Professional wrestling and Christmas might not sound like the perfect mix. To many fans, Christmas wrestling shows are skippable – in fact for many years in the 2000’s, WWE shows in the last week of the year were “Best of” compilations. However when wrestling and Christmas do mix, you sometimes get memorable moments beyond the tone-deaf singing, bad comedy and Santa Claus.
So as we prepare to deck the halls with Hardcore Holly (or Crash or Molly if you prefer), here are the top ten Christmas moments in wrestling history.
10. Kurt Angle versus Santa Claus
A few slightly odd competitors have officially wrestled on a WWE pay-per-view including Drew Carey and God. At Armageddon 2004, Santa Claus joined this rather strange list as Kurt Angle’s handpicked opponent for the Gold Medal Invitational.
Prior to the match, Kurt pointed out that Santa probably wanted to go back to the North Pole with Taz and the other elves before masterfully switching to the serious, sadistic and possibly insane heel he was portraying at the time. Kurt revealed he chose to fight Santa because of his daughter choosing to write to Santa rather than talk about her hard-working father.
Angle vowed to make Santa Claus tap out and made good on his promise in a very short, very one-sided match. This Christmas moment lacks the feel-good ending of some of the other moments on this list, although Kurt did lose to Big Show later on that night. Bizarrely, Kurt’s feud with Santa Claus would not end that night and Angle would again apply the anklelock on Santa years later in TNA before Santa finally got a measure of revenge in a Twitter video posted by Kurt last year.
In an amazing coincidence, Armageddon 2004 was also the only pay-per-view on which Jesus wrestled, making the whole event sound like the answer to a very unusual trivia question.
9. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gets visited by three ghosts
If you ever wondered what Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol would be like if Ebenezer Scrooge were totally unrepentant and seemingly intent on annoying the three spirits, this is the version for you. This vignette is from 1985 and so Roddy Piper is in smarmy git mode as he plays Scrooge, which is very fitting. It’s a challenge to get through this without laughing and although it’s totally ridiculous, it’s also strangely compelling. Of course, Roddy Piper’s Scrooge learns absolutely nothing from the whole ordeal.
This vignette was shown on Tuesday Night Titans, a WWE talk show from the mid 1980’s. There would be a few other festive moments on this show as well as on Prime Time Wrestling. A lot of these shows have aged poorly, but the banter between Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan on Prime Time Wrestling was always a highlight and some of the Christmas moments between the two – mostly revolving around Heenan being cheap – are worth a watch.
8. Santa Claus wins the 24/7 Championship
On the final RAW before Christmas in 2019, 24/7 Champion R-Truth was invited to New York City to turn on the lights of the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Christmas tree. The fact that the invitation was written entirely in Japanese was revealed just before Akira Tozawa rolled R-Truth up to win the 24/7 Championship. In the ensuing chase, the pair ran into Santa Claus who implored them to stop fighting. Santa then told R-Truth to collect his gift from the sleigh before suddenly attacking Tozawa and becoming 24/7 Champion and an official champion for the first time in WWE history.
Although Santa simply disappearing might have been an appropriate way to retire the 24/7 title or at least suspend it for a while, Santa’s reign did not last long and a tired Santa was soon pinned by R-Truth. Perhaps the highlight of this entire segment is referee John Cone who at this point yelled that he is fed up with chasing them around the city in the freezing cold before simply going home. Considering Cone wore a normal referee shirt throughout this entire affair instead of the thick coats everyone else was wearing, maybe he had a point.
7. TNA Impact Christmas Episode 2007
It isn’t a wrestling Christmas without festive match stipulations. While WWE tend to go with the Miracle on 34th Street Fight or occasionally a Lumberjack Frost Match, you have to give an A for effort for the team who came up with TNA’s 2007 Christmas special. Not content with one festive stipulation to honour the season while otherwise having a regular show, TNA decided to fill the entire night with these matches.
