By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,217)
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
Aired live December 16, 2022 on Fox
The Usos and Sami Zayn drove up in an SUV. Sami had his hair up in a top knot, and his beard was trimmed up. He dapped up The Usos and the Smackdown intro package aired.
Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the TV audience to the show. Liv Morgan then made her entrance for the opening match. I think this was a new remix of her theme. Video was shown of Tegan Nox’s return from two weeks ago. She then made her ring entrance. They were followed by Damage Control. Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Dakota Kai were all present.
1. “Damage CTRL” Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox and Liv Morgan: Dakota and Liv started the match. Liv backed Kai into the corner and made a quick tag to Tegan Nox. They traded strikes, and Kai tagged Nox with a kick that knocked her down. Sky then tagged in, but Nox caught her with a vertical suplex into a facebuster. Liv then tagged back in and they landed a double team vertical suplex.
Liv hit the ropes and Kai kicked her in the back. She gave chase and pulled a Kendo Stick from under the ring. Nox had to calm Liv down, which led to the heels taking over. Fortunes were reversed as Morgan and Nox cleared the heels from the ring. Morgan teased a suicide dive, but it was a distraction as Nox came off the tope rope and splashed them instead…[c]
Tegan stretched to make a tag, but Kai pulled her to the mat and landed a double stomp for a near fall. Sky then tagged back in and both Kai and Sky landed a rather ineffective sequence of strikes. Nox broke free from Sky with a headbutt and made a tag to Morgan. She landed an enziguri on Kai and a running knee lift in the corner. Morgan then kipped up and took out Sky from the apron, but got caught with a running kick from Kai in the corner.
Nox broke up the pinfall, but was sent out of the ring by Kai. Morgan landed a Codebreaker to Sky and tagged in Nox. She then landed a Shiniest Wizard and covered, but it was broke up by Kai. Morgan then took out Kai with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb from the apron to the floor. Sky then flew in from out of frame with a running dropkick.
Sky and Nox tangled in the ring. Nox went for another Shiniest Wizard, but Sky landed a Shotei and broke it up. Nox fired back and landed a kick on Sky, but Bayley got involved to prevent further damage. On the floor, Nox tossed Bayley into the crowd, but someone in all black clothing showed up and kicked Nox in the face. Sky then tossed Nox back in the ring and landed a top rope Moonsault for the win.
Damage CTRL defeated Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai at 14:48
After the match, Michael Cole introduced a hype package for Gunther in advance of the Intercontinental Championship Match in the main event. The video package focused on Gunther’s physicality. He did compliment Ricochet as one of the most gifted athletes he’s ever seen. He promised to break his spirit and retain his championship.
The saga between Uncle Howdy and LA Knight is next…[c]
My Take: A solid opening match. There were some very good-looking spots, and also several where the daylight was pretty obvious on the strikes. It’ll be interesting to see whether the mystery person was targeting Nox specifically or if they are a new member of Damage CTRL.
Ricochet’s video package aired after the break. It focused on his Smackdown World Cup win, and Ricochet telling Gunther he would give him the fight of his life last week. Cole and Barrett then introduced a video package that focused on Kevin Owens attacking the Bloodline two weeks ago, and said Roman Reigns was there tonight to address the Kevin Owens problem.
Sami Zayn was backstage with The Usos asking them about how he looked. They both said he looked good, and he was anxious about Roman Reigns making an appearance. He said he needed to get some water, and Jey speculated while he was gone that Roman was going to make him a full blown Uce. Jimmy had his doubts because of Kevin Owens showing up Monday, and thought they were setting Sami up for disappointment.
Cole and Barrett then aired another video, this time showing LA Knight running into Uncle Howdy backstage. Cole then aired some cell phone footage that was sent via QR Code, which showed LA Knight tied up wearing an Uncle Howdy Mask with his mouth taped shut. Knight was then shown backstage heading towards the ring…[c]
My Take: The video packages have been good tonight, but it’s probably not the most exciting stuff for the live crowd.
LA Knight was in the ring when the show returned. He told the crowd to shut up because he had business to take care of. He said he had been blindsided and kidnapped the last few weeks, and he’s still knocking Bray Wyatt’s front door. He gave Bray credit for being a former WWE Champion and having a highly anticipated return, but said he’s done nothing but dress like a circus freak and talk a lot without getting to the point. He told Wyatt that he should put on whatever mask or costume he needs to and get down to the ring and get stomped out.
Bray’s music hit and smoke poured into the arena. He walked out on stage and told Chicago he had missed them, but told LA Knight he was sick of him. Wyatt said he was sick of the game they are playing, and he knows he doesn’t believe him. He said he’s barking up the wrong tree, because he hasn’t touched him. Bray said deep down they both know how this story ends, and stepped up on the apron.
