WWE SmackDown Notes: Results, Carmelo Hayes & Kevin Owens Advance in US Title Tourn., WWE Universal Title Challenge for Royal Rumble, AJ Styles Returns

WWE SmackDown Results – Dec. 15, 2023

December 15, 2023
Green Bay, WI – Resch Center
Commentary – Kevin Patrick, Michael Cole, and Corey Graves

Quick Match Results

  1. United States Championship #1 Contender Tournament First Round match – Carmelo Hayes defeated Grayson Waller via Nothing But Net (pinfall)
  2. United States Championship #1 Contender Tournament First Round match – Kevin Owens defeated Austin Theory via KO Punch (pinfall)
  3. Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Michin & Zelina Vega via Insane Elbow (pinfall)
  4. Randy Orton defeated Jimmy Uso via RKO (pinfall)

Carmelo Hayes & Kevin Owens Advance in US Title Contender Tournament

Friday’s SmackDown show featured two more First Round matches for WWE’s United States Championship #1 Contender tournament.

The first tournament match was Carmelo Hayes defeating Grayson Waller.

The finish to this match involved Hayes climbing to the top rope to attempt a move only to be stopped by Waller who tripped him causing Hayes to crash onto the mat. Waller then put his leg over Hayes’ neck and spinned him spiking Hayes head onto the mat for the nearfall. Hayes responded hitting a kick and springboard DDT for the nearfall. Waller rolled out of the ring and grabbed Hayes arm slamming it onto the rope. Waller then got back into the ring but left himself open to Hayes hitting him with the First 48. Hayes then climbed to the top rope and hit a Nothing But Net to Waller for the pinfall victory to advance to the next round of the US title #1 Contender tournament.

The second tournament match was Kevin Owens defeating Austin Theory.

The finish to this match involved Theory hitting a Blockbuster to Owens for the nearfall. Theory then placed Owens on the top rope and went up as well only for Owens to slide out underneath him and trip up Theory causing him to land in a Tree of Woe position. Owens then hit a cannoball to Theory and followed it with a top rope Swanton Bomb for the nearfall. Owens attempted to hit a Stunner only for Theory to counter bu grabbing Owens’ broken hand and kick it in return. After some more attacks on Owens’ hand, Theory attempted a running attack only to get hit with a big right hand punch from Owens’ hand in the cast and Owens getting the pinfall victory to advance to the next round of the US title #1 Contender tournament.

Randy Orton Challenges Roman Reigns for WWE Universal Title Match at Royal Rumble 2024

Friday’s WWE SmackDown show featured Randy Orton issuing an official challenge to Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Royal Rumble 2024, which takes place on January 7, 2024 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

This match was setup following an in-ring promo segment involving The Bloodline and Orton. After The Bloodline made their way to the ring to start off the show, Reigns gave a promo talking about him showing up to celebrate tonight since it is the holidays and named Solo Sikoa as his successor as the Tribal Chief should anything bad happen to him.

Orton’s music played interrupting The Bloodline and Orton entered the ring and grabbed a microphone. Orton stated that he was issuing an official challenge for Reigns’ Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at next month’s Royal Rumble event. Reigns responded stating that he declined the challenge. After some insults-filled back-and-forth banter, Orton attempted to hit an RKO out of nowhere leading to Reigns escaping away. Orton then taunted Reigns saying that the voices in his head told him that Reigns crapped his pants and that “Daddy’s back.” Orton then threw his microphone and left the ring while a concerned Reigns and the rest of The Bloodline looked on over what had just happened.

AJ Styles Makes Surprise Return at Friday’s SmackDown Show

Friday’s SmackDown show also featured AJ Styles making his surprise return to WWE’s SmackDown brand.

Following Randy Orton’s victory over Jimmy Uso in the main event match on the show, LA Knight headed down the ring to have a talk with Orton only to get attacked from behind by Roman Reigns. This led to a brawl between Orton & Knight and The Bloodline that was interrupted by AJ Styles’ entrance theme playing. While The Bloodline were looking towards the stage for Styles to show up, Styles instead came from behind and hit a Phenomenal Forearm to Reigns. This led to The Bloodline escaping the ring and stared down Orton, Knight, and Styles. Before anything else could happen, Styles abruptly attached Knight laying him out and left the ring and walked past The Bloodline while them and Orton looked on over what had just happened.