It’s the season premier of Smackdown, which usually means a stacked show. It’s also Friday the 13th, October 13th at that, so it could be a wild one. WWE has already announced the return of Roman Reigns, and a special announcement from Paul HHH Levesque. So as I sat down to watch, I wondered who would hit the ring in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma first:

  • Okay, we’re starting with John Cena. Solid choice. He’s welcoming us to the show, and, wait Roman Reigns music already? He usually starts or closes. He’s not the type to interrupt. This is interesting.
John Cena addresses talks to the returning Roman Reigns as Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa watch on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023
  • The back-and-forth between Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Reigns and Cena as good as you’d expect it to be, Paul Heyman’s interaction with Roman made me feel nostalgic for a few months ago, and bringing in LA Knight made sense and I’m glad they did it right away. Yes, I figured it would end with an ineffective Jimmy Uso run in, and setting up a match between Knight and Sikoa for that night, but that was the way it should happen, and I was happy.
  • Pretty Deadly milking Elton Prince’s shoulder injury hit its apex, as Prince raised up out of his wheelchair pushed by partner Kit Wilson. The match against The Brawling Brutes, showcasing Butch and Ridge Holland’s strengths, and even saw them give the Ten Beats without Seamus there. But, of course, this was mainly about Pretty Deadly’s heelish selling, in particular when Prince faked another injury, only to roll Holland up in a small package for the win. Welcome back!
Elton Prince pins Ridge Holland on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023
  • Carlito came back for a few minutes at Smackdown, won the match, then got attacked in his first Smackdown interview by The Street Profits, on the orders of Bobby Lashley. It’s a good way to intensify the new heel trio’s feud with the LWO, and apparently minimize what Carlito has to do right away. Of course, the only immediate repercussion of this was a match between Zelina Vega and Bayley? Yes, it made sense in context.
  • I miss the Bloodline locker room segments, and I’m glad they’re back. “And Jimmy Uso’s on my couch!” Classic Roman.
  • Bayley versus Zelina Vega was short, and the former Role Model finally got a victory. Vega almost got at Meteora in, but when WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky interfered, it made me want to see a Vega/Sky title match. It will also be nice when Dakota Kai is cleared to interject more into these matches, instead of just standing at ringside. Of course, the real reason for this match was to bring Charlotte Flair back into the title picture.
Zelina Vega versus Bayley on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023
  • HHH didn’t announce that WarGames would return to Survivor Series, as I was hoping he would, but he did announce that Adam Pearce would become RAW General Manager, and indie circuit/smaller promotions darling, and current backstage WWE producer Nick Aldis would be the onscreen authority figure for Smackdown. I like Pearce, but am looking forward to see what Aldis can do in his new role.
  • Dominik Mysterio interrupting the big boss was hilarious, especially when HHH gave a nod to the commonly held theory that WWE was pumping in the crowd boos for Dom. Aldis made a real nice quip, too, when he told Dirty Dom that he was a huge fan…of his father.
Dominik Mysterio confronts Adam Pearce and Paul HHH Levesque on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023
  • Of course, the biggest news was that Kevin Owens was traded to Smackdown (in exchange for Jey Uso joining the RAW roster a few weeks ago). I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this. It breaks up KO’s team with Sami Zayn, which I was quite fond of, but it does so without turning one of them heel and having them fight each other, which they have done countless times before. Zayn and Owens, are, after all, top singles stars, who are part of the tag team scene only when the story calls for it. It’s just that the story that called for it before the last WrestleMania was such a damn good one.
  • I love that Chelsea Green got to approach the newest company manager right out of the gate. Her and Piper Niven weren’t even scheduled for anything else on Smackdown, and the appointment was only made halfway through the show. In storyline, it’s as if Chelsea’s Karen senses were tingling, and told her to be there.
  • Jade Cargill running into Charlotte Flair backstage was quite the tease. I doubt they’d start Cargill off with The Queen, but that match or feud will happen, and it should be fire.
  • Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso defending the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships against A-Town Down Under (I hope that name sticks), aka Austin Theory and Grayson Waller, was a solid bout. The heels got some heat on Jey, keeping him in the corner, there was the hot tag to Cody, and eventually the Cody 1-D. I really don’t like that name,. but I do like the move, only Cody keeps landing on his head, so maybe they need to work on it a bit. Of course, no one thought the challengers were going to win, and this match was clearly just a setup for THAT staredown:
Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes stare each other down as Nick Aldis tells them “not today” on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023
  • For the first time since the RAW after Wrestlemania, Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes were face-to-face. We all want to see Cody finish the story, and that means another bout with Roman. This was an intense moment, with great expressions from both participants. Nick Aldis getting between them and saying “not tonight” wasn’t just to assert a new General Manager’s authority, it was WWE’s way of telling us that this story will continue, but not now, not until Wrestlemania season, I suspect. Very well done.
  • LA Knight versus Solo Sikoa was a worthy main event for the show, and a solid match from both competitors. It was rough and physical, and I almost thought Solo would win at some points, though I knew Knight pretty much had to for the story’s sake. Knight won with a BFT, but only after Sikoa was distracted by Cena taking out the interfering Jimmy. So Solo is still strong.
  • The most important thing happened after the match, when Roman Reigns speared LA Knight. Yes, the Tribal Chief ended the show standing tall, but the fact that he personally attacked Knight, meant that he saw him as his next opponent. That spear certified Knight as a main event player.
Roman Reigns after spearing LA Knight on WWE Smackdown October 13 2023

The season premier of Smackdown was dominated by Roman Reigns, bringing him back into the fold just ahead of Crown Jewel and Survivor Series, but it also set the stage for the next few months in WWE.

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