SmackDown airs tonight (Dec. 29) with a clip show looking back on the very best the show had to offer in 2023. This is the fifth episode of SmackDown during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble 2024, which takes place on January 27.
Roman Reigns is no longer the best thing on SmackDown
WWE is taking a break from the usual live format for SmackDown during this holiday week and is instead spending two hours recapping the “absolute best of 2023.”
You can’t talk about the best of SmackDown in 2023 without putting a big spotlight on WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Roman had another great year dominating everyone who he stepped in the ring with, and we’re sure to see clips tonight of his WrestleMania 39 main event victory over Cody Rhodes.
However, Roman’s part-time schedule kept him off too many episodes of SmackDown, especially in the second half of the year, to the point where the Tribal Chief was not the best act on the show in 2023. No, that title belongs to LA Knight.
Knight started the year getting over his catchphrases in a bad storyline with Bray Wyatt, and fan support only grew for him as 2023 went on. WWE will have to cover his rise in popularity this year, which hit its apex when John Cena gave LA the big endorsement on his way to challenging Roman Reigns for the gold at Crown Jewel.
Speaking of Cena, the Hollywood actor’s strike resulted in him returning to SmackDown to take over the mantle as the blue brand’s top star in September and October, when Reigns was largely off TV. Cena’s return tour was a highlight of the show in 2023, and will no doubt be touched on tonight.
Perhaps the very best SmackDown segment of the year featured the surprise returns of The Rock and Pat McAfee, who laid the smack down on Austin Theory’s candy ass.
Then there’s YouTube douchebag Logan Paul, who came over to the blue brand to eventually take the United States championship from Rey Mysterio.
WWE’s sneak peek of tonight’s show suggests at least two other matches will be showcased: Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs. The Usos at WrestleMania 39, and the women’s WarGames match at Survivor Series 2023.
Assuming tonight’s clip show follows a similar format to the Absolute Best of Raw from earlier this week, WWE will also spend some time tonight interviewing several of these wrestlers and hyping up next week’s New Year’s Revolution card.
So if you happen to be in the mood for a trip down memory lane, then make sure to tune in tonight for one final look back at all the things SmackDown got right in 2023.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown?