This week’s WWE Smackdown featured GUNTHER defending the Intercontinental Title against Ricochet, the Women’s Tag Team Titles were on the line, Roman Reigns was back and more.
In addition to this week’s Smackdown episode, WWE is also taping next week’s show this evening in order to give their talent and staff a break next week ahead of Christmas.
They showed The Usos and Sami Zayn arriving at the building. Roman Reigns is coming back to Smackdown later in the show. Zayn looks like he trimmed his beard a bit and his hair was tied up.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show. It was a sold out show in Chicago. Cole said: “It’s Friday and you know what that means.” That’s great. Cole did it because today is the birthday of the late great, Jon Huber aka Luke Harper/Brodie Lee.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships: Damage CTRL – Dakota Kai & IYO SKY (w/Bayley) vs. Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox
Morgan with a dropkick on Kai. Nox tagged in with forearms, but Kai got a kick to the head to knock Nox down. Sky tagged in leading to Nox hitting a sitout front suplex. Morgan and Nox did a double team suplex on Sky. Kai did a cheap shot to Morgan’s back, but Morgan hit a dropkick on Sky. Morgan grabbed a kendo stick, but Nox stopped her partner from using it or else they would be disqualified. Morgan and Nox hit running corner splashes and Morgan dumped Sky out of the ring. Morgan distracted the champions on the floor, so Nox jumped off the top with a cross body block onto Kai/Sky on the floor. That led to a break.
Kai was in control with a double foot stomp on Nox. Sky tagged in with a running dropkick to the back on Nox for a two count. Nox got some offense going after a headbutt. Morgan got the tag with kicks against Kai, then a running knee and a missile dropkick off the ropes. Morgan was distracted by Sky, so Kai got a running kick. Sky and Kai did a double Powerbomb on Morgan for two, but Nox made the save. Kai with a rising kick on Nox, Morgan sent Kai out of the ring and Morgan hit a Codebreaker on Sky. Morgan hit Codebreaker on Sky as well, Nox hit the Shiniest Wizard and that got two as Kai hit the save. Morgan hit a sunset flip powerbomb on Kai on the floor. Ouch. Sky with a dropkick on Morgan on the floor. Nox wit ha splash on Sky in the corner, but Sky came back with an uppercut to knock Nox out of the ring. Nox blocked a moonsault attempt. The referee was looking at Sky, so Bayley tried to get involved. Nox sent Bayley over the barricade. Some random person in a hoodie kicked Nox in the head. The referee never saw it while security took that hoodie person away. Back in the ring, Sky hit an Over the Moonsault off the top on Nox for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Damage CTRL – Dakota Kai & IYO SKY
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match with the heels cheating to win thanks to an assist from some hoodie person that did a cheap shot kick on Nox to set up Sky’s victory. Morgan was getting good reactions for everything she did while the fans barely reacted to Nox, who is still new on the main roster. The champions retaining is what I expected, but obviously, the surprising attack played a big factor.
About 30 minutes after this, WWE posted a video revealing that Xia Li did the mystery kick attack.
EXCLUSIVE: After a mysterious stagehand costs @YaOnlyLivvOnce and @NixonNewell their WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match against #DamageCTRL, she reveals herself to be none other than @XiaWWE backstage before heading into @ScrapDaddyAP’s office. #SmackDownpic.twitter.com/pgo7aRBUAh
— WWE (@WWE) December 17, 2022
A video aired about the Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER talking about passion, respect, and defending the title.
There will be a recap of the Bray Wyatt/LA Knight story after a break.
A video aired featuring Ricochet talking about his Intercontinental Title match. Ricochet said he was betting on himself.
There was a Progressive Match Flo video showing Kevin Owens going after The Bloodline on Raw two weeks ago. After Solo Sikoa beat Elias this week on Raw, Kevin Owens saved Elias from an attack by Solo and Owens hit a Stunner on Solo while Zayn left.
