SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 9) with a live show from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the second SmackDown episode during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble, which takes place on Jan. 28.
Tegan Nox tries to get over in WWE
IYO SKY and Dakota Kai are the defending WWE women’s tag team champions, and last week’s show indicated that we could see a lot more Damage CTRL on SmackDown going forward. After losing so often on Raw, Bayley and friends would likely thrive from an increased presence on Friday nights.
Bayley was talking her usual trash on last week’s show, making excuses for her team’s loss at War Games. That’s when Liv Morgan showed up looking to shut Bayley up. Morgan voluntarily walked right into a three on-one fight, because she’s all about throwing caution to the wind these days. But it turns out she had backup in the form of Tegan Nox, who joined the fight and sent Damage CTRL packing.
Commentator Michael Cole tried his best to make Tegan’s surprise return a very exciting moment, but it was hard to ignore the muted reception from the live audience. Tegan’s new look and poor main roster booking in 2021 made it so that many fans probably didn’t even realize who she was at first.
How do you fix that problem? Give her a microphone and let her form a connection with the audience. It’s easier said than done, of course, but Tegan will have to do some talking tonight if she wants to establish herself as someone the fans should go crazy for when she makes an appearance.
Based on last week’s angle, Nox and Morgan suddenly stand out as threats for tag team championship gold. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown should move things further along that path as Tegan Nox tries to get over in WWE.
The rest of the title scene
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos will put the undisputed titles on the line tonight against Sheamus and Butch. Drew McIntyre was originally booked as Sheamus’ partner in this title fight, but he was replaced after being medically disqualified. For as talented as Butch is, he’s a clear downgrade in kayfabe from McIntyre, putting Jimmy and Jey in a stronger position to continue their reign as the longest tag team champions in WWE history.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey wasn’t around last week, but she’ll be in the house tonight when Shotzi goes one-on-one with Shayna Baszler in a singles match. Ronda will be in Shayna’s corner, while Raquel Rodriguez will be in Shotzi’s corner. Even with one arm in a brace, Rodriguez seems like the most probable challenger for Rousey at Royal Rumble.
Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER is scheduled to defend the belt next week against Ricochet, who earned the title shot by winning the SmackDown World Cup. Large trophies usually end up getting broken in pro wrestling, so we’ll have to see if Imperium finds a way to destroy Ricochet’s prize one week before the championship fight. Will Braun Strowman make his presence known by trying to remove GUNTHER’s underlings from the equation?
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns once again isn’t advertised for tonight’s show. Rarely showing up on TV is a great way to extend the length of one’s title reign. Ignoring house shows, Roman last defended the gold on Nov. 5 and might not defend it again until Jan. 28 at Royal Rumble, which is a period of almost three months.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Hometown hero Kurt Angle is in the building tonight to celebrate his birthday! Which heel will attempt to ruin the occasion but instead get covered in a bunch of milk for his troubles?
- Bray Wyatt loves to hear himself talk, and what he’s been saying of late is that he had nothing to do with the mysterious attacks on LA Knight. Does anybody actually believe him?
- Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens say they want nothing to do with each other going forward, yet they always seem to get in each other’s way.
- Which babyface teams besides Hit Row are left to deal with The Viking Raiders and Legado Del Fantasma now that New Day is preoccupied with NXT tag team belts? Is Rick Boogs getting any closer to a return so that he and Shinsuke Nakamura can join the fray?
- Karrion Kross has made it clear that he’s targeting Rey Mysterio next. I don’t know what Rey did to piss this guy off, but the legendary babyface might want to take his sweet time coming back from injury.
- Lacey Evans is being repackaged yet again. The marine is going back to basics, looking to separate herself from the weak.
- Madcap Moss and Emma have a thing for each other. Luckily for them, the 24/7 title is gone from WWE, otherwise they might already be married by now.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown?