WWE Friday Night Smackdown results (12/15): Barnett’s review of the return of Roman Reigns, Carmelo Hayes vs. Grayson Waller and Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory 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)
Green Bay, Wisconsin at Resch Center
Aired live December 15, 2023 on Fox

Kevin Patrick welcomed the TV audience to the show. Soon after, Roman Reigns’ music hit and he made his way out to the ring with Paul Heyman, Jimmy Uso, and Solo Sikoa. Video footage was shown of Randy Orton and LA Knight defeating Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa on Smackdown last week. Michael Cole and Corey Graves piped in to mention Jimmy Uso vs. Randy Orton for later in the show.

Roman grabbed the microphone from Paul Heyman, and demanded Green Bay acknowledge him. He then told the crowd to shut their mouths, and said he wouldn’t have had to do that if they had kept the booze down. He then said he was there to celebrate the holiday season, and it was promotion season. Roman continued and said that when someone is doing good, they recognize them, and when they’re doing bad, they smash them but that’s not tonight. 

He then complimented this person as being the next in line, and said this man is the one who steps up if something were to happen to him. Roman complimented them on their service to the family, and said they were the tribal heir and the next tribal chief. Jimmy was squirming in the background. Roman called his name, and asked that he join him in congratulating his brother Solo. Roman gave Solo a hug and said he loved him. 

Randy Orton then interrupted the proceedings…[c]

My Take: Jimmy looked overconfident and hyped up until he realized what was going on. We’ll see how he handles the tension and resentment of being passed over in favor of his younger brother.

Orton said he’s been thinking about what he was going to say and do for months. He then told Roman that the only thing he needs to say to him is that he’s coming for him. Orton said he took 18 months from him, and so he’s going to take everything from him. He said it starts tonight, and it ends at the Royal Rumble, because he was challenging him for the WWE Championship.

Roman smirked and said based on the sound of the fans he deserves it. He then told Orton that he’s been thinking about this for 18 months, but he hadn’t thought about him at all. Roman said he’s been gone for 18 months and hadn’t done anything to deserve it, so he could go to the back of the line. He then told Orton to listen to those voices going off in his head and remember that it’s 2007 and he’s levels above him and everybody else. Roman continued and said that if Orton has a match with him, it wouldn’t be an 18 month vacation, it would be retirement and he’s never coming back. 

Orton responded and told him that he can see in his eyes that he’s changed for the better. He’s not just a historical champion, he’s a legend. Orton said he’s changed too, but one thing he will always and forever be is a legend killer. Orton attempted an RKO, but Orton slipped away. Randy said he should probably start thinking about him now. He then put his finger up to his ear and said the voices in his head told him that Roman might have just crapped his pants. Orton then said “Daddy’s back” and left the ring. Orton vs. Jimmy Uso was plugged again for the Main Event, along with Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory, and Grayson Waller vs. Carmelo Hayes is up next. 

A video package was shown to introduce Carmelo Hayes to the Smackdown audience. Back in the arena, Grayson Waller made his entrance…[c]

My Take: A good opening promo. Orton makes a lot of sense as a Rumble opponent and I can’t help but think that The Bloodline putting another beating on Orton would motivate Cody Rhodes if that’s the direction they are going.

Carmelo Hayes made his entrance after the break. Logan Paul cut in with a picture in picture promo to say that Carmelo is a nobody, and that his family should tune in tonight because it’s the only time he’ll ever be on Smackdown. 

1. Carmelo Hayes vs. Grayson Waller in a US Title Tournament Match: Carmelo landed a flurry of offense to start, but Waller quickly took over with a suplex and a spin kick. There was a clumsy head scissors in the corner by Melo, but he quickly got back on track with a slick looking leg drop. Melo followed up with a springboard flying forearm. He then clotheslined Waller out to the floor…[c]

Waller turned things around with a double stomp during the break. Melo tweaked his knee on a springboard, and Waller capitalized with a rolling flatliner. Melo fired back with strikes in the corner, and followed up with a front kick and a spinning facebuster for a near fall. Melo climbed to the top, but Waller dumped him onto the turnbuckle. He then landed a creative somersault into a piledriver of sorts for a near fall. Melo recovered and landed a springboard DDT for a near fall of his own. 

Melo avoided a rolling stunner and landed the First 48. He then followed up with Nothing But Net from the Top for the win.

