Technically, the November 24, 2023 WWE Smackdown was the go-home show for the Survivor Series. To me, it felt more like a pre-show, and looked like one, too. The AllState Arena in Chicago, Illinois was already decked out for Saturday’s Big 4 Premium Live Event, with some of the stage, and the entrance ramp, sacrificed for more spectators. So superstars cut their regular TV promos with the backdrop of a big show entranceway and narrow ramp.

A good pre-show sets up the main matches on the PLE, and also showcases some talent not on the main show. How did this Smackdown do? Here are my thoughts:

  • This crowd was really hot, and they were fully behind Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, and Charlotte Flair, while warming up to Shotzi. Their promos, and Bayley’s interruption promo, were pretty standard, while Shotzi’s off-the-wall speech really stood out. It did lead into the backstage throughline for the show, as it did last week.
Shotzi, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Bianca Belair kick off WWE Smackdown November 24 2023
  • So there isn’t going to be an advantage match for the Women’s WarGames like there was for the Men’s? Instead Ruffles is going to decide? Yes, I know that’s not exactly the case, but it’s how it plays. It’s a poll sponsored by Ruffles which will decide. Full Disclosure: I answered the poll on the WWE website, and voted for Damage CTRL to be cheeky. They didn’t ask for an email address, or show the results, so obviously this is just WWE deciding who gets the advantage, and tying it to a sponsorship. Why not just have Ruffles sponsor the match? Probably just as effective.
  • Bayley coming out alone, and then getting flack for it backstage (I think, more on that in the next note), was clearly to set up tension at WarGames, and also set the Main Event for tonight. This is also where I first really remarked that we were getting a standard TV promo with a big show PLE backdrop.
  • There were some tech issues that affected those of us watching on SportsNet here in Canada, and on other platforms around the world. I suspect this was a WWE Network issue, and not sure if it affected viewers on FOX. Long story short, there was no audio for the first backstage Damage CTRL segment, and I missed half of the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship Match.
  • The Street Profits looked strong in the part of the match that I saw. Both Angelo Dawkins and hometowner Montez Ford had a few near victories, but ultimately Rhea Ripley would distract the referee, so Finn Bálor could yank Ford off the ropes. Then Damian Priest would hit a modified Tombstone on him, followed by a Coup de Grace from Bálor for the victory.
Rhea Ripley, Finn Bálor, and Damian Priest celebrate after Judgement Day retain their Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships in a match against The Street Profits on WWE Smackdown November 24 2023
  • Backstage, Bobby Lashley, still chatting with B-FAB looked less than impressed. Since the Profits lost due, in part, to Ripley’s interference, I wonder why Bobby didn’t go down and interfere himself, being a heel and all, or maybe ask B-FAB to try and counteract Ripley (not that she could, but at least they could try).
  • Kevin Owens likes to break the fourth wall and bring up wrestling tropes about as much as he likes to punch people. His seemingly genuine confusion about what Grayson Waller had done, and his response to Austin Theory dressed as a fake KO were both great, but his bringing up the unwritten rule of mentioning someone’s name three times, and then they appear, was pure gold. I loved this segment.
LA Knight and Kevin Owens confront Grayson Waller and Austin Theory (dressed as KO) during the Grayson Waller Effect on WWE Smackdown November 24 2023
  • Of course, this was mainly a way to get LA Knight onto a Bloodline-free show, heading into a PLE he’s not scheduled to be on. And the Chicago crowd was definitely thrilled to see The Megastar.
  • The ensuing match, Owens and Knight versus Theory and Waller, was honestly better than the tag title match, or at least the half of that match which I saw. I’m not saying this match wasn’t predictable at times, or that it was original, though the pairing of Knight and Owens surely was. It was just fun. I loved how both Knight and Owens got hot tags, and how the crowd chanted “Yeah!” with every blow Knight landed. Theory and Waller put on a strong show
  • Pretty Deadly versus The Brawling Brutes is a match we’ve seen, um, more than a few times, at this point. Running it again here was clearly to set up a potential Brutes split, or at least some tension within the group that maybe Seamus can return and solve. Yes, the Brutes did get the Ten Beats of the Bodhran in on Elton Prince and Kit Wilson, but Ridge Holland would just walk out shortly thereafter, leaving Butch alone in the ring to lose to Pretty Deadly. Let’s see where this goes with the Brutes, and hopefully Pretty Deadly get a different feud.
The Brawling Brutes hit the Ten Beats of the Bodhran on Pretty Deadly on WWE Smackdown November 24 2023
  • The Main Event with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair versus Bayley and Asuka was a good match. How could it not be with the talents involved? Unfortunately it didn’t have any real stakes, like, say, the WarGames advantage being on the line. It was mainly to further tease tension in Team Bianca between Flair and Becky Lynch, which they have been doing all night in backstage segments. Charlotte messing up, presumably by accident, which led to Bayley being able to roll up Becky for the win was a good way to do that. So now I’m guessing that the only reason for the “fan vote” is to have this ending, but still give the babyface team the advantage. I guess we’ll see if I’m right at WarGames.
Bayley rolls up Becky Lynch for the win on WWE Smackdown November 24 2023

So, after watching this episode of Smackdown, I think I was right. RAW was the Go-Home Show, and this was the Pre-Show, and a decent one at that. it built one of the key Survivor Series storylines, and also had some fun matches with stars not on this particular PLE. Let’s now see if the main show lives up to its hype.

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