Sami Zayn was shown in the locker room with The Usos. Zayn had his beard trimmed, his hair fixed up nicely and Zayn had a jacket along with dress pants. They told Zayn he looked good. Zayn asked where Solo Sikoa was and Jimmy said Solo was with Reigns. Zayn said he was nervous, so he left to get some water and decompress a little. Jey said tonight, the Tribal Chief will take away the Honorary Uce and make him a full-blown Uce. Jimmy said he didn’t think Roman was going to “make” him tonight. Jimmy mentioned Kevin Owens going after The Bloodline. The Usos talked with Jimmy wondering if they were setting Sami up for a big disappointment. Jey was confident that tonight would be a great night.
Analysis: The plan is for Roman Reigns to defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Title(s) against Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble, so they are pushing that.
They showed LA Knight last week on Smackdown with some mystery guy going after him in the locker room.
There was footage from a QR Code with LA Knight tied up backstage somewhere with a mask on his face. They showed a hand with a glove on it and the hand took the mask off Knight, but Knight’s mouth was taped.
LA Knight was shown walking backstage looking freaked out because Knight was up next.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight and Bray Wyatt
LA Knight talked about how he’s gone through a lot in the last few weeks, but he’s still here. Knight praised Bray Wyatt about being a former WWE Champion, then he trashed Wyatt for saying he didn’t attack Knight, but Knight says he knows it was him. Knight shouted about how he wanted Wyatt to get out there so he can get stomped out while Knight did his “yeah” routine.
The lights went out in the building leading to Bray Wyatt making his entrance in the darkness with some smoke around him. Wyatt did not have a lantern with him. Wyatt told Chicago he has missed them. There were “Bray” chants. Wyatt told Knight he was sick of him. Wyatt said he’s sick of the game they are playing. Wyatt told Knight he was barking up the wrong tree. Wyatt said he hasn’t touched him. Wyatt said that they both know how this story ends.
Wyatt was on the apron saying that Knight should make his message good and make it worth Wyatt’s while. That led to Knight attacking Wyatt with a running knee followed by some stomps on the corner. The fans were booing as Knight attacked. The screen showed Uncle Howdy asking: “What have you done?” Howdy asked if you wanted to see something really scary. The video stopped, Knight stomped on Wyatt again and there was some smoke in the aisle. It was Uncle Howdy while Wyatt was seated in the ring. We could not get a good shot of Uncle Howdy’s face. Uncle Howdy did a laugh and Knight backed out of the ring. Uncle Howdy laughed a lot while Wyatt remained seated against the turnbuckle. The scene cut away as they went to break.
Analysis: There’s some progress in this storyline with Uncle Howdy appearing in the flesh to laugh maniacally in the aisle. I don’t know who it is because they had a mask covering their face, but I know Bray’s brother Bo Dallas was rumored to return to WWE, so maybe this was him. I’m not sure if that’s the plan or they are going with somebody else. I am glad that we got some storyline progression because the last month wasn’t that interesting for this story, but this was cool.
WAIT?! IS THAT…?! 😨
— WWE (@WWE) December 17, 2022
A video aired promoting the Tribute to the Troops show airing Saturday on Fox. It was narrated by John Cena.
Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman were shown arriving in the building as Heyman pointed Reigns where to go for his locker room.
Ricochet entered first as the challenger for the IC Title match. The Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER was next joined by his Imperium allies Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci. WWE Official Adam Pearce sent Kaiser and Vinci to the back before the bell. GUNTHER and Ricochet stood in the ring as Samantha Irvin did the championship introduction. Irvin is dating Ricochet, so I think we know who she is rooting for.
Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. Ricochet
Gunther has held the IC Title for six months since beating Ricochet in June. Gunther used his power game early by overpowering Ricochet and tossing him across the ring. Ricochet got a side headlock takeover, Ricochet went for a move off the ropes, Gunther shoved Ricochet and Ricochet did a backflip to get out of a move. Ricochet with a jumping kick followed by a dropkick. Ricochet to the apron, he wanted to go off the top with something and Gunther knocked him down with a kick. Gunther slammed Ricochet onto the apron followed by a hard chop. They went to break.
