SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 17) live from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. This is the fourth SmackDown episode during the six week build towards Day 1 on January 1, 2022.
What happened to Shotzi?
WWE is only advertising one thing for tonight’s episode of SmackDown, and that’s the return of Roman Reigns, who missed one week of television. That’s all fine and good, but the more pressing question on my mind is, when will we get the return of Shotzi?
Blackheart was receiving a good amount of television time to kick off her singles run on SmackDown, which began at the very end of October. She had a long match with Charlotte Flair and then turned heel on Sasha Banks. When Shotzi’s singles match with Banks did take place, though, it was a bad omen for her future push. Not only did Shotzi lose the match, but she was deceived into shaking Sasha’s hand afterwards. Sasha proceeded to give her a backstabber for being foolish enough to accept her bogus gesture of respect. Shotzi competed at Survivor Series that weekend on Nov. 21, and that’s the last time we’ve seen her in the ring.
I am not aware of any details on Shotzi’s whereabouts, which means I don’t have a good sense for whether this is a matter of creative having nothing for her, or if it is something out of WWE’s control. What I do know is that tonight is the last live episode of SmackDown before Day 1. Due to the upcoming holidays, next week’s (Dec. 24) Christmas Eve episode of SmackDown is being taped after tonight’s live broadcast wraps up. The roster could be stretched out a bit with multiple wrestlers performing double duty in the ring. It sounds like a pretty good time for Shotzi to return to the ring, if she is available to wrestle.
The title scene
Universal champion Roman Reigns returns tonight after missing last week’s episode due to a Samoan Sabbatical. There’s no doubt he will have to address his Wise Man, Paul Heyman, who slipped up last week while stupefied by the Canadian alpha male duo of Sami Zayn and Brock Lesnar. Heyman’s gift of gab fired Lesnar up, but in doing so, he referred to Brock as the likely future Universal champion. That’s not going to sit well with the Tribal Chief. Reigns and Lesnar are scheduled to fight for the title at Day 1, and Heyman remains caught in the middle of both men.
SmackDown women’s champion Charlotte Flair got herself disqualified last week in a
Championship Contender non-title match against Toni Storm. She laid Storm out after the match, which is pretty much the opposite of the booking that Storm needs right now to get over as a worthy challenger for the belt. WWE is running out of time to salvage something decent out of this not-very-good feud.
SmackDown tag team champions Jimmy and Jey Uso were defeated again by the New Day last week, this time in a triple threat match (along with Raw tag champs RK-Bro) to determine the very best team in WWE, even though that matter was originally settled at Survivor Series. With the Head of the Table back on the show tonight, the Usos will be in a stronger position to assert their dominance over Kofi Kingston and King Woods, who will be fighting for the titles at Day 1.
Shinsuke Nakamura is the Intercontinental champion. He’s held the title for four months, but has only defended it one time on television or pay-per-view. We know that sometimes there is a lot of paperwork involved with booking these mid-card title matches in WWE, but this is getting ridiculous. Actually it’s not that crazy at all, because WWE hasn’t given a shit about this title in years.
Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega are the Women’s tag team champions, yet they have seemingly opted to avoid showing up on SmackDown. Is this because there isn’t enough room on the blue brand for two different queens?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Adam Pearce told Drew McIntyre that a “higher authority” was behind the decision to keep him out of the Black Friday Battle Royal, which cost Drew a chance at becoming Universal champion. Drew was also told that he can’t bring his flame-generating giant sword to the ring anymore. Drew responded to the news by jamming his sword through Pearce’s desk, which was then stolen by those numbskulls Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. Drew has previously said that he’s not dumb enough to actually carry the real sword around with him, because he knows how much mischief and vandalism goes on backstage at WWE. So the joke might be on Happy and Madcap, unless Drew is now a dummy.
- Sonya Deville tried to recruit Shayna Baszler and Natalya to destroy Naomi last week, but Xia Li debuted and protected Naomi from that nonsense. Xia’s debut was a bit strange. I think she shoots lightning out of her face and body during her entrance? Pat McAfee thought it was both cool and intimidating. Regardless, it’s pretty bold for Li to pick a fight with an oppressive authority figure right out of the gate.
- Here’s a brief recap of the story featuring Cesaro, Sheamus, and Ridge Holland: Cesaro beat Holland three weeks ago, Sheamus beat Cesaro two weeks ago, and then Sheamus lost against Drew McIntyre last week. Wait a minute, how did that one get in there?
- Poor Sami Zayn. He was already in a neck brace and wheelchair at the beginning of last week’s episode, and that was before Brock Lesnar attacked him again. I can only imagine how many neck braces and wheelchairs Zayn will need when he makes his way to the ring tonight. The conspiracy against this man will never end, but the answer to all of Sami’s woes is obvious: Shanky.
- Speaking of Brock, he’s appeared on two consecutive episodes of SmackDown. Will he be breaking his own personal record over the last decade if he makes it three in a row tonight? He’s not currently advertised for the show, but this is the last live episode of SmackDown before Day 1. If Brock isn’t in the building tonight, then we won’t see him again before Day 1, outside of any pre-taped promos. Maybe he and Roman can sign a contract for their pay-per-view match via satellite.
- Tonight’s double taping might also mean that WWE is forced to book Ricochet in a match on one of the tapings. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?