dropped to the floor. Nakamura tagged in and went after Sami, then fended off interference from KO. Nakamura then bashed Sami in the chest with a series of round kicks and a then knee drives to the side of Sami’s face and shoulder. He shoved his boot against Sami’s throat in the corner. The crowd chanted “Nakamura!” Nakamura gave Sami a running knee to the chest and scored a two count. Styles entered to fend off the heels as they began to interfere. The Singh Brothers went after Nakamura during the chaos. The ref ordered the Singh Brothers to the back. They protested before leaving. Orton ducked Mahal and gave him an RKO. Mahal rolled to the floor. The Singhs returned to the ring. Orton gave them stereo DDTs off the second rope. They rolled to the floor. Then Orton shoved a flying Styles into KO with a flying forearm. Nakamura then gave Sami his kinshasa for the win.

WINNERS: Nakamura & Orton & Styles in 17:00.

-As the babyface trio celebrated to Nakamura’s music, the heels recovered at ringside.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. It didn’t really advance anything storyline-wise, but they don’t have a lot to go with at this point coming out of the Clash, but with six weeks before the Royal Rumble and the holidays coming up. To keep people interested over the holidays, a little something more as a hook here at the end of Smackdown would have been helpful.) 

Send your thoughts and questions about tonight’s episode of Smackdown to wadekellerpodcast@pwtorch.comwhich will be addressed on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast on Podcast One, dropping around 2 a.m. ET a few hours after Smackdown ends. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or on the Podcast One app or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Just search “Wade Keller.” 


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