12/23 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Barnett’s review of The Usos vs. Hit Row for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles, Liv Morgan vs. Tegan Nox vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Xia Li vs. Sonya Deville vs. Emma in a gauntlet match for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Title, Braun Strowman and Ricochet vs. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight


By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,218)
Taped December 16, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
Aired December 23, 2022 on Fox

[Hour One] The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed the crowd to the show with a Happy Holidays message. Roman Reigns’ music played at the start of the show, and the Bloodline made their entrance to the ring. Cole plugged the tag match with John Cena that will happen on the 12/30 show next week, and said it was a test for Sami Zayn to see if he can help solve the Kevin Owens problem. 

Paul Heyman had the mic and said it would be two historic weeks for the greatest faction of all time, The Bloodline. First, The Usos would successfully defend their tag team championships against Hit Row, and called that a spoiler. Then, next week in the beautiful warm city of Tampa, Solo would take out Sheamus, along with “the biggest televised match of 2022” when Kevin Owens and John Cena get smashed by Sami Zayn and the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. 

At that point, Roman asked for the microphone, and a Sami chant broke out. Roman said that’s exactly what he was thinking, because on December 30th he knew what he was going to do, and that’s smash somebody. He said he’s made millions smashing John Cena and KO, but he’s curious what Sami Zayn is going to do. He said he doesn’t look like the Sami he knows, he looks a little flustered and irritated. 

Sami said he should be on top of the world, because he’s found the only things he’s ever wanted, and that’s respect and feeling like he belongs. Everywhere they go crowds chant for him, and you would think it would put him on top of the world, but it doesn’t because there’s a black cloud over his head called Kevin Owens. Last week should have been a great week for Sami, but it was ruined not by Kevin Owens, but by his mere existence. The fact that KO’s name is tied to Sami Zayn for his entire career is running his life. 

Zayn got more intense and said next week they would leave Owens and Cena mangled, because when you step to the Bloodline you get smashed. Sami told them to prepare to do what this city is about to do, and that’s to acknowledge the Tribal Chief. Roman smirked throughout his entire performance, and gave Sami a hug when it was over. The Usos vs. Hit Row is up next…[c]

My Take: A great performance by Sami Zayn. He looked distraught and intense, which appears to be exactly the way Roman Reigns likes him to be. Roman’s facial expressions were excellent throughout.

Sami hyped up the Usos in the ring. Hit Row made their ring entrance for the opening match…

1. Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso (w/Sami Zayn) vs. “Hit Row” Ashante Thee Adonis and Top Dolla (w/B-Fab) for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: Ashante and Jey Uso started the match. Top Dolla was quick to tag in, and Jey took him down with a chop block. Jimmy then tagged in and put the boots to Top Dolla. He then placed him neck first on the second rope and put more boots to him. Referee Jessika Carr tried to break things up, but that just let to more interference from Jey on the apron. They continued to target Top Dolla’s knee as the show rolled to commercial…[c]

After further domination of Hit Row during the break, Ashante tagged into the match and started a comeback on the Usos. He cleared Jey from the ring and landed a tornado DDT on Jimmy. He followed up with a top rope crossbody on Jimmy for a near fall. After a distraction from Jey on the apron, Jimmy caught him with an ugly looking Samoan Drop for a two count. 

Jey tagged in and they setup for 1D, but Top Dolla pulled Jimmy from the ring and shoved him into the steps. Ashante landed a superkick on Jey and covered for a two count. They then landed a Heavy Hitter on Jey, but Jimmy got back into the ring to break up the fall. Top Dolla tried to pick up both Usos, but his leg gave in. The Usos then follow up with a double superkick and 1D for the win. 

Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso defeated “Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis at 9:43 to retain the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles

After the match, The Usos celebrated with Sami Zayn and stared down Hit Row at ringside…

The announce team then introduced a sponsored clip of Gunther vs Ricochet from last week…

Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci were interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Kaiser said their Miracle on 34th Street Fight was a disgrace to their sport, and they would restore honor to their mat when they defeat Braun Strowman and Ricochet later on. 

Back in the arena, Emma made her ring entrance for a six woman Gauntlet match that is up next…[c]

My Take: It might be time to repackage the members of Hit Row. The act isn’t working and Top Dolla in particular continues to struggle mightily in the ring. I’m not sure how much more could be gotten out of them at this point.

The Gauntlet match will consist of Emma, Raquel Rodriguez, Tegan Nox, Liv Morgan, Sonya Deville, and Xia Li. 

Emma was already in the ring, and Xia Li made her entrance as the second entrant. 

2. Emma vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Tegan Nox vs. Liv Morgan vs. Sonya Deville vs. Xia Li in a six-woman Gauntlet Match for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Emma and Xia tied up to start the match. Xia broke against the ropes and landed a thrust to the throat. Emma fired back with a butterfly suplex, and then a running forearm and an Emma Sandwich in the corner for a two count. Xia fired back with side kicks and a Cyclone Kick for the easy win. 

