WWE SmackDown Results 12/8 - CM Punk Appears, United States Title Tournament Begins

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s results for "WWE SmackDown" on December 8, 2023, coming to you live from the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island!

CM Punk made his highly anticipated return to "WWE Raw" on November 27, and he will be doing the same on tonight's Tribute to the Troops special as he appears on "SmackDown" for the first time since his comeback to WWE in the closing moments of Survivor Series. General manager Nick Aldis will surely be keeping a close eye on what Punk has to say, as "The Second City Saint" will be deciding which brand he wants to sign with this coming Monday.

The United States Championship Tournament kicks off tonight, with Santos Escobar facing rival Dragon Lee while Bobby Lashley collides with Karrion Kross in two first round matches. Reigning title holder Logan Paul announced the tournament last week following a conversion with the aforementioned Aldis, with a mystery competitor from "WWE NXT", Kevin Owens, Grayson Waller, and Austin Theory also set to participate.

Last week's edition of "SmackDown" ended with a huge signing, as Randy Orton chose to sign an exclusive deal with the blue brand. However, before he did so, he was confronted by The Bloodline with Paul Heyman capturing his attention to allow for Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso to blindside him with an attack. Orton found some backup in LA Knight, and tonight, the two men will team for the first time ever as they square off against Sikoa and Jimmy.

Charlotte Flair and Asuka have had no shortage of issues with one another over the past few weeks, dating back to the November 10 episode of "SmackDown" when the latter turned her back on the former and Bianca Belair to become a member of Damage CTRL. While Flair and Asuka have met a handful of times in tag team matches since, the two will be going one-on-one for the first time in televised action since August 11.

Additionally, Cody Rhodes has something on his mind to share as he makes his first "SmackDown" appearance in a while. Women's Champion IYO SKY and Bianca Belair are also advertised to be in town per WWE's event page.

We are live! The show kicks off with The War and Treaty signing God Bless America. Michael Cole, JBL, and Kevin Patrick then greet audiences at home as Santos Escobar and Dragon Lee make their way down to the ring. Dominik Mysterio follows to watch the action from ringside. 

Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee in a First Round Match for the United States Championship Tournament

The bell rings and Lee connects with a boot. He clotheslines Escobar out of the ring, but Escobar quickly slides back in. Lee catches him with a hurricanrana. Escobar slides back out of the ring, and Lee goes flying over the top rope to level him. He gets him back in the ring and delivers a hurricanrana that sends him crashing into the corner, then delivers a boot to his face from the apron and connects with a superkick. Escobar delivers a headbutt to Lee in the corner, then charges at him. Lee manages to send him onto the apron and looks for a hurricanrana, but Escobar catches him and powerbombs him onto the apron. 

Back from the break, Lee delivers a clothesline to Escobar and gets him up on his shoulders. Escobar escapes and Lee delivers a dropkick to him in the corner. Escobar connects with a back elbow, but Lee hits him with a German suplex and runs the ropes. Escobar catches him with a boot, then gets him up on his shoulders and looks to plant him. Lee counters into a roll up, but Escobar kicks out. Lee then delivers a sit-out powerbomb to Escobar and goes for a pin, but Escobar kicks out. Lee delivers a knee to Escobar, then ascends to the top. Escobar trips him and gets him up on his shoulders, planting him with the Phantom Driver for the win.

Winner: Santos Escobar

After the match, Dominik stands over Lee and shows off his North American Championship to him to send him a message ahead of their title match at "NXT" Deadline tomorrow night.

We then head backstage to Randy Orton walking into Nick Aldis' office to hand him the money following his fine for hitting him with an RKO last week. Orton questions why he's teaming with LA Knight. Aldis explains that both him and Knight want to get their hands on The Bloodline. He then questions why the check is $100,000 instead of $50,000, and Orton says the remainder is for next time it happens.

Back from the break, Cody Rhodes makes his way down to the ring.

We Hear From Cody Rhodes

Rhodes asks Providence what they want to talk about, then says he knows what they should talk about. He says Tribute to the Troops is a special night, and says he's proud to be part of the team and carrying the tradition. He thanks the servicemen and servicewomen in the arena at home on behalf of WWE, then throws it to a video showcasing highlights for Tribute of the Troops over the past twenty one events. He then introduces the United States Army Drill team.

Bobby Lashley then makes his way down to the ring. Karrion Kross and Scarlett follow. 

Bobby Lashley vs. Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett) in a First Round Match for the United States Championship Tournament

The bell rings and Kross wastes no time firing off strikes on Lashley. He delivers a knee to his midsection, then follows it up with several boots before the action spills to the outside and Lashley levels Kross. He gets him back in the ring, then delivers a splash in the corner and follows it up with a suplex. He then clotheslines Kross out of the ring.

Back from the break, Kross delivers a suplex to Lashley and follows it up with a boot. He looks for Kross Hammer, but Lashley sees him coming and lands a flatliner. He then delivers a clothesline and a splash in the corner before hitting a swinging leg hook fireman's carry slam and a vertical suplex. He follows it up with a Spear for the win.

