By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,265)
Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
Aired live November 10, 2023 on Fox
Kevin Patrick welcomed the TV audience to the show. Kevin Owens made his way out in a goofy red, white and blue tie to join in as a special guest commentator due to Corey Graves absence for paternity leave. Michael Cole joined in to congratulate Corey and Carmella on the happy occasion. Rey Mysterio’s music hit, and he walked out with the rest of the LWO. Footage was shown of Logan Paul winning the US Title due to the use of brass knuckles. KO called it nefarious. Rey welcomed Columbus to Friday Night Smackdown. He then cut to the chase and addressed Logan Paul. Rey said Logan stole his title, and said Logan Paul could not have beaten him without those brass knuckles.
He said he would still be standing as US Champion if not for that, and he would do everything he can to…..he was interrupted. Carlito walked out and pointed out that Santos Escobar had left the brass knuckles on the apron, and that Rey was blaming the wrong person. An argument ensued, and Santos couldn’t believe the accusation. He left the ring and walked away through the timekeeper’s area. Rey chased after him, and Carlito was left in the ring with Del Toro and and Wilde. Bobby Lashley’s music hit, and he walked to the ring for a match. He had the Street Profits in tow in suits. He will face Carlito next…[c]
My Take: And it begins. Santos is a natural heel and I look forward to the eventual series of matches with Rey.
LA Knight will face Grayson Waller later tonight. The bell rang on the opening match.
1. Bobby Lashley vs. Carlito: Lashley jumped out to an early advantage as the Street Profits cheered him on. B-Fab was shown watching the action backstage. Lashley landed a shoulder charge in the corner and a neckbreaker. He went for a Full Nelson, but Carlito escaped and landed a running body block. Lashley attempted a delayed vertical suplex, but Carlito managed to reverse it and land one of his own. Carlito sent Lashley to the floor, where he recovered and sent Carlito into the ring steps.
He continued the assault and sent Carlito into the ring barricade. Lashley then picked up Carlito on his shoulders and ran him into the ring post…[c]
Lashley landed strikes on the top rope, but Carlito knocked him down and landed a flying shoulder tackle. Backstage, Ashante thee Adonis walked up to and spoke to B-Fab backstage, but they took the conversation off camera. Carlito and Lashley both ended up on the floor. Ford and Dawkins took out Wilde and Del Toro on the floor. Santos Escobar returned and fought them, but was taken out himself. Lashley landed a spear and won the match after some Montez Ford interference.
Bobby Lashley defeated Carlito at 9:39
After the match, Escobar looked on while Lashley and the Profits put a beating on Carlito. Mysterio eventually ran down and cleared Bobby and The Profits from the ring. Mysterio confronted Escobar and shoved him for not intervening. He then checked on Carlito, and Escobar attacked him from behind. Mysterio returned fire with some slaps and punches, and Escobar landed out on the apron.
Rey tried to apologize, but Escobar said it was supposed to be just the two of them, and shoved Rey into the ring post. Rey landed with his leg trapped between the ring and the ring steps, and Escobar landed a dropkick to the stairs. He told Rey he loved him, and that he made him do it because it was supposed to be just the two of them. Zelina Vega ran down in tears and asked Escobar why he did it, and he told her that Rey made him do it…[c]
My Take: An effective segment. I’m curious if this plays a role in a War Games match at Survivor Series, or maybe this was an injury angle for Rey and we get Carlito vs. Escobar first. Either way, this was a needed change to the LWO dynamic.
Backstage, Escobar was asked by Cathy Kelley why he attacked Rey, and he answered that he had it coming. A video recap of the Women’s Championship match from Crown Jewel was shown, including the return of Kairi Sane.
In the arena, Bayley made her entrance without the rest of Damage Ctrl. She said she had a plan and a vision for Iyo and Dakota since the inception of Damage Ctrl. Bayley said they had been Tag Team Champions, Money in the Bank Winner, and WWE Women’s Championship. She credited her plan for this, and asked the crowd to clap for their own stupid what chants. Bayley then mentioned the returning Kairi Sane, and asked Iyo to explain herself.
