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WWE SmackDown preview (Nov. 17, 2023): There are too many part-time champions

SmackDown airs tonight (Nov. 17) with a live show emanating from Ford Center Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. This is the second episode of SmackDown during the three week build towards Survivor Series, which takes place on November 25.

WWE has a problem with too many part-time champions

LA Knight is the hottest babyface in WWE and should be chasing championship gold right now. The reason why he can’t do that is because both of the men’s singles champions on SmackDown (WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and United States Champion Logan Paul) are part-timers who don’t appear to be booked for Survivor Series.

So instead of preparing to wrestle one of those guys, Knight is scheduled to face Jim Uso tonight on SmackDown. One issue with this match is that we’ve already seen it multiple times of late. Knight vs. Uso was the main event of both the Oct. 6 and Oct. 27 episodes of SmackDown. This will be the third time across the last seven episodes of SmackDown that these two men have wrestled each other in a singles match.

The other issue is that we just saw Knight take Roman Reigns to the limit at Crown Jewel. There isn’t really a lot of drama regarding the outcome of this match; if Knight is an even match-up for the big boss, then of course he’s better than the underling. This is similar to when CM Punk fought Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013 and then moved on to a feud with Ryback and Curtis Axel, who were lower ranked guys in Paul Heyman’s client list at the time. Once the big bad part-timer disappears, there isn’t much interest in seeing our hero take on the lesser heels in his stable who we already know aren’t on his level.

Ideally, Knight should be starting up a new feud right now and not continuing to fight Roman’s henchmen in The Bloodline. But pickings are slim on the SmackDown heel side of the roster. Logan Paul isn’t around either, and Knight needs something to do at Survivor Series. So for now, he continues to fight Jim Uso. Hopefully WWE will add a new wrinkle to the story tonight to keep things interesting, because it feels like LA Knight is just treading water until the part-timers return.

The rest of the title scene

Damage CTRL made a major statement last week when Asuka joined up with the group after betraying Bianca Belair. Bayley is the clueless leader who didn’t plan for Asuka or Kairi Sane to join the group, and she can’t see that it’s a matter of time until WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY kicks her out. For now, Damage CTRL is well-positioned to dominate the SmackDown women’s division, unless Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Shotzi can find a suitable ally to join them for a potential War Games match at Survivor Series.

WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor have enough potential partners for War Games after Drew McIntyre struck a deal with Rhea Ripley and helped The Judgment Day retain the belts against Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso on Raw. As a result, there’s really no reason for the tag champs to show up on SmackDown tonight.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green and Piper Niven will eventually face Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre, I think, but WWE clearly isn’t in a rush to make it happen.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Solo Sikoa returns to TV tonight after demolishing John Cena at Crown Jewel. How will WWE follow up on such a significant win for The Bloodline’s enforcer?

- The LWO is imploding after Santos Escobar turned on Rey Mysterio last week. Carlito accused Santos of being a traitor just before that, so it’s clear where he stands. But where does that leave Joaquin Wilde, Zelina Vega, and Cruz Del Toro in the aftermath?

- It sounds like WWE originally planned for AJ Styles to return to SmackDown last week, but it ultimately did not happen. Will tonight be any different?

- Kevin Owens was suspended by SmackDown GM Nick Aldis after putting his hands on the very punchable Austin Theory and Grayson Waller last week. Will KO be able to talk his way out of this one? Those two idiots did physically provoke him into attacking them, after all.

- Does WWE have anything for Pretty Deadly to do if they aren’t wrestling against the Brawling Brutes?

- Is B-Fab planning to ditch Hit Row in favor of joining Bobby Lashley and the Street Profits?

- Where the f*** is Karrion Kross?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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