1/13 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Barnett’s review of Gunther vs. Braun Strowman for the Intercontinental Championship, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

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

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,221)
Green Bay, Wisconsin at Resch Center
Aired live January 13, 2023 on Fox

[Hour One] Gunther then made his entrance with Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser. Video was shown of Gunther and Imperium targeting the left shoulder and elbow of Braun Strowman with an extended beatdown. Michael Cole, who was joined by Wade Barrett on commentary, made mention of Braun Strowman’s wrestling boots, which were made in conjunction with the Green Bay Packers in honor of a young fan who was killed in the Waukesha Parade tragedy. 

1. Gunther (w/Ludwig Kaiser, Giovanni Vinci) vs. Braun Strowman for the Intercontinental Championship: Both men circled one another to start. Gunther applied an arm twist, but Strowman immediately used his power to toss Gunther over the top and out of the ring. Strowman followed and tossed Gunther around on the outside of the ring. He then ran around the ring and landed a shoulder block that sent Gunther over the announce table…[c]

My Take: A kind gesture from Strowman and the Packers. It sounds like the boots will be auctioned off to benefit the families affected by that awful parade attack. If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, a lunatic drove an SUV through a Christmas Parade, killing six and injuring dozens of people.

Gunther shoved Strowman into the ring post and then slammed his bad arm on the ring steps and the ring apron. He then tossed Strowman back in the ring and applied a hold to tweak the shoulder and elbow. Strowman tossed him off briefly, but he was quickly back in control and reapplied the hold. Gunther dropped a knee on the bad shoulder and covered for a two count, and then reapplied the hold.

Strowman landed some shoulder charges with his good shoulder, and landed a lariat to finally regain control. He sent Gunther over with a back body drop, which prompted interference from Kaiser and Vinci. Strowman fought them off, but Gunther cut him down with a chop. Strowman caught Gunther coming in with a huge powerslam, buy only got a two count…[c]

Gunther had Strowman in an arm hold as the show returned. Strowman fought to his feet and delivered a back suplex to break the hold. Both men struggled to their feet and Strowman tried to shake off the numbness in his arm. Both guys traded heavy chops, but Strowman landed a huge spinebuster after Gunther hit the ropes and got a close near fall. He then called for his Monster Bomb finisher, but Gunther twisted his arm to escape. Strowman landed another lariat, but ran his bad shoulder into the turnbuckle in an attempt to follow up. Gunther replied with a lariat and a top rope splash for another near fall. 

Gunther went back up to the top rope, but Strowman got to his feet and sent him into a seated position with a hard right hand. Gunther twisted Strowman’s arm to escape and then chopped him multiple times. Gunther then pull him off the turnbuckles and landed a powerbomb. Gunther stacked up Strowman and scored the win. 

Gunther defeated Braun Strowman at 18:02 to retain the Intercontinental Championship

After the match, Gunther celebrated on the stage and Strowman attempted to recover in the ring. The announce team then introduced a video that recapped the on again off again relationship between Sami Zayn and the Bloodline… 

My Take: Braun Strowman isn’t known for his incredible matches, but he and Gunther put on a high quality outing here. That was fun even if it wasn’t a technical masterpiece.

Backstage, Sami Zayn approached the Bloodline locker room, and ran into Paul Heyman. Sami asked to go in and plan with the boys, but Heyman revealed that Roman Reigns insisted that Sami do this all by himself. Sami was nervous at first, but resolved that Heyman should call or text Roman and tell him he made the right call. He then said that it wasn’t a prediction, it’s a spoiler. 

My Take: Welp, Sami is going to get whacked soon.

Rey Mysterio’s music hit and he headed to the ring dressed in street clothes. The announce team questioned whether he would declare for the Royal Rumble match. Rey said the holidays are always special and exciting to him, because he cherishes time with his family after spending so many years on the road. He mentioned Dominik trying to ruin his Christmas, and now he’s walking around like he’s a thug or a hardened criminal. 

Rey said that as a father it breaks, his heart, but as a man it *feed dropped out*. Rey then said that he needed to get himself back on track by winning the Royal Rumble match. This prompted the entrance of Karrion Kross and Scarlett. He wore a shirt and tie, and Scarlett stayed at ringside. Kross said he heard Rey talking about goals, and he needs goals because he doesn’t know how he peels his broken ass out of bed every day. 

