By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,222)
Detroit, Michigan at Little Caesars Arena
Aired live January 20, 2023 on Fox
Video footage was shown of last week’s Smackdown and the story told between Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and the rest of the Bloodline. We then saw The Bloodline, including Roman Reigns, show up in two SUV’s to the arena. Sami went to fist bump Sami Zayn, and he rolled his eyes and walked past him. Paul Heyman shrugged and Sami looked shocked…
In the arena, Michael Cole and Wade Barrett introduced the show, and then Sheamus made his ring entrance for the opening match. This was the opening match in the Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament. He was followed by Drew McIntyre and The Viking Raiders Erik and Ivar. They were accompanied by their valet Valhalla. Footage was shown of The Viking Raiders attacking Sheamus and McIntyre after Smackdown went off the air two weeks ago. The winner of this match will face the winner of Hit Row and Los Lotharios later tonight.
1. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar (w/Valhalla) in a Smackdown Tag Title Tournament Match: Sheamus and Erik started the match, while McIntyre and Ivar brawled on the floor. Sheamus and Erik both spilled over the top rope to the floor almost immediately. Ivar tossed McIntyre into the ring steps, and then went after Sheamus. He didn’t have much luck, as Sheamus tossed him aside and then sent Erik into the barricade.
Back in the ring. Sheamus remained in control and gave both Erik and Ivar clubs to the chest while they were tied up in the ring ropes. The crowd was fired up for the action early on with Sheamus getting a strong reaction. He attempted to take Erik up with him to the top rope for White Noise, but Ivar interfered and dumped Sheamus to the floor. He then tagged into the match and splashed Sheamus against the barricade…[c]
Erik and Ivar remained in control until Sheamus hoisted up Erik for an Irish Curse backbreaker. McIntyre made a hot tag leveled Ivar with a lariat. He then landed a knee lift, and then an overhead throw on Erik. Drew fired up the crowd, but got backed into the corner by Ivar. He broke free and landed a Michinoku Driver on Ivar in an impressive spot for a near fall. Valhalla provided a distraction, which allowed the Raiders to get back into the match. McIntyre and Ivar ended up in the corner on the turnbuckles.
Interference from Erik provided an assist to prevent a superplex, but Sheamus got involved and picked him up and planted him with White Noise. McIntyre then grabbed Ivar by the head and pulled him back into the ring…[c]
McIntyre attempted to set up for a Claymore Kick, but Erik sent him out of the ring. Sheamus took out Erik with a lariat, and then set up for a Brogue Kick, but Valhalla got involved and distracted him. Ivar tagged in and landed a top rope splash and got a close near fall. Ivar attempted a springboard move, but got cut down with a Sheamus knee lift. McIntyre landed a Claymore on Erik, and Sheamus put Ivar away with a Brogue Kick for the win.
Sheamus and Drew McIntyre defeated The Viking Raiders at 17:48 to advance to the semifinals
After the match, Cole clarified that all first round matches will take place tonight. The winner of Hit Row and Los Lotharios will face Sheamus and McIntyre in the second round…
Backstage, Sami Zayn approached Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman and requested a conversation. Sami said the greeting in the parking lot felt a little frosty, and wanted to make sure things were cool. Roman said he saw him last week, and he’s trying to cover for it tonight, so give it to him straight.
Sami explained that he felt privileged with the task of taking care of the Roman Reigns problem, and he felt slighted when the Usos interfered in his match and robbed him of the opportunity. He continued and said that he didn’t know the plan, and Kevin keeps saying he’s being used, and for a split second he thought he might be right but it’s fine. Roman reacted negatively and told Sami to get out. He said he didn’t have to run his plans by the honorary Uce, and he was tired of having this conversation every week. Roman told Heyman to get Sami out of there…[c]
My Take: An excellent opening match. The tournament feels pretty thin, and the attack from the Raiders on Sheamus and McIntyre a couple of weeks ago felt random and contrived, but I really enjoyed the match and everybody put in a fantastic effort. The Sami and Bloodline story seems to be rapidly entering a new phase, which is good because it would have gotten stale had things gone too well for too long.
Backstage, Raquel Rodriguez said everything in her home state of Texas is bigger, and she plans on making the Royal Rumble the biggest moment of her career. She said she planned on earning her way to WrestleMania. Cole mentioned that over 30 of her family and friends would be in attendance…
LA Knight’s music hit and he made his way to the ring for a match. Knight grabbed a microphone and asked why Bray Wyatt can’t figure out whether or not he’s Uncle Howdy. He then said Bray asked who he is, and he responded that he’s LA Knight. Knight then said that he would turn off Bray’s light switch at the Royal Rumble and that would be the end of that.
2. LA Knight vs. Wren Jones: The lights kept flickering during the match, and Knight put away Jones quickly with the Blunt Force Trauma.
