WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reactions and Highlights from December 16
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Roman Reigns returned SmackDown to the Island of Relevancy on Friday night in Chicago, making his first appearance on WWE television since he led The Bloodline to victory over Drew McIntyre, The Brawling Brutes and Kevin Owens.
What did The Tribal Chief have to say to the fans in one of the hottest wrestling cities in the business?
More importantly, what did Sami Zayn have in store for The Head of the Table after Jey Uso suggested he clean himself up for the big night?
Find out now with this recap of a show that also featured two titles up for grabs.
Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Liv Morgan and Tegan Nox vs. Damage CTRL
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Two weeks after a surprise return that saw her come to the aid of Liv Morgan during a beatdown by Damage CTRL, Tegan Nox teamed with the former SmackDown women’s champion to challenge Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky for the Women’s Tag Team Championships in the opening contest of Friday’s show.
The babyfaces started hot, but Nox preventing Morgan from utilizing a kendo stick slowed their momentum. Despite heading into the commercial break on a roll, they found themselves on the defensive coming out of it.
The heels isolated Nox, who fought back and made the much-needed hot tag to Morgan. As the challengers rolled late, Nox deposited Bayley in the front row, only for an unknown assailant in a black hoodie to kick the Welsh competitor and set up the moonsault from Sky for the successful title defense.
Who was that??? ?#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/omHez83AKm
These two teams had considerable chemistry and really jelled well, especially down the stretch. It would have been nice for the entire heat portion not to have occurred during the break so as to further enhance things later in the contest, but it exceeded expectations.
The mystery assailant could easily be Chelsea Green, who has been speculated as a potential returnee for the last month or two. If so, bringing her in for a feud with Nox, or aligning her with Damage CTRL, would kick off her main roster run in a more suitable and successful manner than whatever the previous regime attempted to accomplish during her first stint on Friday nights.
Update: The mystery woman was revealed to be Xia Li backstage in a social media exclusive, seen below.
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. #SmackDown pic.twitter.com/pgo7aRBUAh
Damage CTRL defeated Nox and Morgan
- Shoutout to Michael Cole for his “it’s Friday, you know what that means” in reference to the late Brodie Lee/Luke Harper on what would have been his 43rd birthday.
- “How good is that chemistry going to be when you’re up against the absolute best in Damage CTRL?” Wade Barrett asked on commentary, questioning the experience of the challengers as a team.
- Morgan retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring but Nox stopped her, preventing them from getting disqualified.
- Bayley’s ongoing rivalry with Cole is one of the best running gags in wrestling today.
- Morgan delivered a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron and onto the floor.
LA Knight Calls Out Bray Wyatt
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A week after being abducted by Bray Wyatt backstage, a furious LA Knight hit the ring and called him out.
The former WWE and universal champion asserted that both he and Knight knew how this story would end. Done with the talking, Knight attacked him and beat him down in the corner until a pretaped video from Uncle Howdy aired, ending with him asking, “Ya wanna see something really scary?”
From there, Howdy stepped out onto the stage, leaving everyone involved confused.
This was a newsworthy segment because, for the first time in weeks, something happened. The story has been a slow burn, and while that may not be a bad thing, it desperately needed something for fans to sink their teeth into.
It got it with the reveal that Howdy and Wyatt either are not the same person or the latter is all-in on manipulating perception.
There are some who don’t prefer the supernatural, spooky stuff in wrestling, but it changes the tone of the show and provides something different.
Who knows what the payoff will ultimately be? But Wyatt seems to have more of a command of it than he did as The Fiend, and for that, we should be thankful.
- Wyatt paid tribute to Harper, opening his promo with “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!”
- “I haven’t touched you,” Wyatt said to Knight, playfully dancing around the heel’s accusations.
- “Little pig, what have you done?” Uncle Howdy asked Knight before emerging from the back, revealing that he and Wyatt are apparently not one and the same.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Ricochet vs. Gunther
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After defeating Mustafa Ali, Braun Strowman and Santos Escobar to win the SmackDown World Cup, Ricochet challenged Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship in a hotly anticipated rematch between the two.
The One and Only established that he was not afraid of The Ring General early but the larger, more punishing competitor downed him and worked him over. Ricochet attempted a comeback on two different occasions, but Gunther cut him off, the second time with a painful lariat that would have finished a lesser competitor.
