By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,165)
Taped December 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
Aired December 24, 2021 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a recap of Roman Reigns firing Paul Heyman and then attacking him, followed by Brock Lesnar making the save…
Footage aired from “earlier today” of Kayla Braxton interviewing Paul Heyman in a backstage area. She noted that it had been a week since he was fired publicly by Reigns. She asked for his side of what happened. Heyman said he told the truth to Reigns and it was the truth he didn’t want to hear publicly.
Heyman said he told the truth and got fired. He said he got smashed in the face publicly. He said he was humiliated in front of his peers publicly. He said he told Reigns the truth and he paid the price for it publicly.
Braxton asked if he regretted telling the truth. Heyman said no because his role as special counsel was to tell Reigns the truth. He said he wanted to explain things to Reigns, but all of his belongings had been tossed into the hallway. Heyman said his role was to protect the championship.
Heyman said Reigns is the greatest Universal Champion of all-time, but he needs to be protected from Lesnar. Braxton asked Heyman what’s next for him. Heyman took a sip of water and pondered going to NXT and cherrypicking a top talent and starting all over again. “Not at this stage,” Heyman said.
Heyman got misty eyed while saying that he believed in Reigns and put everything he had into serving him. “Without that, maybe it’s time for me to acknowledge that my career is most likely over,” he said. Heyman took a deep breath and exhaled…
Michael Cole and Pat McAfee checked in from ringside following a plug for Reigns vs. Lesnar at WWE Day One. They ran through the show’s lineup… Entrances for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match took place. There were Christmas trees and other decorations were set up on the main page… [C]
1. Charlotte Flair vs. Toni Storm for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Flair took offensive control following Storm’s early burst of offense. Storm rallied, but Flair delivered a big boot to the head that knocked Storm to the floor. [C]
Storm performed a nice German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Flair came back by slamming Storm’s face into the middle turnbuckle. Flair dragged Storm to the middle of the ring and then went for a moonsault. Storm rolled out of the way, but Flair landed on her feet and hit a standing moonsault for a two count.
Storm suplexed Flair and set her up for a move, but Flair countered into a figure four and then yelled at Storm to tap while bridging into the figure eight. Storm rolled Flair over to reverse the hold and then grabbed the ropes to break it.
Flair blasted Storm with a big boot to the head and the followed up with a kick that knocked her off the apron. Flair followed Storm to the floor and jawed at her. Storm shoved Flair into the ring post. Back in the ring, Flair went for a pin and held the ropes, but the referee caught her. Storm went for two pins and got near falls. When she tried a third, Flair reversed it and got the three count…
Charlotte Flair defeated Toni Storm in 14:00 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A good, competitive match. Storm gained something in defeat by hanging with Flair. The key for Storm will be whether they can establish her personality. I felt like I knew more about her from watching the Mae Young Classic than I do from seeing her on Smackdown thus far.
Highlights aired from last week of Drew McIntyre pulling his sword out of the desk that Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss stole…
King Woods and Kofi Kingston were chatting backstage when McIntyre showed up. They spoke about their Miracle on 34th Street Fight. McIntyre said there was a chance that he would beat Madcap Moss so badly that he wouldn’t make WWE Day 1. The New Day duo led McIntyre in joining them corny laughter after one of them said “seasons beatings”…
Powell’s POV: Poor McIntyre. The New Day duo work for the masses, but there are times when I find them more annoying than Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss.
Rick Boogs played his guitar and as part of his introduction for Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura… [C] Highlights aired of Xia Li saving Naomi from Sonya Deville, Natalya, and Shayna Baszler…
Backstage, Li delivered a promo and stated that she’s known women like Natalya all her life. She said they are drowning in fear and it crushes their spirits. She said if that’s what you do, then she won’t fear you and will fight you. Li said she is The Protector…
Powell’s POV: They really have something with the Li character. She is off to a really good start on the main roster.
2. The 12 Days of Christmas gauntlet match for an Intercontinental Title shot. Nakamura and Boogs watched from ringside. Angel and Mansoor were the first two entrants. Mansoor leapt from the ropes into a super kick. Angel followed up with the Wing Clipper and score the pin.
