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WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
DECEMBER 16, 2022
CHICAGO, IL AT ALLSTATE ARENA
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Wade Barrett
=A black SUV pulled into the parking garage. Sami Zayn emerged, followed by the Usos. They shook hands and walked toward the arena. Michael Cole said that Roman Reigns will be in the building tonight. He said the honorary title could be dropped from Zayn, tonight.
-The Smackdown video open played. Afterward, pyro exploded in the arena and Cole welcomed the audience to the show. Cole said it’s Friday and that means it’s a championship night.
-Liv Morgan’s music played and she made her entrance. Cole threw to a video recap of Morgan Tegan Nox’s win over Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler last week on Smackdown. Tegan Nox then made her entrance.
-Damage Ctrl then made their entrance.
(1) LIV MORGAN & TEGAN NOX vs. DAMAGE CTRL (Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky w/ Bayley) (c) – Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Kai began against Morgan. Morgan ducked a punch then dropkicked Kai into the corner. Nox tagged in. Cole mentioned Kai’s turn on Nox in War Games a few years ago. Nox took control on Kai. Kai recovered and tagged in Sky. Nox took control again and tagged in Morgan. They hit a double vertical suplex on Sky for a near fall. Morgan then hit a snapmare followed by a basement dropkick. Morgan dropped to the outside and went under the ring. She pulled out a kendo stick. All four women battled in the ring and Morgan and Nox hit stereo splashes in the corners. Kai and Sky dropped to the outside. Morgan rolled outside and distracted Kai and Sky. Nox went to the top rope and jumped off to take out Kai and Sky. [c]
Back from break, Nox fought back on Kai. Kai pulled Nox away from the corner. Nox went for a sunset flip but Kai put the brakes on and dropped onto Nox. Sky tagged in and they double teamed Nox. Sky finished the attack with a kick for a near fall. Sky went after Morgan in the corner. Nox fought toward her corner but Sky held her back. Nox hit a headbutt and tagged in Morgan as Sky tagged in Kai. Morgan hit a kick then a running knee on Kai in the corner. Morgan then hit a missile dropkick into a kip up. Morgan went after Sky in the corner but Kai followed and caught her with a running bicycle kick. Sky tagged in and took down Morgan then covered her for a near fall. Kai took out Nox. Morgan and Sky battled but Morgan hit a Codebreaker. Nox tagged in and they double teamed Sky. Nox hit the Shiniest Wizard and covered Sky but Kai broke it up. Morgan delivered a sunset flip powerbomb to Kai on the outside. Sky took Morgan out. Nox attacked Sky when she re-entered the ring. Nox hit a splash in the corner. Nox set up another Shiniest Wizard but Sky blocked and knocked Nox to the outside. Sky went for a moonsault, but Nox blocked. The ref was distracted. Nox went after Bayley and threw her over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area. A figure in a hoodie hit Nox. Sky rolled Nox into the ring and hit the moonsault for the win.
WINNER: Damage Ctrl in 11:00 to retain the Women’s Tag Team Championship
(McDonald’s Analysis: Decent match for the most part. Neither team looked special, but the match wasn’t super sloppy or anything. I wonder who the person in the hoodie was. I made the assumption we would find out right away, but that was incorrect, obviously. Since we didn’t find out who it was, I’m sure they’ll drag this out for a while. New member for Damage Ctrl, or a foe for Morgan and Nox? Both make sense.)
-Cole and Wade Barrett were sitting ringside. They commented on the hooded figure that ruined the Women’s Tag Team title match. Then Cole threw to a video package on Gunther.
-They then showed a graphic for Gunther and Ricochet for the Intercontinental title later tonight. Barrett hyped the match. They then showed a series of images related to Bray Wyatt. Finally, the screen paused on an image of the Uncle Howdy mask. Cole said they received a QR code with disturbing footage of what happened after the lights went out on L.A. Knight last week. Cole said we would see the footage after the break. [c]
-A video package aired on Ricochet. After the package, Cole and Barrett were at ringside. Cole threw to a video recap of the Bloodline’s beatdown on Matt Riddle. The video then focused on Solo Sikoa taking out Riddle. The video transitioned to this past Monday on Raw when Sikoa defeated Elias. The video ended with Kevin Owens hitting the Stunner and standing tall.
