The John Report: WWE SmackDown 11/17/23 Review

wwe smackdown november 17

This week’s WWE Smackdown featured LA Knight facing Jimmy Uso, Damage CTRL getting ready for WarGames and more.

There are only eight days until Survivor Series WarGames takes place on November 25th, so we should see WWE set up some more matches on this week’s Smackdown. Last week’s Smackdown saw Damage CTRL’s WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, Bayley and Dakota Kai (still injured) joined by Kairi Sane & Asuka as they destroyed Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair & Shotzi. That should lead to WarGames while also strengthening Damage CTRL at least for now. There are no singles matches for Smackdown talent at Survivor Series yet, so it will be interesting to see if something gets added to the card.

From the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, this is Smackdown for episode #1265. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The opening video package showed the women’s story from one week earlier when the five heel Damage CTRL women stood tall to end the show.

Let’s Hear From Damage CTRL

The five woman group was announced as Damage CTRL: Bayley, WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai, who is still on the injured list.

The Smackdown commentary team was Kevin Patrick, Michael Cole and WWE Hall of Famer Road Dogg filling in for Corey Graves, who had a baby with wife Carmella last week. They gave Corey this week off too.

Analysis: It was Kevin Owens last week and Road Dogg this week. That’s a fine choice. I assume Graves is back next week.

Bayley welcomed us to the show. Bayley said that the new and improved Damage CTRL is the strongest faction in all of WWE right now. Bayley said they were playing chess while the rest of you idiots are playing Candyland. Bayley mocked Charlotte, Bianca and Shotzi saying they were not ready for Asuka. That led to Asuka, Kairi and Iyo speaking in Japanese to eachother. Kai said that this isn’t the new and improved Damage CTRL because somebody isn’t in the group yet. Bayley thought they meant her. Kai said she meant Asuka. Bayley, who had a Damage CTRL shirt with her, handed Asuka the Damage CTRL shirt and Asuka grabbed the shirt. Kai said that the foursome of Sky, Asuka, Sane and Bayley were challenging Charlotte, Bianca, Shotzi and a partner to WarGames. Bayley was excited about that.

Shotzi’s tank arrived by the entrance area while Shotzi was in the ring and Shotzi dove onto the four heels in the ring. Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair went into the ring to try to fight against the four heels, but the Damage CTRL group cleared the ring. The threesome of Flair, Belair and Shotzi looked concerned at ringside.

Analysis: They booked this in a way to make Bayley look like she didn’t belong in the group. That makes me think that if this team loses at WarGames then they’re going to kick Bayley out of the group. Anyway, I like the story that Charlotte, Belair & Shotzi are overmatched by the Damage CTRL foursome because that builds the anticipation for the babyfaces to find a partner.

The Street Profits entered for tag team action.

Next week’s Smackdown is on FS1 in the US. That’s not good for WWE in terms of the TV ratings one night before Survivor Series. It’s also on Black Friday after US Thanksgiving.


The trio of Belair, Charlotte & Shotzi were backstage talking about what happened. Belair said that Flair knows somebody who can help them. Flair said she’ll think about it. Nick Aldis, the Smackdown GM, walked in saying he needed to know who their fourth partner was by the end of the night. When Aldis opened up his office door, Cody Rhodes was in there talking on the phone. Interesting. Here’s the image of Cody in the room with Aldis. The announcers didn’t mention Cody Rhodes, but it was obviously him.

Pretty Deadly – Elton Prince & Kit Wilson vs. The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins vs. The Brawling Brutes – Butch & Ridge Holland

The winners get a Tag Team Title match. Three guys are legal while their partners on the apron.

