WWE SmackDown 8/18/2023: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s completely subjective review of "WWE SmackDown!" You know it's subjective because of the tearstains on our laptop; that Edge video package might have made us cry a little. "The Rated R Superstar" was the big story on Friday night's episode from the blue brand, as the show took place at Scotiabank Arena in Edge's hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he was scheduled for a never- before-seen match with Sheamus — with rumors flying that it might be his last. Of course, whether it's his last match in Toronto, his last match in WWE, or his last match period, remains to be seen.


But as always, the question is — was it good? We have a new policy in this space about not necessarily behind comprehensive, but fortunately, we were able to hit pretty much everything this week! Which stories benefitted from the absence of The Bloodline, and which had us begging for their return? Plainspoken results can be found via our live coverage, but these right here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 8/18/23 episode of "WWE SmackDown."

Loved: The Headbangers

We must be in a good mood this week, because we're going to say something positive about LA Knight! Well, an LA Knight match. Well, a thing that happened in an LA Knight match that primarily involved The Miz. But still!


LA Knight vs. Austin Theory was a largely unspectacular contest with the most predictable finish in the history of the world (not literally, but almost literally), and it became particularly obvious when Miz came down to do commentary that he'd be costing Knight the match so their feud could continue while Theory stays involved in the US title picture. Miz is pretty much always entertaining on commentary, but this time he went above and beyond. While doing the usual schtick where he insults his opponent, Knight and Theory ended up outside the ring and next to the announce table. In mid-sentence, without even pausing for breath, Miz immediately pivoted to basically cutting a promo on Knight to his face. Miz was all fired up, too, the best kind of Miz, the "cutting a possibly shoot promo on Daniel Bryan on 'Talking Smack'" kind of Miz, and the second-best part was that his rant about how Knight was basically just a walking catchphrase felt like it was quoted verbatim from one of our columns. Thanks for reading, Mike!


The actual best part, though, was that for a good portion of Miz' rant, Knight is just repeatedly banging Theory's head against the announce table. That seems to be his entire response to Miz in that moment — to treat Austin Theory's head like a basketball, wordlessly countering Miz' rain of insults with the physical equivalent of "Oh yeah? Well say that again to this guy's face after I beat it into blood pudding. It was pretty great. He might be growing on us a little. Maybe. Like, an unspeakably tiny amount.

Hated: Babyfaces on top

We liked the women's tag match that pit Bayley and IYO SKY of Damage CTRL against Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair. Well, for the most part, anyway. We continue to think Charlotte has either been phoning it in since her return from post-WrestleMania hiatus, or she and Britt Baker have both caught the same talent-sapping disease, because she just has not seemed right for a while now. There was also a truly bizarre sequence that saw both Flair and SKY jump to their respective corners, as if to make a tag, only to ... not do that. It was awkward. But beyond that, the match a whole was worth watching.


The finish, though ... we don't know, man. We realize that SKY didn't get pinned, but you're just gonna give Flair and Belair the win, 1-2-3, with no drama or anything? In the terms of the degree to which it advanced any kind of story, this could have been an AEW women's match. Are Damage CTRL already done wreaking havoc? Are Flair and Belair just straight-up friends now? Did Shotzi just, like, teleport back to her home planet? What are we doing?

Loved: Oh, that's what we're doing, okay then

All that said, in defense of WWE's women's division storytelling, they did do a backstage segment later on that saw Damage CTRL beat the stuffing out of Belair before wrapping a chair around her already (kayfabe) injured knee and stomping on it, so at least there's that. We loved this because, as we mentioned last week, we love the idea of Damage CTRL finally getting to be the dominant group that goes around the women's division beating everybody up because there's three of them and one of them is the champion. Attacking Belair, who's basically the John Cena of the women's division at this point (to the extent that her record-breaking title reign is the reason Damage CTRL wasn't allowed to be this version of themselves for so long) makes all the sense in the world, and if she stays out of the picture for at least a couple weeks, it could give IYO and her friends the breathing room they need to allow this run to actually elevate them.


Of course, you couldn't do this kind of thing during the actual match, because ... why, exactly? Did Belair really need to make Bayley feel infinintely beatable one more time before she took a vacation? We still loved this segment, but we question the urge to give Damage CTRL a completely unnecessary and superfluous in-ring loss immediately beforehand.

