WWE SmackDown Review: Survivor Series Card Takes Shape

WWE SmackDown

November 17, 2023 | Ford Center, Evansville, Indiana

The show opened with a recap of Asuka joining Damage CTRL last week on SmackDown. Michael Cole and Kevin Patrick were on commentary. They introduced Road Dogg who was the special guest commentator. 

Damage CTRL Promo 

WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky, Asuka, Bayley, Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai made their way to the ring. Bayley welcomed everyone to SmackDown. Bayley claimed it was her plan to bring Asuka to Damage CTRL. She called it one of the greatest WWE moments in history. She said Damage CTRL is the most dominant faction in WWE. Bayley said Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair and Shotzi weren’t ready for Asuka. They all gave Bayley a look. Asuka spoke in Japanese. 

Dakota Kai noted someone was not part of Damage CTRL. Bayley had a concerned look. Kai noted they haven’t introduced Asuka into the group. Bayley went on her knees and offered Asuka a Damage CTRL shirt. Asuka accepted. Kai told Bayley she had another great idea. They challenged Belair, Charlotte and Shotzi to find a parter to face Damage CTRL at Survivor Series in WarGames. Shotzi delivered a huge dive onto Damage CTRL. Bianca Belair and Charlotte ran down to make the save. Damage CTRL got the numbers advantage. Damage CTRL stood strong together inside the ring.

(Amin’s Thoughts: I’m really liking the interaction with Damage CTRL. You can really see how Asuka, Sane and Sky are just playing along and taking Bayley for a ride. My guess is the new version of Damage CTRL will turn on Bayley if she takes the loss in the WarGames match. The likely choices are either Becky Lynch or Jade Cargill will join the babyface team. Overall, very good stuff building the WaGames match and moving forward the Damage CTRL story.)

Belair and Charlotte weren’t happy with Shotzi trying to jump Damage CTRL alone. Shotzi apologized but noted she wanted to kick their butts. Belair spoke about needing a partner. Belair looked at Charlotte and said she knows someone. SmackDown GM Nick Aldis appeared and told them to find a partner before the end of the show. 

Triple Threat Undisputed WWE Tag Team Title Number One Contender’s Match: Street Profit (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. Brawling Brutes (Butch & Ridge Holland) vs. Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson) 

The match was contested under Triple Threat rules. Butch rocked Dawkins and Prince with chops to start the match. Dawkins and Ford planted Wilson with a double face buster. Bobby Lashley was watching backstage. Prince caught Ford with a spinning back elbow. Holland swung Wilson around the ring. The crowd cheered as Butch and Holland rocked Street Profits with 10 Beats of the Beldrum. Pretty Deadly took out The Brutes outside as they went to break. 

Holland planted Ford and Prince with a double suplex as we returned from break. Butch ran wild delivering a Flying Moonsault to Wilson on the floor. Butch followed with a Tornado DDT to Prince on the floor. Butch connected with a Flying Moonsault onto everyone on the floor. Butch caught Ford with Sliced Bread for a two count. Butch placed Dawkins in an arm bar. Dawkins broke free by grabbing Butch and Powerbombed him onto Prince. 

Holland delivered a Superplex to Wilson. Ford delivered From The Heavens to Holland on the Superplex landing. Prince followed with a flying leg drop to Holland. Butch made the save. B-Fab chatted with Lashley backstage. Prince moved as Butch rocked Holland with a Brogue Kick. Dawkins and Ford delivered The Revelation to Prince for the win. 

WINNER: Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins
(Amin’s Thoughts: A really fun tag team match. The action was great from start to finish as all teams worked great together. Pretty Deadly has been pushed as a really strong act since coming up to the main roster. They really sold the Prince flying leg drop spot thinking they had the match won. Brawling Brutes are a solid team but are mostly there to have good matches. I was glad to see Street Profits win because they needed the most. The tag team title match is happening next week on SmackDown and not on Survivor Series. This would actually work to help get The Street Profits over as a top heel tag team by getting the titles off Judgment Day before WarGames.)

Bobby Lashley celebrated with The Street Profit after the match. Butch tried to help Holland. Holland responded by shoving Butch aside. Holland left the ring. 

(Amin’s Thoughts: This was pretty interesting teasing dissension between The Brawling Brutes. I wouldn’t mind if this leads to Butch getting a single’s run.) 

Bianca Belair was speaking to Michin backstage. 

Damage CTRL attacked Michin as we returned from break

Progressive Match Flo: Santos Escobar turning on Rey Mysterio last week on SmackDown. They showed a post of Mysterio recovering from a knee injury. The announcers noted Mysterio will be out of action for several months. 

They showed clips of Dragon Lee telling SmackDown GM Nick Aldis he wanted to avenge Mysterio. Aldis spoke to Dragon Lee about bringing in Axiom from NXT to show everyone what he can do against him. They shook hands. 

They aired an Axiom highlight package. 