Ford tagged in with a dropkick on Butch while the Profits did a double team slam on Prince. Dawkins tagged in with punches for his opponents. Ford was back in with a hard clothesline on Butch. Wilson made a tag leading to both PD guys hitting running clotheslines. Butch broke free to bring in Butch, who hit an overhead suplex and a splash on Wilson against the turnbuckle. Ridge hit a back body drop on Ford followed by a DDT on Wilson. Ridge clotheslined Wilson out of the ring. The Brutes got a hold of both Profits leading to ten forearms to the chest by each guy. Pretty Deadly attacked both Brutes including a hard whip that sent Ridge into the steel steps. They went to break there.


The match returned with Ridge hitting a double suplex on two guys at the same time. Butch got the tag with a bunch of kicks, a moonsault off the apron and a DDT on the floor. Butch stomped on Dawkins’ hands and a kick to the head. Butch hit a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle onto both SP and PD guys. Butch hit a flipping reverse neckbreaker for a two count. Butch went for an arm submission, but Dawkins powered out of it and Dawkins gave Butch a Powerbomb onto Prince. Ford, Ridge and Wilson all tagged in. Ridge hit a superplex on Wilson while Prince made a tag at the same time. Ford jumped off the top with a Frog Splash, but wasn’t able to cover right away. Prince hit a top rope leg drop for two, but the pin was broken up by Butch. Bobby Lashley was watching the match when B-Fab went up to talk to him. Butch was sent out of the ring, but Ridge hit double clotheslines on the two other teams. Butch accidentally hit Ridge with a Brogue Kick after Prince moved out of the way. The Street Profits cleared the ring and The Street Profits hit the Revelation (spinebuster/neckbreaker combo) on Ridge for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits – Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins

Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good with the right team winning in terms of who deserves a title shot. The key part of the match was Butch accidentally kicking Butch, which led to The Street Profits clearing the ring and then they finished off Ridge for the win. It was well booked to show that The Street Profits work very well as a team. Pretty Deadly had a good nearfall when Prince hit that leg drop off the top.

The Street Profits will challenge for the WWE Tag Team Titles next Friday on Smackdown. Bobby Lashley appeared from backstage and raised the arms of The Street Profits. Meanwhile, Ridge Holland shoved Butch away when Butch tried to check on him.

Analysis: That could lead to a split between Ridge & Butch. I don’t know if that’s the plan, but perhaps WWE feels they would be better off as singles guys.

Bianca Belair was shown talking to Michin (Mia Yim) backstage. They shook hands about something.

This Monday on Raw: The Men’s WarGames Advantage Match takes place and Drew McIntyre speaks out.


There was a backstage scene with Damage CTRL beating up Michin (Mia Yim) backstage. That led to WWE Officials Kenny Dykstra and Molly Holly going there to break it up. The announcers commented that it was Damage CTRL trying to take out anybody who talked to Bianca, Charlotte or Shotzi about being a partner.

A video package aired showing Santos Escobar turning on Rey Mysterio and the LWO. Escobar injured Rey’s right knee against the steel steps.

An image was shown of Rey Mysterio in the hospital with his right leg in a cast after knee surgery.

Analysis: The angle was done to write off Rey for about two months due to knee surgery that he had earlier this week.

Dragon Lee was shown talking to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis earlier in the day. Dragon said he wanted to avenge what happened to Rey. Nick said he brought in Axiom from NXT and Dragon can show what he can do. They shook hands.

Axiom made his entrance. They showed highlights of Axiom in action during his NXT career. Axiom was known as A-Kid on the NXT UK brand without a mask. In NXT, he’s been Axiom with a mask. Cole talked about how both of these guys were inspired by Rey Mysterio.

Dragon Lee vs. Axiom

They shook hands to start. Axiom did a backslide pin for two. Lee used his legs to tie up Axiom into a nearfall. Lee hit a running dropkick. Axiom went to the floor, so Dragon hit a somersault dive over the top onto Axiom on the floor. Back in the ring, Lee jumped over the ropes leading to a jumping kick. Lee hit a running dropkick against the turnbuckle for two.


