Winners, Live Grades, Reaction, Highlights From Nov. 17

LA Knight sought revenge on Jimmy Uso after he interfered in the main event of Crown Jewel and cost The Megastar a victory over Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

Friday night, he had an opportunity to exact it in the marquee match of SmackDown.

What went down when the two rivals clashed in the night’s top-billed bout, and what did both Solo Sikoa and Damage CTRL have in store for the WWE Universe elsewhere on the card?

Find out with this recap of the November 17 show.

Announced in advance for Friday’s show were:

  • LA Knight vs. Jimmy Uso
  • Solo Sikoa’s rise to power
  • The latest from Damage CTRL
  • No. 1 Contender’s Match: Brawling Brutes vs. Pretty Deadly vs. Street Profits

Damage CTRL took to the ring stronger than ever at the top of Friday’s show, but not all was necessarily as it seemed.

Kairi Sane, Asuka, and WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky looked at leader Bayley with disdain, as if she was the only one in the ring unaware that she was no longer in control. Sky spoke through Dakota Kai, issuing suggestions that were more demands than anything.

The heels issued the War Games challenge to Bianca Belair, Shotzi, and Charlotte Flair, daring them to find a partner before that trio interrupted. A brawl ensued and…the heels stood tall while the heroes retreated.

If it was not for the stuff involving Bayley and her seeming obliviousness to the imposing situation she now finds herself in, this would not have worked nearly as well.

Babyfaces powdering out of the ring? Heels standing tall after issuing the Survivor Series challenge?

It felt as though it was booked completely backward.

Thankfully, the Bayley stuff is really good and should culminate with her turning babyface, presumably as soon as next Saturday’s premium live event.



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Bayley officially inducted Asuka into the new and improved Damage CTRL.
  • Sky running Damage CTRL through the words of Kai, while Bayley is blissfully oblivious, is a great touch. It continues the storyline of The Role Model having lost complete control of her faction and not even realizing it.
  • The heels officially laid down the challenge for a match at War Games, which seems out of character considering babyfaces would typically be hellbent on taking their opponents to battle inside the unforgiving confines of wrestling’s most grueling match. 

The Brawling Brutes’ Butch and Ridge Holland, Pretty Deadly’s Kit Wilson and Elton Prince, and The Street Profits’ Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford did battle in the night’s first match with a shot at the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship at stake.

A high-energy match concluded with Butch accidentally rocking his own partner, allowing Ford and Dawkins to take advantage and score the pinfall victory.

It is rather interesting that the Profits would win and set up a match with tag team champions Finn Balor and Damian Priest given the latter two’s status as top heels on Raw and the new No. 1 contender’s ongoing attempt to get fully over as villains themselves.

Booking logic aside, it should be a damn good match next Friday night in Chicago.

The dissension teased by Holland and Butch after the match, when the former walked out on his partner, suggests one of two things will happen: the Brawling Brutes go their separate ways and we get the return of Pete Dunne, or Sheamus returns to reunite them and make them stronger than ever.

Hopefully, it is option A.


The Street Profits defeated Pretty Deadly and Brawling Brutes


Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Butch brings incredible energy to every one of his matches. Whether he is the mangy mutt of The Brawling Brutes or Pete Dunne, he has always managed to leave an impression in every match in which he competes.
  • A miscommunication spot that saw Butch accidentally level Holland with a Brogue Kick to set up the finish. Could this be the setup for a split?
  • Backstage, B-Fab approached Bobby Lashley as he watched on a monitor, hinting at a potential spot in this reformed version of the as-of-yet-named Hurt Business revival. 

Dragon Lee continued to build momentum thus far in his main roster run with a victory over NXT’s Axiom Friday night.

In what was a damn good match, with fast-paced action and seamless transitions, that ended with Lee delivering Operación Dragon.

Thus far on the main roster, Lee has been tasked with going out and having great matches with whoever he shares the ring with. He has accomplished just that, delivering bangers with everyone from Grayson Waller to Cedric Alexander and this week, Axiom.

His entire character is based solely on the idea that he is a great professional wrestling and, ironically enough, it is so different from everyone else on the show that it is working. Hopefully, he continues to build momentum because he has the talent to get the WWE Universe to buy in.


Dragon Lee defeated Axiom



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • WWE producing the little video packages for new faces, such as Axiom, really help with explaining who newcomers are. It is something they have done so well for decades now and, for whatever, reason, had gotten away from over the last decade or so. It is good to see them back. 
  • Road Dogg may have been thrust into commentary duty late, and it showed. It is clearly not his gig. 
  • Triple H is out here booking Dragon Lee in the workrate match of the week every Friday night and as far as getting him over, it’s working. 

Santos Escobar followed up his shocking betrayal of Rey Mysterio on last week’s show with an in-ring promo that highlighted how infrequently he has been allowed to actually talk in front of a live WWE audience.

