WWE Friday Night Smackdown results (12/22): Barnett’s review of AJ Styles vs. Solo Sikoa, Carmelo Hayes vs. Kevin Owens and Santos Escobar vs. Bobby Lashley in tournament matches for a shot at the U.S. Title


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

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,270)
Taped December 15, 2023 Green Bay, Wisconsin at Resch Center
Aired December 22, 2023 on Fox

A video recap opened the show that focused on the storyline between The Bloodline and Randy Orton, along with the involvement of LA Knight and the returning AJ Styles. 

In the arena, AJ Styles made his entrance. Video as shown of The Bloodline knocking AJ Styles out of competition a few months ago. He will also face Solo Sikoa later tonight. In the ring, Styles said that Randy Orton wants Roman Reigns at the Rumble, and LA Knight wants him anywhere or anytime. Styles said he didn’t blame either of them, but also didn’t give a damn about them either. He then said he wants Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. 

LA Knight interrupted and told Styles that he can have Roman Reigns, after he gets him first. But considering what happened last week, the first man on his list might be AJ Styles. Styles responded that Knight stepped over his body to tag with Cena and get his shot at Roman at Crown Jewel. Knight got in the ring and was interrupted by Randy Orton before he got a chance to speak. 

Orton told Styles and Knight that he appreciates their desire to take down Randy Orton, but he was out for 18 long months and he missed his second home. He wants Roman Reigns first, and then they can have the scraps. Knight argued that since The Bloodline had taken out both Styles and Orton, but failed to take him out, they should fall in line behind him. 

Nick Aldis walked out onto the stage and said since they all have a legitimate claim, he would give them a legitimate shot when they have a Triple Threat Match at the New Year’s Revolution show in two weeks. Styles said fine, and told Orton and Knight that he would take them out too if they interfered in his match with Solo Sikoa later in the show. The announce team plugged the US Championship Semifinal matches, and Dragon Lee vs. Butch for the NXT North American Championship. 

Bianca Belair, Michin, Zelina Vega, and Shotzi made their entrance and rode onto the stage on Shotzi’s tank. They will face Damage Ctrl up next…[c]

My Take: Nothing unexpected or particularly exciting about that opening segment. The promos were fine but nothing that stood out in an overwhelmingly positive way. The crowd seemed a bit disappointed they weren’t going to get the Triple Threat in the Main Event.

Damage Ctrl made their entrance after the break. 

1. “Damage Ctrl” Iyo Sky, Bayley, Kairi Sane, and Asuka (w/Dakota Kai) vs. Bianca Belair, Zelina Vega, Michin, and Shotzi in a Holiday Street Fight: Everybody scattered and brawled on the floor. Things settled down and the match focused on Iyo and Bianca for a moment. Bayley interrupted things, and Shotzi came in to even the odds. Shotzi unwrapped a chair and the crowd got excited about it. They traded basic offense for a bit until Shotzi was able to use the chair as a springboard and land a senton to the back of Bayley. 

Shotzi got an assist from Michin and dove on Bayley and Iyo at ringside. Asuka and Kairi got involved with Kendo Sticks. Bianca and Shotzi returned fire with their own. It appeared that Shotzi hit Asuka in the back of the head by mistake. Hopefully she’s alright. At ringside, Bianca and Shotzi retrieved a table, but Bayley and Iyo stole it from them and used it to knock them down…[c]

There were stereo suplexes out of the corner and just about everyone was laid out. Zelina Vega delivered a DDT to Iyo Sky on the floor. Michin landed a powerbomb to Asuka in the ring, but Iyo took her out with a missile dropkick. She covered, but Bianca broke it up. Bianca sent Bayley out of the ring and put a present over Iyo’s head. She then picked up Iyo and Shotzi delivered a dropkick in sort of a doomsday device.

On the floor, Kairi unwrapped a trash can lid and smashed Shotzi with it. Zelina Vega then took out Kairi. Asuka smashed a pumpkin pie into Vega’s face and sprayed her with mist. In the ring, Bayley remained in control of Bianca. Asuka and Kairi joined in and unwrapped a gift at ringside, which turned out to be Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre in boxes. They popped out of their gift boxes and took out Kairi and Asuka. Back in the ring, Bianca landed the KOD on Bailey. Iyo managed to land a Moonsault on Bianca, but Michin broke up the pinfall.

Michin entered and landed Eat Defeat on Iyo, and then put her through a table with a top rope senton for the win. 

