12/22/23 WWE Smackdown Recap

Dec 22, 2023 - by Steve Gerweck

DECEMBER 22, 2023 (Taped 12/15)

by Wade Keller, PWTorch

-A video package aired on last week’s show-closing angle ending with A.J. Styles attacking L.A. Knight after seemingly coming to the aid of Knight and Randy Orton against The Bloodline.

-They went to the arena where Christmas trees were set up on the stage. Kevin Patrick welcomed everyone to a festive episode of Smackdown. They did not mention the city of arena since they taped this right after last week’s show.

-As Styles made his entrance, they aired Sikoa leaping off a flatform and splashing him backstage three months ago. Then they went to the ring where Styles said Randy Orton wants Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble and Knight wants Reigns “anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and I don’t blame either one of them.” He said he doesn’t give a damn about either one of them. He said he wants Reigns at the Rumble.

Knight’s music played and he walked out. Corey Graves said Knight has something to say about that. Knight said the first one on his list now could be Styles. Styles said he forgets so easily that he stepped over his dead body to get a match teaming with John Cena against The Bloodline leading to a match at Crown Jewel against Reigns. Knight entered the ring. Knight said if anyone else gets in his way, he’ll drop them too.

Orton’s music played and he walked out, mic in hand. Orton said he enjoyed being at home, but he was missing his second home inside the ring during the 18 months he was out of action due to The Bloodline. When he entered the ring, Knight jumped in and said the Bloodline took out Styles and Orton but not him “which means I’m bullet proof at this point.”

Nick Aldis interrupted and said the way he sees it, each of them as a legitimate claim to face Reigns, so he’s decided to give them a legitimate opportunity to face him next. He said in two weeks they present “Smackdown: New Year’s Revolution” and it’ll feature Orton vs. Knight vs. Styles in a Triple Threat match, with the winner getting Reigns at the Rumble. Styles said that works for him, and if anyone gets close to the ring during his match later with Solo, he’ll take them out too.

-They went to the announcers at ringside. Cole called it a major announcement. Graves said that is Premium Live Event caliber. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “Wow!” Patrick hyped the rest of the scheduled matches.

-Bianca Belair, Shotzi, Michin, and Zelina Vega made their entrance. [c]

(1) SHOTZI & MICHIN & ZELINA VEGA & BIANCA BELAIR vs. DAMAGE CTRL (Bayley & Iyo Sky & Asuka & Kairi Sane w/Dakota Kai)

The bell rang 18 minutes into the hour. Cole asked what Shotzi wants for Christmas. Graves said, “That’s a loaded question and I like my job.” Shotzi dove through the ropes and tackled Sky and Bayley at ringside. Michin and Vega set up a dive, but Asuka and Kairi attacked them with kendo sticks first. As Asuka and Kairi celebrated, Belair and Shotzi entered and bashed them with kendo sticks. Belair and Shotzi pulled a table out from under the ring. Fans cheered, but Bayley and Kairi attacked them. Cole said it’s becoming the craziest match he’s ever seen. They rammed Belair and Shotzi with the table. As Bayley and Kairi danced in celebration, they cut to a break. [c]

Back from the break, they were crashing through wrapped boxes in the ring. Everyone was down and slow to get up. Vega blocked a Sky suplex and DDT’d her at ringside. Asuka bashed Michin with a spinning backfist in the ring. Michin came back with a powerbomb of Asuka. A minute later, Belair lifted Sky onto her shoulders as Sky had a gift box over her head and then Shotzi landed a top rope dropkick to her head. Cole said Sky also came off the top of the WarGames cage with a garbage can on her head.

Kairi bashed Shotzi wiht a trash can lid Frisbee-style. Cole chuckled and said he nearly decapitated her. She then threw Shotzi into a tree. Asuka threw a pie n Vega’s face. Back in the ring, Bayley beat up Belair before throwing her to the floor. “Absolute carnage here tonight,” said Patrick. Asuka and Kair opened a box at ringside and out came Isla Dawn. Alba Fyre came out of another box. Spooky music played. Graves said it’s suddenly more like Halloween Havoc. Fyre and Dawn attacked them. Bayley turned and wondered what was going on. Dawn and Fyre made their way up the ramp.

Belair gave Bayley a K.O.D. in the ring, Sky then landed a moonsault. Michin, though, entered and gave Eat D’Feet. Michin followed with a top rope senton Sky through a table and scored a three count.

WINNERS: Shotzi & Vega & Michin & Belair in 13:00.