Carmelo Hayes defeated Grayson Waller by pinfall at 10:23

Hayes will face the winner of Austin Theory and Kevin Owens later in the show. Backstage, Randy Orton and LA Knight had a conversation backstage. They both agreed they were good for now, but they had to stay out of each other’s way if they wanted to keep it that way. Knight told Orton that if anyone is going to take everything away from Roman Reigns it would be him. 

In the arena, Kevin Owens made his entrance. He will face Austin Theory next…[c]

My Take: Hayes had a good introductory performance. Knight and Orton being at odds with each other should make for some interesting television. I’m curious how the reaction changes for both of them throughout the process.

A video package summarized Kevin Owens hand injury and his choice to compete in the tournament anyways. Austin Theory made his entrance after the video. Logan Paul cut in again picture in picture and told Kevin Owens to stop embarrassing himself and put some sleeves back on his shirts.

2. Austin Theory vs. Kevin Owens in the US Title Tournament Match: Owens landed an arm drag to start, and made a quick cover for a two count. Theory replied with some strikes, but Owens quickly gathered himself and landed a back elbow. He lined for a cannonball in the corner, but Theory rolled to the floor. Both men brawled on the apron, and Owens kicked Theory back to the floor and jumped on him with a cannonball. Both men ended up back on the apron a moment later, and Theory landed a Death Valley Driver…[c]

Theory remained in control and landed a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Owens managed to fire back with some punches and chops with his good hand, and then stomped Theory on the ground. He followed up with a DDT and covered for a near fall. Owens then attempted a pop up Powerbomb, but could lift up Theory due to his bad hand. Owens attempted to climb the top rope, but Theory popped up and landed an impressive seated springboard Spanish Fly for a near fall. 

Both men ended up on the top rope, and Owens managed to land a Fisherman’s Buster from the second rope. Theory rolled to the floor to avoid a cover. Owens pursued, but got tossed into the ring board, and then dropped on his crotch in the ring barricade. Theory then landed a right hand that sent Owens into the timekeeper’s area. Owens barely got back into the ring and Theory landed a rolling blockbuster for a close near fall. 

Theory placed Owens on the top rope, but Owens slipped out and hung Theory from the top rope. The then landed a Cannonball, and followed up with a Swanton Bomb for another close near fall. Owens went for a Stunner, but Theory avoided it by attacking Owens hand. He then pulled Owens to the floor and slammed his hand into the ring post and steps. Back in the ring, it dawned on Owens to use the cast as a weapon, and he landed a forearm shiver that knocked Theory out. Owens covered and got the win. 

Kevin Owens defeated Austin Theory at 13:32

After the match, Owens sold the damage to his hand and then fired up for the crowd. Back in the Bloodline locker room, Roman Reigns was upset that Randy Orton ruined his celebration earlier. He told Jimmy that someone had to silence Orton for what he said about him earlier. Jimmy said he could silence Orton, but it sounds like a job for the tribal heir. Roman said it’s promotion season, and if he handled Orton by himself imagine what could come to him. Jimmy replied yeet, and then had to retract his yeet when Roman looked visibly upset…[c]

My Take: Owens and Theory worked well together but the crowd didn’t seem that into it. Might just be a tough crowd, but I think the frequent losses have killed whatever heat Waller and Theory ever had.

Members of the Green Bay Packers were shown in the front row. A video package aired for Karrion Kross. He said the world as we know it is about to be recycled, and his debut on Smackdown set everything in motion. Scarlett burned some tarot cards and Kross said everyone would find out whatever he was talking about soon. 

Backstage, Kayla Braxton asked how he was going to prepare for Carmelo Hayes. Before he could say anything, Melo walked up and said he wasn’t going to punch him in the face or little bro him. Kevin asked Kayla what “Little Broing” someone was, and she didn’t know. Michael Cole then showed video of Charlotte’s injury from last week, and said she would miss 9 months due to the damage to her knee. 

A video package then aired from Damage Ctrl, and Bayley said last week we saw the reason Damage Ctrl was created in the first place, to take over the entire WWE Women’s division. She said Iyo is already the Women’s Champion, and the Kabuki Warriors would win the Tag Team Titles, and then she would enter the Royal Rumble and win Rhea Ripley Women’s World Championship.

In the arena, The Kabuki Warriors made their entrance, but were attacked from behind by Michin and Zelina Vega…[c]

My Take: I wonder how much Charlotte’s injury changes the overall plan for the Women’s division on Smackdown? Seems like they need Bayley as a babyface sooner than later.