Kross recalled 17 years ago when Rey won the Rumble, and said it must have been a big day for his son Dominik, but Rey wouldn’t know because he wasn’t really around when Dominik was a kid. Kross then asked Rey if he hates Dominik more for not growing up to be just like him, or himself for failing to raise his son to be just like him. Rey attacked Kross and tripped him onto the ropes. Scarlett tripped Rey as he hit the ropes, and then Kross choked him out with the Kross Jacket. 

As Rey went out, the lights went red and Scarlett held up a tarot card. Kross and Scarlett walked away while Rey recovered…

Backstage, Emma, Maxxine Dupri, and Raquel Rodriquez questioned why Liv would want to enter the Rumble at number one. Raquel told her that someone of her size would be better off going in last. Liv told her she had her palm read earlier, and told her to look at what it said while pointing at her palm. She then slapped Raquel across the face and told her that they should have a match. Raquel said she was tired of people forgetting she was the biggest and strongest around. Liv laughed and said whatever…

In the arena, Xia Li made her entrance for the next match with Tegan Nox…[c]

My Take: You could hear the popcorn popping in concessions while Kross was delivering his promo. It was actually well delivered, but it’s clear he’s got some major challenges ahead of him to make a connection with the crowd. I don’t think the spooky Tarot gimmick is working. Raquel being heelish would be a major improvement.

2. Xia Li vs. Tegan Nox: Xia Li had her hair in braids, which I think is new. I can’t say it suits her very well. Nox landed some strikes. She attempted to climb the turnbuckle, but Li pulled her back into the ring. Nox fought her way out of a chinlock, but Li caught her with a thrust to the throat. Both women traded strikes, and then Li landed an overhead suplex throw.

Li motioned for Nox to get up, and attempted her Cyclone Kick finish, but Nox moved out of the way. Nox then landed the Shiniest Wizard and got the win. 

Tegan Nox defeated Xia Li at 2:54

After the match, footage was shown of the Viking Raiders attacking Sheamus and McIntyre after the main event of Smackdown last week. We then got a Viking Raiders vignette where Valhalla read some runes and determined that Sheamus and McIntyre were destined to suffer. 

Backstage, McIntyre and Sheamus slapped each other while arguing over whether they should face the Usos for the Viking Raiders first. Adam Pearce told them that he was starting a tag team tournament next week, and if they win they would face The Usos. The tournament would start against the Viking Raiders next week. They said that was perfect, and the tournament would be banger after banger…[c]

My Take: The Women’s division on Smackdown is in a tough spot. A lot of these acts need meaningful wins on TV, but everybody is cold, making it difficult to pick up momentum. I don’t think 3 minute matches are going to do it regardless.

Bray Wyatt made his entrance as the show returned.

[Hour Two] Footage was shown of Uncle Howdy attacking Bray Wyatt from a couple of weeks ago, as well as a plug for the Pitch Black match at The Royal Rumble.

Wyatt was in a spotlight in the middle of the ring sitting in a rocking chair. He said “Green Bay, we’re here”. Wyatt then said it’s crazy that sometimes we forget who we are, and all it takes is someone to push you in the right direction and you remember everything. Wyatt said he is the color red in the sea of black and white. He called himself the nagging conscience of a world that has thrown itself to moral monsters. Wyatt said he knows who he is, but who are you? He told LA Knight that the only thing he needs to remember is that when the lights go out, he better run. The old school Wyatt Family transition then cut him out…

Backstage, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens argued backstage with Kayla Braxton. Sami told him he should have stayed on Raw. Owens told him it was the Bloodline that keeps coming to Raw, and it was Roman Reigns who made the match with Cena and the one later tonight. He told Sami he was being used by Roman so he never has to come to work again. Sami told him that he and the Bloodline are family, and that Owens can’t stand the fact that he’s found a place where he belongs. He then told Owens that tonight was family business and he would take care of it later tonight…

In the arena, Liv Morgan made her entrance…[c]

My Take: Good promo work from Wyatt, Owens and Zayn. This was the most threatening Wyatt promo to date, and it didn’t lean too hard into the spooky nonsense. Zayn and Owens know each other so well that the promos come very naturally to them.

Kayla Braxton interviewed Imperium backstage. Gunther said he has overcome his greatest challenge so far, and for the love of the mat and his title, he defeated Braun Strowman. Gunther then declared himself for the Royal Rumble, and said he would claim his rightful place in the Main Event of WrestleMania. 