Iyo walked out with Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane in all black. Iyo asked what she was doing out there and what she was doing at Crown Jewel. Iyo said she had a plan too, and it involved Kairi to help her retain the title, and said that’s what Bayley wanted, right? Bayley aired footage of her sending Kairi out of WWE during her last encounter. Bayley said she knows how these things worked, and she was concerned. Dakota said they brought her in to make Damage Ctrl stronger, and take some of the load off of her. Bayley looked uncomfortable.
Kairi spoke up and said she respects her as a leader of Damage Ctrl, and that she forgives her. She offered a hug, and Bayley said she doesn’t do that anymore. Dakota and Iyo forced everyone into an awkward hug. This brought out Bianca Belair. She said that she assumed Iyo had the confidence to face her alone, but she guessed wrong. Bayley threatened to take it out on the three of them, and Bayley said nobody likes a sore loser. Bianca responded that not many people like Damage Ctrl. Cue Charlotte Flair, followed by Asuka. There will be a six woman tag later tonight.
After the promo ended, we got a promo video for Dragon Lee. He then made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: A solid segment that pointed out the fragility of Damage Ctrl and just how many enemies they’ve made. I’m interested in how Asuka and Bayley fit into the puzzle long term, as I think they could both use a change of alignment.
2. Dragon Lee vs. Cedric Alexander: The match was joined in progress. Cedric landed a dropkick that sent Lee to the floor, and then dove at him through the second rope. Cedric landed a springboard DDT and covered for a near fall. Lee rebounded with a series of aerial moves culminating with a huge Liger Bomb for a close near fall. Cedric responded with an overhead throw into the ropes that looked gnarly. Both men traded blows, and Alexander got the best of it. Lee responded with a German Suplex, and Alexander landed a Spanish Fly for a close near fall.
Lee landed a Superkick in the corner, and Cedric responded again with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Lee landed a knee to the face and a floatover reverse DDT and got the win.
Dragon Lee defeated Cedric Alexander by pinfall
Another video was shown of Logan Paul capturing the US Championship. LA Knight was shown walking to the ring backstage…[c]
My Take: A fun match between Cedric and Dragon Lee. Here’s hoping Cedric sees something positive come from this feud because he’s been underutilized for years and could be a meaningful contributor beyond being a jobber that has banger matches.
LA Knight made his entrance in the arena. Footage was shown of Knight’s match with Roman Reigns at Crown Jewel. Knight said Crown Jewel didn’t go as he planned, but stopped short of saying he didn’t love up to expectations. He said he got robbed, and told Roman Reigns to give Jimmy Uso a raise and a promotion because if he wasn’t there you’re looking at a new WWE Champion. Knight said he’s not going to the back of the line, and he’s not done with the Bloodline. He claimed it wouldn’t be done until he owned them and he had the WWE Championship.
Grayson Waller walked out and said maybe he just wasn’t the guy, but he knew someone who was. Knight called him a kangaroo jackass. Waller asked him if he really thinks he belongs in the ring with Roman Reigns. Knight said the Grayson Waller effect sounds like some kind of STD, and said he got dropped by a Saudi movie star at Crown Jewel. He then said he had a five dollar haircut for his school pictures, but he gets the feeling he’s not allowed within 50 yards of a school.
Knight accused him of giving him all kinds of big incel energy on X, and that he could leave his Mom’s basement but you couldn’t take Mom’s basement out of him. He said he would take all of his frustrations out on Waller because of it, and then interrupted his own catchphrase to hit Waller with the microphone. He dumped him to ringside and then poured a bottle of water on him. Knight returned to the ring to finish his catchphrase…[c]
My Take: The live crowd loved the segment. Knight’s insult comic shtick is fun. Hopefully they can find interesting things for him to do before he gets into his next big program. I think Knight’s act carries the risk of getting stale without fresh opponents or him to run down.
