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WWE SmackDown preview (Dec. 30, 2022): John Cena’s return ruins everything for Sami Zayn

SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 30) with a live show from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. This is the fifth SmackDown episode during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble, which takes place on Jan. 28.

John Cena’s return to WWE ruins everything for Sami Zayn

John Cena returns to WWE tonight for his first and only match of 2022. He teams up with Kevin Owens to take on Sami Zayn and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.

Everything was going great for The Bloodline following WarGames when Sami Zayn proved his loyalty to Reigns at the expense of his best friend Owens. It looked like Zayn was going to be rewarded by becoming a full-fledged Uce on the Dec. 16 episode of SmackDown. But that’s when John Cena showed his stupid face (via satellite) and ruined everything for Sami. Sami now has to prove his worth all over again in tonight’s tag team match. Roman Reigns never loses, so if Cena and Owens find a way to win, you know Sami will be the one blamed for it. All of the hard work he’s put into gaining favor with The Bloodline could go up in smoke, just like that, thanks to Super Cena.

There are multiple ways WWE can book the finish of this match, which is one of the most anticipated TV fights of the year. If the idea it to set up Kevin Owens as the next challenger for Reigns’ gold at Royal Rumble, then the babyfaces are likely going over and Zayn is taking the fall. If the idea is to instead set up a WrestleMania 39 match for John Cena, then whichever heel wants a piece of him can show up and help The Bloodline win.

As far as I can tell, Cena hasn’t won a match on WWE TV or PPV since 2019, so I think he’s going over here. And if that’s what happens, it might not be too long before Sami is whacked by the rest of The Bloodline. Keep in mind that the Elimination Chamber PPV in Montreal is about seven weeks away, and it makes a lot of sense for hometown hero Zayn to be positioned opposite Roman in the main event of that card. Cena’s return could set it all in motion in tonight’s main event.

The rest of the title scene

SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey is scheduled to defend her belt tonight against Raquel Rodriguez. This was rumored to be a match for Royal Rumble, so maybe there will be a screwy finish to give them a reason to fight again in a few weeks. Raquel could probably use the extra time to recover given her kayfabe elbow injury, although that didn’t stop her from beating four different women last week.

Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER retained his belt against Ricochet two weeks ago, but now has Braun Strowman on his radar. Will the Monster Among Men make a statement tonight by imposing his will on Imperium?

Jimmy and Jey Uso beat Hit Row last week to continue their current record as the longest reigning WWE tag team champions of all time. Their services will likely be needed to help out the other Bloodline members who are wrestling tonight.

You never know when Bayley and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions IYO SKY and Dakota Kai will show up on SmackDown to treat Michael Cole like garbage.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Lacey Evans returns to WWE tonight and her stated goal is “to destroy every woman in WWE.” There’s no word yet on which processed foods she plans to use to accomplish her mission.

- Sheamus hasn’t been on TV in a few weeks, but he’s back tonight to take on Solo Sikoa in a singles match. Well, theoretically it’s a singles match, but there should be plenty of ringside involvement from The Bloodline and the Brawling Brutes. Can Sheamus take Solo out of the mix so he won’t be able to interfere in Cena’s tag match later in the night?

- Bray Wyatt demanded an apology from LA Knight last week after proving that he is a different person from Uncle Howdy. The segment ended with Wyatt snapping and attacking a cameraman. Will tonight’s angle with Knight bring us any closer to a Pitch Black Mountain Dew match at Royal Rumble?

- Rey Mysterio returned from injury last week with a victory over Angel. Now that Rey is back in the ring, it’s only a matter of time until Karrion Kross and Scarlett try to end his legendary career.

- Speaking of Scarlett, she was slapped in the face last week by Emma. Is this leading to a mixed tag match of Kross & Scarlett vs. Emma & Madcap Riddick Moss?

- Xia Li dressed up in disguise to screw over Tegan Nox in a women’s tag team title match a couple weeks ago. Li then beat Nox in less than two minutes during a gauntlet match last week. Will Nox finally make her pay tonight?

- When will Liv Morgan declare her spot in the women’s Royal Rumble match?

- Can Legado del Fantasma or the Viking Raiders get back on the right track after struggling to build momentum this month?

- Drew McIntyre has been out of action since Survivor Series due to injury. Will he make a surprise return tonight to neutralize The Usos during the Cena main event?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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