Emma was eliminated at 1:45

Tegan Nox was the next entrant and sought revenge for Xia attacking her during the Women’s Tag Team Title Match last week. Tegan took down Xia with a flurry of strikes and landed a top rope cross body for a two count. Both women ended up on the apron, and Xia landed with a series of strikes that sent Tegan into the ring post. She followed up with another Cyclone Kick and pinned Tegan Nox.

Tegan Nox was eliminated at 3:14

Raquel Rodriguez made her way to the ring as the next entrant…[c]

My Take: Not a hot start to this match. Neither Emma or Tegan were given much of a chance to look good.

The action spilled to the floor as the show returned, and Xia Li targeted the injured elbow of Raquel with a kick. She then slammed Raquel into the ring apron, followed by a running knee strike. Back in the ring, Raquel turned things around with a lariat, and a twisting elbow from the second rope for a two count. Xia landed a rising elbow strike and attempted a Cyclone Kick, but Raquel countered with the Tejana Bomb and eliminated her. 

Xia Li was eliminated at 9:10

Liv Morgan ran down to the ring and went for a codebreaker, but Raquel was too strong and held her in the air. Liv escaped and landed some running knees in the corner. She then went for a flying head scissors, but Raquel held onto her again. Liv turned it into a rollup, but only got a two count. They traded a series of pinfall attempts for two counts. Liv applied a sleeper hold on Raquel’s back, but she was able to escape by jumping onto her back…[c]

Raquel pulled Liv off the top rope, and both women were down on the mat. They both got to their feet at roughly the same time, and Raquel landed a back elbow and a lariat followed by a side slam. Morgan fired back with a Codebreaker to the injured arm, followed by a double stomp to the same arm. She then went to the second rope for a shotgun dropkick and a two count. Liv turned the pinfall into a Rings of Saturn submission.

Morgan continued the pressure and Raquel powered to her feet. She spun Liv around from her back, but Liv “got her knees up” according to Cole for a rough looking exchange. Raquel landed a fallaway slam and a corkscrew elbow from the second rope for a two count. Raquel attempted another Fallaway Slam, but Morgan slipped out and rolled her up with a Crucifix Bomb for a near fall. Liv attempted Oblivion, but Raquel picked her up and slammed her with a Tejana Bomb to eliminate her. 

Liv Morgan was eliminated at 19:10

Sonya Deville ran down and immediately attacked the injured arm of Raquel. Sonya stuffed a body slam attempt and landed a running knee strike to the jaw for a close near fall. She then followed up by throwing Raquel into the ring post and then slammed her bad arm into the post a number of times. Raquel fired back with some strikes and a one armed pancake slam. Sonya went back to the bad elbow and wrenched on it from the corner. Raquel managed to pull Sonya from the top rope and deliver a one armed Tejana Bomb for the win. 

Sonya Deville was eliminated at 22:41

[Hour Two] After the match, Ronda Rousey said she wasn’t done yet, and brought out Shayna Baszler as her final opponent. Shayna immediately stomped on her elbow and pulled off her brace. As Baszler gloated and held the brace over her head, Raquel Rolled her up from behind for a surprise win. 

Raquel Rodriguez defeated Shayna Baszler at 23:58 to earn a Smackdown Women’s Championship match

We got a recap of the LA Knight and Bray Wyatt segment from last week, along with the introduction of Uncle Howdy….[c]

My Take: I don’t feel like that handicap did anyone any favors. Raquel looked clumsy throughout, and a number of perfectly healthy opponents were unable to capitalize on it even after she had been in the match for almost 20 minutes. The intent was to make Raquel look like a resilient babyface, but I don’t think the juice was worth the squeeze because I was given no reason to continue to tune in for the rest of the division.

Bray Wyatt made his entrance following the commercial break. He said one of the hardest things in the world for him to do is come out and talk to crowds with the world watching at home. Bray said he’ll never get used to people being excited to see him and he’s not sure if he’ll ever understand it. He said he tries to present the most real version of him, but he’s not even sure if there is a real him. Bray said one thing he does know is that LA Knight owes him an apology and told the crowd to be honest and admit they thought it was him for a minute. 

Wyatt said he’s not Uncle Howdy and he’s never been Uncle Howdy. Bray then stuttered a bit and said he lost his train of thought. He apologized and then bent over with his hand over his mouth. Bray then attacked the camera man closest to him and choked him with the Mandible Claw. Bray then slammed his head against the mat before a number of WWE officials including Adam Pearce made their way to ringside to get the situation under control. Bray looked glassy eyed at the camera…[c]

My Take: The “I’m not sure if there is a real me” was the tell that things weren’t exactly what they seemed. I guess we’ll see where this goes next. 

Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo were shown in the ring. Angel will be wrestling tonight. Rey Mysterio then made his entrance for the next match fresh off his ankle injury. Video was shown from “Smackdown Low Down” last week where they called him an old man and set up this match. 

