SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
DECEMBER 1, 2023
BROOKLYN, NY AT BARCLAYS CENTER
AIRED ON FOX
REPORT BY ALEX McDONALD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
-The camera panned the crowd as Kevin Patrick introduced the show. Corey Graves previewed Randy Orton’s appearance as a graphic was shown. Graves mentioned that Orton is a free agent and was invited to Smackdown by Nick Aldis.
-Bianca Belair made her entrance. Patrick threw to a video package on the Women’s War Games match from this past Saturday at Survivor Series. After the video, Belair stood in the center of the ring. She said it was good to be in Brooklyn, NY. Belair said her team won. She gave a shout out to each member of the team. Belair said her war with Damage Ctrl isn’t over. She said she’s coming for Iyo Sky and Belair wants her title back.
-Iyo Sky’s music played and Damage Ctrl, sans Bayley, appeared on the stage. Dakota Kai said it was nice that Belair could get this crowd to cheer for her. The crowd booed. Kai told them to shut up. Kai said that Sky said it smelled in Brooklyn. Damage Ctrl entered the ring. Kai said that Sky said Belair is in over her head. Kai said that if Belair wants another title shot, she’ll have to go through all of Damage Ctrl. Belair said they can all get it.
-Charlotte Flair and Shotzi made their entrance. Charlotte said that Belair isn’t the only one coming for Sky. Charlotte said she would love to go through Damage Ctrl. Shotzi said there’s enough Damage Ctrl to go around. Shotzi and Charlotte hit the ring and attacked Damage Ctrl. The six women brawled in the ring. Sky was left in the ring with Belair, Charlotte, and Shotzi. Belair gave Sky a spinebuster and Sky retreated to ringside with the rest of Damage Ctrl. Michael Cole mentioned that Bayley wasn’t with Damage Ctrl.
(McDonald’s Analysis: I’m so ready for them to move on to something else. I know there isn’t a ton of options, but this feud is so tired and it just won’t end. Belair has been feuding with Damage Ctrl for over a year at this point. The real story here is Bayley’s absence. Hopefully, we get some follow-up on that later on. Cole mentioned it in passing, which isn’t really the best sign moving forward. A face Bayley with some new energy could really inject some life into the stale Smackdown Women’s Division if done correctly. Otherwise, this is just more of the same.)
-Kevin Patrick said they would revisit the return of C.M. Punk at Survivor Series as a graphic was shown. Then they showed a graphic for Kevin Owens against Grayson Waller as Graves promoted the match. Cole then said that Logan Paul would be on Smackdown as the graphic changed again.
-Butch made his entrance. Graves mentioned that Butch was the last remaining member of the Brawling Brutes. A graphic was shown for Butch against Bobby Lashley. Graves said it will be a David vs. Goliath showdown after the break. [c]
-Damage Ctrl was in the back. They bumped into Bayley. Sky asked where Bayley was. Bayley said that no one told her. She said if she had been there, things may have ended differently. Kai mentioned that Belair has a match with Kairi Sane tonight and she’ll need Bayley there. Sky spoke Japanese. Damage Ctrl walked off and Bayley looked left out and confused.
-Butch was in the ring.
-Bobby Lashley made his entrance with the Street Profits in tow. Patrick threw to a video recap of Ridge Holland walking out on Butch last week on Smackdown. They then showed a video of Lashley and Butch talking in the back on the Smackdown Lowdown last Saturday. Lashley told Butch to make a name for himself before he talks to Lashley. After the video, Cole mentioned that Butch is going it alone as he hasn’t spoken to Sheamus in months and Holland walked out on him.
-Lashley took the mic. The crowd chanted his name. Lashley said Butch shouldn’t deal with him. He said he will break Butch into pieces. Lashley asked Butch if he was ready for that. Butch slapped him.
