WWE Friday Night Smackdown results (12/8): Barnett’s review of CM Punk’s appearance, Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka, Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar and Bobby Lashley vs. Karrion Kross in tourney matches for a shot at the U.S. Title


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

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,269)
Providence, Rhode Island at Amica Mutual Pavilion
Aired live December 8, 2023 on Fox

Kevin Patrick welcomed the TV audience to the Tribute to the Troops episode of Smackdown. A number of US Troops were shown in the crowd. The War and Treaty were introduced to sing America the Beautiful. JBL joined Michael Cole and Kevin Patrick on commentary. CM Punk’s return was highlighted. LA Knight and Randy Orton vs. Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa was advertised for later, as well as Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar in a US Championship tournament match coming up next.

Santos Escobar made his ring entrance, followed by Dragon Lee. Before the bell could ring, Dominick Mysterio made his entrance to scout his opponent for NXT Takeover tomorrow night.

1. Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee is a US Championship Tournament Match: Lee sent Escobar to the floor early and followed up with a suicide dive to the floor. He continued with rapid fire acrobatic strikes and a superkick for a two count. Escobar tripped Lee on the ropes and landed a neckbreaker for a two count of his own. Lee recovered and went for a flying head scissors on the apron, but Escobar caught him and delivered a powerbomb…[c]

My Take: The War and Treaty delivered an excellent rendition of America the Beautiful.

Lee landed a flying forearm and a sidekick, but Escobar caught him coming off the ropes with a superkick. He then attempted Phantom Driver but Lee escaped and landed a Powerbomb of his own for a near fall. Lee then sent Escobar to the floor in front of Dominick, who talked some trash. Lee went up top, but Escobar tripped him up and landed a Phantom Driver for the win. 

Santos Escobar defeated Dragon Lee at 9:09

After the match, Dominick entered the ring and talked trash to Lee and held the NXT North American Title over his head. A video package was then shown that highlighted Randy Orton choosing to sign with Smackdown last week and landing an RKO on Nick Aldis. Backstage, he handed Aldis a check for his “fine” and argued that he shouldn’t have to team with LA Knight because he barely trusts the guy. Aldis said the match was signed and the decision was final. Aldis remarked that the fine was $50k and the check was for $100k. Orton remarked that the extra money was for next time…[c]

My Take: I wish Escobar and Lee had more time, but the match was solid. Dom didn’t really provide much cover for Dragon Lee taking the loss, but I think the idea was that his trash talk gave Escobar enough time to recover and trip up Lee on the ropes.

Some still photos of previous Tribute to the Troops shows were shown at various military bases. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka was advertised for later. Cody Rhodes then made his entrance in the arena dressed like an investment banker. 

Cody grabbed a microphone and recognized the special occasion of Tribute to the Troops as why he asked to be there. He said he was proud to carry on the tradition and offered thanks on behalf of WWE to all the service members in attendance and those watching around the world. He then introduced a video package that highlighted the history of the event. It focused a lot on John Cena and his participation in the event over the years. He then introduced a US Army Drill Team, who performed their rifle exercises. 

Brad Nessler for CBS Sports joined briefly, as he will call the Army-Navy football game on Saturday afternoon. They bantered a bit about the game and US Military service, and then Bobby Lashley made his entrance for the next match, and a video played that briefly recapped his military history. He will face Karrion Kross next…[c]

My Take: Brad Nessler will apparently stick around and call the next match, which is hilarious. Cody was essentially a functionary here and he did a fine job.

Montez Ford appeared in a pre-recorded video that recapped his military service and thanked service members for their sacrifices. Karrion Kross then made his ring entrance in the arena with Scarlett. 

2. Bobby Lashley vs. Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett): Bobby attempted to apply the Hurt Lock early on, but Kross escaped and landed a right hand. Lashley rolled to the floor. Kross attempted to send Bobby into the steps, but Bobby leapt over them and then turned around and dove over the steps onto Kross. He quickly tossed Kross back in the ring, and then landed a few strikes that sent him back to the floor…[c]

Cross landed an elbow strike and covered for a two count. Lashley blocked a second elbow, but Kross landed a kick instead. Kross missed a splash in the corner, and Bobby hit the ropes and landed a big running forearm. He followed up with a vertical suplex, followed by a modified spinebuster. He then hit a spear and put Kross away for the win. 

Bobby Lashley defeated Karrion Kross at 9:46

After the match, Bobby celebrated with the Street Profits. Footage was shown of last week’s Main Event where Bianca Belair defeated Kairi Sane thanks to Bayley’s interference backfiring. Bayley approached Damage Ctrl backstage, and apologized for last week. She said she had learned her lesson and would wait in the back tonight. Dakota Kai told her that it was a good idea, but they would join Asuka at ringside without her. CM Punk’s return to Smackdown is up next…[c]

My Take: Lashley and Kross felt a bit slow, but it wasn’t badly executed otherwise. Bayley is a few weeks from getting sent to Stovokor.

CM Punk made his entrance and got a huge ovation as you’d expect. JBL called Punk a superstar that transcended the genre. He said he had good news, he’s at the top of the hour and not the end of the show, and so he can’t get his time cut. Punk then encouraged the crowd to continue chanting. He then asked the crowd where he should sign between Raw and Smackdown. Being a Smackdown crowd, the answer was obvious. He then asked if he should throw 29 other men out of the Royal Rumble and Main Event WrestleMania. 

