GUNTHER's Next Title Challenger Decided In WWE SmackDown World Cup Final

USA's Ricochet defeated Mexico's Santos Escobar in the final of the "SmackDown" World Cup on this week's blue brand show in Buffalo, New York. 

Midway through the match, the referees asked the rest of Legado Del Fantasma – including Zelina Vega on commentary – to leave the ringside area, leveling the playing field for Ricochet in a one-on-one contest. Eventually, Ricochet hit his 630 splash on Escobar for the pinfall victory. 

With the win, Ricochet earned a title shot against Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER. After his victory, just as Ricochet celebrated with the "SmackDown" World Cup trophy, he would be confronted by GUNTHER and the rest of Imperium. It was subsequently confirmed by Michael Cole on commentary that the Ricochet vs. GUNTHER title bout will take place on the 12/16 episode of "WWE SmackDown" in Chicago, Illinois. 

Ricochet had unsuccessfully challenged GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship on the 6/24 episode of "WWE SmackDown," which was incidentally GUNTHER's first title defense after he captured the title from Ricochet on June 10. 

Besides their two televised title matches in June, GUNTHER and Ricochet have wrestled more than a dozen times in 2022 at several WWE live events across the United States and Europe. They most recently shared a ring at the 11/11 "Tribute to the Troops" taping where Ricochet, Drew McIntyre & Sheamus defeated Imperium in a six-man match. Prior to their many battles in a WWE ring, Ricochet and GUNTHER (FKA WALTER) also wrestled at a PWG event in October 2017

The match against Ricochet on December 16 will be GUNTHER's first televised title defense since his win over Rey Mysterio on the 11/4 "WWE SmackDown" (the match was taped on October 28). In recent weeks, GUNTHER has been defending against the likes of Sheamus and Shinsuke Nakamura at various live events.