(1) BUTCH vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/ Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)
-Butch charged Lashley and punched away at him in the corner. Lashley lifted Butch and carried him across the ring before throwing him down. Lashley whipped Butch into the corner hard. Butch collapsed. Butch got to his feet and Lashley beat on him in the corner. The crowd chanted for Lashley. Lashley whipped Butch into the opposite corner and then charged. Butch got a boot up then kicked Lashley to the outside. Butch went to the apron and hit Lashley with a flying knee. Butch went back to the apron and came off with a moonsault. Lashley staggered but didn’t go down. Butch climbed to the top rope and came off with another moonsault that took Lashley down as the show cut to break. [c]
Back from break, Lashley was back in control as he took Butch down to the mat face first. Lashley lifted Butch to his feet and hung him upside down with a stalling vertical suplex. Butch kicked his way out and came off the ropes but Lashley caught him and delivered a spinebuster. Lashley tossed Butch to the outside and followed him out. Lashley lifted Butch to his shoulders and drove him into the ring post. Lashley tossed Butch back into the ring and measured him. Lashley charged but Butch moved and Lashley hit the middle turnbuckle. Butch went to the apron and delivered a kick. He went back into the ring and hit two more kicks on Lashley. Lashley retreated to the corner and Butch kicked away at him. Butch went to the top rope and came off with a stomp on Lashley’s arm. Butch then pulled at Lashley’s fingers. Butch hit a modified suplex and made the cover. Lashley kicked out quickly. Butch mounted Lashley but Lashley got up with Butch on his shoulders and transitioned into a powerslam. Lashley made the cover for a two count. Lashley lifted Butch to his feet. Butch landed a big punch. Butch charged but Lashley took him down with a big clothesline. Lashley pulled Butch to his feet and Butch surprised Lashley with a kick that rocked him. Lashley answered with a spear out of nowhere and covered Butch for the win.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley in 8:00
-The announce team sat ringside. Patrick threw to a video package on the Men’s War Games match from Survivor Series this past Saturday.
-Nick Aldis was in the back. Paul Heyman appeared. Heyman asked if Aldis invited Randy Orton to Smackdown. Aldis said he did, and he intends to sign him to an exclusive Smackdown contract. Heyman asked if Roman Reigns knew about it. Aldis said they get countless memos that say all communications to Reigns go through Heyman. Aldis said that he’s going to sign Orton and he’ll offer up the entire Bloodline if he has to. Aldis turned to Heyman and asked him what he was going to do about it. Heyman smirked. He said he would do whatever it takes. Heyman tapped his phone and walked off.
-They showed a graphic of Randy Orton under Aldis. Graves said they would find out about Orton’s future later tonight. [c]
(McDonald’s Analysis: This is good stuff. Orton is a good opponent for Reigns and it feels like it ties up a loose end. As much as I would like to see Orton against Jey, they can explore that later. Smackdown needs one of these guys and Raw has too many faces anyway. After Orton’s time off, he feels like a fresh addition to Smackdown and there’s some new opponents for him even after he’s done with Reigns. I don’t know how this affects the future of L.A. Knight, but I would assume he takes a backseat for a little bit. It will be interesting to see if they pair Knight with Orton against the Bloodline before they get to the inevitable title match with Orton and Reigns. It would be a great sign for Knight if he’s involved.)
-Butch was in the back. Kayla Braxton approached. She asked why Holland walked out on him last week. Butch said he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care because he needs to focus on himself. Pretty Deadly appeared and cracked some jokes. Butch attacked them. Pretty Deadly recovered quickly and got the upper hand. They tossed him into some backstage equipment.
-The announce team sat ringside. Patrick said there’s another Superstar flying solo, and he’s more dangerous then ever before. A video package aired on Santos Escobar and his turn on the L.W.O. After the video, Escobar was in the back with the interviewer. Escobar said he’s trying to finish what he started. He said Rey Mysterio turned his back on Escobar when he sided with Carlito. He said Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro are blinded by their admiration for Mysterio and Mysterio is going to turn on them, too. Escobar said if Wilde can’t see it for himself, he’s going to put him on the shelf.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Really solid video package that chronicled everything pretty well. Escobar followed up with a good promo. All of this is what I hoped for when Escobar got called up to the main roster. It took a little while, but I’m glad they’re putting some emphasis on him. Escobar is talented and a good heel. I hope they can find a good feud for him until Mysterio gets back.)
-Santos Escobar made his entrance. They showed a graphic for Escobar against Wilde. Patrick said the match will be after the break. [c]
-Wilde was in the ring.
(2) SANTOS ESCOBAR vs. JOAQUIN WILDE
Wilde landed a dropkick. Escobar got to his feet and Wilde went on the attack with punches. Wilde took Escobar down and Escobar rolled to the outside. Wilde came over the top rope and took Escobar down with a plancha. Wilde tossed Escobar back into the ring but Escobar rolled to the outside and teased leaving. Wilde hit a slingshot front flip splash onto Escobar on the outside. Wilde rolled Escobar into the ring and made the cover for a two count. Escobar recovered and crotched Wilde on the top rope. Escobar hung Wilde upside down in the corner. Escobar charged and landed a dropkick. Escobar slammed Wilde and made the cover for a two count. Escobar put Wilde in an arm bar. Wilde got to his feet and got free with knees to the gut of Escobar. Wilde landed some punches and came off the ropes before he hit a low dropkick on Escobar. Wilde took Escobar down with a kick. Wilde rolled into a jumping DDT and covered Escobar for a two count. Wilde charged again but Escobar caught him coming in with a superkick. Escobar lifted Wilde to his shoulders and delivered the Phantom Driver for the win.
