Frost Bank Center in San Antonio, Texas was sold out for WWE Smackdown on October 20, 2023, and this crowd was really into the show. After last week, which saw the return of Roman Reigns, a major staredown, and quite a bit of in-ring action, what was this crowd, and us viewers, in store for? Here are my thoughts:

  • One test of an up-and-coming potential main eventer is whether they can hang verbally with Paul Heyman, and LA Knight passed that particular test tonight. Cheers for Knight were comparative to the boos Heyman received, and the Megastar worked the crowd and Roman’s Special Council like a pro. Sometimes you don’t need a Bloodline run-in to make a segment work. This was one of those times.
LA Knight confronts Paul Heyman on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023
  • I’ve gone from thinking that Roma
  • Santos Escobar versus Montez Ford, with Bobby Lashley and Angelo Dawkins in his corner at ringside, was a solid, though short match. It was mainly a showcase of Ford’s heel work, and new cocky attitude. I like how he announced the commercial break right into the camera. In the end, Ford cheated to win, and we got the attempted Street Profits and Lashley beatdown of Escobar. While he did have Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro with him, Rey Mysterio wasn’t at Escobar’s side, which was designed to bring Carlito back into the mix.
Santos Escobar dives onto Montez Ford on WWE Smackdown October 20, 2023
  • Of course Rey’s absence, and telling Zelina Vega no backstage when she asked they should be with him when he answered Logan Paul’s challenge, could be furthering the narrative of an LWO split. Though that has been hinted for months, and I kinda now think that it might not happen.
  • The Pretty Deadly spa segment with The Brawling Brutes coming in at the end was cheesy and predictable, sure. But it was still a fun bit of business.
  • John Cena’s been back on Smackdown for over a month now, and was announced for tonight’s episode. I love how people are still surprised to see him show up. But I guess seeing as the SAG-AFTRA strike could end any minute, and then he’s bacl to Hollywood, you can chalk it up to mere elation that he’s still around.
  • I think the Greatest of All Time (that’s how he’s introduced, so it’s more of a moniker, than a statement of fact) was a little hard on himself. No singles victory since 2018? How many singles matches did he wrestle in the past five years? For a while he was wrestling just a couple of matches a year, period. Also, I hate to break it to him, but beating Solo Sikoa with no referee is part of an angle, not a singles victory.
Solo Sikoa and John Cena stare each other down on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023
  • Speaking of angles, the important part of this one was clearly Jey Uso interfering in his brother Jimmy’s interference in the non-official match in the ring. There would be repercussions for Jey, more on that later, but at this point I really like how Jey mirrored Jimmy’s stealth entrance at SummerSlam. I heard that the eventual Uso versus Uso confrontation was planned for WrestleMania, and I thought that holding it to then would be difficult. But now, it feels like they’re spacing things out perfectly.
Jey Uso after a sneak attack on his brother Jimmy Uso on WWE Smackdown October 20, 2023
  • Okay, now that was a real clever idea. People think the Women’s Tag Team Championships are cursed, due to real injuries suffered by some of their holders? Well, it’s Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn who cursed them! And now they’re going after the current champs Chelsea Green and Piper Niven. I’m all for it, and really hope they use the name The Unholy Union, as the vignette suggested. I miss tag team champs with team names.
  • New Smackdown GM Nick Aldis fining Jey Uso $10K, and having both he and RAW GM Adam Pearce escorted out of the building has be both intrigued and worried. Intrigued because it could position Aldis as a heel GM, despite giving Charlotte Flair a title match last week. Also, a GM war could be interesting. Worried because of Pearce’s line “Let the games begin!” I loved WarGames at Survivor Series last year, and am pretty sure it’s returning this year. I hope beyond hope that they don’t make it RAW versus Smackdown. I don’t want Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens. I don’t want Judgement Day versus The Bloodline. I especially don’t want Sami, Jey, and Cody Rhodes teaming with two Judgement Day members versus KO and LA Knight forced to team with Roman, Jimmy, and Solo. C’mon Papa H, let the storylines continue to thrive. People care more about real heat than what color a wrestler’s brand is.
Adam Pearce tries to intervene as Nick Aldis fines Jey Uso $10K on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023
  • I would like to see Pearce versus Aldis in a match, though. Just sayin’
  • Also, how can Aldis fine Jey Uso, who doesn’t work for him. Pearce fining Jey and Aldis fining Jimmy would make sense
  • Rey Mysterio answering Logan Paul’s challenge for the United States Championship hit all the right character notes. A beloved legend versus a natural heat magnet makes total sense, and given the similarities in their styles, their Crown Jewel encounter bodes to be quite the exciting match.
  • I’m starting to think that Paul may actually win the title. Sure, he’s a part-timer who only has matches on the big money shows, and only shows up in their lead-up. And yes, Smackdown already has one of their titles held by someone like that. But we are heading into the time of year where someone like Paul could have a slightly more extended run, the latter part of which he already did last year. This match makes no sense otherwise. It’s not like Rey needs a boost from Logan, and, as Paul said during their confrontation, he has already beat the hall-of-famer (albeit in a tag match). And maybe this is why they put the title on Mysterio instead of Santos Escobar in the first place.
  • Grayson Waller and Austin Theory versus Cameron Grimes and Dragon Lee was a perfectly decent match. There were dives, eye rakes, some business at the timekeeper’s table, and A-Town Down Under got some of their heat back after losing to Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes rather quickly last week. While I do get the Waller/Theory teaming, and kind of like it, I realize that they are both still singles stars. Grimes and Lee, though, are clearly up-and-coming singles competitors, and having them work as a team semi-permanently at the start of their main roster runs is odd. I feel like these could be singles feuds, but I guess Smackdown is only a two hour show.
Dragon Lee dives onto Grayson Waller as Cameron Grimes and Austin Theory fight in the ring on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023
  • Up to this point, this Smackdown was all promos and angles, with a couple of decent, though unremarkable matches. That was the case until the main event rolled around. Now, to be clear, I was pretty sure going in that Iyo Sky would retain her WWE Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair, and would do so with some interference, or cheating, or both. She did, and it was both, but this was a great match nonetheless. Iyo did a great Sit Down Powebomb off the top rope. Charlotte was her usual impressive self, evading Iyo’s submission attempt to synch in her own Boston Crab. The match was athletic with solid storytelling. Charlotte’s first Spear worked, but then Bayley put Iyo’s foot on the ropes. After some confusion, Flair went for the Spear again, but Sky used the title Dakota Kai had passed to her, and 1-2-3, still the champ.
Iyo Sky tries to submit Charlotte Flair during their WWE Women’s Championship match on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023
  • Of course, there would be an angle, and a return. Bianca Belair came back to save Charlotte from a post-match Damage CTRL beatdown. Really, she was there to take out Iyo Sky, but settled for Bayley. It’s nice to see the EST back. I’m not sure what she will do at Crown Jewel, but she will do something, as she is on the poster (which showed up before Smackdown, making this return less of a surprise). I’m more interested in how she will factor into a WarGames match. They’re really starting to build the factions for the men, and now the women, too. As long as they don’t go brand versus brand, I’m happy.
The returning Bianca Belair takes out Bayley with a KOD on WWE Smackdown October 20 2023

This Smackdown was all about angles and promos, with two decent matches thrown in, until the main event, which was stellar. Overall, a fun watch.

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