First up was an 8-man tag Christmas Chaos in the Cage match, which literally involved a steel cage wrapped in thousands of Christmas lights. This was followed by a 6-man tag Double North Pole match pitting Team 3D and Johnny Devine against The Motor City Machine Guns and Jay Lethal, which turned out to be a lot more fun than most pole matches. The most notorious match of the night was probably the Silent Night Bloody Night four-way which featured a barbed-wire Christmas tree and weapons hidden in gift boxes. The final match of the night was a ladder match between AJ Styles and Kaz where the loser would have to wear a reindeer suit – The stipulation might have been a bit stupid, but a ladder match featuring these two is always a good idea.
The humour on this show is a bit hit and miss (especially in the party led by Eric Young), but it’s a fun Christmas show which carries the theme throughout. There’s even an appearance from Bushwhacker Luke. At the end of the night, Kurt Angle once again attacked Santa Claus before Christian burst out of a present and saved Christmas.
6. The Rock’s 12 Days of Christmas
The Rock has long been considered one of the best on the microphone. His charisma and popularity allowed him to take advantage of the town he was in or the time of year in his promos without coming across as lazy or predictable. Christmas was of course no different and The Rock had several promos over the years themed around the holiday season, but his best arguably went down on a 2001 edition of SmackDown.
As The Rock prepared for a match against Test, he decided to get into the festive spirit with his own version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Rock then proceeded to list off all of the things Test would expect to see that night, starting with twelve sharpshooters stinging. Unlike some other attempts at mixing wrestling and Christmas carols, this goes down extremely well with the crowd, especially when they are asked for “five seconds of the people chanting The Rock’s name”. In the match itself, The Rock defeated Test, but thankfully the match didn’t involve absolutely everything mentioned in the song as that would have taken a while.
5. Bubba Claus vs Tajiri Claus
The 2001 Christmas Eve edition of RAW revolved around the dueling Christmas parties of then co-owners Vince McMahon and Ric Flair. Both parties had their own Santa Claus – McMahon had Bubba Ray Dudley, Flair had Tajiri. Tazz first turned up at McMahon’s party and had an argument with Bubba Claus before being asked to leave. Tazz would then go on to stir the pot at Flair’s party by telling them that McMahon had said that their Santa was tougher and jollier than Flair’s. This is how we got to the first-ever Santa versus Santa match.
Bubba Claus and Tajiri Claus had a good match as the commentators had their fun talking about how this would sell out any arena in the North Pole. Considering both wrestlers were wearing full Santa costumes, this was an impressive match and Tajiri’s agility was really on show – a particular highlight was Tajiri Claus hitting a perfect Asai moonsault. This match was probably also helped by the fact that it felt positively high-brow in comparison to the egg nog match that preceded it. The match ended with Tajiri Claus using the red mist and hitting a buzzsaw kick for the win as JR exclaimed: “Yes, Virginia. There is a Tajiri Claus!”.
4. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels – Survivor Series 1992
Technically, this entry in the list might be cheating, but it’s probably a good idea to include at least one great wrestling match in a wrestling list. This is the only moment in this top 10 that happened in November, but the post-match appearance of Santa Claus is just enough for me to include it here. A little over a month after winning his first WWF Championship, Bret “The Hitman” Hart was tasked with defending the title against the reigning Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels.
Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be a fantastic match. Working with each other allowed both wrestlers to show their best qualities and this match was probably the greatest Survivor Series match ever at the time. It was filled with intensity, technical sequences and some great near-falls for Shawn. In the end, Bret finally applied the sharpshooter to retain the title.
After the match, Santa Claus joined Bret Hart for an in-ring celebration. With snow falling in the arena, this was nothing more than a cheesy festive moment, but the match that preceded it more than deserves a place on this list, even if I have to dock some points for it not being particularly christmassy.
3. Terry Gordy slams the door on Kerry Von Erich
We all have our own Christmas Day traditions. These may include: opening presents around the Christmas tree; a special Christmas meal; or going to watch Ric Flair defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. It may seem odd to talk about professional wrestling events on Christmas Day, but this used to be the norm and Christmas afternoon wrestling used to make a lot of money. One promotion that used to operate on Christmas Day was World Class Championship Wrestling in Dallas with their Christmas Star Wars events. These were not throwaway holiday shows either and in 1982, WCCW presented one of the biggest matches they could: Ric Flair defending the NWA title against Kerry Von Erich inside a steel cage.