The challenger finally managed a comeback, powering Gunther down with a brainbuster and Shooting Star Press, but he could only generate a two-count. Gunther experienced the same frustration minutes later, unable to keep his opponent down following a powerbomb.
He would rectify that problem moments later, delivering the Last Symphony for the win.
Gunther continued his late push for Wrestler of the Year contention, while Ricochet added to his sneaky good year with a fantastic championship clash that had the fans in Chicago hanging on every near-fall.
The striking was great, the dynamic even better and the story easy to follow. Both competitors threw everything they had at the other before one prevailed. It was a great bit of business and a fine way to wrap up a weekslong story involving the SmackDown World Cup and its winner.
Strowman remained involved in the ongoing story, continuing to present imposing opposition to Gunther and Imperium. Based on his allegiance with Ricochet, expect a tag team match of sorts as soon as next week.
Gunther defeated Ricochet to retain
- Gunther chopped the air out of Ricochet, obliterating his chest with an open-hand strike.
- Ricochet errantly attempted a power move that Gunther shut down quickly.
- The combatants traded strikes late, with Ricochet landing his own chop. A superkick stunned Gunther but chopped him out of midair moments later.
- A powerbomb for a near-fall left the fans on the edges of their seats.
- Backstage, Adam Pearce was summoned to Roman Reigns’ locker room, where he and Paul Heyman negotiated a tag team match pitting The Tribal Chief and Sami Zayn against Kevin Owens and a mystery partner on the December 30 episode of SmackDown.
Triple Threat Tag Team Match: Hit Row vs. Viking Raiders vs. Legado del Fantasma
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The three-way rivalry between Hit Row (Ashante Thee Adonis and Top Dolla), The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) and Legado del Fantasma (Cruz del Toro and Joaquin Wilde) came to a head in a Triple Threat match Friday night in which the winning tandem would earn a shot at The Usos and the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships next week.
B-Fab, Valhalla and Zelina Vega accompanied their respective teams.
An action-heavy match saw things break down late, with the women getting involved and their fight spilling to the floor. Back inside the ring, Hit Row earned the win via pinfall to cash their ticket to next week’s show and the most important match of either competitor’s careers.
This was a lot of fun. While not necessarily the most fluid of matches at all points, it was still a really enjoyable party match that highlighted the blue brand’s tag team division and gave Hit Row the win they needed to be the top babyface tandem on the roster.
It will be interesting to see if Top Dolla actually was hurt following the bout, though, as he was clearly affected by whatever was going on with his left knee.
Hit Row defeated The Viking Raiders and Legado del Fantasma
- Erik rocked Top Dolla but walked right into a double springboard dropkick from Del Toro and Wilde.
- Cole applauded Top Dolla for his recent weight loss (almost 100 pounds).
- Vega brought Ashante down with a hurricanrana, only for B-Fab to get involved, followed by Valhalla. Vega wiped out the latter on the floor as an exclamation point on the women’s involvement.
- Top Dolla was clearly nursing his left knee after the match.
- Backstage, Raquel Rodriguez cut a promo about her intentions to compete in next week’s No. 1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match, but she was attacked and further injured by Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler.
Roman Reigns Returned To SmackDown
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Undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns led The Bloodline to the squared circle for a show-closing promo.
Reigns did not remove the “Honorary” from Sami Zayn’s title, as the underling had hoped and expected, but he did point out the omnipresent Kevin Owens problem that plagues The Bloodline.
He reiterated the tag team match set for the December 30 SmackDown before John Cena appeared on the video screen, read a supposed text from KO and revealed he would compete on December 30 to keep his 20-year streak of WWE matches alive.
Well, if the intent was to make the December 30 episode of SmackDown destination viewing, WWE accomplished that. We knew heading into the show that Cena would return for Dec. 30, but for him to compete in an actual match is a game-changer.
Putting him in the ongoing Owens-Zayn-Reigns story lends credibility to it as the best in WWE right now and shines a greater light on it. Good on him for coming back, agreeing to work the match and keeping that in-ring streak alive.
- “Tonight was going to be a good night for you, but we have a problem. A KO problem,” Reigns said to a suddenly heartbroken Zayn.
- The look on Zayn’s face when he realized he wouldn’t be getting what he wanted was great stuff from the best performer in the company right now.
- “Hey, Peacemaker…” Cena revealed Owens called him in the text before adding, “mermaid, bald eagle, peace emoji.”