WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reactions and Highlights from December 2
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The No. 1 contender to Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship was decided Friday night on FS1 as Ricochet battled Legado del Fantasma’s Santos Escobar in the finals of WWE’s SmackDown World Cup tournament.
Would The One and Only be able to cash his ticket to another showdown with The Ring General, or did Escobar benefit from interference from teammates Zelina Vega, Cruz del Toro and Joaquin Wilde en route to another momentous victory?
Find out with this post-Survivor Series: War Games broadcast, which also included the latest in The Bloodline’s dominance over professional wrestling.
Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn
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Sheamus and The Brawling Brutes hit the ring for the night’s opening contest between The Celtic Warrior and The Honorary Uce following a brief celebratory promo segment featuring The Bloodline’s Sami Zayn, The Usos and Solo Sikoa.
It was a competitive match between the two—with Sheamus seeking revenge for the disappointing conclusion to the War Games main event in which The Bloodline reigned supreme—thanks in large part to the contributions of Zayn.
He would face similar disappointment Friday, as Zayn benefited from interference from foe-turned-friend Jey Uso to roll Sheamus up for the pinfall victory.
The match was very good, which is no real surprise given those involved, but it really built to the finish. The fact that Uso helped The Honorary Uce secure the win furthered the idea that the issues between them have subsided.
Uso finally accepted Zayn as a member of The Bloodline and reiterated it here.
It will be interesting to see if that relationship sours again, if Jey was right the whole time and how great the “I told you so” will be if that proves to be the case.
Zayn pinned Sheamus
- Jimmy Uso prevented Zayn from giving any credit to any other member of The Bloodline for what happened Saturday at Survivor Series, instead saying The Honorary Uce deserved the acclaim.
- “I hate to beat the balls out of a fellow ginger,” Sheamus warned Zayn.
- The Bloodline and The Brawling Brutes fought at ringside to set up the distraction that allowed Jey to kick Sheamus right into the sunset flip by Zayn for the win.
Bray Wyatt Cut a Promo; Emma vs. Shayna Baszler
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Bray Wyatt cut a promo backstage, his tone and demeanor on the darker side, still claiming he was not the one who attacked LA Knight backstage.
Back in the arena, “Submission Magician” Shayna Baszler made her way to the ring for a match against Emma, with best friend Ronda Rousey conspicuous in her absence.
As she did against Rousey in her first match back, Emma put up an admirable fight, but a late-match miscalculation saw Baszler cut her off on the top rope and then bring her back to the mat and apply the Kirifuda Clutch for the submission win. .
After the match, Shotzi hit the ring, making the save for the Aussie. Baszler cut her off with a knee to the face. Raquel Rodriguez was the next to make the “save,” staring down the heel while nursing her arm injury suffered at the hands of Baszler and Rousey a week ago.
This segment was effective in exactly one respect: It reminded fans of the killer Baszler used to be before the subpar booking that plagued her during the majority of her main roster run up to this point.
She looked like a total badass as she tapped Emma out and then flattened Shotzi, only backing down when the numbers game became too great.
Unfortunately, it also made two members of the babyface roster look incompetent, as they were summarily beaten down and in need of a third person to help them. But that has been the story of the last two months in the blue-brand women’s division, which remains one of the weak points of Triple H’s creative efforts so far.
- “If I had been the one, you would all know because there would be none of him left,” Wyatt said of accusations about him attacking LA Knight.
- Backstage, Madcap Moss reminded Emma that she was a trailblazer in NXT and with the Women’s Revolution. She thanked “Riddick” for his boost as we inched closer to the demise of the ridiculous “Madcap” moniker.
- A video package for Lacey Evans aired, promising she was getting “back to basics.”
Kofi Kingston vs. Gunther
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The product of a backstage confrontation, Intercontinental champion Gunther squared off with Kofi Kingston in a non-title match.
When it appeared as though The Ring General’s Imperium teammates, Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser, would influence the outcome, Braun Strowman made his presence felt, chasing the lackeys from ringside and ensuring Gunther would have to secure his victory fairly.