The popularity of the Von Erich family in the territory was legendary and Kerry was the family’s main contender for the world title. Kerry had already faced Ric Flair on a few occasions, but the champion always retained via nefarious means including utilising a corrupt referee. To avoid such shenanigans, the rematch on Christmas Day was to take place in a steel cage with a special enforcer chosen by the fans. Michael Hayes of the popular Fabulous Freebirds team was chosen to be the special referee with Terry Gordy guarding the cage door. Everything was set up for one of the biggest moments in 1980’s wrestling.
As referee, Michael Hayes was extremely biased towards Kerry Von Erich and eventually attacked Flair directly. With Flair down, Kerry refused to pin the champion as he didn’t want to win in that way, which visibly frustrated Hayes. With Kerry getting to his feet by the cage door, Terry Gordy viciously slammed the cage on Kerry’s head and the epic Freebirds-Von Erich Family feud was born. The other referee sent Hayes and Gordy to the back, but ended up stopping the match due to Kerry’s inability to continue. The main arc of this rivalry would appropriately culminate in a six-man tag on Christmas Day 1985.
2. Santa gets run over by Del Rio
In 2012, RAW fell on Christmas Eve. The show started in typical holiday fashion with some terrible singing and an appearance from guest host Santa Claus (who bore a striking resemblance to a certain hardcore legend). Just as you started to settle in for what seems to be a run-of-the-mill Christmas show, Alberto Del Rio made his entrance in an expensive car and ran over Santa Claus!
Everyone’s reactions to this made the whole thing very entertaining. A stunned Alberto looked like he couldn’t believe what he’d done, while Ricardo Rodriguez wailed in despair. With Santa Claus being put on a stretcher with a neck brace, Alberto looked more and more concerned – presumably because Del Rio might legally have needed to become Santa (at least according to Christmas movie lore). Santa Claus was stretchered backstage, but a weak thumbs up gave the kids in attendance hope that Santa would be okay.
Del Rio protested his innocence, but everyone was understandably angry at him for potentially ruining Christmas. John Cena was the most vocally aggressive and it turned out that Santa had used his guest host powers to book a Miracle on 34th Street Fight between Del Rio and Cena. Updates on Santa’s condition followed throughout the episode. It didn’t look like good news until Santa’s heart monitor started playing Jingle Bells and we saw some signs of life.
Rodriguez was still wailing as Del Rio made his entrance for the match. It’s an entertaining brawl with festive weapons including a hilariously ineffective teddy bear. Cena even yelled “For Santa!” during the match, which was as ridiculous as it was brilliant. Of course, there was a happy ending and Cena won with some interference from Santa Claus and “Mr. Stockingo”. Christmas was saved! This episode of RAW is probably the closest thing to a true Christmas movie that WWE has ever produced. It’s not going to be for everyone, but for fans of cheesy Christmas movies, it’s hard to beat.
1. Stone Cold stuns Santa
Austin memorably disguised himself as Santa Claus to attack Vince at the Christmas in Iraq special, but his most memorable Christmas moment happened even before he won his first world championship. The year was 1997 and Santa Claus sat in the ring waiting for Sable. Unfortunately for Saint Nick, Sable wasn’t going to be there and a child (allegedly one of Rikishi’s children) was brought into the ring to sit on Santa’s knee. The boy accused the irritable Santa of not being the real Santa and got banished from the ring. Cue Stone Cold.
Steve Austin was well on his way to becoming the biggest star in wrestling and the crowd were thrilled to see their favourite ass-kicker, but this turned out to be one of Austin’s truest babyface performances. He told Santa he shouldn’t have sent the kid away and then wondered himself whether Santa was the real deal. When Santa misremembered a six-year-old Austin’s Christmas list, Austin asked for the kid’s help, but he wasn’t convinced. The crowd were also not convinced and Austin decided to give Santa a little Christmas gift in the form of a Stone Cold stunner!
This is very much an example of Steve Austin at his peak. Festive segments usually involve some cringing, but this is just the toughest SOB on the planet standing up for a kid. His connection with the audience at this point was deepened by moments like this, which is why I feel it is the very best Christmas wrestling moment.
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