Gunther was in control with chops to the chest along with a body slam. Ricochet tried to fight back, but Gunther sent Ricochet into the turnbuckle. Gunter with a body slam again. Ricochet fought out of a Boston Crab attempt, but Gunther came back with a backbreaker. Gunther applied the Boston Crab again for about 20 seconds until Ricochet got to the ropes to force a break. After Ricochet got some strikes, Gunther had enough of that and delivered a hard chop to the chest. Gunther applied a choke on the mat followed by a chinlock. Ricochet got some kicks to try to get some offense going, but Gunther chopped him hard again. Gunther with a double underhook suplex for a two count. Gunther delivered more hard chops while Ricochet was against the turnbuckle. Ricochet avoided a chop, then Ricochet fought back with a kick, another kick to the head and a running dropkick. Ricochet with punches, a running dropkick and a suplex failed, so Gunther hit a front suplex. Gunther hit a dropkick. Gunther went for a Powerbomb, but Ricochet countered with a hurricanrana out of the ring. Ricochet jumped off the apron with a dropkick sending Gunther into the barricade. Ricochet did a springboard moonsault off the top rope onto a standing Gunther for a two count.
The match continued with Ricochet running the ropes and hitting a twisting dive over the top onto a standing Gunther on the floor. Back in the ring, Ricochet was on the top rope, Gunther with a chop and Gunther tried a German Suplex, but Ricochet did a back flip onto his feet. Gunther hit a boot to the face followed by a hard clothesline for two. Gunther went up top, jumped off with a splash and Ricochet got his feet up to black. Ricochet hit a twisting suplex for a two count. Ricochet went up top and jumped off with a Shooting Star Press for one…two…and no! Gunther got his right shoulder up at the last possible moment. You could see Gunther was looking at the referee to time his kickout. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Ricochet with punches, kicks, palm strikes and even a hard chop. Ricochet with a superkick. Gunther came back with a chop to the chest followed by a hard Powerbomb for one…two…and no! Ricochet was still in it. Gunther with more chops and then the Last Symphony side powerslam for the pinfall win after 22 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: GUNTHER
Analysis: **** That was a great match. Four stars out of five. Ricochet put up a fight, came close to winning a few times and the fans really got behind him. Gunther was just too much. That spot where Ricochet hit the SSP and got a nearfall was done perfectly because the fans know that Ricochet can win matches with that move, so having Gunther kick out of that felt like a big deal. Gunther’s new finisher the Last Symphony is an easy and safe move that he can do, but his Powerbomb and lariat both look like they hurt way more. Anyway, I’m glad they got three segments along with over 20 minutes of match time for this title match.
After the match, Imperium tried to attack Ricochet again, but Braun Strowman made the save. Gunther and friends left the ring, so Strowman was left in the ring for a long distance staredown. Strowman picked up Ricochet and raised his hand for the crowd.
Analysis: This should lead to Gunther defending the IC Title against Strowman soon. Perhaps they do it at the Royal Rumble, but it could be on TV before that.
They showed Roman Reigns in the locker room with Jimmy Uso asking Reigns what he had planned for tonight. Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman were in the background. Reigns didn’t say anything. Jimmy said he would support Reigns making Sami Zayn into Sami Uso. Jimmy said that he liked Sami a lot, but he loves the family, he loves The Bloodline, he loves Reigns and if you don’t want to make Zayn because of his past with Kevin Owens and how they are…then he trailed off. Reigns didn’t really say anything. Jimmy said he’ll see Reigns out there. Reigns ordered to call Pearce, so Heyman called Adam Pearce to end it.
Analysis: It was a nice way to build up the anticipation for what Reigns might do in the main event promo segment. Jimmy plays his role well.
Adam Pearce was shown in the locker room of Roman Reigns, who told Pearce to sit on the couch. Heyman told Pearce that The Tribal Chief decided to bless him. Heyman suggested a tag team match with Roman Reigns teaming with Sami Zayn against Kevin Owens and a partner. Pearce asked if you wanted to do it tonight. Pearce suggested the match at the Royal Rumble. Heyman suggested Reigns doing it on December 30th in Tampa, Florida with Reigns saying that sounds better than Chicago. Heyman said it’s the biggest tag team match of 2022 live on Fox. Solo stood up to Pearce, who stood up and Pearce said he’ll let Kevin know.
