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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Dec. 25, 2018): Humbug

Ahh, Christmas in Fresno. Or pretending it’s Christmas in Fresno, which is what the SmackDown crew did on Dec. 18 (and why you get spoilers for tonight’s show by clicking here).

The Headliners

So... what’s going on with Miz?

At the top of most fan wish lists for the return of Daniel Bryan was a feud with his former NXT mentor. We got that, and... honestly, the video packages were probably the best thing about it. But now, with the WWE championship around his waist and a “New” attitude, Bryan is a heel. That’s always been Miz’s sweet spot, alignment-wise. And while DB’s turn does let the A-Lister say “I told you so”, it doesn’t lend itself to more matches between the two of them.

Even more than that though is the fact Miz is deep into a program with Shane McMahon that started early last month at Crown Jewel. The Money came down to the ring in Saudi Arabia and replaced Miz in the finals of the Best in the World tournament. It seemed like a heel turn for Shane O’Mac, but creative has walked that back. Now the focus is on the Awesome One trying to get McMahon to share the trophy and become a tag team. He’s still more or less acting like a jerk, but more like a weird jerk than a villainous one.

Over the last few years, Mike Mizanin has become pretty popular with fans, but he’s the rare over heel that we still like to boo. This current angle, however, not only left him off the card for the last pay-per-view (PPV), it’s left him in a weird limbo where I’m not sure how to react to his character.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all Road Warrior Animal on you. Not everyone has to be a clear cut hero or villain in modern pro wrestling. But the Miz we’ve been getting over the past several weeks is not only someone I’m not sure I want to see feud with Bryan, I don’t know whether I’m rooting for him or feeling sorry for him.

Have the Best in the World tag team be a ploy to beat up Shane, or have McMahon kick Miz’s ass after appearing to finally embrace their partnership. Give us the conniving A-Lister back, or make him more fully sympathetic (he can still keep his arrogant edge - Miz uses it well in crossover interviews, and being a cocky babyface seems to be working for a certain red-head in the women’s division).

Either way, use tonight’s holiday edition of Miz TV with special guest Shane McMahon as a way to get out of the current angle and on to whatever comes next.

The Title Scene

Hey, they actually mentioned United States champ Shinsuke Nakamura in the official preview! They kind of have to, since he’ll be defending his title against Rusev tonight. The two-time owner of the red, white and blue belt pinned Nak in tag action a couple weeks ago, and they’ve been in a war of words since. Can the Bulgarian Brute avoid a Kinshasa and win the title on Christmas, and his, day?

No mention of Asuka or her Women’s title in that dot com preview. I guess Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair took Vince McMahon’s advice and went to take it up with Ronda Rousey. The Empress deserves a night off after two title matches in three nights last week.

The Bar did not have a match on last week’s show after retaining their Tag Team championship at TLC. Will they be in action tonight, or tied up in whatever yuletide pancake eating contest-type thing New Day will be up to?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- If they’re not celebrating the season with the Princes of Positivity, Cesaro & Sheamus will need to watch their backs. SmackDown remembered it has a tag division beyond The Bar, New Day and The Usos last week. SAnitY returned to get the drop on Jimmy, Jey, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows quicker than the champs could. Is Eric Young’s chaos loving trio back for good?

- It’s been a war of words to this point, but Jeff Hardy will have a chance to shut Samoa Joe up with his wrestling when they fight on this episode.

- Mustafa Ali made quite a splash in his debut as a SmackDown Superstar, pinning the WWE champ with his 054 finisher. What’s next for the former Heart of 205 Live? Where do you go from a win over Daniel Bryan?

- We’re getting Women’s tag titles! The blue brand ladies were excited by the news... does that mean they’ll be on both shows? Could we find out that or other details tonight?

- We saw it like four times on Raw. Will we get anything other than the hype video of NXT call-ups EC3, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Lars Sullivan & Nikki Cross tonight?

Five weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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