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SmackDown recap & reactions (Nov. 17, 2023): The Man comes around

Damage CTRL wasted no time making their presence felt on Friday Night SmackDown this week, as they opened the show to celebrate their newest members. Bayley took credit for Asuka joining the group, saying it was one of the best plans any wrestler has hatched in WWE history.

What was noteworthy here is they continued teasing out issues between Bayley and the rest of the Damage CTRL. They ultimately remained on stable terms, coming together to fend off the babyface team of Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Shotzi. They’ll need to remain a cohesive unit if only because, well, we are indeed doing a War Games match at Survivor Series.

That was the next big angle on the show — the babyface team having to find a teammate to join them for the match to make it 4v4.

Belair was shown talking to Mia Yim and, wouldn’t you know it, Damage CTRL put the boots to her a very short time after. The message was clear — the bad gals would take out anyone crazy enough to agree to team with the good gals.

Sure enough, the same fate awaited Zelina Vega.

Having said that, Belair did tell Flair “I think you know someone who can help us out” before Charlotte said she would make a call. Whoever could she be referring to? With nowhere else to turn, Flair made the call.

They teased it out like the woman she called may not make it to the building in time but, of course, she did.

The Man came around.

They went off the air with a big brawl — which got a bit awkward with some strange timing at the end — but it was a good show long storyline that had the right idea to close it off.

WWE wanted to make something clear on this show, that Santos Escobar is a man they hope will become a big star for them. He was given the top of the second hour to cut a promo following up on the fact that he took Rey Mysterio out of action.

The fans booed the hell out of him, hitting him with the “WHAT” chants and shouting him down every chance they could. That’s a good sign!

Escobar’s angle? That Dominik Mysterio was right all along about his dear old dad, and he was wrong to look up to him as a mentor for all that time. The group, LWO, was supposed to be strong. Mysterio was supposed to have his back, not side with an outsider like Carlito.

The only apology he offered was to say he’s sorry for not doing more damage. Then, he went as far as saying he hopes Mysterio’s surgery went poorly, that he hopes he gets an infection, and even that he hopes he gets his entire leg amputated.

Holy shit!

Zelina Vega lost it at this, showing up to slap Escobar and crying her way to the back for ever trusting him. Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro also hit the ring, and officially washed their hands of Escobar. The LWO completely imploded.

Carlito, of course, was the only one left to stand up for anyone. Santos bailed off, and we’re left to wait for that battle for another time.

Solo Sikoa made his return to television this week, all to gloat, by way of Paul Heyman, of course, for taking out John Cena. We may never see that man again, and that’s all thanks to Solo.

Goodbye, John Cena!

Heyman actually managed to slip in a “Five Moves of Doom” reference, which is worth pointing out, but this was really just about Sikoa looking at as good as possible and Heyman is a master at that.

This led right on into…

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

Let him talk to ya!

Knight did his usual thing, entertaining the masses with his slick tongue while making clear he still plans on getting back to Roman Reigns and the WWE championship. First, though, he’ll have to run through The Bloodline, taking them all out so they can’t interfere in his next title shot.

The first order of business in that was Jimmy Uso, who he defeated in a straight up singles match. Naturally, though, Sikoa returned after the match was over and they were going to leave Knight laid out.

Until a surprise guest showed up to save him — Cody Rhodes!

They didn’t really explain Cody’s presence, beyond mentioning his continued issues with The Bloodline, most recently when Jimmy cost Cody the tag team titles on Monday Night Raw. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see yet another instance of a hot star fans want to see win mixing with Cody, who fans also want to see dethrone Reigns. It worked out fine last time, and there’s no reason to think the same wouldn’t happen here.

All the rest

  • The Street Profits defeated The Brawling Brutes and Pretty Deadly to become the next top contenders to the tag team titles. The match was very good for the time it was given. It was only a matter of time before the Lashley/Profits faction went head on against The Judgment Day, and it looks like we’re getting it sooner rather than later. It’s worth pointing out that Ridge Holland and BUTCH had issues after the match because of an accidental kick to the head that directly led to the finish. With Sheamus gone, it would be one hell of a time to break that duo up. But BUTCH deserves something more, in this writer’s humble opinion. We’ll see where it goes from here.
  • Dragon Lee campaigned to Nick Aldis to avenge Rey Mysterio’s injury but Aldis instead put him in a match against Axiom of NXT. This continued the trend of WWE simply putting Lee on TV, letting him have a good match with someone, and putting him over clean in that match.
  • Grayson Waller defeated Cameron Grimes in a singles match with some help from Austin Theory, who was ringside for commentary. It remains a surprise how Grimes has been used since his main roster call up, at least to me.

A solid show.

Grade: B-

Your turn.

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