WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Numbers, Reactions and Highlights as of December 30th
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Keeping a 20-year streak intact on Friday night, John Cena returned to SmackDown for a year-end close where he teamed up with Kevin Owens to take on Sami Zayn and undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.
Cena’s first and only match of 2022 was to headline an episode that also saw the SmackDown Women’s Championship defended by Ronda Rousey and the final in the battle for supremacy between The Brawling Brutes and The Bloodline.
Bray Wyatt kicked off SmackDown
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Bray Wyatt kicked off the evening’s broadcast and immediately apologized for his actions a week ago, assaulting an innocent cameraman. LA Knight interrupted, however
After Knight issued a challenge to a match at Royal Rumble and Wyatt accepted, Uncle Howdy made his way to the ring. He came face to face with Wyatt, then got to his side before dropping the former WWE Champion with sister Abigail, leaving Knight to ask, “What’s going on?!”
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/lenXLKnn5l
This was a remarkable start to the show. It brought Howdy back into the arena and this time his actions suggest he may not be on the same side as Wyatt. Knight audibly wondering what’s going on mirrors the audience’s sentiment as they try to figure out the pieces of the puzzle that Wyatt and the creative forces at play are producing.
The Rumble match between Wyatt and Knight should go well and more importantly prevent the former from losing in the actual Royal Rumble.
- “Deep down, I don’t consider myself a good person, although I really try.”
- “You can’t even finish a sentence, then you get embarrassed and take it out on a poor cameraman,” Knight mocked Wyatt.
- “You pay one of your henchmen to come here in a Captain Howdy outfit…”
- “You used to be something. You used to be a force,” Knight said, taunting Wyatt. “Week after week you just proved yourself to be a fraud. An unhinged loser.’
- Uncle Howdy entered the arena and stepped through what appeared to be an inflamed doorway, complete with his own theme music.
Sheamus vs. Solo score
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A pretty physical match kicked off the in-ring action of the night as Sheamus from The Brawling Brutes battled Solo Sikoa from The Bloodline one-on-one. Butch and Ridge Holland joined The Celtic Warrior while The Usos supported their brother.
Sheamus fought from below and fired up late, but a momentary distraction caused by his attack on Jimmy and Jey allowed Sikoa to drive him to the post and deliver a Samoan Spike for the pinfall victory.
After the match, The Bloodline destroyed Butch and Holland and defeated Sheamus until Drew McIntyre returned and made the save for the first time since Survivor Series.
A little more flavor for Sikoa and this would have been a real stunner but as it stands this was a fine competitive match that put the spotlight on the young star and at the same time put Sheamus’ ruggedness at this point in his Hall of Fame career continued to emphasize.
McIntyre’s rescue makes sense not only because of his respect for Sheamus, but also because of the unfinished business he has with Sikoa. It was the NXT export that cost The Scottish Warrior the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Clash At The Castle and the company has done a fantastic job with the slow burn rather than jumping at the first opportunity to book the match.
Sikoa pinned Sheamus
- Sheamus destroyed The Usos at ringside, allowing Sikoa to grab him by the arm and drive him into the ring post.
- McIntyre’s save drew a big bang, a testament to his continued popularity with the WWE fans.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Raquel Rodriguez vs. Ronda Rousey
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Driven by rage after multiple bouts in which she injured an arm, Raquel Rodriguez wasted little time taking on SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey in their title fight Friday night.
Taking advantage of a fateful blind attack on the way to the break, Rousey took aim at the arm, looking to exploit it to her advantage as she took control. A big vertical suplex coming out of the break gave Rodriguez a two count.
Later, Shayna Baszler’s interference went unpunished by the referee and moments later a recovered Rousey applied the armbar and pulled her from the top rope to the mat below, forcing an instant tapout.
With zero time to lose, Charlotte Flair returned to WWE months after losing the same SmackDown Women’s Championship to Rousey and challenged them to a match tonight. Rousey accepted and Flair escaped and scored a pin on Rousey to win the title.
WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!@MsCharlotteWWE IS BACK AND JUST HAVE THE #SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP!!!#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/Rl3nSKyiZb
This is an expert Jedi mind trick here, as Triple H and the creative team have the audience cheering Flair in a way she hadn’t been in a long time, partly because of the surprise but also because they really don’t like Rousey that much Lake.