Wyatt said that since they both know how it ends, he would give him one more chance to say his message and make it worth his while. As Bray stepped in the ring, Wyatt stomped him out as promised. An Uncle Howdy video played on the screen and asked if we wanted to see something really scary. Wyatt laughed and Knight continued to attack him.
Uncle Howdy, wearing a hat and a latex mask, then walked out onto the stage and laughed while Knight backed out of the ring. Wyatt then started smiling and the show cut to commercial…[c]
My Take: I keep waiting to be impressed by Bray Wyatt’s new character, but thus far it lacks substance and relies too much on stretching out the very thin material from week to week.
A commercial aired for the 20th anniversary of Tribute to the Troops that will air on Fox tomorrow at 2:30pm ET. Roman Reigns was shown walking into the building backstage. Ricochet made his ring entrance for the Intercontinental Championship Match. He was followed by Gunther, who wore his bright red coat. Adam Pearce was in the ring, and dismissed Gunther’s Imperium mates Vinci and Kaiser to the back before the ring announcements could be made. Samantha Irvin then made the ring announcements with the WWE World Cup set up in the ring.
2. Gunther vs. Ricochet: Both men circled each other to start. Gunther got an early advantage with some mat-based offense, but Ricochet escaped with some acrobatics. Gunther grabbed Ricochet by the legs and tossed him across the ring. Ricochet ducked a chop, and avoided a german suplex with a backflip. He then landed a dropkick and some strikes in the corner. Gunther managed to send Ricochet to the floor with a Big Boot when he attempted a springboard. Gunther followed and slammed Ricochet on the apron, and then chopped him in the chest…[c]
Gunther landed a couple of chops and a scoop slam. The announce team broke the news that the mystery attacker from the opening match was revealed as Xia Li. Gunther applied a Boston Crab in the center of the ring. Ricochet broke free and managed to land some kicks and chops, but Gunther shut him down with a backbreaker. He then applied another Boston Crab, and transitioned into an STF, but Ricochet was able to reach the ropes.
Ricochet was unable to mount any offense. Gunther landed a huge slap to the chest and applied a sleeper with a body scissors. Ricochet managed to break free of the body scissors, but Gunther still continued to hold onto the sleeper. He used kicks to escape, but was unable to pick up Gunther and collapsed to the mat. Gunther packed him up and landed a butterfly suplex.
Gunther landed several more chops in the corner and Ricochet collapsed. He lined up for another chop, but Ricochet missed and landed some chops and kicks of his own. Gunther tried to cover up, but Ricochet landed a dropkick in the corner. He then failed to pick him up for a suplex, and Gunther landed a dropkick of his own. Gunther picked up Ricochet for a Powerbomb, but he flipped out of it and sent Gunther to the floor.
Ricochet landed a dropkick from the apron to the floor. He then landed several kicks from the apron and then landed a springboard moonsault onto Gunther…[c]
Both men sold exhaustion. Ricochet took out Gunther on the floor with a suicide dive. They ended up on the top turnbuckle and Gunther attempted a throw. Ricochet landed on his feet, but was taken out by a lariat from Gunther for a close near fall. Gunther went to the top rope, but landed on Ricochet’s feet. He then landed a vertical suplex for a near fall. Ricochet went to the top rope and landed a shooting star press, but Gunther kicked out at 2.9.
Ricochet pulled the tape off his wrists and landed some slaps and kicks. He went for a double legged dropkick, but Gunther chopped him out of the air and landed a powerbomb for another 2.9 kickout. Ricochet fired back with chops, but Gunther picked him up and landed the Last Symphony (Emerald Flowsion for Misawa Fans) and got the win.
Gunther defeated Ricochet to retain the Intercontinental Championship at 21:37
After the match, Imperium ran down to the ring to congratulate Gunther and put the boots to Ricochet. Braun Strowman’s music hit and he ran down to the ring to clear out the heels. He then picked up Ricochet and raised his arm.
Backstage, Jimmy Uso walked into the Bloodline locker room and asked Roman what he had planned. He told Roman that he thought it would be great if he made Sami an official Uso. He likes Sami, and that’s his dawg, but he loves his family and Roman. Jimmy said he’d understand if Roman didn’t want to make him because of his past with Kevin Owens. He then told Roman he’d see him out there. After Jimmy left, Roman told Paul Heyman to call Adam Pearce…[c]
My Take: Gunther and Ricochet had my favorite match of the week by far. Very much worth going out of your way to see. The Bloodline segment to close the show should be an interesting one.