-Zayn and the Usos were in the back. Zayn had his hair tied up. He asked what the Usos thought of the jacket. Jey said that Zayn looked good. Zayn then asked where Sikoa was. Jey said he was with Reigns. Zayn left to get some water. Jey turned to Jimmy and said that Zayn is going to be a full blown Uce tonight. Jimmy said he doesn’t think that’s going to happen. Jey said it’s good. Jimmy then said that Jey knows how Reigns is. He said he thinks Jey set Zayn up for a disappointment. Jey reiterated that tonight is going to be a good night.
(McDonald’s Analysis: The video packages for Gunther and Ricochet were well done and added some importance to their match. They should do this with Ricochet in lieu of promos, every chance they get. He’s not interesting as a talker, but their video editors certainly make him seem more interesting. Anyway, interesting segment with the Usos. Zayn is clearly anxious and playing it well. But the Usos. What’s going on here? Jey is so certain and so happy for Zayn and Jimmy thinks that maybe they’re setting him up for disappointment? Is it possible that Jey is doing that on purpose? Is he more in on it than Jimmy is? So much intrigue here. Can’t wait for the segment later.)
-Cole and Barrett were ringside again. Cole threw to a video recap of the segment involving L.A. Knight and a masked man in the dark last week. After the recap, Cole explained that they received a QR code. He then threw to the footage.
-Knight was tied up and wearing a mask. A hand caressed his masked face and removed the mask. Knight had tape over his mouth. The video ended and Knight was walking in the back. Cole asked what that was on video and hyped Knight’s appearance for after the break. [c]
-L.A. Knight was in the ring. The crowd booed him. Knight said that he’s been blindsided, cheap shotted, abducted and tied up the past few weeks. He mentioned Bray Wyatt. He said Wyatt was a former WWE champion and his return is one of the most talked about returns ever. He said Wyatt hasn’t done anything since he’s been back. Knight said that Wyatt has attacked him multiple times and Wyatt keeps saying it’s not him. Knight imitated Wyatt. Knight said he knows it’s Wyatt because he can feel him. Knight called Wyatt to the ring so he can get “stomped out, yeah”.
-Wyatt’s music played and he made his entrance. He repeated Knight’s “yeah, yeah, yeah”. Wyatt then said he missed Chicago. He turned to Knight and said he’s sick of him. The crowd chanted “Bray, Bray”. Wyatt said he’s sick of the game they’ve been playing. He said he knows that Knight doesn’t believe him and he understands why, but Knight is barking up the wrong tree. Wyatt said he hasn’t touched Knight, but they both know how the story ends. Wyatt got on the apron. He said he’s going to give Knight another chance to deliver his message. Wyatt began to enter the ring and Knight attacked. Knight beat down Wyatt in the corner. Suddenly, Uncle Howdy appeared on the screen. He asked what Knight has done. The voice then asked if Knight wanted to see something really scary. Wyatt laughed in the corner. Knight started to stomp again. Smoke then appeared on the ramp and a man in a top hat appeared. It seemed to be Uncle Howdy. Wyatt stared at Knight. Uncle Howdy laughed on the ramp. Knight exited the ring. Wyatt laughed with Howdy. The screen then faded to black. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, there’s some movement. If anyone thought that Wyatt and Howdy were the same person, I think this squashes that. I was a little disappointed with the video they showed from last week. This made up for that. The most interesting part was Wyatt seeming to be aligned with Howdy. We’ve thought they were against each other up to this point. Is this a plot hole, or has Wyatt succumbed to the urges and pressure of Howdy? Are they not aligned and is this a red herring? As per usual, there’s more questions than answers with Wyatt, but I think this is a step in the right direction. I want to find out the relationship between Howdy and Wyatt at this point. On top of that, I want to see this match.)
-Roman Reigns arrived with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa at his side. Heyman beckoned Reigns “this way” and they walked toward the locker room. They then showed a graphic for Reigns’ return as Barrett hyped the segment.
-Ricochet made his entrance. Cole ran down Ricochet’s victories in the Smackdown World Cup on his way to the title shot against Gunther.
-Gunther made his entrance with Imperium at his side.
– Adam Pearce was in the ring. He sent Imperium to the back. Formal ring introductions took place.