Bianca Belair, Zelina Vega, Shotzi, and Michin defeated Damage Ctrl at 12:44

After the match, the babyfaces celebrated in the ring after collecting themselves. More footage was shown of the attack that put AJ Styles on the shelf. Elsewhere backstage, Roman Reigns asked Paul Heyman who the General Manager of Smackdown was, and then requested Heyman bring him in for a conversation. 

Back in the arena, Dragon Lee made his entrance for the next match. He will face Butch next…[c]

My Take: Couple of ugly looking spots from Shotzi during that match, but otherwise the crowd seemed into the action and loved the weapons brawl. It suffered a lot from that WWE habit of having everyone else lay out while the camera focuses on two or three people, but everyone worked hard. 

Butch made his entrance while footage was shown of him challenging Dragon Lee on Smackdown Lowdown. 

2. Butch vs. Dragon Lee for the NXT North American Championship: Both men traded reversals and pinfall attempts early on. Butch landed a hard forearm shiver and applied some wrist and finger manipulation. Lee fired back with flying headscissors and a springboard seated dropkick. He followed up with a superkick in the corner. Lee attempted a suicide dive, but was met with a kick to the face from butch as he got to the apron…[c]

Lee leapt over the ropes and took Butch from the apron to the floor with a hurracarrana. He then tossed him back into the ring and landed a dropkick in the corner. Lee went for a powerbomb but Butch reversed a double underhook tiger bomb for a good near fall. Both men fought to their feet and traded chops and strikes. They then traded snap german suplexes, and Lee finally pulled off a Liger Bomb for a close near fall. 

Butch recovered and landed an elbow strike. Both men ended up on the ropes in the corner, and Lee landed a double stomp, but not before Butch was able to twist up his fingers. Lee attempted a running attack, but Butch pushed him up into the air and he pancaked to the mat. Butch set up for the Bitter End, but Lee reversed into a Destroyer. He then followed up with Operation Dragon and got the win. 

Dragon Lee defeated Butch at 9:48

Butch and Dragon Lee both shared respect after the match. We then got some promo recaps for Kevin Owens vs. Carmelo Hayes. Kevin Owens made his entrance in the arena after the video…[c]

My Take: Very strong TV match for Butch and Lee. I wish they had a few more minutes to introduce a bit more selling, but it was a fun sprint while it lasted.

AJ Styles vs. Solo Sikoa was hyped for later in the show. Roman Reigns was scrolling on his phone when Paul Heyman introduced Nick Aldis. He dismissed Heyman and Aldis sat down. Roman asked how he was sure he wasn’t talking to him, and Aldis responded that he’s not sure he cares. He reiterated his role as Tribal Chief and Head of the Table, and said it would have been better if he had ran through his ideas about Solo vs. AJ and the Triple Threat Match with him. Roman added that Adam Pearce seemed to understand this arrangement better. 

Aldis responded that Pearce is a middle management type, and he’s the General Manager. He called himself the sharp end of the stick, and the buck stops with him. Aldis continued and said that Solo is a big boy and took care of John Cena in a way that Roman never did, and that he was looking forward to the Triple Threat Match determining his challenger for the Royal Rumble. He looked forward to more productive dialogue in the future and getting to know each other better.

In the arena, Carmelo Hayes made his entrance for the next match. 

3. Carmelo Hayes vs. Kevin Owens in a United States Tournament Semi-Final Match: Owens did his best to avoid Carmelo’s quickness, but Hayes was able to land a dropkick and cracked a smile. Owens then flattened him with a chop and followed up with some kicks. He then followed up with some hard chops in the corner, but threw a right hand by mistake and recoiled in pain. Owens gathered himself and landed a running senton, but Hayes turned things around with a springboard clothesline. The action spilled to the floor briefly, and Owens shoved Hayes into the ring steps to regain control…[c]

Hayes landed a scoop slam and a big axe kick for a near fall. Owens landed some strikes, but Melo came back with a headscissors facebuster. Both guys tied up in the corner, and Owens landed a vertical drop DDT for a close near fall. Owens then landed some chops and a big lariat with his casted right hand. Melo avoided a Pop Up Powerbomb and countered with the First 48. He went up top for Nothing But Net, but Owens rolled out of the way. 

Owens landed a Pop Up Powerbomb and got a close near fall. He then followed up with a top rope swanton and a Stunner for the win. 