WINNER: Santos Escobar in 4:00
-Escobar beat on Wilde after the match. Dragon Lee’s music played and he ran to the ring. Escobar retreated. Lee checked on Wilde. Escobar hit the ring and tried to attack Lee from behind. Lee fought back and took Escobar down with a hurricanrana. Lee landed a big dropkick on Escobar in the corner. Lee checked on Wilde and then charged and hit another big dropkick on Escobar in the corner. Escobar rolled to the outside and up the ramp as Lee continued to check on Wilde.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Despite the short match, they really let Wilde show what he could do. Wilde has absolutely no personality and has been framed as a complete joke with Cruz Del Toro, but he can actually do some cool moves and is entertaining in the ring. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a respect type of match with Lee. Speaking of Lee, him making the save makes perfect sense. He gets a little something back after his loss at the PLE. Escobar should have won that match, but maybe they should have saved it for down the road. I’m interested in seeing them work together again. Both of these guys are getting some shine right now and it’s bringing some fresh faces to Smackdown in a good way.)
-Nick Aldis was in the back shaking hands with Logan Paul. Patrick said he’ll be in the arena after the break. [c]
-Nick Aldis was in his office. Adam Pearce appeared. Pearce called Orton a Monday Night Raw legend and Aldis is trying to sign Orton under his nose. Pearce said he’s going to join Aldis in the ring tonight. Pearce held up a Raw contract and walked off.
-Logan Paul made his entrance. Patrick threw to a video recap of Paul’s victory over Rey Mysterio at Crown Jewel.
-Paul said that to every friend that stabbed him in the back, and every hater that planned his downfall, “where are you now?”. Paul said the more he’s doubted the harder he works and the more he wins. Paul said all the Superstars backstage are jealous because he’s the fastest rising star in history. Paul said if they want the title, it’s been on his junk, like everyone has been since he’s been there. Paul said a champion is only as good as his challengers. He said he spoke with Nick Aldis and they put together a tournament that starts next week. Paul listed the competitors in the tournament and said the winner will have a nightmare trying to take the title away from him.
-Kevin Owens made his entrance. Owens stood opposite Paul in the ring. The crowd cheered for Owens. Owens said Paul being in the ring is a nightmare. Owens said the first time he ever saw Paul was ten years ago on Vine. He said it only took him six seconds to figure out that Paul is an unbearable jackass. Owens said Paul’s drink is junk. Owens said he’s in the tournament so the nightmare is about to end because Paul’s days as United States champion are numbered. Paul said that Owens calls himself a prize fighter. Paul said that six seconds is five more than he needs to K.O. Owens. Owens said Paul is from a different world and the WWE ring is his world.
-Grayson Waller made his entrance with Austin Theory at his side. Waller said Paul is better than that and he doesn’t need to engage with Owens. Waller called Owens a troll looking for attention. Waller said he, Theory, and Paul are forward thinkers. Waller and Theory entered the ring. Theory said that Owens’ days of punching people in the face will be over when Paul knocks him out. Owens punched Theory in the face and he rolled to the outside. Waller went with him. Owens and Paul stared each other down in the ring.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Owens and Paul is a logical place to go. Owens seemed like the perfect opponent after he moved to Smackdown and Paul won the U.S. title. Unfortunately, they set up this tournament and just telegraphed the winner before the tournament even started. I know they need to fill TV time, and I’m all for tournaments, but they could have done something different here. They didn’t need the tournament to get to Owens and Paul, but they’re going to do it anyway. I look forward to the verbal interactions between Owens and Paul. This was a short glimpse into that and it was really good. Owens is best when he plays off of people like Paul. Good move.)
-They showed a graphic for Waller against Owens. Patrick said the match is up next. [c]
-Paul joined commentary as Waller and Owens were in the ring.