3. Rey Mysterio vs. Angel Garza (w/Humberto Carrillo): Rey slapped Angel to start the match. He then landed punches in the corner. Karrion Kross and Scarlett were shown watching from the crowd. Angel pulled off his breakaway pants and landed a double underhook backbreaker. He then tossed Rey chest first into the turnbuckles and picked him up in an electric chair position. Rey slipped out and sent Angel into the turnbuckles. He then landed a head-scissors and he clumsily dropped into position for a 619. 

Humberto pulled Angel from the ring, but Rey quickly dove on both of them at ringside. Angel used his loose pants for a distraction and punched Rey in the jaw. He then called for 619 and placed Rey on the ropes. Humberto punched Rey in the face. Angel went for the 619, but Rey popped up and sent him onto the opposite rope. Rey landed his 619 and a springboard DDT for the win. 

Rey Mysterio defeated Angel Garza at 4:18

After the match, Rey stood on the ropes and stared down Kross and Scarlett. Kross pointed at his watch. 

Backstage, Ricochet said all Imperium does is talk. He said Vinci and Kaiser ride the coattails of Gunther, and say they belong in the circus. Strowman said maybe they do, and they should go show them who runs the Big Top…[c]

My Take: Good to see Rey back in action. I wish the match could have gotten a few more minutes because both guys are very talented in the ring.

Kross and Scarlett were shown backstage. Emma walked up to Scarlett and asked them who they were to disrespect a legend like Rey Mysterio, and mentioned her calling Riddick an idiot a few weeks ago. Scarlett said she called him a fool, and Emma slapped her across the face. Scarlett began to posture aggressively, but Kross held her back and told Emma she had no idea what she had just done…

Michael Cole then introduced a video segment that gave a bit of a history lesson on John Cena in advance of his appearance next week. It also spent a good bit of time focusing on his admirable history with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and support of the U.S. Military…

Along with John Cena and Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn, next week’s show will feature Solo Sikoa vs. Sheamus, and Ronda Rousey vs. Raquel Rodriguez for the Smackdown Women’s Championship…

Ricochet made his ring entrance for the Miracle on 34th Street Fight, followed by Braun Strowman…[c]

My Take: I’m surprised it took this long for an extended series of promotional videos on this Holiday show.

A video package aired of Lacey Evans competing in some kind of military fight club, and participating in training camp. She will re-debut next week… 

In the arena, Ricochet and Strowman awaited their opponents. Kaiser and Vinci made their entrance among gifts, Christmas Trees, and various other Christmas items scattered around ringside. They looked disgusted by this match stipulation. 

4. Ludvig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. Braun Strowman and Ricochet in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight: Strowman shoved Vinci into the corner and Ricochet landed a running dropkick. Kaiser pulled Ricochet to the floor and tossed him into the ring steps. Kaiser and Vinci attacked Strowman with a series of chop blocks and kept him on the ground. He eventually got to his feet and dumped both Kaiser and Vinci to ringside. Ricochet ran the barricade and landed a flying head scissors to Vinci and tossed him into the barricade with it…[c]

Vinci drove Strowman into the ringpost in the floor, and then into a pile of gifts and Christmas Trees at ringside. Kaiser then put Ricochet in an armbar as Vinci smashed him repeatedly with a kendo stick. They then smashed Strowman with a chair, but he quickly recovered and smashed them both with right hands. Strowman followed up by tossing them into the piles of gifts and Christmas Trees on the stage area. 

Kaiser and Vinci managed to recover and delivered a double suplex to Strowman on the stage. Vinci was bleeding from the eye area after colliding with the Christmas trees. He and Ricochet brawled near the ring, and Kaiser landed a chairshot to the back as Ricochet set up for a springboard. They turned their attention back to Strowman and buried him with gifts and trees. They then opened a human sized box, and a ballerina danced her way out of the arena. 

They opened another larger gifts, and New Day walked out of the box dressed as Nutcrackers and kicked both Vinci and Kaiser in the balls. They offered a salute to Braun Strowman, who then ran around the ring doing the Strowman Express bit taking out Vinci and Kaiser. Ricochet was down at ringside, and Strowman grabbed some Mistletoe and brought him over to his real life girlfriend Samantha Irvin for a kiss. 

He fired up and took out Vinci with a springboard forearm. Strowman drove Kaiser through a ringside table with a powerbomb. Ricochet landed a Recoil on Vinci, and Strowman followed up with a running powerslam. Ricochet then stood on Strowman’s shoulders and delivered a splash for the win. 

Braun Strowman and Ricochet defeated Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci at 11:59 in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight

After the match, Strowman and Ricochet celebrated while replays were shown. Cole provided some last minute hype for next week’s show to close out the night. 

My Take: Very typical Holiday Babyface showcase to close out Smackdown. There seemed to be quite a bit of editing during the match, as it seemed like Cole was dubbed a number of times for replays while they cleaned up blood from Vinci and tended to Ricochet who seemed to be shaken up at one point in the match. They managed to stitch together a passable match, including some extra Holiday silliness that I’m sure Jason Powell will have nothing but great things to say about in his audio review later on tonight. Overall, this was kind of what you’ve come to expect from holiday wrestling episodes. It peaked with the excellent Sami Zayn promo at the start of the show.

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