-Jimmy Uso excitedly told a stoic Solo Sikoa he’s got to call an audible when he’s under pressure. The camera panned over and Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns were sitting to the side. Reigns sneered and shook his head. He asked Heyman who the Smackdown G.M. is. Heyman told him Nick Aldis. Reigns told Heyman to bring him to him. Heyman got wide-eyed and asked if he could brief him about Aldis. Reigns said, “No, no, bring him to me.” Heyman said, “Yes, my Tribal Chief.”

-Dragon Lee made his ring entrance. [c]

(2) DRAGON LEE vs. BUTCH – NXT North American Title match

A clip aired of Dragon Lee beating Dominik Mysterio two weeks ago at NXT Deadline. The bell rang 41 minutes into the hour. Butch yanked on Lee’s fingers and bent his wrist early. He chopped away at his chest. Lee made a comeback and landed a swinging kick to Butch’s chest. Butch fired back with a chop to the chest. Lee kicked him in the chin. Butch rolled to ringside. Lee then leaped toward Butch through the ropes, but Butch kicked him out of mid-air. Butch then suplexed Lee onto the edge of the ring apron. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]

Back from the break, Butch was yanking on Lee’s fingers again. Then he stomped on his fingers. Lee avoided a flip dive by Butch at ringside, but Butch landed on his feet. Lee head scissored Butch to the floor. Back in the ring, Butch landed a running dropkick in the corner. Butch came back with a sitout powerbomb for a near fall at 7:00.

The pace picked up and they fought back and forth with crisp and hard-hitting moves leading to a dramatic near fall for Lee after a sitout powerbomb. Fans began chanting “This is awesome!” Lee leaped off the top rope and delivered a stomp to Butch’s chest as he was hanging in the corner. Lee charged at Butch, but delivered a lift-and-drop punch and then went for a Bitter End, but Lee countered into a Destroyer. “This is unfreakin’ believable!” exclaimed Graves. Lee then hit Operation Dragon for the win.

WINNER: Lee in 10:00.

-A sponsored video package aired on the Kevin Owens vs. Greyson Waller match from last week and then Carmelo confronting Owens backstage afterward.

-Owens made his ring entrance. [c]

-Patrick hyped the Styles vs. Solo main event.

-Backstage, Reigns was on his phone when Heyman showed up and introduced him to Nick Aldis. Reigns said, “Leave us.” Heyman smiled and left. Aldis sat on the couch with Reigns. Reigns asked, “How do you know I wasn’t talking to you.” Aldis said, “With all due respect, I don’t care if you were.” Reigns laughed. He asked if Aldis booked the Triple Threat match and Solo vs. Styles. Aldis said he did. Reigns said those were pretty good ideas. He said an even better idea would’ve been to run it by him first. “You see, I’m the Tribal Chief, the Head of the Table,” he said. “Everything goes through me, and I need you to understand that.” He said Adam Pearce understood that.

Aldis leaned back casually and said Pearce is more of a middle manager type, whereas he’s more of a general manager. He said the buck stops with him and he’s “the sharp end of the stick on Smackdown now.” He said Solo is a big boy who took care of John Cena in a way that he doesn’t recall Reigns taking care of Cena. He said he’s looking forward to seeing Solo vs. Styles and the triple threat match he booked along with the winner of that match facing him at the Royal Rumble. He said he looks forward to more productive dialogue “and I really hope we can get to know each other better.” He got up and left. Reigns sneered and shot him a stern look as he walked away.

-As Carmelo made his entrance, a clip aired of Logan Paul saying Carmela impressed him, but now he has to face “the disgusting Kevin Owens.” He said Owens cheated last week and he shouldn’t even be there. The announcers reviewed the tournament brackets.

(3) KEVIN OWENS vs. CARMELO HAYES – U.S. Championship Contender Tournament Semi-final

The bell rang 3 minutes into the hour. Cole said he’s interested to see if Carmelo targets the injured hand of Owens. Cole said the winner of this tournament faces Logan at the Royal Rumble. Patrick said, “Can you believe that’s next month?” After an awkward pause, Graves said, “That’s how calendars work.” Carmelo avoided a KO senton and landed a dropkick and then kipped up. KO smiled in admiration. KO connected with a senton a minute later. Carmelo took over at ringside as they cut to a break at 3:00. [c]

Back from the break, Carmelo bodyslammed Owens. They fought back and forth. Owens hit Carmelo with a hard lariat, but Carmelo made a quick comeback and then leaped off the top rope. Owens moved and hit a Pop-Up Powerbomb for a near fall at 10:00. Owens landed a Swanton Bomb and then a stunner for a three count. Cole touted Carmelo’s “incredible performance.”