The content of the promo was there, for the most part, but the delivery was…not so much.

The “WHAT?!” chants from the fans did not help, but Escobar appeared uncomfortable early but, to his credit, did settle in as things went. It was not without hiccups, but it ended solidly enough following a slap from a distraught Zelina Vega, the heel’s beatdown of Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde, and a save from Carlito.

Was the segment perfect?

No, nor should it have been expected. Escobar has not had enough promo opportunities to build confidence or a connection with fans. He needs more of this to improve his delivery, to build equity with the crowd as a heel, and really heat him up for the inevitable showdown with Mysterio.

He appears poised to get it.



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • “Everything he said about you, down to a T, Dominik was right!”
  • WHAT chants are the bane of pro wrestling’s existence at this point.
  • Escobar saying he hopes Mysterio gets an infection and has his legs amputated was certainly a choice. Not a good one, but definitely a choice.
  • Escobar getting the best of Del Toro and Wilde, but backing down from Carlito and getting slapped by Vega, really hammers home the tag team’s place in the LWO hierarchy, eh?

Grayson Waller and Austin Theory continued to be a thorn in the side of Cameron Grimes Friday night, with the latter directly interfering in the former NXT North American champion’s match against the arrogant Aussie and costing him the match.

Waller got the win and the heels stood tall to close out the segment.

There was nothing of real note here, but it did accomplish its purpose: highlight the heels, and it was effective.

Grimes has earned better, and would probably get more exposure on Monday nights with three hours of TV time to fill but for now, it looks like he will pop up here and there to resume this on-and-off feud with the heels.


Waller pinned Grimes



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Michael Cole popped himself with a “GIF” joke. He was having a ton of fun with Road Dogg and Theory on commentary and it was delightfully silly.
  • Theory may be the more polished in-ring guy, but Waller may end up being the bigger star. Dude’s personality jumps off the screen.

Paul Heyman cut a promo on Solo Sikoa’s destruction of John Cena at Crown Jewel and what it means for the future of the 16-time world champion’s career.

LA Knight interrupted, reiterated that the only reason Roman Reigns is still Undisputed WWE Universal Champion is because of The Bloodline’s involvement at Crown Jewel, and took to the squared circle for his match with Jimmy Uso.

Knight made good on his promise to start his journey back to a showdown with Reigns by using Blunt Force Trauma to defeat Uso. A post-match attack by Sikoa led to a two-on-one beatdown before Cody Rhodes arrived, surprising the WWE Universe and working with Knight to clear the heels.

The look Knight shot Rhodes was interesting.

It was one that suggested he appreciated the backup, but not the idea of The American Nightmare potentially leapfrogging him for a shot at The Tribal Chief.

It will be interesting to see if Rhodes slowly becomes more of a presence on SmackDown as the Road to WrestleMania draws near and if so, what that means for his relationship with Knight and their shared focus on the top prize in the company.


Knight defeated Uso



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Heyman mocking Cena’s theme music is never not the best thing on the planet.
  • Knight just completely controls the audience. There was a spot or two in his promo where he went off the rails but recovered perfectly before delivering the exclamation point in the form of his catchphrase. He’s a star, but that should not surprise anyone at this point.

Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Shotzi hit the ring to reveal the fourth member of their team for War Games at Survivor Series.

Damage CTRL interrupted and made their way to the squared circle, ready to perpetrate a 5-on-3 assault to close out the show. That is until Becky Lynch arrived, revealing herself to the be the fourth woman on the babyface side.

A brawl broke out and chaos ensued as the show came to an end.

The Lynch reveal was executed well, even if it was fairly obvious. She brings star power to what may be the most jam-packed women’s War Games to this point and has a history with Damage CTRL dating back to the faction’s formation just over a year ago, so it at least makes sense.

As does Flair’s hesitation to reach out to her prior to the segment considering their lengthy history on, and off, screen.



Top Moments and Takeaways

  • Flair admitted there is a thin line between love and hate, undoubtedly referencing the real-life heat that has existed between her and Lynch in recent years.

This week’s show focused heavily on the women’s War Games match at Survivor Series, spotlighting the ever-changing makeup of Damage CTRL (and Bayley’s shrinking leadership role), as well as the babyfaces’ hunt for a fourth partner.

In between, the show featured some solid in-ring action from Dragon Lee and Axiom, Santos Escobar wishing amputation on Rey Mysterio in an absolutely ludicrous line, Cody Rhodes inexplicably showing up on SmackDown as the march to his expected WrestleMania 40 showdown with Roman Reigns kicks into high gear, and LA Knight further established himself a star.

The show did not always hit, and not everything felt like it carried much urgency with it, but the focus on the women’s division for the second week in a row and the solidification of the lineup for War Games helped prop this one up.

Grade: C+


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