WWE SmackDown is on the road to WWE Royal Rumble 2023. In this week’s episode, there are three scheduled matches: Gunther (c) vs. Ricochet for the Intercontinental Title, Damage Control (c) vs. Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox for the Women’s Tag Titles, and Legado Del Fantasma vs. Hit Row vs. Viking Raiders in a triple threat tag team match. Also, Roman Reigns returns to the Island of Relevancy tonight, as Jey Uso insinuated last week that the Tribal Chief may have a surprise for Sami Zayn when he told him to trim up his beard for this episode.
WWE Royal Rumble 2023 is almost one month from now, and the WWE has not made any SmackDown-affiliated matches official for this “premium live event” yet. Nonetheless, WWE will evidently stick to tradition by hosting the Royal Rumble matches this year. Since there were seven matches on last year’s year’s Royal Rumble card, there will likely be seven matches added to that PPV in the upcoming weeks. It seems that Kevin Owens is being built to battle Reigns for the world title whilst Raquel Rodriguez is being to battle Ronda Rousey for the women’s title.
The following will provide some rapid-fire predictions for what has rumored to be an epic episode of WWE SmackDown tonight.
WWE SmackDown is scheduled to take place on December 16, 2022, live on FOX. Here are some predictions for this week’s show.
Gunther (c) vs. Ricochet [Intercontinental Championship]
Gunther will defeat World Cup Winner Ricochet to retain the Intercontinental Championship because it would not make sense for him to lose the title back to the individual he dethroned in the first place. It is understandable that the World Cup Winner should solidify his tournament victory by winning the title, but putting the belt back on Ricochet would be counterproductive. It was rumored that Strowman was originally planned to win the World Cup but he got himself in trouble on Twitter, so that must explain the peculiar ‘Plan B’ booking here with Ricochet.
Nonetheless, Gunther won’t hold the title for much longer. Since there are rumors of Gunther battling Brock Lesnar at Mania, he will lose the title before then to avoid the idea of Lesnar winning a mid-card belt. He will lose the title to Strowman, Sheamus, or McIntyre. Strowman will likely attack Gunther to help Ricochet and set up a match for the Rumble. If Strowman cannot get the job done, Sheamus can redeem himself from his recent title match loss to Gunther on the road to Mania, or McIntyre can pick up the consolation prize after failing to win the world title.
Damage Control (c) vs. Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox [Women’s Tag Team Titles]
Liv Morgan and Tegan Nox will defeat Damage Control to become the new Women’s Tag Team Champs because there are no other tag teams left in the division. Also, there is a habit of flip-flopping those titles in the WWE, as can be evidenced by the teams of Raquel & Aliyah as well as Asuka & Bliss who won the titles, held them for one-two week, and dropped them back to Damage Control for no valid booking reason. Furthermore, since Nox just returned, she needs a big win. Also, Morgan needs a consolation prize after losing the Women’s Title too soon in her first reign.
Prediction: Liv Morgan & Tegan Nox
Legado Del Fantasma (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Hit Row (w/B-Fab) vs. Viking Raiders (w/Valhalla) [Triple Threat Tag Match]
Hit Row will win the triple threat tag match here because they are the only babyface tag team in this bout who needs the momentum for a future tag title opportunity against the heel Usos. It can be argued that Viking Raiders need the win more due to recency bias. They returned only two weeks ago and need to reignite their dominance on their road to the tag titles as well. It can even be argued that LDF needs the win more to solidify their call-up from NXT. However, Hit Row made a statement attack last week, which needs to be followed up with a victory.
Prediction: Hit Row
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