4 Big Takeaways from WWE Smackdown - Dec 30, 2022

The historic return of John Cena, a twist in the Bray Wyatt storyline, and a shocking title change were the highlights of this week's fast-paced episode of WWE Smackdown

4 Big Takeaways from WWE Smackdown - Dec 30, 2022

The final episode of WWE Smackdown in 2022 was a fiery way to flip the calendar, and the 15,738 fans in attendance certainly didn't appear disappointed. The promotion must have been racing to get to their New Year's Eve celebrations because it seemed like this whole episode was going 100 mph from beginning to end.

While WWE programming can be accused of lollygagging through some of its segments from time to time, this Smackdown was off to the races and never looked back. A thoroughly enjoyable two hours that reflected a lot of Triple H's booking principles, it was the perfect way to turn the page on his first chapter as the man in charge. It really put an exclamation point on one of the promotion's strangest years ever.

If this Friday night block was an example of what the immediate future holds, then we should have a very entertaining Road to WrestleMania awaiting us. It should be a fun ride, as it certainly was this week. Here's a closer look at four things that really stuck out about this HUGE episode of Smackdown:

#4 - The show seemed to never stop moving, and that really added to the viewing experience

As mentioned previously, the speed and pacing of the entire card really made a difference in this program. It was reminiscent of Triple H's first few weeks as the Head of Creative. 

WWE has often been guilty of providing way too much 'filler' over the years to fill their tremendous bucket of weekly programming, they've done a much better job to close the year. Long, drawn-out vignettes that were just fodder have been replaced. In their former spot has been much more in-ring action, mixed with just the right amount of backstage drama. 

That give-and-take can be subtle, and many fans may not even realize the shift. But it made this Friday fly by, and not as much of a chore for the viewer.

#3 - The WWE Smackdown Women's Title picture just got incredibly interesting

The promised Raquel Rodriquez vs. Ronda Rousey match went off as promised and definitely delivered. Rodriguez showed off her massive size and emerging skills, the attributes that make her a future champion. It wouldn't be her night, however, as The Rowdy One would retain in what turned out to be a sensational struggle. 

The aftermath is what had people talking, though, as Charlotte Flair made her long-awaited return. Following Rousey's victory, The Queen walked to the ring to foist a challenge of her own. It was accepted, and before long, Charlotte was a 14-time WWE Women's World Champion.

The mix of established stars like Flair, Rousey, Bayley, and Becky Lynch in a division that also has an incredible youth movement should lead to a great 2023. The ladies' side of the equation may have been considered a bit down in the absence of its biggest stars, but it appears poised for a renaissance.

#2 - The Bray Wyatt situation continues to take bizarre twists and turns

The current Bray Wyatt-LA Knight-Uncle Howdy storyline is just weird, but that's what it's supposed to be. Unfortunately, this one seems to be bordering on 'shock-for-sake-of-shock' right now, eith Uncle Howdy dropping Bray with his own move, Sister Abigail.

Knight, just like the rest of us, looked bewildered. Even he can't make sense of where this whole thing is going, and he's on the show.

While the elaborate special effects and spooky send-up make for nice visuals, it's not really advancing things in a very satisfying way. Everything about this narrative has been slow as molasses. All the way from Bray Wyatt's eternal entrance to the way it's unfurled on television. And the introduction of the Uncle Howdy character has just drawn things out and muddled this supposed 'Wyatt 6' plan.

This angle began with a ton of promise, but it's getting to the point where the WWE Universe is getting antsy. While it's not a terrible concept, this one might want to kick it into a higher gear now. It's time to advance things a little bit faster.

#1 - The Bloodline storyline will continue to dominate the show

While we didn't get any answers regarding Sami Zayn's full-fledged membership into the Uso Family, we did see him eat the pin in the main event. WWE hero John Cena returned for the final Smackdown of the year to team with Kevin Owens.

In a pretty non-descript match, the four men worked pretty lightly to get to the proper conclusion. The Leader of Cenation couldn't lose in his comeback, and he and KO got a clean win.

Despite a lot of backstage build-ups, there was no fallout regarding Sami - who seems to always be teetering on the brink with The Bloodline. It's doubtful they will pull the plug on this incarnation of the group just yet, but the anticipation is growing with the crowd. They can sense that it will only be so long before Zayn crosses The Tribal Chief, and his head ends up on the chopping block.

For now, it will remain the biggest angle in the promotion and in all of professional wrestling right now. It's been one of the incredibly bright spots for WWE as we close 2022, and should continue to shine through most of the first half of 2023.