Winner: Bobby Lashley

We then head backstage to Damage CTRL. Bayley volunteers to stay in the back during Asuka's match against Charlotte Flair later tonight, and Dakota Kai informs her that herself and the rest of Damage CTRL still intend to be at ringside.

Back from the break, CM Punk makes his way down to the ring.

We Hear From CM Punk

Punk says he has good news. He says he won't be getting his time cut tonight and encourages fans to chant for him. He says Adam Pearce is trying to sign him to "Raw", and fans were louder on that show. He addresses which brand he's going to sign with, and says he'll partially be leaving it up to fans. He asks fans if they'd rather see him on "Raw" or "SmackDown", and the overwhelming majority of the audience vote for the latter with their cheers. He says an old friend of his likes to ask fans what they want to talk about, and says while he's famous for talking, he does listen. He says that some people don't like this happy-go-lucky version of him, then says it's not about what he talks about with the fans but rather who they talk about. He says he could talk about Cody Rhodes and has stories to tell about him or they could talk about someone who is never here: Roman Reigns. He says he acknowledges Reigns, but tells him not to forget who the original Paul Heyman guy is. He says Reigns isn't in Providence, but his cousins are. He says he doesn't know Solo Sikoa well, but he's quite familiar with Jimmy Uso. He congratulates Jey Uso on his recent success, and says he has to consider factors such as whether or not he wants to fight Jimmy on "SmackDown" or befriend Jey on "Raw". He addresses Jimmy and Sikoa's match against Randy Orton and LA Knight, then asks if he can trust the latter two men. He says maybe he could fight Kevin Owens and they're too much alike. He references Seth "Freakin" Rollins and says he's hear to listen to fans and to hear Nick Aldis, Shawn Michaels, and Adam Pearce out. He says he is the monkey wrench in everyone's plans and future goals, then says he's back to finish what he started. He says he begins his journey to finish his story on Monday, and that means main eventing WrestleMania.

Charlotte Flair then makes her way down to the ring. Damage CTRL follows, but IYO SKY and Kairi Sane are blindsided by Zelina Vega and Michin on the ramp. They look to retreat, but Bianca Belair and Shotzi block their path.

Asuka (w/ Damage CTRL) vs. Charlotte Flair (w/ Shotzi and Bianca Belair)

The bell rings and Asuka wastes no time firing off kicks on Flair's thigh. Flair delivers a back suplex, but Asuka lands a back elbow. Flair connects with an enzuigiri and a dropkick through the bottom rope on the outside, then fires off chops. Asuka sends her crashing into the ring post, then delivers a sliding knee to her off the apron. Flair then sends her crashing into the barricade and delivers a moonsault off the top rope.

Back from the break, Flair cinches in the Figure Eight Leg Lock, but Bayley knocks Asuka out of position. Flair looks to send Asuka crashing into Bayley on the apron, but Asuka stops her momentum before she can. Flair clocks Asuka, opening the door for Asuka to roll her up for the win.

Winner: Asuka

We head backstage and see Nick Aldis hand CM Punk an envelope. Cody Rhodes walks in after Aldis leaves and tells Punk it sounds like he needs to win the Royal Rumble to finish his story. He says that's interesting and shakes Punk's hand.

Back from the break, Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso make their way down to the ring.

Randy Orton and LA Knight vs. The Bloodline

Orton and Jimmy begin the action. The bell rings and Orton fires off stomps on Jimmy in the corner. Knight tags in and lands a right hand on Jimmy, then delivers a low dropkick. Orton tags himself in as Knight runs the ropes, and Sikoa tags in on his side. Sikoa and Orton stare each other down, and Jimmy clocks Orton from behind.

Back from the break, Orton delivers a back suplex to Jimmy. Sikoa and Knight tag in, and Knight fires off right hands on Sikoa. He hits a neckbreaker and fires off stomps in the corner. Sikoa responds with a belly-to-belly suplex and sends Knight crashing into the mat, then delivers a Hip Attack. Jimmy tags in and delivers a chop to Knight. Sikoa becomes legal again and Knight is whipped into the corner. Sikoa looks for a Hip Attack, but Knight sees him coming and ducks out of the way. He delivers a Bull Dog off the middle rope and tags in Orton. Jimmy becomes legal and gets leveled with a pair of clotheslines from Orton. Orton then catches him with a powerslam, but Jimmy pulls him out of the ring. Orton sends his face bouncing off the announce desk, then sends him crashing on top of it. He gets him back in the ring and delivers a DDT off the middle rope before Sikoa clocks him from behind and fires off right hands. He looks for the Samoan Spike, but Knight catches him with a DDT. He looks to hit Jimmy with a BFT, but Orton intervenes and lands an RKO.

Winners: Randy Orton and LA Knight

After the match, Orton holds up Knight's hand and the pair stand tall as the show goes off the air.