The November 10, 2023 WWE Smackdown from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio had quite a bit of twists and turns, story-wise. So I’ll present my thoughts on this episode as they came to me, rather than take into account what was to come later.

Here goes:

  • Kevin Owens on commentary? For the whole episode? I somehow don’t think he’ll manage to not hit anyone the whole episode and avoid a suspension from Nick Aldis, but we’ll see. Sign me up. Also congrats to Corey Graves and Carmella on their new baby, which made room for KO on the mic tonight.
  • We were all thinking it, Carlito said it. Santos Escobar did leave the brass knuckles on the ring apron. Whether it was for Logan Paul to find them, or a mistake that Paul took advantage of is unclear. I’m just glad that it wasn’t a botch, but intentional. I thought that if an LWO split happens it would be between Rey Mysterio and Escobar, not Santos and Carlito. This is interesting.
Carlito accuses Santos Escobar of helping Logan Paul to Rey Mysterio, Zelina Vega, Joaquin Wilde, and Cruz Del Toro on WWE Smackdown November 10 2023
  • Bobby Lashley versus Carlito was a decent match, though not the contest one might expect given their Ruthless Aggression history. It ended with a Lashley win due to interference, and was more about setup, with B-FAB watching on the monitor until Ashanti Thee Adonis interrupts her, and setup for the continuation of what we just saw, with Santos Escobar returning to help out fellow LWO members Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde, but letting Lashley and the Street Profits get the better of Carlito during the match, and beat him down after the bell rang.
  • I did expect Santos to split with Rey, but I didn’t expect it this episode, only a match after they had done the setup for it, but here we are. Also I thought it would be more of an LWO split, with some siding with Escobar, but Wilde, Adonis, Carlito, and Zelina Vega are clearly in the Mysterio camp.
Santos Escobar attacks Rey Mysterio on WWE Smackdown November 10 2023
  • It was a really passionate and violent heel turn for Escobar, and KO really put it over on commentary, by saying he may have turned on a number of people, but would never have turned on Rey. I’m looking forward to Santos’ new direction.
  • So Kairi Sane is in Damage CTRL, and Bayley is still the leader, at least for now. That promo was clearly setting up the Women’s WarGames Match at Survivor Series with Bayley, Sane, and Iyo Sky versus Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka, but who will the other members be? Will Dakota Kai be healed yet? Given the timeframe, we’ll probably get a better idea at the end of the show after the match they just set up.
  • And then in the middle of all this storyline development, we got a damn good match not connected to a storyline…yet. I mean this is the second Dragon Lee/Cedric Alexander encounter on Smackdown, but it really came across more as a classic competitive rematch than the beginning, or continuation, of a feud. It was fast paced, hard hitting, and I really didn’t know who was going to win. While it wasn’t connected to “a storyline”, there was definitely storytelling within the match. In the end, Lee hit a really nice Sit Out Powerbomb to win, for the second time. While I hope I see more of both of them, maybe not against each other, unless they put some storyline to it.
Dragon Lee hits a Sit Out Powerbomb on Cedric Alexander on WWE Smackdown November 10 2023
  • For the 900th time, losing to Roman Reigns in the main event of a Premium Live Event is not a burial, or an end to a push. Especially when you would have won without Bloodline interference. And when you remember that the Tribal Chief was only LA Knight’s second major feud as a babyface on the main roster (he was a heel versus Bray Wyatt), the Crown Jewel match, regardless of the outcome, effectively brought Knight’s push to the next level. Of course, WWE still needed to drive that point home, and drive it home they did.
  • Don’t get me wrong, Grayson Waller was competitive, but this was Knight’s payback match. Much like how Sami Zayn solidly beat Baron Corbin on RAW a couple of days after barely losing to Roman at Elimination Chamber. There was some funny verbal jousting before, which Knight won, and then the match started. My favorite spot was when Knight slammed Waller into the announce table repeatedly, the crowd chanted “Yeah!” each time, while a tie-clad KO on commentary kept it classy (and also subtly referenced Daniel Bryant) by chanting “Yes!” instead. Eventually a BFT would finish off Waller, and continue Knight’s upward momentum.
Kevin Owens reacts as LA Knight slams Grayson Waller into the announce table on WWE Smackdown November 10 2023
  • Owens on the telestrator after the match, replaying his punch that landed on both Waller and Austin Theory two weeks ago, was comedic wrestling gold, and very KO. Him playing it back after the Cena tribute was a bit overkill, but clearly designed just to get Theory and Waller out there to prompt him to get suspended. He made it almost to the end, and I’m glad we had him on the mic. I hope that he gets offered a spot in a WWE commentary booth when he eventually retires.
  • A few months ago, Asuka had turned heel on Bianca Belair. So why was I surprised to see her turn heel again, on Bianca Belair again, and reunite with her former tag team partner Kairi Sane? Simple. She definitely has issues with the three original members of Damage CTRL, and probably with Iyo Sky, in particular, for holding onto the WWE Women’s Championship (with help) in matches against, or involving, her. The way Asuka sold the turn, by demanding the tag from Belair, then refusing it, then misting the EST, was quite good. And now we have an unexpectedly stronger Damage CTRL (for now, Bayley should watch her back after Survivor Series).
  • The chips are almost all in place for the Women’s WarGames Match, and now we’re looking at Bayley, Iyo, Asuka, and Kairi versus Bianca, Charlotte Flair, Shotzi, and a mystery partner. I’m thinking Becky Lynch, or possibly Jade Cargill, if she’s ready. Or if they go to teams of five, maybe both. In that case, will Dakota Kai be healed enough to join team Damage CTRL? This is getting interesting.
The new Damage CTRL with (l-r) Asuka, Iyo Sky, Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Kairi Sane celebrating on WWE Smackdown November 10 2023

Leaving us only the night before to sort out the Women’s WarGames situation, the next Smackdown could prove really exciting, just like this episode was. There were two major heel turns, quite a few hints, a solid standalone match, and the reinvigoration of LA Knight’s push. Plus we got KO on commentary for almost a full show. Quite satisfying, especially for a show with almost no Bloodline involvement.

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