Analysis: There’s a big match for the last Smackdown of 2022. John Cena is also on that episode of Smackdown in Tampa so is Cena going to be the partner? I think it might happen. Just saying.
A longer video aired about WWE Tribute to the Troops narrated by John Cena. They talked about the first WWE Tribute show from 2003 with some highlights shown of WWE’s crew visiting Baghdad, Iraq for that show. Over the last 20 years, they have done many more Tribute shows. This video aired on Raw as well.
The 2022 WWE Tribute to the Troops special airs Saturday at 2:30 pm ET on Fox.
Legado Del Fantasma made their entrance for tag team action.
Hit Row (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis) vs. The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) vs. Legado Del Fantasma (Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde)
Ivar sent Cruz out of the ring. Ivar went for a spin kick, but Adonis avoided it and hit a dropkick out of the ring. Erik sent Adonis out of the ring, Dolla sent Erik out of the ring and Dolla hit a double clothesline on both Legado guys. Erik clotheslined Dolla to knock him down. Legado each hit missile dropkicks on Erik. Four guys were on the floor, so both Legado guys went up top and hit twisting dives onto the four guys on the floor. That led to a break.
Adonis kicked Erik to knock him back, then Dolla tagged in and hit a running kick to Wilde. Dolla had Ivar on his shoulders, but Erik saved his partner. Erik and Ivar each hit slams on Legado guys. Ivar and Erik did a clothesline/suplex combo for two because Wilde made the save. Wilde with a Tornado DDT on Ivar. Cruz tagged in with a missile kick off the top. Cruz hit a twisting splash off the top on Dolla for a two count. Adonis got back into it with a DDT on Wilde, then Erik with a German Suplex on Adonis, Cruz with a kick, Ivar with a takedown on Cruz and Dolla kicked Ivar out of the ring. Dolla went for a dive over the top, but he barely got over the top and some of the guys still sold it. Vega jumped into the ring with a headscissors, B-Fab kicked Vega and Valhalla hit a dropkick on B-Fab. Vega hit a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle on B-Fab on the floor. Adonis got the tag, Dolla may have hurt something while catching Wilde and they hit a kick/suplex Heavy Hitter combo for the pinfall win. It went about ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Hit Row (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis)
Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay. I wouldn’t call it great or anything like that, but it had some cool moments. Top Dolla trying the dive was not a cool moment. Don’t even try it, big man. I thought the Legado guys were really good and it would be nice to see them pushed. It doesn’t really happen, though. The crowd was dead for a lot of Hit Row’s stuff while Viking Raiders don’t look unbeatable anymore.
Next week on Smackdown: The Usos defend the WWE Tag Team Titles against Hit Row. I don’t see a title change there.
Raquel Rodriguez was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Raquel was treating her injured left arm with ice. Raquel said she wanted payback for what Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler did to her left arm. That led to Rousey and Baszler showing up to attack the arm. Rousey held Raquel’s left arm while Baszler kicked the left arm a few times. Raquel was selling it.
Analysis: There’s a multi-woman gauntlet match next week on Smackdown (taped after this week’s show) and Raquel will likely win to set up the title match at Royal Rumble.
A commercial aired for the Ric Flair documentary on Peacock premiering December 26th.
Roman Reigns and The Bloodline were up next in the main event.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns and The Bloodline
The Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns led The Bloodline out for a main event promo. Reigns was joined by WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos, Solo Sikoa and Sami Zayn. Paul Heyman was with them as usual. Reigns and the group took their time getting into the ring as usual. Reigns, The Usos and Solo were wearing a shirt called The Island. Reigns has been Universal Champion for 838 days, and The Usos as Tag Team Champions for 516 days.
Reigns took his time: “Chicago, acknowledge me!” That led to cheers and some boos from the crowd. Reigns spoke about how he hasn’t seen his Bloodline since WarGames (three weeks ago). Reigns claimed that they dominated WarGames as Reigns slapped the hands and hugged the four wrestlers in the group. Zayn celebrated. The crowd cheered.
