There’s nothing quite like a themed episode of Monday Night RAW. Turkeys used as weapons during Thanksgiving, and pumpkin guts smeared in the eyes of unsuspecting opponents during Halloween. The holidays allow WWE to goof off and lighten the mood a little. Which brings us to Christmas. What better way to celebrate this year’s holiday than to look back on one of the greatest holiday-related moments in WWE history: the night Alberto Del Rio ran over Santa Claus.
These are the cold, hard, Christmas facts: Alberto Del Rio, whether spurred on by predetermined malice towards the Jolly One or simply driving without really paying attention, fully flattened Santa Claus at the December 24th, 2012 episode of RAW. Santa was handing out candy to the WWE Universe alongside the ramp when Del Rio’s music hit. This was 2012, so he was still coming to the ring in his car. In an unfortunate turn of events, Santa’s candy-giving was interrupted by the front fender of the car, sending Old Saint Nick sprawling to the floor, where his humiliation and pain was only furthered by a Christmas tree falling on his face.
Now, this act might not have been out of character for the Del Rio of old, the man who’d take any opportunity to attack someone from behind. But at this time, he was trying to be a better man. He was helping out other wrestlers and fighting off bad guys. He was really trying to turn things around. But nothing stops a potential turn towards the light like committing vehicular manslaughter against a jolly white dude who hands out presents to kids.
There’s a lot of other holiday-themed happenings throughout the episode, like the cringey “Santa’s Helper” Divas match and Sheamus beating the World Heavyweight Champion Big Show in a “Lumber-Jack Frost” match—I told you this time of year allows for WWE to get all sorts of goofy—but nothing is as good as the narrative throughline that is Santa getting hit by the car and the locker room rallying around the one and only John Cena in order to make sure that Alberto Del Rio was dealt a proper dose of vengeance for injuring Father Christmas.
What follows after the incident is maybe the best example of WWE leaning into something so ridiculously silly that it ends up turning into this fun, meta gimmick that you can’t help but get drawn into. It starts when Booker T comes out of the trainer’s room and is surrounded by members of the locker room, all there to see if Santa is okay. “Guys, I’m not going to sugar coat this,” says Booker T. His expression is solemn. “Santa is down,” he says as Tyson Kidd, Alicia Fox, Titus O’Neil, and others wonder about the fate of Christmas.
Del Rio shows up to apologize but is immediately shouted down by the gathered wrestlers. And then it’s time for Cena to shine. He comes out of nowhere, mugging it up in that obnoxious/charming way that’s unique to Cena and has made him WWE’s top entertainer for 10+ years. “Saint Nicholas is a saint,” he says to Del Rio, a smirk briefly coming across his face. Then we learn that Santa used his last words—he’s not dead, but you get the point—to book a “Miracle on 34th Street Fight” between Alberto Del Rio and John Cena.
Del Rio storms off, and Cena is left with Booker T and the members of the locker room. They all look at him and weigh the seriousness of the moment. Booker looks him right in the eye: “Do it for Santa, man,” he says. Everyone starts chanting “Santa! Santa! Santa!” and Cena goes pensive, realizing that only he can save Christmas. He puts his fist in the air, and with all the might he can muster, yells “FOR SANTA!” It’s a tremendous moment. See for yourself.
Later on, it looks like Santa has taken “a turn for the worse” until his heartbeat monitor starts playing “Jingle Bells.” You can’t make this up. That tune seems to suggest that Santa is recovering, and the crowd is here for it, let me tell you. In the ring, Del Rio is taking it to Cena, with more than a little help from his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. It’s a fun match that the crowd is super into; everyone wants to see Del Rio get what he deserves.
Every prop imaginable is involved. Cena puts Ricardo’s head through a present. Del Rio gets tossed into the Christmas trees. Cena rolls a bowling ball into Del Rio’s, well, bowling balls. He’s well on his way to a win when he sprays his opponent with a fire extinguisher, but that’s still not enough. The people want true retribution, and sure enough, they get it. Santa Claus’s (Mick Foley) music hits. He comes to the ring, swings a sack of gifts at Ricardo, and then smashes it into Del Rio’s face. Cena picks up Del Rio, delivers an AA, and that’s it.
Santa is back, Christmas is saved, and this delightful holiday episode comes to a close, leaving “FOR SANTA!” to forever live on in our hearts.