3. Michin and Zelina Vega vs. Asuka and Kairi Sane “The Kabuki Warriors”: The match was joined in progress after the commercial break. The Kabuki Warriors were in control using tandem offense to cut off and control Michin. Kairi landed a sliding elbow in the corner, followed by a flying forearm for a two count. Asuka tagged in, and both Kairi and Asuka landed sliding strikes on Michin. She then covered for a near fall.

Michin attempted to break free, but was pulled back down by her hair. Asuka missed on a back fist, and Michin rolled her up for a two count. Michin managed to break free with a vertical suplex. Kairi tagged in, but Zelina quickly made a hot tag. The crowd has been nearly silent for the majority of this match. This crowd hasn’t been very hot all night. Vega landed a hammerlock DDT on Kairi and set up for a 619. Kairi managed to avoid it and landed a backfist. 

Asuka tagged in and applied an Asuka Lock on Vega, but Vega escaped by turning over into a pinfall. Michin tagged in and landed a spinebuster on Asuka. She covered, but Kairi broke it up. Vega got involved, but got taken out to the floor and smashed onto the announce table by Sane. In the ring, Michin climbed the top rope, but Bayley ran down to shove her off the top rope while Dakota distracted the referee. Asuka landed a kick, and Kairi landed the Insane Elbow for the win. 

The Kabuki Warriors defeated Michin and Zelina Vega at 6:48

After the match, Jimmy told Solo that tonight feels like a setup. He asked Solo if he would tell him if something was happening to him, and Solo replied that he’s his brother. Jimmy didn’t look especially convinced…[c]

My Take: The Women’s match felt like the crowd had no interest in it whatsoever. Damage Ctrl might have plans to take over, but something about the presentation has to change so they can get some heat with the live crowds.

A video package for Santos Escobar aired. We then saw Bobby Lashley and the Street Profits backstage. Lashley said there are a bunch of people in this tournament that Logan Paul thinks he can beat, except him. Ford and Dawkins spoke and said that Escobar was in way over his head. Lashley concluded and said that it just boils down to Santos being in his way. 

On next week’s holiday edition of Smackdown, Kevin Owens will face Carmelo Hayes, and there will be a Holiday Themes Tag Match between Damage Ctrl and a team assembled by Bianca Belair. Back in the arena, Randy Orton made his ring entrance. He was followed by Jimmy Uso. 

4. Jimmy Uso vs. Randy Orton: Jimmy Uso quickly escaped the ring and asked for a timeout…[c]

Orton slammed Jimmy Uso on the announce table during the break, and then a second time once the show returned. Orton threw Jimmy into the ring and covered for a two count. After the cover, Orton applied an arm twist. Jimmy fought free briefly, but got trapped in the corner for ten punches. Jimmy eventually turned things around and landed punches and a hip attack in the corner for a two count. Both men fought near the ropes, and Orton got dumped out to the floor over the top rope. He landed and began selling his knee…[c]

Jimmy attempted a superkick but Orton caught him with a clothesline. Orton then caught him with a powerslam and got back to his feet. Jimmy rolled out to the apron, but Orton pulled him back in and landed a draping DDT. Orton setup for an RKO, but Solo Sikoa started his entrance. LA Knight interrupted him and threw him into part of the barricade near the stage. Orton then landed an RKO and pinned Jimmy for the win. 

Randy Orton defeated Jimmy Uso at 11:51

After the match, LA Knight started to walk to the ring, but was attacked from behind by Roman Reigns. Orton stood tall in the ring and had a staredown with Roman. Reigns got in the ring and started a fight with Orton. Jimmy Uso jumped in to turn the tables. Quickly LA Knight and Solo were involved, and the numbers game caught up with Orton and Knight. AJ Styles music hit and he didn’t immediately appear. Roman turned towards the stage, and then turned around into a Phenomenal Forearm from Styles. 

The Bloodline was quickly cleared from the ring. The babyfaces looked to stand tall to close the show, but suddenly Styles turned around Knight and blasted him with a lariat. Orton did nothing about it and AJ walked out of the ring past The Bloodline. 

The announce team plugged the Holiday Tag Match, Lashley vs. Escobar, Owens vs. Hayes, and a promo segment with AJ Styles…[c]

My Take: Styles adds an unpredictable element to this story. I have to imagine we’re going to get Orton vs. Knight vs. Styles to find out who faces Roman at the Rumble, and perhaps the other two end up in the Rumble match. I still think Orton is the guy, but they have a lot of TV time to fill between now and The Rumble and this will be an effective way to get that done.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. “Orton attempted an RKO, but Orton slipped away.”

    He’s just that good!

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