(2) RICOCHET vs. GUNTHER (c) – Intercontinental Championship Match
Ricochet kicked at Gunther but Gunther moved away. Gunther caught one of Ricochet’s kicks and went for a clothesline but Ricochet ducked away. Gunther took Ricochet down and went for a single leg. Ricochet squirmed away. Gunther took Ricochet down with a hip toss. Gunther then went after the arm and put Ricochet in an armbar. Gunther wrenched the arm and Ricochet flipped out and to his feet but Gunther kept the hold on. Gunther took Ricochet down with a double leg then slung Ricochet across the ring. Gunther missed a chop and Ricochet kicked at Gunther’s legs. Ricochet took Gunther down with a headlock takedown. Gunther went for a German suplex but Ricochet landed on his feet. Ricochet took Gunther down with a kick then hit a dropkick in the corner. Ricochet charged Gunther in the corner and Gunther moved then hit a big boot that sent Ricochet to the floor. Gunther followed Ricochet out and slammed him into the barricade. Gunther taunted Ricochet. [c]
Ricochet went after Gunther but Gunther stopped him in his tracks with a chop. Gunther chopped Ricochet again then stomped at him. Gunther stood over Ricochet and pulled him to his feet. Gunther held the arm of Ricochet and chopped him down. Gunther held onto the arm. Ricochet tried to fight back, but Gunther sent Ricochet into the corner hard. Barrett mentioned that the person in the hoodie who helped Bayley was Xia Li. Cole said we’ll find out why later. Gunther put Ricochet in a Boston Crab. Ricochet turned it around and fought out. Ricochet kicked at Gunther and Gunther was rocked against the ropes. Ricochet went for a headlock but Gunther lifted Ricochet and delivered a backbreaker for a near fall. Gunther reapplied the Boston Crab out of the kickout. Gunther transitioned into an STF. Ricochet got his foot on the bottom rope and Gunther broke the hold.
Gunther taunted Ricochet and lifted him to his feet. Ricochet fought back but Gunther stopped him with a front facelock followed by a big chop. Gunther then applied a sleeper and a bodyscissor. Ricochet tried to fight out but Gunther delivered shots with his elbow. Ricochet turned it into a pinning attempt but Gunther got out with ease and went back to the sleeper. Ricochet kicked his way out. He tried to lift Gunther on his shoulders but Gunther fought out and punched Ricochet down with a kidney shot. Gunther then slammed Ricochet and covered him for a near fall. Gunther took Ricochet to the corner and chopped away at him. Ricochet collapsed. Gunther lifted Ricochet to his feet and talked trash. Ricochet ducked another chop and answered with chops of his own followed by a big kick. Ricochet hit a dropkick then punched away at Gunther. Ricochet hit a running dropkick that rocked Gunther. Ricochet went for a suplex but Gunther reversed into a front suplex. Gunther hit a running dropkick. Gunther went for a powerbomb but Ricochet wriggled out and onto the apron. Ricochet took Gunther to the outside and sent him into the barricade. Gunther recovered and went for a slam on Ricochet but Ricochet squirmed out and landed on the apron. Ricochet landed a kick then a springboard moonsault that took Gunther down on the outside. Ricochet celebrated. [c]
Gunther stumbled on the outside. Ricochet ran the ropes in the ring and came through the ropes and took out Gunther. Ricochet tossed Gunther into the ring and went to the top rope. Gunther climbed and chopped Ricochet. Gunther went for a German suplex off the top but Ricochet landed on his feet. Ricochet went after Gunther but Gunther delivered a big boot followed by a huge clothesline and covered Ricochet for a near fall. Gunther climbed to the top rope and came off but Ricochet got his feet up to the jaw of Gunther. Ricochet chopped Gunther then delivered a vertical suplex and covered Gunther for a two count. Ricochet went to the top rope and hit a Shooting Star Press. Ricochet made the cover and got a very near fall. Ricochet removed his wrist tape. The crowd chanted “this is awesome”. Ricochet rocked Gunther with a series of strikes. Gunther shoved Ricochet back but Ricochet came right back with punches and kicks. Ricochet then hit a superkick and charged Gunther. Gunther caught him with a chop followed by a powerbomb for yet another close near fall. The crowd popped. Ricochet tried to fight back but Gunther hit the Last Symphony and covered Ricochet for the win.