3. LA Knight vs. Grayson Waller: Knight dominated early on until the action spilled to the floor. Waller was able to turn things around with a discus punch, and followed out with some hard right hands. Waller took a run at Knight and got dumped to the outside. Knight followed up with a baseball slide and then slammed Waller into the announce table repeatedly. Waller recovered and tripped Knight into the announce table and then sent him into the ring steps. Owens admonished Waller for having too many sparkles on his ring gear…[c]
Waller sent Knight into the ringpost, and then applied a single leg crab in the ropes. He then covered for a one count. Waller then landed a springboard elbow drop to the back of Knight, and covered for a two count. He went for a second one, but Knight got out of the way and sent Waller to the floor. Waller attempted his rolling stunner from the floor, but Knight caught him and landed a back suplex. Knight followed up with a side russian leg sweep and a DDT for a near fall.
He then landed a body slam and a running elbow drop. Knight followed up with a BFT for the win.
LA Knight defeated Grayson Waller at 10:40
After the match, KO mocked Waller by showing some telestrator footage of punching both Waller and Theory with the same punch two weeks ago. John Cena is up next…[c]
My Take: There was something a little off about that match. It wasn’t bad per se, but it didn’t flow particularly well.
A video aired of John Cena’s debut from 2002, followed by his destruction at Crown Jewel. Owens tried to cheer people up by showing himself punching Theory and Waller in the face several times. Theory and Waller walked out and slapped him, and dumped water on his head. He told Kevin Patrick and Michael Cole that he had to go and get suspended, since he wasn’t allowed to touch anyone while on commentary. He smacked around Theory, who escaped before he could land a stunner. Waller attempted a sneak attack but ate a stunner for his trouble.
Damage Ctrl made their entrance for the main event. They will face Bianca, Asuka, and Charlotte next…[c]
My Take: KO was good on commentary. Let’s hope his suspension isn’t very long.
Jimmy Uso was shown backstage, and said that if LA Knight wants him next week, then yeet. He then took a call from Roman Reigns, and retracted his previous yeet. Solo Sikoa also returns next week.
In the arena, Asuka made her entrance. She was followed by Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair.
4. Bianca Belair, Asuka, and Charlotte vs. Bayley, Iyo Sky, and Kairi Sane: Bianca started out with Bayley and quickly sent her to the floor. Bianca dove on her at ringside, and Charlotte landed a kick that sent Kairi on top of her…[c]
Iyo slipped away from Charlotte and tagged in Kairi. Charlotte tagged Bianca, who entered and landed some overhand rights. She then landed a delayed vertical suplex. After some interference, Kairi landed an arm ringer on Bianca over the top rope, and Iyo interfered from the outside to assist with tripping up Bianca. Kairi landed a running forearm to the chest in the corner, and then landed a flying punch from the top rope.
Bayley tagged in and Bianca tried to fight her way out of the heel corner. Kairi pulled Charlotte off the apron and tossed Charlotte into the ring steps by her hair. Bayley pulled on Bianca’s hair to prevent a tag, but she landed a spinebuster and reached for Asuka. In a betrayal, Asuka pulled back her hand and misted Bianca in the face. She then gave her a kick to the head and joined in a group hug with Kairi, Iyo, and Bayley.
The match was called off after a huge brawl broke out.
The match ended in no contest at 8:32
The numbers game didn’t pan out for the babyfaces, as you’d expect. Iyo landed a moonsault on Charlotte, and Kairi landed an Insane Elbow on Bianca. Asuka joined Damage Ctrl in celebrating to close the show.
My Take: Well, that was a quick turnaround. I’m guessing we’re seeing the women’s Wargames match form in front of us. They still have to fill in the babyface side of the match after Asuka’s betrayal, but the heel team looks pretty certain.