LA Knight defeated Wren Jones at 0:58
After the match, The Firefly Funhouse aired on the big screen with all of Bray’s Characters back in action again. Bray was fixing the door and had a plumber’s crack blocked by his Firefly icon. Bray said that he’s missed everyone so much, and he can’t wait to have so much fun with all of his friends. Rambling Rabbit said LA Knight is cool with him, and Sister Abigail told him to STFU. Huskus the pig ate chocolate, and Bray commented that you’d have to be insane to name your child Los Angeles Knight.
Bray bent down and told Rambling Rabbit that what he’s feeling is normal, and that the darkness is a place where things hide under his bed. In fact, he should be afraid of the dark. Uncle Howdy then appeared on the screen and said I told you so, and that all he needed was a little push. Bray said that at Royal Rumble, Knight was the one that opened the door, and it was his responsibility to deal with whatever walked through it. He then said bye and the show ended…[c]
My Take: I apologize to Wren Jones. I don’t know if I’m spelling his name correctly, as Michael Cole only said it once. I can’t say I’m terribly happy to see Bray Wyatt return to all of this magic and hocus pocus, but that’s where we are.
Hit Row made their entrance for the next match. Top Dolla was dressed in a Mr. Wrestling mask. Los Lotharios were already in the ring…
3. “Hit Row” Top Dolla and Ashante “Thee” Adonis (w/B-Fab) vs. “Los Lotharios” Humberto Carillo and Angel Garza in a Smackdown Tag Tournament Match: Los Lotharios doubled up on Ashante early on and dumped him with a double suplex. Ashante fired back with a kick and dragged Angel to the corner to tag in Top Dolla. The action spilled outside and Top Dolla talked trash to Michael Cole while slapping Garza across the chest.
Garza broke free of a waist lock and made a tag to Carillo. He entered the match and took out Adonis with a somersault back elbow. He then sent Adonis out of the ring with a kick. Both members of the Lotharios dove on Hit Row at ringside. B-Fab provided a distraction that resulted in Ashante rolling up Humberto for the win.
Hit Row defeated Los Lotharios at 2:52 to advance to the semifinals
After the match, Hit Row celebrated as they headed back up the ramp. We then got a video package that showed the third chapter of Cody Rhodes return story…[c]
My Take: Not much of a match between these teams. The thin Smackdown Tag roster is a bit exposed here.
Backstage, Braun Strowman said he’s made a career out of chucking bodies around. He said anyone who stands in his way on the road to WrestleMania is going to get these hands…
[Hour Two] Charlotte Flair made her entrance dressed for a match. Video was shown of the backstage brawl between Charlotte and Sonya Deville from last week. Charlotte wooed and said she loved Detroit, and said it’s clear Sonya Deville has a problem with her. She addressed Sonya and told her to come say whatever she has to say to her face instead of whining backstage to Adam Pearce.
Sonya walked out and said she didn’t care what this dirty disgusting city wants, she cares about what she deserves and that’s a title opportunity. She said Charlotte doesn’t think she’s worthy, and the crowd chanted that she sucked. Sonya told the crowd and Charlotte that she’s a star every time she walks through the curtain, and last week it took six people to rip her away from Charlotte. The crowd went back to chanting she sucks.
Charlotte acknowledged that she is a star. She then asked if the other women in the back that aren’t stars, and why she deserves more title matches. Charlotte questioned if she was the entitled one, and told her to focus on the Rumble to become the next title challenger. She then offered to fight Sonya, but she refused saying there was nothing in it for her unless Charlotte was willing to put her title on the line.
Adam Pearce walked out and said he had heard enough. Sonya blindsided Charlotte and ran away, and Pearce told her to get to the back so they could talk about what she had done…
Backstage, Roman asked Heyman about Sami Zayn. Heyman said he hadn’t like Sami from day one, but he’s tried to implement his vision as his council. He then said that Roman should consider when signing a contract with Kevin Owens that it may be better to have Sami inside the castle pissing out than outside the castle pissing in…[c]
My Take: Not many reasons to be excited about Charlotte and Sonya’s program. They clearly aren’t taking Sonya seriously as a heel, and Charlotte hasn’t really done anything to modify her act to become a babyface other than smiling occasionally. Heyman’s advice to Reigns got his wheels spinning, so the contract signing later should be interesting.
A Lacey Evans vignette aired. The Brawling Brutes team of Butch and Ridge Holland made their entrance. The Imperium Team of Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci followed…
4. “Imperium” Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. “Brawling Brutes” Ridge Holland and Butch in a Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament Match: Holland and Vinci started off the match. Butch tagged in quickly and landed a double stomp to the arm of Vinci. Kaiser then tagged in and landed a tilt a whirl slam. Butch fired back with some joint manipulation and stomped on Kaiser’s hand. Imperium landed a flurry of tandem offense that floored Butch and sent Holland from the apron out to the floor…[c]
Butch made a desperation tag to Ridge, who entered and took out Kaiser with a clothesline and a slam into the top turnbuckle. He then landed a running lariat and a running powerslam. Ridge attempted to pick up Kaiser again, but Vinci prevented it. He then picked up both men and dumped them over his shoulder. Butch tagged back in and they dumped Vinci out to the floor. Butch landed an enziguri in Kaiser. Vinci shoved Ridge into the ring steps on the floor. Butch applied an Ankle Lock to Kaiser. He then transitioned to an Armbar.