Dragon Lee vs. Axiom 

Axiom and Dragon Lee began with a fun quick exchange. Dragon Lee shined early hitting a Top Con Hilo to Axiom to the floor. Dragon Lee rocked Axiom with a Slingshot Dropkick. Dragon Lee followed with a corner Woo Dropkick for a two count. Axiom caught Dragon Lee with a dropkick as we retuned from break. Axiom took the lead hitting a Flying Moonsault to the floor. Dragon Lee responded catching Axiom with a corner Superkick. Axiom and Dragon Lee exchanged strikes on the ropes. 

Dragon Lee rocked Axiom with a flying double stomp for two. Axiom responded nailing Dragon Lee with a standing dropkick. Axiom connected with a German suplex. Axiom followed rocking Dragon Lee with a PK. Dragon Lee responded planting Axiom with a Brainbuster. Dragon Lee went for a Powerbomb but Axiom reversed into a Canadian Destroyer for a two count. Axiom connected with an Avalanche Spanish Fly for a two count. Dragon Lee responded catching Axiom with a Jumping Powerbomb for a two count. Dragon Lee rocked Axiom with a running knee strike. Dragon Lee connected with Destino for the win. 

WINNER: Dragon Lee
(Amin’s Thoughts: WOW! This felt they took a match you would see on Dynamite and was placed on SmackDown. This match absolutely ruled. Just a really fun action packed match from start to finish. An awesome debut for Axiom giving him a chance to shine showcase his highflying ability to the main roster audience. This is the best way to showcase Dragon Lee having him win fun action packed matches. The presentation of Dragon Lee on the main roster has been stellar so far. A fantastic match.)

Santos Escobar Promo 

Santos Escobar came out to his heel theme. The crowd booed as Escobar stood inside the ring. He spoke about Mysterio being his hero. LWO was watching backstage. He wished the next generation would see him like he sees Mysterio. He spoke about Mysterio being his father figure. He said Dominik Mysterio was right. The crowd booed. He said he deserved to be the United States Champion and wanted to rebuild the LWO. He spoke about Mysterio bringing Carlito into the LWO. 

He spoke in Spanish. He noted LWO was supposed to be family but Mysterio sided with an outsider. He spoke about Mysterio watching him. He hoped Mysterio feels the same pain just like Mysterio caused him. He spoke about people wanting him to apologize. He said He said he wished he did more damage and hoped Mysterio surgery didn’t go well. Escobar said he hoped they have to amputate Mysterio’s leg and he can’t come back. 

Zelina Vega made he way ringside. Escobar and Vega began arguing. Vega slapped Escobar. Vega left the ring crying. Escobar spoke about making Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde relevant. Toro and Wilde tried to calm Escobar down. Escobar held out his hand. Toro and Wilde yelled at Escobar who told them to leave. He attacked both Cruz and Toro. The crowd chanted Carlito’s name. The crowd cheered as Carlito ran down to make the save. Escobar left the ring. 

(Amin’s Thoughts: Santos Escobar was placed in the middle of the pack when he got called up to the main roster. Escobar going babyface with Mysterio bringing back the LWO was really cool to see. This is now Escobar’s big chance to get his breakout moment on the main roster. Escobar just feels so much comfortable playing heel. The interaction with Toro and Wilde was need because they’ve been with Escobar since NXT. This will be interesting to see if Escobar gets new members to join him. This was a really strong promo from Escobar and his heel turn is off to a great start.

They showed clips of Kevin Owens attacking Grayson Waller and Austin Theory last week on SmackDown. Road Dogg told Patrick he didn’t hear anything he said. Road Dogg was plugging the Indianapolis Colts title. 

Cameron Grimes vs. Grayson Waller 

Austin Theory joined the commentary team. Grimes shined early planting Waller with an overhead slam. Waller responded booting Grimes in the face. Waller connected with a Rolling Flatliner for a close two count. Grimes battled back rocking Waller with a running forearms. Grimes planted Waller with a Spinning Bossman Slam for two. Theory left the commentary team. Grimes rocked Theory with PK. Waller took advantage yanking Grimes onto the ring apron. Grimes connected with a Overhead Blockbuster for at the win. 

WINNER: Grayson Waller
(Amin’s Thoughts: A pretty basic match. Cameron Grimes was one of my favourite acts on NXT. It’s just a bummer that WWE isn’t really sure how to bring out the best version of Grimes’ on the main roster. They see really big stuff with Waller so him winning was expected. I was kinda surprised to not see Theory and Waller take part in the Number One Contender’s tag team match. There is some potential with a Theory and Waller team. They did however announce Kevin Owens will return to SmackDown next week for the Grayson Waller Effect. I wonder if that appearance from Owens leads to the start of a split between Theory and Waller. Theory turning babyface could be something he needs to freshen up his character which is quite stale.

Bianca Belair was chatting with Zelina Vega backstage. 

Damage CTRL were standing over Zelina Vega as they returned from break. 