He did just that, breaking out his new finisher, The Last Symphony, after Kingston kicked out of his trademark powerbomb.
This was another competitive match in a string of them tonight, with Kingston looking mighty impressive despite having no real shot at knocking off the Austrian heel. That Gunther broke out another finisher to go along with his powerbomb, splash and lariat is a game-changer and makes him that much more dangerous.
Of course, the real story is the continued interruption of all things Imperium by Strowman, who cannot help the fact that he is not the No. 1 contender. His shot at Gunther is the endgame of this story, essentially overshadowing the World Cup finals that will occur later in the broadcast.
Gunther defeated Kingston
- The arrival of Strowman reminded the audience that they should really invest emotionally in the quest for the Intercontinental Championship and the inevitable showdown with Gunther.
- Backstage, Solo Sikoa accompanied Sami Zayn to the parking lot, leaving The Usos alone. Jimmy asked Jey if he ever talked to Zayn about lying to his face, to which The Right Hand Man said The Tribal Chief saw all he needed to when he looked into Zayn’s eyes. Sheamus attacked with a shillelagh before the conversation could go on.
Damage CTRL Promo
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Bayley and Women’s Tag Team champions Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky hit the ring for a promo. The former took exception with being in Buffalo less than a week after Survivor Series but discussed the need for Damage CTRL to restore class to the blue brand since no one would step up.
This brought out Liv Morgan, who found herself on the receiving end of a three-on-one beatdown before Tegan Nox made her return to WWE in an attempted save. The numbers again proved to be oppressive, but Morgan retrieved a kendo stick and wore out the heels in time for Nox to deliver the Shiniest Wizard to Bayley.
The Buffalo fans did not do Nox any favors with their subdued reaction, something that has been an issue all night long, but her return is one of the best of the Triple H regime so far.
Battling knee injuries in NXT and nonexistent creative plans on the main roster, the competitor with the world’s Shiniest Wizard never had the opportunity to establish her legacy in WWE. Tonight represented the first step in a second chance at leaving her mark.
Booking her alongside the very old Morgan—against the unsung MVP of women’s wrestling in Bayley, not to mention longtime friend Kai and the great Sky—is a fantastic decision that should benefit her exponentially in the coming weeks and months.
- Nox rocked Bayley with her version of the shining wizard, and The Role Model sold it perfectly, going limp as if she had just been laid out by the most devastating finisher in the industry.
SmackDown World Cup Finals: Ricochet vs. Santos Escobar
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The finals of the SmackDown World Cup came down to Ricochet and Santos Escobar, who was forced to go it alone early on after the official caught his Legado del Fantasma teammates interfering.
What ensued from there was a premium live event-worthy encounter as Ricochet and Escobar tore the house down with a pair of extraordinary performances that should have elevated them in the eyes of the fans.
Escobar finally looked like the star and championship contender that he was in NXT, as he was allowed to showcase his abilities as an in-ring worker without incessant interference from his cohorts. Meanwhile, Ricochet continued his sneaky-good 2022 with another inspired effort that paid off with a top-rope poison rana, a series of kicks and a 630 splash for the win.
A great main event that is worth going out of your way to see, it was the perfect capper to the broadcast. More importantly, it set up a show-closing staredown between Ricochet and Gunther, which helped put over their December 16 showdown for the latter’s Intercontinental Championship.
Ricochet pinned Escobar
- Referee Jason Ayers ejected Cruz del Toro, Joaquin Wilde and Zelina Vega from ringside at the first hint of interference, ensuring the match remained one-on-one.
- A double crossbody spot led to a double-down and allowed Ricochet to create the separation he needed to attempt a comeback.
- Escobar leapt onto the guardrail and delivered a hurricanrana to Ricochet—off the barricade—and to the floor below.
- Ricochet tried for a shooting star press, but Escobar got the knees up, leading to a dramatic near-fall.