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SmackDown recap & reactions (Oct. 13, 2023): Whose game is it?

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Roman Reigns on WWE television, and we didn’t have to wait to see him on Friday Night SmackDown this week.

John Cena opened the show to start to figure out what’s next for him when he was quickly interrupted by The Bloodline, led by the WWE Universal champion himself.

Acknowledge him.

Reigns called Cena a coward, saying he only showed up when he took his leave. He also has a problem with the way Cena’s being called “The Greatest of All Time.” Then, the threats. “Leave or we’re gonna make you leave.”

Then, a surprise — Cena just outright put him over, acknowledging him for doing what he considers the greatest feat of all time, holding the title for well over 1,000 days. No, he’s not going to challenge Reigns, because he hasn’t earned it.

But he knows someone who has.

Which brings us to…

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

I’ll be damned, LA Knight sharing the ring with the top guy in the business. And he quite literally opened with “you pissing your pants yet?”

My god, I love this guy.

No tripping over his words here — he delivered the goods, keeping Tulsa in the palm of his hand while he stood across from Roman Reigns. He also played it beautifully.

“Congrats, they say your name now.”

Jimmy Uso attacked from behind but was quickly reversed and thrown out of the ring, leaving Reigns feeling some kind of way. He bailed out of the ring and told Solo Sikoa “forget about Cena, handle him.”

So they set up a match for later, Sikoa vs. Knight, which would end up being the main event. They had a solid match, one that saw Jimmy try to interfere on Solo’s behalf only for Cena to hit the ring and take him out. Sikoa hit him with the Spike but that left the door wide open for LA to hit Blunt Force Trauma for the pin.

That, of course, could not be allowed to stand and Reigns laid him out with a spear as the show went off the air.

It’s really happening!

Cody Rhodes & Jey Uso were in town to defend the Undisputed tag team titles against A-Town Down Under. At one point in the evening, Roman Reigns told Jimmy Uso he sees it as an insult to The Bloodline that Cody & Jey, of all people, are champions, so he needs to do something about it.

Later, Cody pinned Austin Theory following the Cross Rhodes to successfully defend the titles. The match was fine for what it was, but I’d like to give a special shoutout to Corey Graves for dropping a Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony reference as Cody was hitting his finish.

Anyway, the match was really a way to get to The Bloodline hitting the scene to confront the champs, with Reigns and Cody staring each other down certainly appearing to reignite their rivalry.

That’s one hell of a teaser, many months away from what could be the start of the build to a rematch.

We ain’t in the 3rd inning anymore, folks. More like the 6th.

I’ll also say it was an interesting decision to tease this on the same show LA Knight was officially stepping in as the next top contender to Reigns’ title. The fact that they were able to do both and it didn’t take away from either is a sign of the care they’ve put into telling all these stories.

Triple H got himself a nice reception for his entrance, and made sure to note how much he misses it at times. He’d be crazy not to, right?

He was on the show to announce that Adam Pearce was getting promoted, from simply “WWE official who is running around trying to keep everything in order on both Raw and SmackDown” to simply “General Manager of Monday Night Raw.” That meant, of course, SmackDown would be getting a General Manager too.

This guy:

Nick Aldis was introduced to zero reaction, because casual WWE fans probably know very little about his career, considering he primarily worked in Impact Wrestling and then the NWA. That’s something the folks at WWE seemed to be aware could happen going in, which explains why they had Dominik Mysterio out for this segment. He was the perfect punching bag for Aldis to get over on.

Dirty Dom, the best heel in the business.

They also had Aldis reveal the big trade acquisition for the blue brand in exchange for Jey Uso moving over to Raw — Kevin Owens, who personally endorsed Aldis by raising his arm after hitting Mysterio with a Stunner.

WWE did a great job of putting this together all around. Well done to them.

All the rest
  • Elton Prince came out in his wheelchair just long enough to triumphantly rise out of it to make clear he’s finally healed and cleared to wrestle. What a moment. Then, during the match with The Brawling Brutes he brilliantly faked an injury to allow Kit Wilson to lay Ridge Holland out so he could steal the pinfall and the victory. The Yes Boys are going to the top, just you wait.
  • Bobby Lashley welcomed Carlito back to WWE, making like he was going to play nice. Carlito offered up a match and The Street Profits put a beatdown on him. So it would seem their issue will continue.
  • Bayley interrupted The LWO checking on Carlito and pissed off Zelina Vega, leading to a match between the two. Naturally, Bayley, with an assist from Women’s Champion Iyo Sky, defeated Vega before launching a post-match beatdown alongside the rest of Damage CTRL. That brought out Charlotte Flair, who wouldn’t stand for it. Perhaps she isn’t done with Iyo just yet?
  • Sure enough, Flair met with Aldis after he was announced as the new General Manager and they agreed the referee’s decision from Fastlane will stand even though Flair clearly won the title but she’ll get another shot next week. As she was leaving, she bumped into none other than Jade Cargill, with Triple H there to introduce them. It was presented like a major meeting, and it sure felt like one. Flair more or less blew her off while acknowledging they’ll be meeting up soon, and Cargill seemed taken aback by it. Very much looking forward to seeing that battle.
  • They aired a vignette for Dragon Lee, who is now a member of the SmackDown roster. He absolutely deserves to be here.

This was a damn good show not just for what happened on it but for what it set up for the future.

Grade: A-

Your turn.

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