Axiom sent Lee out of the ring and Axiom hit a moonsault off the top onto Lee on the floor. Back in the ring, Axiom went up top, but Lee hit him with a superkick. They battled on the turnbuckle, Lee set up Axiom upside down and Lee hit a double foot stomp to the chest for two. Lee and Axiom exchanged strikes followed by Axiom hitting a dropkick. Axiom hit a German Suplex and a running kick. Lee hit a brainbuster. Lee lifted up Axiom, who countered it into something that looked like a Destroyer for a two count. That was wild and the fans barely reacted to it. They were near the turnbuckle where Lee kicked Axiom down. Lee climbed up top, but Axiom met him with a kick. Axiom hit a Spanish Fly slam off the top for two with Lee shooting his left arm up for two count. Axiom with a boot, Lee got a hold of him and Lee hit a Powerbomb. Lee with a running knee. Lee charged in with a running reverse DDT slam called Operation Dragon for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dragon Lee

Analysis: ***1/4 These guys are really good and make everything look so easy. The issue with this match is that it was a cold match without a storyline other than two masked guys wanting to pay tribute to the injured Rey Mysterio. Due to that, the fans really weren’t into the match that much although they did react to it more in the last few minutes. Lee is the Smackdown guy while Axiom is still a NXT, so the result wasn’t a surprise. I’m happy they got the spotlight, but perhaps more of a story going into the match would have helped this match.

Post match, Dragon Lee and Axiom did a sign of respect with Lee giving Axiom a thumbs up while Axiom nodded at him.

Santos Escobar breaks his silence up next.


Let’s Hear from Santos Escobar

Santos Escobar made his entrance wearing a white suit and sunglasses. They gave him back the old Legado del Fantasma music that he had in the past.

Escobar tried to start his promo, but he was booed heavily with the fans chanting “you suck” at him. Escobar said that there’s an expression saying “never meet your heroes.” Escobar said that his hero was Rey Mysterio. They showed the rest of the LWO watching on a TV backstage. Escobar said that he patterned his career after Rey. Escobar said it was his wish for the next generation to see him how he saw Rey. Escobar said that Rey became a father figure to Escobar and made Escobar feel at home. Escobar said that Dominik was right about Rey. Escobar said that he deserved to be the United States Champion, but who became the champion? Rey. Escobar said he wanted to lead the LWO, but Rey took over and invited new members like Carlito. Escobar spoke in Spanish. Escobar said they were supposed to be family, but instead, Rey sided with an outsider like Carlito instead of him. Escobar said he apologized for not doing more damage to Rey. Escobar told Rey that he hoped his surgery didn’t go well, that he had an infection and that they have to amputate Rey’s leg. Escobar said he hopes Rey never comes back. Cole said that he hopes somebody cuts this guy’s microphone.

Zelina Vega went into the ring to argue with Escobar. Vega yelled at Escobar and said that she hated that she trusted him. Vega slapped Escobar. Vega was crying. Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde walked out to check on Vega.

Escobar said that Raul and Joaquin only exist because he allows them to exist. Escobar wanted them to be with him like they were before. Mendoza & Wilde said they didn’t like what he did to Rey. Escobar told them to leave. Escobar attacked Mendoza and Wilde from behind. Escobar kicked them both to keep them down.

Carlito made his entrance for the save. Carlito went into the ring, so Escobar bailed from the ring. Cole trashed Escobar, who bailed into the crowd. Escobar left while Carlito checked on Wilde & Mendoza in the ring.

Analysis: I thought Santos Escobar did a nice job with that promo. I covered Santos’ entire run in NXT and I thought he was better as a heel compared to his run as a face on Smackdown, so I’m glad he’s back in a heel role. I think Escobar is better in this role. I feel like long term we’ll see Wilde & Mendoza turn heel to join Escobar while Rey will have Carlito and probably Dragon Lee on his side. Anyway, the promo from Escobar was effective in terms of him being a jealous heel who showed no remorse for his attack on Mysterio. Escobar is jealous of Rey becoming US Champion and jealous of Rey trusting Carlito, so that’s why Escobar did what he did.

