SmackDown 12/15/2023: Highlights of the WWE U.S. Championship Tournament



by NOMAN RASOOL

SmackDown 12/15/2023: Highlights of the WWE U.S. Championship Tournament
© WWE/YouTube

In a thrilling episode of "WWE SmackDown" this past Friday, the United States Championship Tournament witnessed two more wrestlers securing their spots in the next round. The competition, aimed at determining the challenger for Logan Paul's coveted title, showcased some remarkable talent from WWE's roster.

Highlighting the night, Carmelo Hayes, a prominent figure from "WWE NXT" and a former "NXT" Champion, clinched a decisive victory over Grayson Waller. In another compelling match, Kevin Owens emerged victorious against Austin Theory.

Owens and Hayes now join the ranks of Santos Escobar and Bobby Lashley, who had previously qualified for the tournament in the preceding week.

SmackDown: Hayes' Rise

Carmelo Hayes, despite not being officially on the main roster, was handpicked by Shawn Michaels to represent "NXT" in this high-stakes tournament.

This decision came amidst Hayes' ongoing tensions with Trick Williams and the current "NXT" Champion, Ilja Dragunov, on Tuesday’s show. Hayes' performance against Waller was nothing short of impressive, setting the stage for a first-ever showdown with Owens next week.

Kevin Owens' match against the former United States Champion, Austin Theory, was a spectacle of strategy and resilience. Owens' injured hand, encased in a cast, became a focal point during the match. Theory's attempts to exploit this weakness backfired as Owens cleverly used his cast to gain an upper hand and ultimately secure a win against the rising star.

The post-match scene featured a backstage interaction between Owens and Hayes, where Owens drew parallels between Hayes' current journey and his initial days in WWE. The tournament is now poised for two highly anticipated semi-final matches.

Owens and Hayes are set to collide, bringing their unique styles and backgrounds into the ring. On the other side of the bracket, powerhouses Lashley and Escobar are gearing up for a showdown. These matchups are crucial, as the victors will move one step closer to challenging Logan Paul, who triumphantly claimed the title from Rey Mysterio at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia this past November.

Fans and enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting these clashes, as the tournament continues to unravel the potential challengers for one of WWE's most prestigious titles.

Smackdown Carmelo Hayes