(3) KEVIN OWENS vs. GRAYSON WALLER (w/ Austin Theory)
Waller and Owens brawled to the outside. Owens tossed Waller into the announce table. Owens punched away at Waller and tossed him into the ring. Owens rolled in and Waller stomped away at him. Waller choked Owens with the top rope. Paul said that Owens gave him the Stunner at his first Wrestlemania and he hasn’t forgotten. Owens took down Waller in the corner. Owens charged but Waller got a foot up. Waller took Owens down then mounted him and punched away. Waller walked the middle rope and came off with an elbow drop. Waller made the cover for a two count. Owens punched at Waller but Waller landed a kick that stopped Owens in his tracks. Waller went for a suplex but Owens blocked and landed a suplex of his own. Owens chopped Waller in the corner. Owens stomped at Waller and charged but Waller rolled to the outside. Owens dropped to the outside but Waller met him with a forearm. Waller slammed Owens onto the announce table. Waller went into the ring and slid to the outside. Owens took him down. Owens went to the apron and came off with a frog splash onto Waller at ringside. Owens went back outside and picked up Waller. Waller tossed Owens into the ring post. Waller got in the ring and distracted the ref. Theory stomped on Owens’ hand on the steps. Theory yelled at Waller to work on Owens hand. Waller slammed Owens’ hand into the ring post. Theory and Waller celebrated at the show cut to break. [c]
Back from break, Owens came off the top rope with a frog splash onto Waller. Owens sold his hand after the splash. Waller took Owens down with an armbreaker. Waller put on a hammerlock as Owens screamed in pain. Owens got to his feet and fought out. Owens tossed Waller to the outside. Waller went back to the arm and slammed it against the top rope. Waller got back in the ring. Owens hit an inverted atomic drop followed by a DDT. Owens chopped at Waller. He landed a punch with the injured hand and screamed in pain. Owens knocked Waller to the corner and charged before he hit the cannonball. Owens went to the top rope and came off with a Swanton Bomb. Owens made the cover for a two count. Owens went for a Stunner but Waller got free and stomped on Owens’ hand. Waller went back to the armbar and pulled and twisted Owens’ hand. Owens got to the ropes and broke the hold. Waller put Owens’ hand in the turnbuckle. Waller charged with a kick but Owens moved and rolled up Waller for the win.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 11:00
-Waller was in the ring in disbelief. Paul looked on from ringside.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Solid match. I assume they’ll use the hand injury throughout the tournament to make Owens seem like an underdog. Paul had moments on commentary, but generally speaking, the four guys doing commentary leads to a lot of awkward moments. This was no exception. I like the idea of Waller and Theory trying to be friends with Paul. They would be perfect to be his buddies and douche entourage.)
-The announce team sat ringside. Patrick said it was a week of returns, but none were more shocking than the return of C.M. Punk. Cole said the video of Punk’s return had more than 95 million views. Patrick threw to a video on reactions of Punk’s return. The video then showed Punk’s appearance on Monday Night Raw this past Monday. After the video, they showed a graphic for Punk on Smackdown next week. Patrick promoted the appearance.
-Bianca Belair made her entrance with Charlotte Flair and Shotzi at her side. They showed a graphic for Belair’s match with Kairi Sane. Patrick hyped the match for after the break. [c]
-Damage Ctrl was in the back. They pumped up Sky. Kai asked Bayley what was wrong and said she doesn’t seem like herself. Sky told Bayley to stay in the back.
-Kairi Sane made her entrance with Damage Ctrl.
(4) BIANCA BELAIR (w/ Charlotte Flair & Shotzi) vs. KAIRI SANE (w/ Asuka, Dakota Kai, & Iyo Sky)
The bell rang thirty minutes into the hour. They locked up and Belair tossed Sane into the corner. Sane escaped and tried to take Belair down. Belair flipped over Sane and took her down. Belair stayed on the attack but Sane landed a shot to the gut of Belair. Belair landed a big kick on Sane. Belair lifted Sane and set up for a slam. Sane got free and pulled on Belair’s hair. Belair pulled Sane toward her and landed a punch. Asuka tripped Belair from ringside and Sane punched away at Belair. Charlotte tripped Sane but the ref saw it and sent Charlotte and Shotzi to the back. Asuka entered the ring and the ref caught her too. The ref then sent Damage Ctrl to the back. Belair landed a dropkick on Asuka. [c]
Sane was in control and put Belair in a modified Boston Crab. Belair powered her way out. Sane took Belair down and made the cover for a two count. Sane wrapped Belair’s arms around her and pulled. Belair fought to her feet. Belair threw Sane forward. Belair slammed Sane. Sane got up and Belair slammed her again. Belair tossed Sane toward the corner. Belair propped up Sane and climbed to the second turnbuckle to land punches. Belair hit a spinebuster followed by a splash. Belair made the cover for a two count. Belair lifted Sane to her shoulders but Sane got free. Sane tried a crossbody but Belair caught Sane and tossed her down. Belair made the cover for a two count. Sane countered with a spinning back fist that took Belair down and to the corner. Sane hit the sliding knee than climbed to the top rope. Sane came off with a forearm and covered Belair for a two count. Belair went for a slam but Sane flipped her to the outside. Sane came off the apron but Belair moved. Belair lifted Sane and slammed her onto the barricade. Belair threw Sane into the ring. The ref checked on Sane. Bayley appeared and took Belair down. Sane questioned Bayley. Bayley said she had Sane’s back. They high-fived. Sane climbed to the top rope but Belair cut her off. Belair hit the K.O.D. for the win.