Adam Pearce walked up to Roman, Solo, and Heyman backstage. Roman told Pearce to sit down, and offered him a match for Monday. He offered a match between Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn against Kevin Owens and a partner of his choosing. Pearce asked them if they wanted to do it tonight, and Roman laughed. Heyman said the match could take place December 30th on Smackdown in Tampa.
Cole and Barrett introduced a video package that recalled the 20 year history of Tribute to the Troops, narrated by John Cena. After the video, Legado Del Fantasma made their entrance for a triple threat tag team match. Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro were accompanied by Zelina Vega and Santos Escobar…[c]
My Take: Roman Reigns has a nice schedule. He works matches about once a month.
Hit Row finished their entrance as the show returned. B-Fab joined Ashante “Thee” Adonis and Top Dolla. They were followed by the Viking Raiders. Erik and Ivar were accompanied by Valhalla, formerly known as Sarah Logan.
3. “Legado Del Fantasma” Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro vs. “Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashante “Thee” Adonis vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar: Ashante and Erik started the match. They spilled to the outside quickly. Top Dolla then clotheslined Wilde and Del Toro out to the floor. Erik recovered, and he and Top Dolla then spilled to the outside as well. Del Toro and Wilde then quickly got to the top rope and landed dueling tornillo splashes on everyone else at ringside…[c]
Top Dolla landed a series of lariats and big boots, but was cut down by Erik with a spear. The Raiders then caught him with a springboard clothesline combo with a German Suplex. Wilde broke up the pinfall attempt with a top rope dropkick. Del Toro tagged in and landed a Phoenix Splash on Top Dolla for a close near fall. Ashante jumped back in and landed a DDT on Wilde. Action was frenetic as multiple rapidly flew out of the ring. Top Dolla attempted a dive over the top but botched it terribly.
Zelina Vega got involved and landed a flying head scissors on Ashante. B-Fab then took her out with a kick. B-Fab then tackled Valhalla on the outside. Vega took off from the ropes and took them both out with a splash. Back in the ring. Top Dolla and Ashante landed a double team Suplex and Dropkick combination on Joaquin Wilde for the win.
Hit Row defeated Legado Del Fantasma and The Viking Raiders at 9:20
After the match, Raquel Gonzalez was interviewed about her injured elbow. She was icing it outside of her arm brace. She said doctors have cautioned her not to rush back into her comeback, but this is personal. From off screen, Ronda and Shayna attacked Raquel and repeatedly kicked her injured elbow. They gave her the ice back and told her 20 minutes should do it…[c]
My Take: I didn’t get a great recap of the final minutes of that match because I busted up laughing when Top Dolla attempted that suicide dive and damn near broke his spine into 45 pieces. I’m not sure how he thought lumbering slowly towards the ropes would get him the lift he needed to leap over the top rope, but it went about as poorly as that spot can go. The match itself was full of moments where it didn’t seem like these teams were on the same page.
A women’s gauntlet match, as well as a Miracle on 34th Street Fight was announced for next week. The Bloodline’s music hit, and they headed to the ring together. Roman wore a new Island of Relevancy shirt that featured Sami Zayn as part of the Bloodline. Wade Barrett questioned whether tonight was a commencement ceremony for Sami Zayn.
Roman told Chicago to acknowledge him, and said he hadn’t seen his Bloodline WarGames. He reminded the crowd that they dominated WarGames. He gave everybody a hug, and then got to Sami Zayn. He teased him at first and then gave him a hug. Roman said that was a great night, but tonight is the night. He turned to Sami Zayn and said tonight was going to be a good night for him, but they have a KO problem.
He continued and said KO won’t leave Sami alone and dragged him down. If Sami had a KO problem, then Roman has a KO problem, but he’s got a solution. They would have a tag match against KO and any partner he can find. Sami jumped in and said he’s absolutely right, Kevin is toxic and betrays everyone in his life, in fact Sami is his only friend. He was quick to correct himself and said he “was” his only friend, and said it would be an honor to join Roman in a tag match and solve the problem once and for all.
Suddenly, John Cena appeared in a video that played on the big screen. He said he got a text from his good friend Kevin Owens that his streak of competing in a match for 20 consecutive years was at risk of coming to an end. He rattled off some strange emoji’s that Kevin sent him, and accepted the opportunity to continue his streak by teaming with Kevin to face The Bloodline on December 30th in Tampa. Cena said to make a list and check it twice, because the Bloodline has been naughty and Cena-Claus was coming to town.
Roman smiled and laughed while Sami Zayn looked terrified. They looked at each other and Roman assured him that they had it under control to close the show.
My Take: I was expecting a longer segment from the Bloodline, but I guess the payoff was John Cena returning, so that should make for a strong final episode of the year. Overall, this was a good show, but it was carried in large part by the phenomenal Intercontinental Title match. I’ll have more to say in my audio review for members coming up later tonight.