The crowd chanted and went crazy. Punk then moved on and said people don’t like this happy-go-lucky Punk, and so he was going to be the controversial Punk they all love. He referenced Cody Rhodes and said it’s not what, but who do you want to talk about? Punk talked about Roman Reigns and made reference to him never being there. He brought up being the OG Paul Heyman guy and said he was his wiseman first. 

He referenced the Usos and gave credit to Jey, but said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to scrap with Solo and Jimmy because they have endless Samoans to back them up. He questioned whether he could trust Randy Orton to back him up, or LA Knight. He brought up Kevin Owens, and said he wasn’t sure about him either, because who wants to be around someone who punches people randomly backstage? 

Punk finally references Seth Rollins, and said he wasn’t even the man of his own house. He then said he had a decision to make over the weekend about choosing which brand he would sign to. He called himself a Monkey Wrench in the plans of everyone he spoke about tonight, and then made a promise to main event WrestleMania. 

After the promo, Charlotte Flair made her entrance, and she will face Asuka next…[c]

My Take: A bit of a rambly promo from CM Punk. He made the one joke about punching people at work that got a chuckle out of me, but also didn’t say a whole lot else. Hopefully he kicks off a legitimate feud on Monday and can sink his teeth into something.

Punk was shown backstage approaching the Bloodline locker room. Kevin Owens approached him, and Punk asked him if he knew where Nick Aldis’s locker room was, and he said no and walked away. In the arena, Asuka made her entrance with Damage Ctrl minus Bayley. As they approached the ring. Michin and Zelina Vega attacked Damage Ctrl near the ring. They were soon joined by Bianca Belair and Shotzi. That made the match one on one at ringside.

3. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka: The match went to ringside early on. Charlotte landed some chops, but Asuka ducked the final one and she chopped the ring post. She soon recovered and landed a back suplex on the ring barricade. Charlotte then climbed the ropes and landed her patented Moonsault to the floor. She got about 20% of it….[c]

Asuka and Charlotte were both down as the show returned. The announce team said Charlotte had taken a bad fall on her neck during the break. She was slow to get up, but was able to apply the Figure Eight. Bayley appeared from behind and broke up the hold. Charlotte got up and sent Asuka into Bayley, and attempted to follow up with a strike, but Asuka moved and Bayley ate the the elbow. Asuka rolled up Charlotte for the win. 

Asuka defeated Charlotte Flair at 6:42

After the match, Cody Rhodes spoke to CM Punk backstage, and Cody commented on how they were both aiming to win the Royal Rumble. Cody said that was interesting and welcomed Punk back, and Punk said he was glad to be back. A video package then aired that honored a Medal of Honor recipient…[c]

My Take: I wonder if that match was shortened due to whatever injury may have occurred during the break? It’s possible Charlotte was fine and doing a masterful job of selling, but she definitely looked a bit stiff after whatever happened during the break.

The War and Treaty were shown again in the audience. A video package was then shown to recap Logan Paul and Kevin Owens segment last week. LA Knight approached Randy Orton backstage, and then CM Punk walked up and wished them good luck. In the arena, Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso made their entrance without Paul Heyman. They will face Randy Orton and LA Knight up next…[c]

Roman Reigns return to Smackdown next week in Green Bay. Grayson Waller will face an NXT Superstar, and Austin Theory will face Kevin Owens. LA Knight made his ring entrance for the main event, followed by Randy Orton. 

4. LA Knight and Randy Orton vs. Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso: Orton stomped out Jimmy Uso to start the match, who quickly made a tag and escaped out of the ring. Solo tagged in and stared down Orton while they circled each other, and then Jimmy snuck up from behind Orton and clubbed him in the back of the neck…[c]

Orton landed a back suplex to Jimmy and crawled over to make a tag to LA Knight. Solo also tagged in, and Knight landed a spinning neckbreaker. He then stomped out Solo in the corner and followed up with a running knee. Knight took out Jimmy on the apron, but turned around into a belly to belly suplex from Solo. He then continued the assault with strikes and landed a hip attack in the corner. Jimmy tagged in and landed some strikes, and then Solo returned to miss a second hip attack. Knight landed a facebuster and made a hot tag to Orton, 

Orton knocked Solo from the apron and Knight took him out with a sliding kick through the ropes. Orton landed a powerslam, and then took the action to the floor where he suplexed Jimmy onto the announce table. Orton then landed a draping DDT in the ring, but was attacked from behind by Solo before he could land an RKO. Knight returned and landed a DDT on Solo. He then went for a BFT on Jimmy, but Orton interrupted and landed an RKO instead and got the win. 

Randy Orton and LA Knight defeated Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa at 11:34

After the match, Knight and Orton shared a glance and then celebrated the win. 

My Take: A well executed, but somewhat predictable send them home happy tag match to close the show. The Bloodline loss sets up Roman to be back next week disgusted with his cousins, with a new opponent in Randy Orton on the hunt. Hopefully they load up the show to take advantage of Roman’s return, which typically drives an increase in viewership.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. Michael and Tanya, aka The War and Treaty, are not only incredibly talented, they are genuinely lovely humans. Nice touch (PS it was God Bless America)

  2. You are a terrible Journalist. This PUNK segment was well above his original debut promo yet you play it off like it is worse. Now go ahead and reject this comment like you do the rest you wanker.

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