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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (Dec. 1, 2023): Daddy’s back

It took a half hour into the show but we finally got an appearance from Paul Heyman and some word on what Randy Orton would be doing on Friday Night SmackDown this week. Nick Aldis, the General Manager of the show, made clear that if he has his way, Orton will be signing a contract to join the blue brand exclusively by the end of the evening.

Even if he has to offer up the entirety of The Bloodline to make it happen. What would Heyman do about it?

“Anything it takes.”

It wasn’t long after that Adam Pearce made his presence felt with a clipboard and a contract of his own. He, too, is eager for the services of one Randall Orton and commentary was quick to say we were looking at a Shohei Ohtani level bidding war.

Baseball fans out there know how ridiculous it is to say that, but hey, that’s putting Orton over huge!

Once we got to the main event, Pearce and Aldis were offering up as much as they could, with the former promising a world heavyweight title match and the latter promising to give Orton what he really wants.

The Bloodline.

Naturally, they hit the scene to make the decision simple and Orton did indeed sign the contract to work on SmackDown. It would seem, then, that we know the direction for Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble.

And because he’s Randy Orton, he finished off the segment by hitting Nick Aldis with an RKO outta nowhere.

Sure did miss this guy.

Your LA Knight segment of the week:

He didn’t get much, but he did get some time in the main event scene. When Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso were putting the boots to Randy Orton, Knight was the guy to make the save and drag Sikoa off to leave Randy alone with Jimmy. He still got a monster pop, and the fans still love him, but it’s going to be a difficult tightrope for WWE to walk to keep him elevated while not actually giving him any major wins in top programs.

I’m choosing to have faith.

Oh hey, it’s Logan Paul again!

The more we hope he fails, the harder he works. And the harder he works, the more he wins. The more he wins, the more he gets to shout gibberish very excitedly in front of all of us.


He wondered aloud if anyone wants his U.S. championship and quickly noted that “of course you do, it’s been on my junk just like all of you have since I’ve been here.” That’s a pretty damn good line.

Then, the announcement: after a chat with Nick Aldis, they’ve created a tournament of eight wrestlers to determine his next title challenger. That tournament will start next week and feature the likes of Santos Escobar, Dragon Lee, Bobby Lashley, Karrion Kross, Austin Theory, Grayson Waller, Kevin Owens, and a wrestler from NXT.

Before he could continue jabbering on, Owens made his entrance to say he can’t stand this man, he first saw him on Vine, and even then it only took him six seconds to figure out he’s an “unbearable jackass.” But he’s in the tournament, so he’s going to end this nightmare and take the title for himself.

Waller and Theory also hit the scene before KO could throw down with Paul, but they were swiftly dealt with in the form of yet another big punch. Sadly, no fisticuffs with Paul.

But they did well to set it up for the future. During Owens’ match with Waller, which took place right after this segment, Paul was on commentary and made note of the fact that he hasn’t forgotten Owens laying him out with a Stunner in his first WrestleMania match.

He holds grudges.

Meanwhile, Owens defeated Waller in their match, all while Paul was making comments like “Owens inspires me to go to McDonalds.” Yeah, they’re definitely doing this match, and it’s going to be fantastic.

Bianca Belair opened this week’s episode to make clear in the plainest terms possible that she wants another shot at Iyo Sky and the women’s championship she holds. Dakota Kai fired back with the facts — Sky has defeated her twice, so why bother? If she wants another shot, she’ll have to get through the entirety of Damage CTRL.

Enter Charlotte Flair, who also made clear she wants the title, and Shotzi, who kicked off a brawl between the two sides. There wasn’t much to the segment, just the top two babyface women on the blue brand making clear they’re still coming for the title.

Of note, though, was the fact that Bayley was not with Damage CTRL. She was confronted backstage and claimed she wasn’t told about anything. Later, just before Belair took on Kairi Sane as the first step toward her getting another title shot, Bayley was flat out told by Sky to stay backstage.

Michael Cole wondered aloud if they were taking it out on Bayley for getting pinned in the War Games match. This ignores that Bayley took a bullet for her teammates, of course, and certainly would seem to be laying the groundwork for a babyface turn, right?

During the match, both teams were booted from ringside, leaving Belair and Sane all alone in the ring to settle things. Except, of course, Bayley disobeyed Sky’s direct order to stay away and showed up to try to help Sane win the match. She, of course, failed to do so, and Belair pinned Sane after the Kiss of Death.

“Bayley did what she could, I guess,” said Cole. “Her heart appeared to be the right place,” echoed Corey Graves.

The breakup inches ever closer…

All the rest
  • BUTCH and Bobby Lashley set up a match on the SmackDown LowDown last week. BUTCH is without Ridge Holland and Sheamus, but still using the Brawling Brutes entrance theme. He was very much the underdog babyface here, with Lashley playing the bully heel even though he was getting cheered. BUTCH did his damnedest but Lashley was too big and strong, and ultimately pinned him clean after a Spear. If nothing else, it was clear BUTCH deserves more time wrestling singles. So, naturally, Pretty Deadly confronted him backstage after the match and he kicked off a brawl with both of them. Perhaps he’s sticking around in tags after all? We’ll have to wait and see. I’m holding out hope for the return of the Bruiserweight.
  • Santos Escobar continued his crusade against the group he was formerly a member of, the LWO, when he took on Joaquin Wilde. He encountered very little resistance in the match, scoring a fairly clean win in relatively short order. He is, quite simply, above his old stablemates. Dragon Lee ran in to make the save wearing his mask with long sleeves and dress pants. My man came in tossing Escobar around with STYLE. I loved this.

Another solid showing from the blue brand. They just don’t miss.

Grade: B

Your turn.

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