On December 15, The weekly SmackDown show was aired from Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The show’s highlight was the return of the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. We further saw a progress in the USTitle Tournament. Randy Orton has been on the show due to his battle with The Bloodline. The Damage CTRL story continued to get more interesting and much more. Let’s find out what happened on the Friday Night SmackDown.
Roman Reigns Returns
The show opened with The Tribal Chief’s music, who came out alongside Paul Heyman, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso. It was announced as the 1202 days of this historic Title reign. Roman told the fans to acknowledge him. He said it’s the Christmas season and he is here to celebrate as the boss. Then he mentioned someone who sacrificed everything for The Bloodline. He called him the Next Tribal Chief. Jimmy was flexing behind Roman’s back and thought it was him. Reigns was talking about Sikoa. The Tribal Chief hugged him and acknowledged him.
Randy Orton interrupted and said he had been waiting for this moment for 18 months. He said he’s coming for Reigns and will take away all from the Tribal Chief. Then he challenged Roman to a match at the Royal Rumble. Roman said that Randy had thought of him for 18 months, but I didn’t think about him for once. The Champion told Randy to get in line and earn a title shot. Reigns told Orton it’s not 2007 and that a match with Roman would be a retirement match for The Viper. Randy went for an RKO, but Roman survived. The Viper told him that “Daddy’s Back”. Cole announced that Orton would face Jimmy later tonight.
Analysis: It was a solid opening segment. Roman came back after a break but returned strongly. Orton will go through Jimmy and Solo in the upcoming weeks to finally get his hands on the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.
US Title Tournament Match
Carmelo Hayes vs Grayson Waller
Carmelo Hayes represented the NXT brand in the US Title Tournament, facing Grayson Waller. The match picked pace from the start. Hayes sent Waller to the outside with a clothesline. Both superstars were delivering brutal chops at times. Melo delivered a facebuster for a near fall. We also saw a Springboard DDT from Hayes. Ultimately, Melo delivered the First 48, followed by his finisher, Nothin’ But Net, to achieve victory.
Winner: Carmelo Hayes
Analysis: It was a fine match and represented Melo’s skills. Waller is a consistent thing on WWE TV, and having him completely beaten means that WWE is very high on Hayes. Carmelo seems to go a long way in this US Title Tournament.
Backstage: Randy Orton and LA Knight were backstage. Knight was there to help Randy. The Viper said that he didn’t need any help. Knight tried to convince him by saying that it was a numbers game. Randy advised him to stay out of the way. Knight made it clear that he would take the Title off Roman Reigns.
US Title Tournament Match
Austin Theory vs Kevin Owens
Owens had covered his hand with a cast as he was injured. KO started strong. He delivered a senton in the ring followed by a cannonball to the outside. Theory bounced back with a drop kick. He then slammed Owens on the ring apron. After the commercial, Kevin hit a frog splash for a two-count. Owens went for the Swanton Bomb, but Theory countered with his knees up. Before Theory could do much, Kevin delivered an atomic drop and a DDT. Austin was kicked out.
Theory delivered a beautiful-looking seated springboard Spanish Fly for a near fall.
Theory continued the attack on the barricade outside and tried for a count-out victory. KO returned to the ring at nine. Theory wasted no time and delivered a massive blockbuster, but Kevin was kicked out. A cannonball and a Swanton Bomb from Owens, but still Theory kicked out. Theory focused on the injured hand of Owens. In the end, KO was victorious after delivering a big right hand using the cast.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Analysis: It was a wonderful match, and both superstars delivered to their potential. Owens was the expected winner. Austin Theory seems directionless and needs a valid story in the Road to WrestleMania.
Backstage: We were in The Bloodline’s locker room. Reigns was furious with Orton for ruining their celebration and Solo’s moment. Jimmy demanded to be the Tribal Heir. Reigns said it was the Christmas season, and if Jimmy could silence Orton, he would be granted a promotion. Jimmy said, “YEET” Roman looked at him, and he hilariously said, “NO YEET.”
— The commentary desk announced that Charlotte Flair will be out for nine months due to injury.
Tag Team Match
Asuka and Kairi Sane vs Michin and Zelina Vega
In a video package, Bayley hoped to win the Royal Rumble and take the title from Rhea Ripley. Michin and Vega attacked Asuka and Sane during their entrance. As the match began, Asuka and Kairi double-teamed Michin and dominated for the first few minutes. Michin bounced back with a Suplex on Asuka. Vega got the hot tag. She delivered a devil lock DDT and a 619 on Sane. In the end, Michin was on the top rope, where Dakota distracted the referee. Bayley came out and threw Michin off the top rope. Kairi got the win with an Insane Elbow.
Winner: Asuka and Kairi Sane
Analysis: It was a good action-packed match. Asuka and KairiSane displayed brilliant tag team chemistry, bringing back memories of The Kabuki Warriors. The reaction from other Damage CTRL members said it all when Bayley wished to win the Royal Rumble.
Randy Orton vs Jimmy Uso
In the main event, Randy Orton went one-on-one with Jimmy Uso, starting his journey to end the Bloodline. Jimmy escaped the DDT early on, but he was soon slammed onto the commentary table. Orton didn’t let Uso do much and took him in the corner with some right hands and stomps. Uso had some life after a spinning kick and threw Randy to the outside. After the commercial, Orton was again in charge. He delivered his signature DDT and prepared for the RKO. Solo Sikoa arrived from the entrance ramp but was laid out by LA Knight. In the ring, Jimmy was done thanks to a brutal RKO from the Viper.
Knight and Orton had a brief staredown. Roman Reigns took out Knight and had a confrontation with The Viper. Jimmy and Reigns double-teamed on Orton. LA Knight came out to even the odds, but Sikoa was there to take him down. AJ Styles’ music hit, and he was on the apron. A Phenomenal Forearm to the Tribal Chief and The Bloodline retrieved. A twist remained, and Styles took out Knight with a clothesline. Orton looked confused as Styles walked away.
Winner: Randy Orton
Analysis: Randy Orton grabbed the win in a decent main event. It was a brilliant post-match angle to close out the show. AJ Styles is back with a unique character as he took out both Reigns and Knight.
It was a great show overall. The storyline progression was good. AJ Styles is finally back after much anticipation. WWE can go with a multi-person story regarding the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship with Styles, Orton, and Knight in the mix.