It will of course be interesting to see if Flair can maintain that popularity as it becomes clear that she is in her 14th reign as champion and literally just walked right back in and took the gold. That said, she is a standard bearer for women’s wrestling and has more than earned her spot.
A new look, theme song and presentation helped rekindle interest in The Queen. Or Triple H and Co. can help maintain that interest is the real question going forward.
As for Rodriguez, she looked very good and was clearly the better of the two wrestlers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her in a high-profile match or position against Flair around WrestleMania 39.
Rousey defeated Rodriguez to retain; Flair defeated Rousey to win the title
- “Oh, we’re bleeding!” taunted Rousey as she continued her reign over Rodriguez.
- Rousey grabbed Rodriguez’s arm, but the challenger charged through and fell to the ground, powerbombing the champion into the ring apron.
- Rodriguez had won the title, but Baszler intervened on behalf of the champion when the commentary team called for her dismissal from ringside. It didn’t come.
Gunther’s path of destruction
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Intercontinental champion Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci entered the ring for a promo segment, but Braun Strowman interrupted relatively quickly.
Strowman challenged to an IC title match, but Gunther turned and walked off. Strowman insisted and a brawl broke out. The Monster Among Monsters launched itself towards The Ring General, but crashed through the timekeeper’s barricade. Imperium knocked him down before Gunther targeted his top contender’s left arm.
Vinci and Kaiser fended off referees and officials, but a chair-carrying Ricochet chased the heels off.
It seems destined to be Strowman potentially ending Gunther’s run. Is at least his newest and biggest challenger. Anyway, it was nice to see the heel get some heat back by punishing Strowman and possibly injuring him after running like a coward the last few times he was around the big guy.
The inevitable showdown will be heated and, if recent history is any indication, Gunther will likely give Strowman his best match yet.
- Backstage, Sami Zayn asked Roman Reigns if he was mad about the crowd chanting his name instead of The Tribal Chief, to which the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion laughed it off.
- A friendly backstage competition gave way to a heated exchange between Hit Row and Ricochet after the latter called Top Dolla “Flop Dolla”, in response to his recent botched dive.
- Michael Cole announced Wyatt vs. Knight officially referred to Royal Rumble as the “Mountain Dew Pitch Black” match, but did not go into details.
John Cena and Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn
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John Cena may have made his first return to the ring in 2022 as part of Friday’s main event tag team match, but the story of the first half was Sami Zayn, trying to impress Roman Reigns while representatives of The Bloodline competed against The Greatest of All Time and Kevin Owens.
The heels isolated and knocked Owens down during the commercial break, cutting him off from Cena. When it looked like a hot tag was coming, The Tribal Chief pulled Cena off the platform.
Cena eventually exploded in the match, destroying Reigns with an Attitude Adjustment and watching Owens finish Zayn with a Stunner for the win.
The match was seriously shortened, with only 10 minutes left after the entrances and final commercials ended. The action was abrupt and rushed, with a short heat segment on Owens for the Cena hot tag. By the time he finally hit the ring to kick off the comeback, it was over.
All the hype and Cena’s involvement was limited to a few moves before it went home.
That said, the energy he brought to the match and his selflessness when it came to giving Owens the shine was the stuff of a true professional. His involvement may have been short-lived, but he made the crowd eat out of the palm of his hand and really helped topple Owens by sharing the spotlight with him and letting him get the pin on Zayn.
How will Reigns react if Zayn fails to end the KO issue and, even worse, loses the match for The Bloodline? That will be the story to watch heading into 2023.
Cena and Owens defeated Reigns and Zayn
B, elevated significantly by the fun of it all and Cena’s raw energy, which is largely missing
- Amid the pageantry of the match, Michael Cole slyly reminded the crowd that Zayn is still “honorary” until that title is expunged and he had to impress Reigns and end the KO issue to make that happen. Great setup and a reminder of what’s really at stake in this match.
- “You embarrass yourself in front of The Tribal Chief,” Owens exclaimed.
- Owens scored a frog splash near-fall on Reigns.
- The Cena hot tag was special stuff as was the double Five Knuckle Shuffle on the heels.
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