Kevin Owens defeated Carmelo Hayes at 10:04

After the match, the announcers went over Kevin Owens advancing to the finals of the US Title Tournament. Owens pulled up Melo and shook his hand. Backstage, Michin and the rest of The OC tried to greet AJ Styles backstage. He pushed off Michin’s hug and blew them off. Bobby Lashley made his entrance for the next match with the Street Profits. He will face Santos Escobar next…[c]

My Take: A quality match from Owens and Melo. It’ll be interesting to see if Melo ends up coming up to the main roster full time in a few months as a heel. The decision to make Nick Aldis an authority figure willing to show some spine in the face of Roman Reigns was a wise one at this stage of his Championship run.

A video package for Karrion Kross was shown where he recapped how his interactions have affected his feud partners. He also hinted at the return of the Authors of Pain. Santos Escobar made his entrance in the arena. 

4. Santos Escobar vs. Bobby Lashley (w/The Street Profits) in a United States Tournament Semi-Final Match: Lashley landed a shoulder tackle in the corner. He then landed some strikes and a big overhead suplex. Escobar looked like he had seen a ghost as Lashley picked him up and launched him across the ring. He landed a few strikes, but Lashley caught him coming off the ropes and quickly tossed him out of the ring…[c]

Escobar performed a suicide dive through the middle ropes. During the commercial, he sent Lashley into the ring steps with a shotgun dropkick. Escobar attacked Lashley with leg kicks and kept him grounded. He followed up with double knees in the corner and landed more leg kicks. Escobar then placed Lashley on the top rope and kicked him in the chest. He then climbed up to the top rope, but Lashley fired up and tossed him off the ropes. 

Lashley landed a facebuster and a spinebuster. Two men in lucha masks attacked the Street Profits on the outside. With the distraction, Escobar landed a chop block and rolled up Lashley and got the win with a handful of tights. 

Santos Escobar defeated Bobby Lashley at 8:44

After the match, the masked men revealed themselves to be Angel Garza and Humberto Carillo. Escobar said he wasn’t alone anymore and this was his new family. Backstage, Pretty Deadly agitated Butch as he was commiserating his loss to Dragon Lee. He brawled with them, and they were quickly separated by officials. Nick Aldis told him they sort things out in the ring, and he could find a partner to take on Pretty Deadly at New Year’s Revolution…[c]

My Take: I was wondering when Escobar would have some friends, and he got them there. Seems like a lot of factions are around on Smackdown, so they must have plans for feuds after the New Year.

A Logan Paul backstage promo aired, and he said both Escobar and Owens are battling over who will get pinned by the most relevant United States Champion of all time. Owens will face Escobar at Years Revolution. Iyo Sky will face Michin for the WWE Women’s Championship, as well as the Triple Threat for the opportunity to face Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. 

AJ Styles made his entrance for the Main Event, followed by Solo Sikoa. 

5. AJ Styles vs. Solo Sikoa: Styles wrestled in boot cut jeans. They traded strikes, but Solo got the better of it with a back elbow. Solo then landed a scoop slam and taunted the crowd. Styles recovered quickly and dumped Solo to the floor. He then landed a springboard forearm over the top rope to the floor…[c]

Solo landed a high back body drop on Styles and then tossed him back first into the ringpost underneath the bottom rope. He then landed punches and a jumping headbutt attack to a downed Styles. Solo then tossed AJ back into the corner, where he slid head first into the second rope. He followed up with a hip attack, and then climbed to the second rope. Solo dove for another headbutt, but Styles was able to move out of the way. 

Styles landed a sliding forearm and a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Solo popped up Styles and landed a Samoan Drop for a near fall of his own. Styles connected with a Pele Kick and both men were down. He followed up with an attempt at the Phenomenal Forearm, but Solo avoided it and went for a spike. AJ ducked and rolled him up for two. He then attempted the Styles Clash, but Solo powered out. Styles connected with a Phenomenal Forearm, but Solo rolled out of the ring. 

Roman Reigns appeared and attacked Styles, leading to a DQ. 

Solo Sikoa vs. AJ Styles ended in DQ at 12:48

After the match, Roman attempted to attack Styles but got rocked by a kick to the face. Solo entered the match to restore order. Randy Orton ran down and traded punches with both Solo and Roman. Jimmy Uso ran down to tip the scales back to the Bloodline, which then prompted LA Knight. The Bloodline were quickly cleared from the ring, and a brawl quickly broke out between Styles, Knight and Orton. The shoe ended as the brawl continued…

My Take: A strong edition of Smackdown, but you could tell the crowd fatigue had set in from sitting through four hours of WWE programming. It’s difficult to blame them, but thankfully for the energy of the TV broadcast they did get excited for the big moments. New Year’s Revolution looks to be a fairly loaded show, and they still have another week to add a bit of spice to the show.


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