WWE US Championship Tournament Report, SmackDown 12/8/2023

Bobby Lashley and Santos Escobar have advanced to the second round of the WWE United States Championship tournament, inching one step closer to a potential showdown with current champion, Logan Paul. 

After the announcement on last week's edition of "WWE SmackDown" from the social media megastar, the first two bouts of the single elimination tournament took place on the Tribute To The Troops broadcast on December 8th, before the four remaining members — Grayson Waller, Austin Theory, Kevin Owens and an "NXT" wrestler yet to be confirmed — set to compete in their first-round matches in the coming weeks.

In the opening match of the evening, Escobar continued his recent success over Dragon Lee with another decisive triumph following a Phantom Driver, with "NXT" North American Champion Dominik Mysterio at ringside to cause distractions for the babyface and stand over his Deadline opponent after his defeat. Later in the night, army veteran Lashley would overcome Karrion Kross in a rather one-sided affair, nailing a spear for the three-count and giving the US soldiers in attendance (and special guest commentator Brad Nessler) plenty to cheer about.

Escobar and Lashley will meet in the second-round of the tournament, with the final slated for a future episode of "SmackDown" and the overall winner receiving a shot at Paul's U.S. title, possibly at the Royal Rumble premium live event next month. The 28-year-old won his first WWE title by defeating Rey Mysterio at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, just eight matches into his in-ring career.