Reigns said that tonight is the night. Reigns said that every night is a good night for The Tribal Chief. Reigns said tonight was going to be a good night for Zayn, but they have a problem…a KO problem. Reigns said that Owens said that he won’t stop dragging Zayn down, so he’s a problem for Zayn and he’s a problem for Reigns as well as The Bloodline. Reigns said he’ll have a tag team match with Sami against KO and he can find anybody he wants. Reigns said that they’ll smash him, get rid of him and never have to deal with Owens again. Zayn said he was KO’s only friend. The rest of The Bloodline didn’t like him saying that, so Zayn caught himself saying he “WAS” his only friend. Zayn said that it will be an honor and a privilege to team with Reigns.
Surprise! It’s John Cena appearing on the screen. Cena said that everybody loves a good surprise. Cena was talking into a camera while standing in front of the side of some building with bricks behind him. Cena said that he got a text message from his friend Kevin Owens. Cena said that Owens mentioned that Cena has had a WWE match every year except this one. Cena said there were some emojis. Owens asked Cena if Cena wanted to be his tag team partner on December 30th in Tampa, Florida. Cena said that time was running out on the year. Cena summarized the match as a main event match that can’t be missed. Cena said hell yes, he’ll be there, he’ll be KO’s partner and bring the fight to The Bloodline. Cena said that it will be nice when Cena-Claus is coming to town. Cole called Cena the greatest of all time. Cole was shouting about it while Reigns and The Bloodline didn’t say anything. They looked frustrated. The show ended there.
Analysis: That’s a big way to end the year with a tag team match involving John Cena wrestling in his first match of 2022 on the second last day of the year. There’s obviously a lot of history between Owens and Cena as rivals, but that was over seven years ago, so it’s okay if they are friends now as faces. Cena’s last match was against Reigns at SummerSlam 2021 about 16 months ago and now he will face Reigns again, this time in tag team action. I think it’s a very interesting match because we might see Zayn lose for his team and Owens will probably win to give him momentum as Roman’s likely challenger at Royal Rumble. That could lead to Reigns being mad at Zayn about it. Anyway, there are two weeks to go for that. I’ll also say that it was good to have Zayn say that he was KO’s only friend and then correct himself with a “WAS” because Zayn could tell The Bloodline wasn’t happy about what he said. It’s good storytelling as usual.
The announcement of Cena’s return to the ring is likely what WWE writer Rob Fee was referencing on Twitter on Thursday. I think Cena’s in-ring return definitely counts as a “can’t miss” kind of thing.
— WWE (@WWE) December 17, 2022
Three Stars of the Show
- John Cena – It’s been a while. I can give it to him.
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
I liked the show. The big news coming out of it is that John Cena will be teaming with Kevin Owens against Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn in two weeks on the last Smackdown of the year on December 30th. It’s a huge tag team match that should lead us into Reigns-Owens at Royal Rumble while Cena will be having his first WWE match in about 16 months. It is also Cena’s first match this year as he noted in his promo. What a nice treat to have a tag team like that to end 2022 in a big way.
The IC Title match between Gunther and Ricochet was great. While I didn’t expect Ricochet to win, he certainly came close a few times. They had a long match that the crowd really got into towards the finish and popped big for some of the nearfalls. They have done a great job of making the IC Title feel important again since Triple H took over the creative team in late July. Plus, Gunther is awesome in the ring, so when you deliver great matches consistently, that helps the title too. The Women’s Tag Team Title match was pretty good too with a random Xia Li attack helping IYO SKY & Dakota Kai retain over Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox.
We also got to see Uncle Howdy in person while Bray Wyatt was in the ring after LA Knight attacked Wyatt. They didn’t show who was wearing the Uncle Howdy mask, but it does prove to Knight that Howdy is a different person instead of it being Bray. Other stuff on the show was fine although Top Dolla trying a dive over the top was a bad move and he shouldn’t even try it in the future. You’re a big dude. Stick to being big. You don’t have to do dives. It hurt that tag team match a bit, but they got through it by the end.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.