A replay aired from last week when Kevin Owens got suspended after being on commentary. Owens was suspended fore beating up Austin Theory & Grayson Waller. Owens was warned by Smackdown GM Nick Aldis about getting physically involved while on commentary, so Owens was suspended for it.

Grayson Waller made his entrance for singles action.

There was a commercial for the Men’s WarGames match at Survivor Series. Right now it’s a 4-on-4 match but it’s expected to be a 5-on-5 match. We’ll see how it progresses on Monday’s Raw as well.


Cameron Grimes vs. Grayson Waller

Austin Theory was on commentary to support his pal Waller. Grimes hit a dropkick early on. Waller got the ropes and kicked Waller in the face. Waller jumped back into the ring with a rolling flatliner for a two count. That used to be a rolling Stunner by Waller, but they changed it since Kevin Owens used the Stunner as a finisher. Grimes tripped up Waller leading to a two count. Grimes hit a forearm, a kick and a running kick. Grimes hit a spinning sitout slam for a two count. Waller rolled out of the ring to regroup. Grimes hit a running kick on Theory because Waller moved. Waller tripped up Grimes on the apron. Waller jumped over Grimes’ back with a jumping Unprettier. Road Dogg called it a Dingo Driver. It went about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Grayson Waller

Analysis: **1/4 An easy win for Waller, who loses to the bigger names and then beats the lesser names like Grimes. The fans didn’t react to Grimes very much so that made it tough on the wrestlers. I liked the finisher that Waller used to win the match.

Bianca Belair was shown backstage talking to Zelina Vega.

Solo Sikoa was up next.


The Classic Moment of the Week was from December 13, 2001 when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin beat up Booker T in the grocery store. It was a great segment in Smackdown history. Austin: “Price check on jackass.”

Damage CTRL was shown backstage standing over a fallen Zelina Vega, who was down on the floor selling. Bianca Belair and referee Jessika Carr checked on Vega.

Analysis: It was another example of Damage CTRL taking out whoever Belair tries to get as a WarGames partner.

A video package aired about Solo Sikoa destroying John Cena at Crown Jewel two weeks ago. Solo was off last week, so Solo is back this week.

Let’s Hear from The Bloodline

Solo Sikoa was standing in the ring with Jimmy Uso and Special Counsel “Wise Man” Paul Heyman. Heyman spoke about how Solo destroyed John Cena with several Samoan Spikes and the winner is Solo. It was two weeks ago. We know. Heyman said that joining them live tonight from Evansville, Indiana is the 16-time Heavyweight Champion of the World, from West Newbury, Massachusetts…John Cena…is not here this evening. Heyman said that Cena will never appear in a WWE ring ever again. Heyman said that’s all thanks to Solo. Heyman said he saw a little kid crying. Heyman said even if Cena could speak right now, would he? Heyman said that Cena has admiration for the fans, but he doesn’t have the heart to say goodbye to the Cenation or the WWE Universe. Heyman said he gets to say goodbye to Cena, so on behalf of Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso, he said goodbye to John Cena.

Heyman said that was John’s cue. Heyman did the John Cena entrance music, then said that Cena would do the five moves of doom on them and the fans go crazy. Heyman said you’ll never experience that again all because of Solo. Heyman claimed that if Cena ever comes back, Solo has to be his opponent and his target. Heyman said that Cena can’t communicate like he used to and it’s all because of Solo. Heyman said that all Cena had to do was acknowledge the real GOAT, but he couldn’t even say goodbye because Solo spiked him in the throat. Heyman said that you can’t see John Cena and it’s all…here’s the interruption.

Analysis: They are certainly building to a Cena return against Solo Sikoa whenever Cena decides it is time to come back. Since the SAG-AFTRA strike ended, Cena will likely be very busy with acting work so we may not see Cena until WrestleMania or perhaps some other event in the future. Heyman was terrific as usual with that promo. No surprise there.