Mansoor was eliminated by Angel.
The third entrant was Erik of the Viking Raiders. Angel kicked Erik as he was entering the ring and sent him to the floor. Angel slammed Erik’s head onto the mat and kicked him. Angel went for a moonsault from the middle rope, but Erik caught him and slammed him on the floor. [C]
Angel avoided Erik going for double knees in the corner. Angel spiked Erik’s face into the mat, then followed up with a Wing Clipper and pinned him.
Erik was eliminated by Angel.
The fourth entrant was Shanky. Angel dropkicked him as he was climbing over the top rope to enter the ring. Shanky quickly regrouped and put Angel down with a clothesline. Shanky threw a weird chop to Angel’s chest and hit him with an elbow in the corner. Shanky followed up with an arm drag and then hoisted up Angel on his shoulders and dropped him to the mat before pinning him.
Angel was eliminated by Shanky.
Powell’s POV: Whatever Angel gained from winning the first two stages of the match was wiped away when he was destroyed by Shanky.
The fifth entrant was Ivar of the Viking Raiders. Ivar dominated Shanky and then performed a top rope splash before scoring the quick pin.
Shanky was eliminated by Ivar.
The sixth entrant was Sheamus. Ivar threw punches at Sheamus and knocked him over the top rope. [C] Ridge Holland was in Sheamus’s corner coming out of the break. Ivar picked up a near fall after sitting on his chest. Ivar went up top, but Sheamus cut him off with punches. Sheamus put Ivar on his back, but Ivar punched free. Sheamus caught Ivar with the Brogue Kick and then pinned him.
Ivar was eliminated by Sheamus.
Powell’s POV: I’m guessing there was a clunky spot before the Brogue Kick, as the cameras awkwardly cut to Moss and then Nakamura and Boogs, then cut back to Sheamus hitting his finisher.
The seventh entrant was Drew Gulak. McAfee built up Gulak as a ground and pound expert. Gulak entered the ring and immediately took a Brogue Kick before being pinned by Sheamus.
Drew Gulak was eliminated by Sheamus.
The eighth entrant was Cesaro, who came out with his ribs wrapped. Sheamus left the ring and fought with his former tag partner at ringside. Cesaro rolled Sheamus back inside the ring.
[Hour Two] Cesaro went up top and performed a cross body block for a near fall. Cesaro set up for The Swing, but Sheamus fought him off and then targeted Cesaro’s injured ribs. Cesaro fought back and performed The Swing, but he could only get him around a few times before he went back to selling his ribs. Cesaro set up for a Neutralizer, but he let it go when Holland stood on the apron. Sheamus took advantage of the distraction and ended up hitting a Brogue Kick for the win.
Cesaro was eliminated by Sheamus.
The ninth entrant was Ricochet, who sent Sheamus to ringside and then performed a springboard moonsault onto him. [C] Sheamus clubbed Ricochet’s chest ten times and then went up top. Ricochet avoided whatever move Sheamus was going for, then hit him with a DDT for a near fall. Ricochet went for a Lionsault, but Sheamus put his knees up and then covered him for a two count.
Ricochet followed up with a standing moonault for a two count. Ricochet went up top and was distracted by Holland, allowing Sheamus to knocked Ricochet to the floor. Sheamus brought Ricochet back to the ring. Meanwhile, Cesaro returned and shoved Holland into a cameraman. Ricochet dropkicked a distracted Sheamus from behind and then pinned him.
Sheamus was eliminated by Ricochet.
Powell’s POV: I’m not sure if Holland was supposed to hit the cameraman or if that was meant to be a ring post spot and the cameraman got in the way.
The tenth entrant was Humberto. Sheamus put Ricochet down with a Brogue Kick before leaving the ring. Humberto went for a top rope moonsault, but Ricochet put his feet up. Ricochet hit the Recoil and got a three count.
Humberto was eliminated by Ricochet.
The eleventh entrant was Jinder Mahal. Ricochet went to ringside to greet him, but Mahal dumped him onto the edge of the apron. Mahal went for his Khallas finisher, but Ricochet countered into a rollup for the win.
Jinder Mahal was eliminated by Ricochet.
The twelfth and final entrant was Sami Zayn. [C] Ricochet performed a huracanrana that pulled Zayn off the ropes and then got a really close near fall. Zayn eventually avoided Ricochet going for a dropkick in the corner. Zayn performed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. A short time later, Zayn hit an exploder suplex. Ricochet stuffed Zayn’s finisher and got a near fall of his own. Ricochet went up top and was cut off by Zayn, who was eventually knocked off the ropes. Ricochet went for a shooting star press, but Zayn put his knees up and hit another exploder suplex. Zayn connected with a Helluva Kick and scored the pin…
Sami Zayn defeated Ricochet to win the 12 Days of Christmas gauntlet match in 43:00 for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: I’m all for Zayn getting the win. He’s one of the most entertaining acts on the show and did a tremendous job during his recent segments with Brock Lesnar. I hope that Ricochet looking strong in defeat is a sign that things are going to get better for him creatively, but seeing is believing at this point.
Highlights aired of Roman Reigns firing Paul Heyman on last week’s show… [C] Cole set up a video on the career of Paul Heyman. It included classic footage of him from his telephone carrying days as a manager in WCW and as the man behind the ECW promotion…
Powell’s POV: While it was fun to see some old footage, they started a little late by making it seem like his career started in WCW. But this served its purpose in terms of selling the story that Heyman’s career could be over.
The broadcast team hyped Reigns vs. Lesnar for WWE Day 1, then shots aired of the Christmas related items that were placed around the ring for main event. The heel trio made their entrances… [C] The babyface trio made their entrance coming out of the break…
3. Drew McIntyre and “New Day” King Woods and Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Madcap Moss (w/Happy Corbin) in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight. There were Christmas trees, presents, wreathes, and other Christmas items at ringside. Corbin entered the ring and hit McIntyre with a kendo stick a few minutes into the match while the referee stood and watched due to the nature of the match. On the stage, the Usos tossed the New Day duo into presents and gift boxes. [C] An ad for Raw hyped The Miz and Maryse renewing their wedding vows (what could possibly go wrong?).
The heels were dominating coming out of the break. The babyfaces rallied. Kingston leapt from the top rope and hit both Usos at ringside with trays of Christmas cookies. In the ring, McIntyre made his comeback and set up for a Claymore Kick, but Corbin grabbed his leg to stop him. McIntyre chased Corbin around the ring.
Corbin ended up being stuck between McIntyre and Kingston, who had a kendo stick. Kingston dropped the kendo stick and then poured a pitcher of eggnog over the head of Corbin, who was barking at McIntyre. Moss joined Corbin on the floor and then McIntyre poured eggnog over both of their heads. McIntyre rolled Moss inside the ring, hit him with a Claymore Kick, and scored the pin…
Drew McIntyre and “New Day” King Woods and Kofi Kingston defeated Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, and Madcap Moss in 13:00 in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight.
Afterward, McIntyre, Kingston, and Woods tossed out action figures and other items to fans while Cole and McAfee closed things out with Christmas greetings…
Powell’s POV: Normally, the heels should have won this match to get some heat heading into their pay-per-view matches, but you had to know the babyface trio would go over clean on the holiday edition. McIntyre vs. Moss doesn’t feel pay-per-view worthy, and the creative forces seem like they are doing their best to destroy any mystique that The Usos vs. New Day matches have by overexposing them in matches together.
Overall, this was fine for a holiday episode. The silliness of the Christmas items being used as weapons is harmless compared to some of the sports entertainment madness we’ve seen in past years. On a side note, the sound of the show was abysmal. WWE has been going overboard when it comes to piping in extra crowd noise lately, but they really seemed to go crazy on this show. It sounded like they added the hum of the crowd that was used during the ThunderDome days. Whatever it was, very little sounded natural and it was distracting throughout the night. My audio review of this episode will be available at some point this weekend due to the holiday. Speaking of which, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.