Hated: Put the suits back on

At long last, after all the vignettes and the post-match attack and everything, we finally got the debut of the new Street Profits. Which was weird, because they came out with the same music, doing basically the same stuff during their entrance. They even still had the red solo cups. It was a very strange way to re-introduce them if what WWE was going for was a major character change, and now we're not even sure whether it's actually a major character change or if they're just hanging out with Bobby Lashley now.


To be fair, the Profits did display some changes in their in-ring style, which was notably more aggressive than usual; Montez Ford in particular seemed like he was absolutely hurtling himself at the OC every time he made contact. They also debuted a new double-team finisher, which is always cool. We just don't understand why their overall presentation — their entrance, their music, their outfits, their basic gimmick — is functionally the same as it always was. This seemed like an opportunity to give the Profits a fresh start — one they sorely needed, having largely fallen from the most competitive ranks in the tag team division over the last year. We were hoping they would literally wrestle in suits, but even if you don't want to do that, new music at least was a must. Now all you've done is taken a character change and made it murky enough that nobody is really going to know the difference, and as a result you're not adding more legs to the act.


Also, is Lashley just a manager now? What's going on here? We would really like to watch that dude wrestle again, please and thank you.

Hated: A super important announcement for next week

It was something of a big deal in the wrestling headlines this week (at least before certain people decided to pull out handguns in traffic) that for the first time in a very long time, there would be no Bloodline content on "SmackDown," as none of the principle characters were in Toronto. That turned out to be a slight exaggeration. There was one prominent member of the Bloodline in Canada Friday night: Paul Heyman, whose backstage interview segment basically consisted of a lot of vague, aggressively in-character stalling before he finally revealed the thing he was there to reveal: Jimmy Uso would be on "SmackDown" next week. Oh, man. The chills. The shivers of anticipation.


Look, nothing against Jimmy Uso, but unless he's off TV selling a scripted beating or he got another DUI, he's pretty much always on "SmackDown." We didn't really need Heyman to pretend to get a phone call from some Unknown Important Person so he could tease an appearance from Jimmy. The interview segment wasn't long, but it was a few minutes long, and it could have been put to better use elsewhere, especially on a show where the broadcast ended more abruptly than we would have liked after Edge's victory in the main event. The Heyman thing didn't need to be here, and it didn't do anything for the Bloodline story. Just let it breathe, man. Take a week, take two weeks, however long. Let the spotlight shine on some other people for a little while, then come back after the fans have had the chance to start missing you again. You really don't need to be constantly teasing Bloodline segments, especially not at this point in the calendar. We understand WWE is chasing ratings each and every week, but we really think it would have been more beneficial to just run a recap video package and be done with it.


Loved: The Leafs win a game

One of the fun things about Friday night's main event was that we didn't really know who was going to win. Edge was wrestling Sheamus, and there were indicators it might be his last night with the company, possibly his last night as a wrestler. Traditionally, you're supposed to go out on your back and put someone over in your last match, but Sheamus isn't exactly a young up-and-comer who could really use the "I retired Edge" rub. He was the perfect opponent for Edge to beat, because Edge beating him doesn't hurt Sheamus at all, and meanwhile you can give Edge a win in his hometown — hang on, WWE never gives wrestlers wins in their hometown, he's definitely losing. When he came out in the Toronto Maple Leafs gear, we were officially convinced he was losing.


But he didn't! The match was absolutely excellent and really showcased not only the fact that Edge can still go, but the fact that he's actually refined and improved his game since coming out of retirement in 2019. It made Edge look good, it made Sheamus look good, and it made the crowd happy. For a one-off match like this, what more can you really ask for?

We don't know what's happening with Edge at the moment — his post-match promo made it seem like he might not be retiring quite yet, but the video packages that ran throughout the night, celebrating his 25 years in the business, certainly made that second retirement feel both imminent and inevitable. As we have been fans of Edge for pretty much all 25 of those years, we would hate to see him go, but we also feel pretty lucky to have had a few extra years with him. And if this match with Sheamus was his last one, at least he can say he went out with a banger.


Or he could, you know, go to AEW and do one more run with Christian. That would be pretty rad.