Back where he belongs – top of the division (Photo: WWE)
SmackDown brought its 2020 to a close as WWE delivered a stellar show topped off with Big E winning the Intercontinental Championship.
Friday night’s show – yup, broadcast on Christmas Day but recorded earlier in the week, thankfully for the stars – was a fantastic mix of wrestling and storylines, and it concluded with a genuine feel good moment.
The main event pitted IC Champ Sami Zayn – who got teased by the Street Profits earlier in the evening – against former New Day man Big E, with other wrestlers surrounding the ring for their Lumberjack Match.
Normally, this stipulation can detract rather than enhance, but it fit perfectly after the heel had spend months sneaking and stealing his way ti victory.
Here, there was none of that, with Apollo Crews chasing Zayn back into the ring, where he was met with a belly-to-belly, a splash and a Big Ending to give Big E a huge title win.
This was a fantastic moment for the rising star, who hasn’t held the IC Title – or any singles gold – since November 2013.
He’s an entirely different talent seven years later, and he should be able to elevate that championship while giving his own career a boost as a solo star.
It’s also an opportunity to really test himself in some high-profile feuds before he presumably steps into the main event to challenge Roman Reigns.
Best of the rest
SmackDown’s Christmas Day special opened with the not-entirely-festive Universal Championship Steel Cage Match between Roman Reigns and his challenger Kevin Owens.
Broadcast just five days after their gruelling and hellacious war at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, both men went all out in an unforgiving environment.
The contestants could win via pinfall, submission, or escape, with all three playing into the story of the match, with KO taking an early advantage before the Tribal Chief gained momentum.
Owens was seconds away from winning before Jey Uso once again got involved, only for the babyface to bounce back with a Stunner on Roman.
The Tribal Chief got help to secure the win (Photo: WWE)
However, Uso got involved and handcuffed the challenger to the cage, which allowed Reigns to walk out of the cage, taunting his opponent, and reaching the ThunderDome floor for the win.
Elsewhere, new Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka came out to address the fans, only to be interrupted in turn by Bayley, SmackDown Women’s champ Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair and Carmella, which led to a great Triple Threat Elimination match for the gold.
Bayley and Carmella were the first to be taken out, with the former it by a frog splash from her old rival Banks, but in the end the champs retained when Flair hit the EST of WWE with a Natural Selection.
The Queen pinned the EST of WWE (Photo: WWE)
Bayley had taken out the Legit Boss, who was nowhere to be seen and unable to support her partner.
Finally, Jey Uso and Daniel Bryan also delivered in between the ropes to make this a damn fine episode of SmackDown across the board.
Uso attacked Bryan before the match, which played into the story of their bout, with the former world champion showing his resilience every step of the way, while his opponent looked legitimately dangerous.
Bryan won, which was the right result, but this took nothing away from Jey, bringing his incredible 2020 to a damn fine end.
Quickfire Christmas SmackDown results and grades
- Steel Cage Match for Universal Title: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Kevin Owens (A)
- Women’s Tag Titles: Charlotte Flair and Asuka (c) overcame Bianca Belair/Sasha Banks and Bayley/Carmella (B)
- Daniel Bryan pinned Jey Uso (B+)
- Lumberjack Match for IC Title: Big E beat Sami Zayn (c) (B+)