LA Knight made his appearance in his ring gear. Knight spoke about how the one cause and effect that Heyman didn’t mention is that everybody knows that Reigns is still WWE Champion because of The Bloodline. Knight said that everybody here knows that’s a problem and everybody knows that’s a problem. Knight claimed that he was a problem solver. Knight said he made it this way. Knight said that The Bloodline will cease to exist because he’ll make it that way. Knight said that each of them would fall until it was him and Roman. Knight said that since Jimmy cost him the WWE Title, Knight would make him pay. Knight tried doing some rhyming promo that didn’t really work. Knight went back to his catchphrase as the fans chanted “LA Knight yeah” to end it. That Knight match with Jimmy was next.

Analysis: A confident LA Knight promo as usual. Knight is not the first babyface to say he’s going to take down The Bloodline. It’s been a common thing for over three years at this point.


It’s official for Survivor Series: Carlito vs. Santos Escobar.

Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair & Shotzi were backstage talking. Belair said that they didn’t have any other options and Belair told Charlotte to make the call. Flair had her phone and left to make the call.

LA Knight vs. Jimmy Uso

Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman left for the backstage area after Heyman got a phone call.

Knight hit Jimmy with a suplex followed by some repeated stomps to the body. Knight did a necksnap across the top rope. Knight did a slingshot shoulder tackle on Jimmy. Knight was sent into the ropes and Jimmy hit a Samoan Drop. Knight came back with punches while Jimmy hit Knight with a chop. Knight sent Jimmy over the top to the floor. Knight hit a running kick to send Jimmy into the commentary table. Knight slammed Jimmy’s head into the commentary table hood repeatedly so the fans could chant “YEAH” repeatedly. Knight sent Jimmy over the commentary table as the show went to break.


Jimmy was in control of the match. Jimmy charged, Knight moved and Jimmy’s running hip attack saw him hit the turnbuckle. Knight avoided a Samoan Drop and hit a neckbreaker. Knight hit a running clothesline. Knight hit a flatliner followed by a lifting slam leading to Knight slamming Jimmy face first into the mat. They battled by the turnbuckle, Jimmy jumped off the top and Knight avoided him. Knight wanted a BFT, Jimmy shoved him off, Jimmy went for a move, Knight avoided that and Knight hit a BFT slam driving Jimmy into the mat. Knight covered Jimmy for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: **3/4 It was an average match with an obvious result. Knight got some revenge for Jimmy Uso screwing Knight out of the WWE Title at Crown Jewel. I feel like they could have done more to make Jimmy look like a threat. Perhaps they could have had Jimmy cheat or do something to get a good nearfall spot in the match. Knight winning clean is fine as a result of the match.

After the match, Solo Sikoa made his way down to ringside. Knight was looking at him, so Jimmy hit Knight with a double axhandle to knock Knight down on the floor. Solo cleared off the commentary table while Jimmy Uso brought Knight over to the table to put Knight on it. It looked like they were going to put Knight through the table, but Cody Rhodes’ music hit as Cody made his way down to ringside. Cody cleared the ringside area by beating up Solo & Jimmy. Cody threw Solo into the ring post and Cody threw Jimmy into the steel steps. The fans popped huge for Cody and chanted his name. The Bloodline retreated while Cody & Knight stood tall in the ring.

Analysis: We saw Cody backstage earlier in the show and this time he was out in front of the crowd. I’m not sure what the explanation will be for having a Raw guy like Cody on the show other than his past issues with Roman Reigns and The Bloodline. Perhaps there won’t be a storyline explanation. Cody vs. Roman Reigns has been the obvious plan for WrestleMania 40 since WrestleMania 39 ended, so this might be WWE’s way of reminding us about that and there will be some story to get us there. Either that or Cody can win the Royal Rumble again.

Bianca Belair & Shotzi walked up to Charlotte Flair to get an update. Charlotte said she called her, but she’s not sure if she will make it in time. They walked together.


Cody Rhodes was shown talking to Nick Aldis backstage. Nick told Cody he had to go, so Cody left. It was very brief.