WINNER: Gunther in 22:00 to retain the Intercontinental Championship
-Imperium entered the ring and celebrated with Gunther as highlights played. Imperium posed and crowd booed. Imperium then lifted Ricochet to his feet. Braun Strowman’s music played and he made his way down the ramp to the ring. Strowman entered the ring and Imperium fled. Strowman screamed at them from the ring, then helped Ricochet to his feet. Imperium posed at the top of the ramp. Gunther kissed the title.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Really good stuff here. Yet again, the IC title is the highlight of Smackdown. A midcard like this is what I have been asking for and I’m very happy with what we have. We need a few more guys and it fleshed out a bit, but all these guys can go and I enjoy 15-20 minute matches like this week after week. Ricochet looked like he had a chance and this helped with his character. He’s been portrayed as a guy who just won’t quit and that story was actually told here. It felt like he gave Gunther everything he had, but Gunther is just too much. And the truth is, Gunther may be just too much for anyone right now. They did a great job of getting all of that across here. Good booking, good work.)
-Reigns, Sikoa, and Heyman were in the back. Jimmy Uso entered the locker room. Jimmy asked what Reigns was brewing up. He said if Reigns is going to make Zayn an Uso, he likes it alot, but he loves their family. Jimmy said if Reigns doesn’t want to make Zayn because of his past with Kevin Owens, then he gets it. Jimmy said he’s got Reigns and he’ll see him out there. Jimmy left. Reigns turned to Heyman and said “Pearce”. Heyman picked up his phone and told it to call Adam Pearce. [c]
-They showed postcard shots of Chicago. They then showed it snowing outside the arena.
-Reigns, Sikoa, and Heyman were in the back. Adam Pearce entered. Reigns told Heyman to address Pearce. Heyman told Pearce to imagine Reigns and Zayn against Owens and any partner of his choice. Heyman said the partner could even be him. Pearce asked if they wanted the match tonight. Reigns laughed. Pearce then suggested the Royal Rumble. Heyman then suggested December 30th in Tampa, FL. Heyman said it’ll be the biggest tag team match of 2022. Sikoa got in Pearce’s face and Pearce stood up. He said he’d let Owens know, and left.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I’m kind of regretting not getting tickets to that show now. Anyway, I really like the idea of Zayn and Reigns as a team. That will certainly be very interesting. I assume Owens will choose a returning Matt Riddle. Or, ya know, John Cena, since he’s advertised.)
-Cole and Barrett were ringside. Cole said that Tribute to the Troops will be tomorrow. He then threw to a video package on the twenty years of Tribute to the Troops, narrated by John Cena.
-Back in the arena, the crowd chanted U.S.A. They showed a graphic for Tribute to the Troops tomorrow on Fox.
-Legado del Fantasma made their entrance. [c]
-Hit Row was in the ring. The Viking Raiders then made their entrance. Cole said the winners will be the number one contender’s for the tag team titles.
(3) LEGADO DEL FANTASMA (Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro w/ Zelina Vega & Santos Escobar) vs. VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar w/ Valhalla) vs. HIT ROW (Ashante the Adonis & Top Dolla w/ B Fabb)
Ivar and Adonis started the match. Adonis went for a hip toss but Ivar blocked. Adonis knocked Ivar to the floor. Erik entered the ring and took Adonis to the outside. Top Dolla took Erik to the floor. Fantasma entered the ring and took out Top Dolla with a double dropkick. Fantasma then went to the top rope and took out the other competitors with a dive to the outside. Legado del Fantasma celebrated. [c]
Back from break, Adonis hit a superkick on Erik. Top Dolla tagged in and took down Erik then Wilde. Ivar entered the ring and charged Top Dolla but Dolla caught him on his shoulders. Erik came off the ropes and took Dolla down. The Raiders double teamed Dolla. Wilde came off the top rope and took out the Viking Raiders. He then took down Ivar and tagged in Del Toro. Del Toro went to the top rope and hit a twisting splash on Top Dolla for a near fall. Legado del Fantasma went for a double team but Adonis tripped Wilde. Del Toro got taken out by Ivar. Top Dolla was left standing in the ring. He ran the ropes and went for a dive, but Dolla botched the move and landed on his feet. Everyone bumped anyway. Adonis teased a dive of his own but Vega hit him with a headscissors off the top rope. B-Fabb entered and hit a bicycle kick on Vega. Vega and Valhalla and B-Fabb brawled on the outside. Hit Row hit the Heavy Hitter on Wilde after another botch by Top Dolla.
WINNER: Hit Row in 7:00 to earn an Undisputed Tag Team title match next week on Smackdown
(McDonald’s Analysis: Ugh, not a good look for Top Dolla. It was even worse that they won. It makes sense as they were the only faces in the match, but I still don’t care for the decision. They aren’t credible challengers. The Usos should dispose of them in about three minutes if we’re looking at it from a kayfabe perspective. Anyway, I continue to be bothered by the way Legado del Fantasma is treated. Escobar is treated as a big deal, but Wilde and Del Toro are framed as an absolute joke. He would be better off with just Vega.)