WINNER: Owens in 11:00 to get to the U.S. Title Contendership Tournament Final.

-Backstage, Michin ran up and excitedly hugged Styles and said they missed him. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows walked up to him, also. Anderson said they didn’t hear from him and asked if they’re good. Styles glared at him and said, “I don’t know; are we?”

-As Bobby Lashley’s ring entrance took place, an inset soundbite aired with Logan Paul saying Lashley doesn’t have what it takes to take the U.S. Title from him. [c]

-A vignette aired with Karrion Kross saying he knows the power of words and how they lead to actions. He talked about his impact on The Bloodline, Drew, Rey Mysterio, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Scarlett then asked, “Do you see the vision?” Then she screamed.

-They replayed Lashley beating Kross two weeks ago.

(4) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/The Street Profits) vs. SANTOS ESCOBAR – U.S. Championship Contender Tournament Semi-final

Escobar made his ring entrance. A clip aired of Escobar beating Lee to advance two weeks ago. Graves said Escobar has gone through a revelation, revealing his true self. The bell rang 24 minutes into the hour. Escobar charged, but Lashley clotheslined him. Lashley took early control. Escobar made a comeback, but Lashley caught him leaping off the top rope at him and then shoved him to the floor. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]

Escobar dove through the ropes to the floor after the break. They showed that during the break, Escobar dropkicked Lashley into the ringside steps. Escobar controlled the action for a while. Lashley came back with a faceplant and signaled for a full nelson.

Someone in a mask came over the barricade. A security guy grabbed him and pulled him away. Graves acknowledged it and they cut away. Another masked wrestler attacked the Street Profits. Escobar then rolled up a distracted Lashley and yanked on his trunks for the three count. “What the hell just happened?” Cole asked. Escobar celebrated with the masked wrestlers on the ramp, smiling wide. They unmasked as Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza. Graves said, “I love this.”

WINNER: Escobar.

-Backstage, Butch said things didn’t go his way, but he brought the fight. He congratulated Dragon Lee. Pretty Deadly walked up and taunted him with a Christmas carol. Butch attacked them. Security and producers pulled them apart. Aldis told him to go find himself a partner to face Pretty Deadly at New Year’s Revolution in two weeks.

-They replayed Solo splashing Styles backstage again. [c]

-Logan said he thought the tournament would lead to him facing the best WWE has to offer, but instead it’s between a guy who cried over Rey and another who won’t take his shirt off when he’s in the pool. He said Escobar isn’t in his league and KO looks like if Reddit was a person. He blew them a kiss.

-The announcers hyped Michin challenging Iyo Sky for the Women’s Title, Escobar vs. KO, and Styles vs. Orton vs. Knight in two weeks.


Styles made his entrance first to some cheers. Then Solo came out. The bell rang 42 minutes into the hour. At 2:00 Styles kneed Solo from the ring apron and then landed a slingshot forearm. They cut to a break. [c]

Solo delivered a high backbody drop after the break. Solo dominated for several minutes. Solo hoisted Styles onto his shoulders, but Styles slipped free and then landed a quick Pelé kick. Both were down and slow to get up at 10:00. Styles hit Solo with a leaping elbow to the head and then went for the Phenomenal Forearm. Solo ducked and went for a Samoan Spike, but Styles ducked and then rolled up Solo for a near fall. He landed another high kick. As Styles set up a Styles Clash, Solo resisted. Solo then lifted Styles and dumped him over the top rope. Styles hit Solo with a forearm and then landed the Phenomenal Forearm. Solo rolled to the floor. Roman then charged into the ring and attacked Styles. The ref called for the bell.

WINNER: Styles via DQ in 12:00.

-Fans booed as Reigns looked around. Cole said he’s trying to eliminate one of his possible opponents. Reigns lifted Styles onto his shoulder, but Styles slipped free and landed a high kick to his head. Reigns went down and looked stunned. Solo re-entered the ring and punched away at Styles. Reigns joined in the attack. Orton’s music played and he jogged to the ring and went after Solo and Reigns. Jimmy Uso ran out and attacked Orton. Fans looked to the entrance stage and Knight ran out for the save to even the numbers. Knight punched away at Solo and Reigns. Orton and Knight cleared the ring. Cole said this has become a nightmare for Reigns.

Orton and Knight had some words with Styles. Styles punched Knight and Orton. Knight took Styles down with a lariat. Orton pulled Knight off of Styles. Knight shoved Orton. Orton fought back. Reigns was shown holding back Solo and Jimmy from getting involved.

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