In the arena, Raquel Rodriquez made her entrance to face Liv Morgan. 

3. Liv Morgan vs. Raquel Rodriguez: Liv charged in and ate a boot. Raquel then tossed her over the top. Rodriguez maintained control. Liv snapped and smashed her own head into the turnbuckles to show she’s nuts. She then hit a codebreaker of sorts from the second rope, and sent Rodriguez over the top rope using a running lariat. Raquel pulled her to the floor, but Liv sent her into the ring post, and then into the stairs. Liv walked around to the far side of the ring and pulled out a table. 

Liv broke the count and then completed setting up the table. Raquel had to sell for an eternity during all this. Liv then tossed her onto the table and climbed the turnbuckle, but Raquel rolled off and got back in the ring. Liv dove at Raquel, but she swatted her out of the air. She then landed a Tejana Bomb and scored the win. 

Raquel Rodriguez defeated Liv Morgan at 4:48

Raquel celebrated over a fallen Morgan after the match…

The announce team then transitioned to some video footage between Charlotte and Sonya Deville from last week. Backstage, Sonya Deville argued with Adam Pearce to get another title shot. Pearce insisted that she enter the Royal Rumble and earn another shot, and Sonya said she would find another way to make her rematch official. Zayn vs. Owens is up next…[c]

My Take: I have no idea why they wasted so much time on that table spot. I can only assume they will have a rematch and pay it off somehow? If not, that was bizarre.

Backstage, Charlotte and Sonya Deville brawled around some equipment crates. Referees arrived to break it up, and had to separate them multiple times. We then got a long video package that focused on Cody Rhodes and his impending return from injury. It’s the same video package that aired on Monday’s Raw. 

In the arena, Sami Zayn made his entrance for the main event…[c]

My Take: I can’t identify a reason why Charlotte and Sonya would have happened upon each other in a field of equipment crates backstage, but other than that the brawl was fine.

Cole and Barrett hyped the tag tournament beginning with Sheamus and McIntyre vs. The Viking Raiders next week. Kevin Owens then made his entrance for the Main Event. 

4. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: Owens started out fired up and landed a flurry of punches before dumping Zayn to the floor. He followed to the outside and landed more punches. Zayn caught him and shoved him into the steps, and then got back into the ring and performed a dive back to the outside. Owens recovered and landed more punches, and then tossed Zayn back in the ring. Sami rolled back to the floor, and then attacked Owens when he stepped out on the apron. Sami landed a brainbuster on the apron…[c]

Zayn was in control as the show returned. He and Owens battled on the turnbuckles. Owens suplexed him off the ropes and scored a near fall. Zayn avoided a pop up powerbomb and landed a blue thunder bomb for a near fall of his own. He followed up with a half and half suplex, but Owens popped right back up and landed a lariat…[c]

Zayn landed a tornado DDT from the top and scored a close near fall. He placed Owens back on the top rope, but Owens battled and landed a suplex from the top. Zayn fired back with back to back half and half suplexes that landed high angles on his neck. Sami set up for a Heluva Kick, but The Usos and Solo jumped in the ring to jump Owens. The match was called off. 

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens ended in a No Contest at 15:31

After the match, The Usos hit 1D and continued to assault Owens on the floor. The Usos told him he had done good, but he was disappointed that he wasn’t trusted to do the job himself. Solo ran along the barricade and Timekeeper’s Table and landed a splash on Kevin Owens through the announce table. Zayn and the rest of the Bloodline held up one finger to close the show, but Sami was still unhappy with the situation. 

My Take: A very strong match between Owens and Zayn. They know each other incredible well and it’s very difficult to replicate that kind of familiarity and chemistry. The story took a turn here with Sami finding a bit of confidence in himself rather than coming up short here and having to face the consequences from Roman and The Bloodline. I’ll be back with more to say about the show on Saturday in my audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).


Readers Comments (2)

  1. Sami Zayn’s story with the bloodline goes one of two ways:
    a) given KO’s involvement, the bloodline turns on Sami leading to a Ko and Sami reunion (after KO loses to Reigns as expected) and they go on claim tag titles from the Usos.

    Or the less likely

    b) the bloodline turns on Zayn, reigniting Zayn’s fighting spirit as he goes on to not only feud with Reigns but shockingly end Reins’ title reign (unless ofcourse, Vince has in fact, sold wwe to Saudi).

  2. Paul calling Sami Schmuely is completely awesome.

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