Next week on Smackdown on FS1 for those of you in the US:

* The Judgment Day’s Damian Priest & Finn Balor defend the WWE Tag Team Titles vs. The Street Profits

* Grayson Waller Effect talk show with Kevin Owens

Let’s Hear from Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair & Shotzi

The babyface trio of Bianca Belair, Shotzi & Charlotte Flair made their entrances separately in that order. Good reactions for Belair & Flair while there wasn’t much of a reaction for Shotzi.

Flair said that they were running out of time. Flair said that they accept the WarGames challenge. Flair said that she knows a thing or two about turning on a best friend. Flair said there is only one person they want on their side.

Bayley and the rest of Damage CTRL interrupted the promo. Bayley mocked Flair for being an idiot and a loser who doesn’t have any numbers in her phone. Bayley and friends got on the apron for a showdown. That led to the crowd going wild as Becky Lynch arrived in her ring gear and Lynch got into the ring to stand by the babyfaces.

The foursome of Flair, Belair, Lynch and Shotzi got into a brawl with the Damage CTRL women. The action spilled to the floor while Flair and Sky each hit moonsaults off the top rope onto a pile of women on the floor. The fight continued with Flair throwing Sky into the barricade and the side of the ring apron. Lynch and the other faces fought with the heels at ringside. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: The Becky Lynch inclusion in the match was reported recently so it’s not a total surprise. The idea that Flair “just” called Lynch and she got to Evansville, Indiana of all places ten minutes later is ridiculous, but it’s pro wrestling and we have to throw logic out the window sometimes. Anyway, it was a decent brawl to end it although they missed the double moonsault shot from the best angle since he really only saw it from Charlotte’s side rather than what Sky did as well.

It seems like they will keep it 4-on-4 for the women at WarGames while the men’s match will likely be 5-on-5. I think that’s a bit strange, but either way, the matches should be great.

There was also this creative video posted by Becky Lynch on social media as well.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. The Street Profits
  2. LA Knight
  3. Damage CTRL


The Scoreboard

7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7

2023 Average: 7.23


Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown

They did a nice job of having a show long storyline involving the Women’s WarGames match. The babyface women took two hours to figure out their partner and it was Becky Lynch joining Charlotte Flair, Bianca Belair & Shotzi against Damage CTRL. That reveal at the end was done really well and that led to a brawl. It put the spotlight on the women’s division quite a bit even without putting a women’s match on the show. They still got a lot of TV time, so that was cool to see.

LA Knight got some revenge against Jimmy Uso by beating him clean. The Paul Heyman promo before that mocking John Cena for losing to Solo Sikoa was excellent. Cody Rhodes saving Knight from a 2-on-1 attack was a nice surprise. It seems like WWE is going to push the story about Cody coming after The Bloodline again. I thought the Santos Escobar heel turn explanation went really well. It also led to WWE setting up a Carlito-Santos match at Survivor Series, which makes sense based on the story.

The Dragon Lee-Axiom and Grayson Waller-Cameron Grimes matches had a quiet crowd because those guys aren’t featured that much. Lee and Axiom had a terrific match with the crowd getting into it toward the finish. The other one was mostly a dead crowd, but it was done to give Waller a rare singles win on SD. The Street Profits won a triple threat Tag Team match for a title shot next week and I’d love to see The Street Profits leave that match as the champions. Just saying.

The next WWE PLE is Survivor Series on November 25th from Chicago. Here’s the lineup:

* Men’s WarGames Match: Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn & ??? vs. The Judgment Day – Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio, JD McDonagh & ???

* Women’s WarGames Match: Damage CTRL – IYO SKY, Bayley, Kairi Sane & Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair & Shotzi

* Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER (c) vs. The Miz

* Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zoey Stark

* Carlito vs. Santos Escobar

WWE Survivor Series airs on Saturday, November 25th, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, streaming live exclusively on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.


Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton


Twitter/X: @johnreport