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SmackDown recap & reactions (Dec. 23, 2022): A holiday surprise

Knowing this was taped last week, I went into this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown with low expectations. After all, there’s only so much you can ask of WWE when they’re trying to give talent the holidays off and have to do a double taping to make that happen.

I was pleasantly surprised at what they managed to give us despite this.

They opened with a promo from The Bloodline, which featured the usual Paul Heyman promotional talk followed by Roman Reigns paving the road for Sami Zayn to get on the mic and spit nothing but hot fire.

This might be one of my favorite promos from Zayn since he’s been in WWE, a passionate defense of his place in The Bloodline but even more than that an emotional message about his place overall. He’s finally found a home with this crew, who genuinely seem to care about him. We know that as a story for many troubled folks — wandering aimlessly until they’re taken in by a bad crowd that looks appealing if only because it offers that sense of family.

That’s what Kevin Owens is arguing, essentially, and Zayn finds himself so hopelessly attached at this point that he’s entirely turned on the one person who had his back even when no one else did. They had their issues, of course, but what brothers don’t?

Zayn is so far gone, in fact, he’s disgusted at the mere fact that their names are still intertwined.

The only way to change that is to do what he’s doing now, which is blindly following Reigns’ lead, and doing his bidding, even if it means going up against not just Owens but the returning John Cena. It’s all part of the vicious cycle of it all — compromised individual looking for camaraderie finds it with group willing to take advantage of them.

On and on it goes.

We’ll see just how it goes next week.

All the rest
  • Hit Row became top contenders to the tag team titles last week with a win in a triple threat match that was notable for Top Dolla’s leg giving out on a dive. That’s what dominated headlines after, as opposed to their newfound status as top contenders. Well, they were soundly beaten by The Usos this week, as Jimmy & Jey targeted Dolla’s bad leg and had no issue taking them out. It felt very much like a nothing match. Tough scenes for Hit Row.
  • They used a Gauntlet match to find the next top contender to Ronda Rousey’s SmackDown women’s championship. Really, this was a way to get to booking a title match for the Dec. 30 show that they want to make as big as possible. There’s a real problem with storytelling in the SmackDown women’s division, and matches like this showcase that but maybe they deserve a pass because they just wanted to make next week’s show bigger? I don’t know, but it seems odd to rush into Rodriguez’s title shot after protecting her as much as they have for as long as they have. Then again, she’s also been positioned as the overcoming underdog with the arm injury she battled through to win this match. Surely it will play a part in next week’s finish.
  • Bray Wyatt is clearly not Uncle Howdy, he says. He wanted an apology from LA Knight but before he could really get into anything he lost his train of thought and randomly assaulted a cameraman. It appears to be a new favorite thing in WWE to have a wrestler lose control and Adam Pearce and a bunch of other WWE officials rush the ring to put a stop to it. I guess this is simply Wyatt losing himself more and more as time goes on.
  • Angel Garza got back on WWE television on this show, working a singles match with Rey Mysterio. Of course, he was there to do the job but as a fan of Garza’s I feel the need to say WWE should give him more to do! Meanwhile, Karrion Kross & Scarlet stood in the crowd with a spotlight on them the entire match, watching everything play out. Kross is a big burly son of a gun, but he’s no dummy. That man was out there scouting his opponent. What he saw was Mysterio win with the 619 into a springboard DDT (that looked and sounded brutal). Fun match!
  • A pissed off Emma slapped the trash out of Scarlett! “You have no idea what you’ve just done,” Kross responded. This short backstage interaction was enough to get me hyped for a match between these two.
  • The latest Lacey Evans vignette told us she will be commencing her mission to destroy everyone in WWE next week. Oh boy.
  • The Miracle on 34th Street Fight, now a staple of the holiday in WWE, was its usual silly fun. This one included a random ballerina in a box followed by The New Day in a box dressed as nutcrackers low blowing Imperium while wearing the NXT tag team titles. They saluted Braun Strowman on his way to running a train all around the ring. They also had Strowman hold mistletoe over Ricochet’s head so the ring announcer, his real life girlfriend Samantha Irvin, could give him a kiss to bring him back to life. The babyface team ended up winning in the end, because that’s always how these matches go. It was all in good fun.

This was a surprisingly good show!

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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