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WWE SmackDown preview (Dec. 22, 2023): LA Knight is in danger of losing his spot

SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 22) with a taped show (spoilers here) emanating from Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is the fourth episode of SmackDown during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble 2024, which takes place on January 27.

LA Knight is in danger of losing his spot

AJ Styles returned to SmackDown last week and, as expected, immediately took the fight to The Bloodline. That’s the group that put him on the shelf in September, and Styles wants revenge.

A more shocking moment happened shortly afterwards when the Phenomenal One laid out LA Knight without warning. AJ should have the mic in his hands tonight to explain his actions.

LA is the man who benefited the most from AJ’s absence since September; Knight took Styles’ main event spot in The Bloodline story, got the big endorsement from John Cena, and went on to challenge WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at Crown Jewel. All of that was probably going to come AJ’s way if he wasn’t hurt by The Bloodline. Now that AJ has returned to SmackDown, it looks like he’s pissed off and trying to take his spot back from the megastar.

But AJ isn’t the only guy trying to take LA’s spot away from him. When Randy Orton returned to WWE last month and signed an exclusive deal with SmackDown, it was inevitable that he would butt heads with Knight. They both want the same thing, which is to end Roman’s very long reign as champion. Randy and LA haven’t gotten physical with each other yet, but it’s going to happen when they are put in a position where only one of them can get the next title match against the Tribal Chief.

One month ago, LA Knight seemingly had the number one contender spot to Roman Reigns locked down, even after losing to Roman at Crown Jewel. But in just a matter of weeks, LA is now surrounded by two main event level stars who have a much longer track record of success than he does, putting him in danger of falling out of that number one spot.

How will WWE decide which of these men get to challenge Roman Reigns for the title next month at Royal Rumble? We should find out that answer on tonight’s episode of SmackDown.

The rest of the title scene

The next challenger for part-time United States Champion Logan Paul is being determined in a tournament. The semifinal round takes place tonight with two matches: Kevin Owens vs. Carmelo Hayes and Bobby Lashley vs. Santos Ecobar. Will Carmelo’s confidence translate to a win over Owens and his broken hand? Will Santos find some way to cheat and screw over Bob?

Dragon Lee defends the NXT North American Chapionship tonight against BUTCH. Sure, why not?

WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY is likely headed for a championship rematch with Bianca Belair some time soon, especially now that Charlotte Flair is out of the picture. SKY and Belair will be on opposite sides of the ring tonight when they compete in the Holiday Havoc 8-woman tag team match. It’s Damage CTRL vs. Belair, Shotzi, Mia Yim & Zelina Vega in a match where the ringside area will probably include plenty of holiday-themed props and weapons.

WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor proved to be better than The Creeds on this week’s Raw. They likely won’t be a factor on tonight’s SmackDown.

Katana Chance and Kayden Carter are the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, which means they can begin to make appearances on SmackDown. If they do show up tonight, will Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn be waiting for them? If not, the Kabuki Warriors have expressed interest in chasing the gold.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Karrion Kross had a vignette last week where he said “everything was set into motion” the moment he stepped through the door. We are at “the threshold of a new beginning,” and “everything is about to crumble.” Okay, that’s all fine and good, but if everything was set into motion when he returned to WWE last year, then why won’t he just continue being the same shitty wrestler who loses all the time?

- Jimmy Uso is miffed about being passed over by Solo Sikoa as the next Tribal Chief. Is there anything Jim can do to change Roman’s mind about the pecking order?

- Pretty Deadly and the Street Profits don’t have much to do considering the undisputed tag team champions rarely show up on Friday nights.

- Now that Charlotte Flair is out of action for most of 2024, does this speed up the timeline for Jade Cargill to make an impact on the main roster? SmackDown GM Nick Aldis should be trying to sign her to the blue brand ASAP.

- Will any new names declare for the 2024 Royal Rumble matches? Why isn’t every single wrestler on the roster attempting to do this before all the spots are filled?

- How will Austin Theory and Grayson Waller regroup after both being bounced out of the US title tournament last week?

- Where the f*** is Omos?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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