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WWE SmackDown preview (Dec. 8, 2023): CM Punk is taking over Roman Reigns’ show

SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 8) with a live show emanating from Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island. This is the second episode of SmackDown during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble 2024, which takes place on January 27.

CM Punk is taking over Roman Reigns’ show

After more than a decade away from the blue brand, CM Punk finally returns to SmackDown tonight. The Best in the World will have the mic in his hand to follow-up on his “I’m home” promo on Raw.

CM is easing into things now that he’s back in WWE, so it’s very possible that this will be an inconsequential segment where he is interrupted by an obnoxious mid-card heel who later eats a GTS.

But considering that Punk is taking over the Tribal Chief’s show for one night, it would be more interesting if WWE planted a seed for an eventual feud between Punk and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.

Reigns is a part-timer who hasn’t been around in over one month, and isn’t expected to be on hand tonight for an interaction with Punk. But Roman’s wise man Paul Heyman should be in the house, and he’s the key to this whole thing given his long-established close personal relationship with Punk.

What will happen if Punk and Heyman cross paths at some point tonight? That’s the main question on my mind when it comes to Punk’s return to SmackDown, so I hope we’ll see it happen.

The rest of the title scene

United States Champion Logan Paul is a part-timer, so he’s probably going away for a little while again as WWE runs an 8-man tournament to determine his next challenger. Tonight’s card includes two first-round tourney matches: Karrion Kross finally returns to TV to fight Bobby Lashley, and Dragon Lee has a Survivor Series rematch with Santos Escobar.

Bianca Belair defeated Kairi Sane last week to establish that she won’t be finished with Damage CTRL until she defeats WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY for the gold. Kairi lost after Bayley went back on her word and showed up at ringside. Will the rest of Damage CTRL point the finger at Bayley for the group’s recent failures?

WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor are focused on Raw and The Creeds right now, although they probably do owe Randy Orton a receipt at some point down the line.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green and Piper Niven also have their hands full on Raw and don’t have any obvious reason to appear on SmackDown tonight.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- LA Knight showed up during last week’s main event segment to save Randy Orton from a beatdown at the hands of The Bloodline. Naturally, it will be Knight and Orton teaming up tonight to take on the duo of Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa in tag competition. Roman Reigns isn’t around, so I don’t like The Bloodline’s chances here.

- Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka is booked for tonight. If The Queen defeats The Empress, she will likely argue that she deserves a title match with IYO SKY. Wil Bayley find a way to accidentally screw this match up for Damage CTRL too?

- AJ Styles is once again expected to return to WWE tonight, after rumors of his return turned out to be incorrect a few weeks ago. It’s been 2.5 months since we last saw AJ when he was taken out backstage by The Bloodline.

- The Brawling Brutes are falling apart without Sheamus around to lead them. Ridge Holland walked out on BUTCH recently, so BUTCH is now pursuing singles matches. Who will he do the job to tonight?

- Kevin Owens is really good at punching Austin Theory and Grayson Waller in the face, but he suffered a kayfabe hand injury last week. Will KO’s status for the United States championship number one contender tournament be affected by this unfortunate turn of events?

- Nick Aldis took his first bump in WWE last week when he was RKO’d out of nowhere by Randy Orton after inking him to an exclusive deal with SmackDown. Will the SmackDown GM punish Randy for being an asshole and attacking him for no good reason?

- Tonight is WWE’s Tribute to the Troops broadcast, which comes with a live musical performance by The War and Treaty.

- Where the f*** is Omos?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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