Kaiser rolled to the ropes and made a tag. Vinci entered the ring within an impressive double springboard moonsault for a near fall. He then picked up Butch for the Imperial Bomb, but Ridge knocked Kaiser from the apron. Butch rolled up Vinci and scored a near fall. He then landed a series of chops, and a leaping tornado DDT. Holland and Kaiser climbed back on the apron and both tagged in. Kaiser landed a big kick and a slap to Ridge, who fired back with an overhead suplex.
The action broke down with Vinci interfering from the outside. He caught Butch coming off the apron and landed a Brainbuster on the floor. Imperium landed an Imperial Bomb on Holland and got the win.
Imperium defeated the Brawling Brutes at 9:17 to advance to the semifinals
Vinci and Kaiser celebrated after the match. Sami Zayn was shown backstage sitting on a crate. Paul Heyman walked up to him and told him his Tribal Chief would like to see him…[c]
My Take: A solid match and a showcase win for Imperium. I have to imagine they emerge to face Sheamus and McIntyre in the finals.
Shayna Baszler was shown backstage, and asked the viewer to imagine what it’s like to compete with a broken arm, shoulder, or ankle. She told the rest of the locker room to stay away from her, because she would tear them apart limb by limb. Cole said Baszler tied a record by eliminating eight women from the Rumble last year…
A video package to celebrate 30 years of Monday Night Raw was shown…
Karrion Kross was shown backstage with Scarlett. He said he would be stepping into the ring next week with Rey Mysterio. Normally, he gets really amped up for a fight, but this time not so much. Kross said Rey can’t decide whether he wants to be a family man or the greatest of all time, because you can’t be both. He then said when he’s done with Rey, he’ll take out 29 other Superstars in the Royal Rumble because that’s his too…
In the arena, Legado Del Fantasma made their entrance. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde were accompanied by Santos Escobar and Zelina Vega. They face Maximum Male Models up next…[c]
Zelina Vega joined on commentary. Maximum Male Models joined during the break…
5. “Maximum Male Models” Mansoor and Mace (w/Maxxine Dupri) vs. “Legado Del Fantasma” Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde (w/Santos Escobar) in a Smackdown Tag Tournament Match: Mace cleared both Del Toro and Wilde from the ring early on. Santos gave them a pep talk and they returned the favor and cleared the models. Both Del Toro and Wilde splashed the models on the floor, and then returned to the ring. Mace pulled Mansoor into his corner and made a tag. Wilde used Mace as a springboard to land a DDT on Mansoor. Mace was cleared to the floor. LDF landed a double team running kick and side Russian Leg Sweep for the win.
Legado Del Fantasma defeated Maximum Male Models at 2:45 to advance to the semifinals
After the match, Roman addressed Sami backstage. He told Sami he’s got a temper, and he puts people in place like Paul Heyman to advise that anger. Roman said he wasn’t hearing him, he just wanted to be part of the team and feel communicated with. Sami said exactly, and said it meant the world to him to hear those worlds. Roman said sometimes he expects the same loyalty and respect he gives out in return.
Sami replied that they all love him, and he would always place the family above everything. Roman promised clear communication, and told Sami to find the Usos and get the SUVs and the Jet ready to go. He and Solo would go to the ring and sign his contract, and then they were getting out of there. Sami said it was done. Heyman leaned over to Reigns and thanked him after Sami left the room…[c]
My Take: Another fairly nondescript tournament match. Imperium vs. LDF should be a lot of fun, but the Models are a comedy team that didn’t feel like they belonged in a title tournament.
Roman Reigns made his entrance with Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman. Adam Pearce stood in the ring. Kevin Owens appeared from nowhere and pulled Solo out of the ring. He then delivered a stunner to Roman Reigns. The Usos appeared from out of frame and Owens superkicked both of them. He tossed Jimmy into the crowd and Jey into the ring steps. Owens then delivered a pop up powerbomb to Reigns that put him through the table. Heyman screamed and Owens grabbed the contract from him and signed it.
Sami Zayn appeared on the apron and looked furious. Owens tossed the contract at him and then left through the crowd. The rest of The Bloodline regrouped and Owens stared at Owens in the crowd.
My Take: A strong closing segment that got a great reaction from the live crowd. Sami being sent on an errand before everything went down set it up nicely, and Owens having Reigns’ number continues to be an interesting story. They have one more week to really send this home, and I imagine we’re going to see Sami front and center as the Bloodline looks for revenge on Owens.
If you look closely to Sammy and Paul’s reaction, it looks like Kevin always signature is not on the contract and it’s Sami zaynes.
“Sami went to fist bump Sami Zayn,”
So he fist bumped himself…interesting…
Seriously though, how about proof-reading your stuff before posting it?
This must have been very hard on you, Jeremy. You’ll be in my prayers.
I know they are writing fast to get the content out, but go back and check it. Take it and put it through Grammarly. That takes no time at all.
Owens stared at Owens in the crowd.
How did that work out?