-Kayla Braxton was in the back with Raquel Rodriguez. Kayla said there’s going to be a gauntlet match to determine Ronda Rousey’s number one contender next week. She asked if Rodriguez would participate. Rodriguez talked about her arm injury, but said she would compete. Suddenly, Rousey and Shayna Baszler appeared and attacked Rodriguez. Baszler taunted Rodriguez. Rousey tossed a bag of ice at Rodriguez and told her to ice it. Rodriguez writhed in pain.
-They showed a graphic for Reigns’ return. Cole hyped the segment for after the break. [c]
-They hyped the Women’s Gauntlet match for next week, as well as a Christmas Street Fight with Imperium against Strowman and Ricochet.
-Roman Reigns’ music played and he made his entrance with Heyman and the Bloodline in tow. The crowd popped loudly. Cole touted his reign at 838 days. They posed at the top of the ramp and pyro exploded. The Bloodline posed again in the ring and another set of pyro went off. Cole touted the title reigns of Reigns and the Usos again. The crowd chanted “Ucey”. Reigns took the mic from Heyman and paused. Reigns told Chicago to acknowledge him. Reigns then said he hasn’t seen his Bloodline since War Games. He then said in case you didn’t know, they dominated. Reigns then slapped hands with Sikoa, then the Usos, then Zayn. Reigns hugged Zayn. Reigns said it was a great night, but they need to talk about tonight. Reigns said tonight is the night. Reigns said it was going to be a good night, but there’s a problem. Reigns said there’s a K.O. problem. He said he won’t leave Zayn alone. Reigns said he has a solution. Reigns said that he and Zayn are going to team up against Owens. Reigns said that Owens can find anyone he wants, but it doesn’t matter because they’re going to smash him and never see Owens again. Zayn took the mic and called Owens a cancer. Zayn said he drags everyone down. Zayn said he’s Owens’ only friend. Zayn caught himself and said he was Owens’ only friend.
-John Cena appeared on the big screen. He said he got a text message from Kevin Owens. Cena read the message. He said Owens told him he’s had a match every year for twenty years, but not this year. Owens asked Cena if he would be his partner. Cena said that he’ll be Owens’ partner. Cena told the Bloodline has been naughty and it’ll be nice when Cena Claus comes to town. Cole called Cena the greatest of all time and hyped the match for the 30th.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, I speculated that it may be Cena about an hour ago, so I’m not surprised. Reigns was on point here, but they keep cutting him off in these segments, which is a shame. I know Reigns is a heel, but we never get to hear him finish. Seriously, think about it. Reigns always has these announcements or plans, but we never get to hear what they are because the babyfaces always ruin it. Anyway, solid segment, even if tonight was just to set up the episode on the 30th. WWE really isn’t crawling into a hole this Holiday season with a Tag title match last week, two title matches tonight, another Tag title match next week, and then the huge tag match with Reigns and Zayn against Owens and Cena. I’ll give them credit for that.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This episode had some ho-hum moments, but the highlights of the show made up for that and overall, it was a really solid episode. The Women’s Tag Team title match was fine, and had a twist at the end. They announced later in the show (in an odd spot) that it was Xia Li. I’m interested to see what the follow-up to this will be. Is she in Damage Ctrl or does she just have an issue with Morgan and Nox? Either way, it’s the most she’s been involved in pretty much her entire stay on the main roster. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. They announced yet another Women’s Gauntlet match. Why is that the only way we can determine a number one contender for the Women on Smackdown? When was the last time we DIDN’T have a multi-woman match for this? I really wish they would get creative and give us something else. The IC title match was really, really good and told a great story. It also set up another match for next week. I hope they don’t go too far with the Holiday theme as the match itself could actually be really good. The triple threat tag match was kind of a joke with the two big botches by Top Dolla. Unfortunately, they got the win and we’ll have to watch Hit Row attempt to have a match with the Usos next week. Poor Jey Uso. I don’t know if even he can carry the others in this match. Smackdown is trending in the right direction, they just need to continue to build credible challengers in the mid-card and Women’s Divisions and everything else will work itself out. They have most of the tools with the newish roster. They just have to book it correctly.
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