Paul Heyman/Solo Sikoa/LA Knight Segment 

They aired highlights of Solo Sikoa defeating John Cena at WWE Crown Jewel. Paul Heyman was standing inside the ring with Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa. Heyman was here to acknowledge Sikoa for beating John Cena at Crown Jewel. Heyman introduced Cena…..but noted he wasn’t here. Heyman claimed Cena will never appear in a WWE ring again thanks to Sikoa. Heyman spoke about Cena’s admiration but claimed he didn’t have the heart to say goodbye to the WWE Universe. Heyman mentioned on behalf of the Bloodline, Goodbye John Cena. Heyman teased Cena would come out but didn’t. Heyman noted Cena would have to face Sikoa again if he comes back. Heyman spoke about Cena not being able to say goodbye because Sikoa spiked him in the throat. Heyman noted we can’t see Cena because he wasn’t there. 

The music played as LA Knight came out to a great reaction. Let Me Talk To Ya! Knight knows Roman Reigns is only champion because of The Bloodline. Knight calls that a promo. Knights calls himself the problem solver. Knight said the Bloodline will cease to exist because Knight will make that happen. Knight says he go through all members of The Bloodline before he faces Reigns again. Knight note he stars first with Jimmy Uso. 

(Amin’s Thoughts: This was a tremendous promo from Heyman putting over Sikoa’s win over Cena. They are teasing Cena could face Sikoa at WrestleMania in a possible retirement match. LA Knight’s promo was straightforward but strong sending a message he’s not done with The Bloodline.

Belair told Charlotte and Shotzi they don’t have anyone else. Belair told Charlotte to make the call. 

LA Knight vs. Jimmy Uso

Heyman received a phone call presumable from Roman Reigns. Heyman and Sikoa were shown walking to the back. Knight planted Jimmy with a suplex for a near fall. Knight used Jimmy’s momentum launching him to the floor. Knight slammed Jimmy onto the announcers table. The crowd chanted YEAH. Knight launched Jimmy over the announcers table. The crowd cheered as Knight posed on the announcers table. 

Jimmy rocked Knight with an enzuigiri for a two count as we returned from break. Jimmy went for a hip attack but Knight moved. Knight battled back catching Jimmy with a DDT. Knight made a comeback planting Jimmy with a Wheelbarrow Facebuster for a two count. Knight went for a Jumping Superplex but Jimmy shoved him off the ropes. Jimmy went for a dive but Knight moved. Knight avoided a Superkick. Knight caught Jimmy with the BFT for the win.  

WINNER: LA Knight 
(Amin’s Thoughts: A solid match. This is a good way to get momentum back on Knight’s side by having him get wins after losing to Reigns at Crown Jewel. Knight’s promo and win are making you think they are setting up a possible rematch with Reigns for maybe the Royal Rumble?)

Solo Sikoa came out after the match. Knight challenged Sikoa to enter the ring. Jimmy attacked Knight from behind. Sikoa rocked Knight with the Samoan Spike. Sikoa cleared the announces table. The music played as Cody Rhodes ran down to a huge reaction to make the save. Cody and Knight stood tall inside the ring. Loud chants of Cody from the crowd. 

(Amin’s Thoughts: I did enjoy seeing Cody Rhodes make a special appearance on SmackDown. The long game is them building to the Cody and Roman Reigns rematch at WrestleMania by getting him back involved with The Bloodline. There needs to be some explanation to why Cody appeared on SmackDown?

Charlotte told Belair and Shotzi she made the call. Charlotte told Belair and Shotzi she wanted sure if her partner would make it on time. 

Cody Rhodes and Nick Aldis were backstage. Cody apologized to Aldis for getting involved. Cody agreed to leave the building. 

Becky Lynch joins Women’s WarGames Match 

Belair, Charlotte and Shotzi came to all separate entrances. Charlotte accepted Damage CTRL challenge for WarGames. Charlotte spoke about turning on a best friend. Damage CTRL came out. Bayley spoke about Damage CTRL taking out everyone backstage. Damage CTRL stood on the ring apron. The crowd cheered as Becky Lynch appeared to a huge reaction. A huge brawl broke out. Charlotte and Sky delivered Stereo Flying Moonsault to everyone on the floor. Charlotte and Sky stared at each other. Another brawl broke out as the show ended

(Amin’s Thoughts: Jade Cargill joining the babyface team would’ve been awesome to see. I really don’t thinking having Cargill make her debut in the WarGames match is the way to go. I would like to see Cargill make her debut hopefully soon on WWE TV. Tons of people are going to complain about Becky Lynch who’s a WWE Raw superstar joining the babyface team for WarGames. This just makes the brand split between Raw and SmackDown feel less important. I actually don’t mind Lynch joining the babyface team. Lynch is one of the biggest stars in WWE and her joining adds more star power to the Survivor Series show. Lynch joining also makes sense because she has been in a feud with Damage CTRL. Overall, the Women’s WarGames feels like a big match with all the star power. The big stuff will likely come out of the WarGames match if Bayley is the one who takes the pin for Damage CTRL.)

Overall Thoughts: A pretty enjoyable episode of SmackDown. Santos Escobar promo was really strong and his heel turn is off to strong start. Axiom and Dragon Lee match absolutely ruled and is worth checking out. There was another strong push on the show building the Women’s WarGames which feels like a really big match. Overall, a solid episode of SmackDown as Survivor Series feels like it’s going to be a really big show for WWE.