WINNER: Bianca Belair in 10:00
-Belair taunted Bayley as she celebrated. Bayley looked concerned.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Match was fine, but a little clunky at times. It’s nice to have a new face in Sane. Belair desperately needs fresh opponents and this was a step in the right direction as far as that goes. Bayley’s help didn’t really backfire, but Damage Ctrl will see it that way and will be another step toward their break up.)
-Nick Aldis and Adam Pearce were in the back and they made their way to the arena. Patrick said they will both attempt to sign Randy Orton after the break. [c]
-They showed a graphic for the first round of the United States title tournament. Next week will feature Bobby Lashley against Karrion Kross and Dragon Lee against Santos Escobar. Cole then hyped the return of C.M. Punk to Smackdown.
-Aldis and Pearce were in the ring. Aldis introduced Randy Orton.
-Orton made his entrance.
-Pearce said it’s electric and Orton belongs on Raw. Aldis interrupted and said there’s something only he can give him. Pearce said if Orton signs with Raw he will get a World title match against either Seth Rollins or Jey Uso. Aldis said if Orton signs with Smackdown he can give him the guys that took him out.
-Paul Heyman appeared on the stage and interrupted. He introduced himself. Heyman looked at Orton and commented about him being back. Heyman said Orton was on the shelf for eighteen months thanks to Reigns and the Bloodline. Heyman said Orton is looking for revenge. He said there won’t be any RKO’s this evening and there won’t be any decisions made by Orton. Heyman said the Bloodline is going to make the decision for Orton.
-Solo Sikoa made his entrance with Jimmy Uso. They made their way to the ring. Pearce and Aldis left. Orton went after Jimmy and Sikoa as they hit the ring. Jimmy took Orton down and the Bloodline stomped away.
-L.A. Knight ran to the ring and went after the Bloodline. Sikoa charged and Knight sent him to the outside. Sikoa pulled Knight to the outside and they brawled up the ramp. Jimmy and Orton were alone in the ring. Orton grabbed Jimmy and set him up before he delivered a draping DDT. The crowd chanted for an RKO. Orton measured Jimmy and then hit the RKO. Orton looked at Heyman. The crowd chanted “Randy, Randy”. Orton walked over to Pearce and Aldis and asked for both contracts. Heyman yelled at Orton to go to Raw because he would be safe there. Orton looked at both contracts and tossed the Raw one out of the ring. Orton signed the Smackdown contract and tossed it on top of Jimmy. Orton took a microphone out of his pocket and looked at Heyman. Orton said that Heyman can call Roman Reigns and tell him “Daddy’s back”. Nick Aldis pointed at Orton as Orton posed for the crowd. Orton turned and hit Aldis with an RKO. Paul Heyman raised his phone and told it to call Roman Reigns.
(McDonald’s Analysis: Good segment. It was a little silly with Pearce and Aldis arguing with each other, but honestly, I wish they would compete for free agents more often. It makes the brand split feel like it actually matters. We all know Orton will show up on Raw anyway, because it really doesn’t, but at least we can pretend for now. Orton coming to Smackdown makes the most sense if Raw is going to get C.M. Punk. Smackdown needs more babyfaces and Orton fits the bill well. I mentioned earlier that where L.A. Knight lands will be one of the interesting factors here. I said earlier in this report that if Knight is involved and rubbing shoulders with Orton against the Bloodline it would be a great sign for Knight. We got that to an extent. Knight helped Orton, but they didn’t acknowledge each other or rub elbows at all. Regardless, they didn’t forget about Knight entirely and move on to Orton. It’s also a good sign that Knight isn’t just a part of the field in the U.S. title tournament. When they made it clear Owens was going to win, it made sense to leave Knight out. Knight may eventually be the one to take the U.S. title from Paul, but he’s going to linger around the main event with Orton and the Bloodline in the meantime. Orton has been bland and somewhat boring in the past, but this feels fresh and interesting. I’m intrigued to see a feud between him and Reigns at this stage in their careers. This feels like a big feud and Reigns’ reaction to all this will be appointment viewing in the coming weeks.)