Ever since the brand split, there has been a clear difference in how Raw and SmackDown Live are led. Granted, it’s largely due to the fact that Stephanie McMahon is a heel and Shane McMahon is a face.
Not only that, but management is different due to Stephanie working with Mick Foley, a face, as her GM, and Shane working with Daniel Bryan, also a face. Shane and Daniel make a great team; whereas Stephanie and Mick have had some rough patches. It’s because of these dynamics that SmackDown has been able to keep the attention of the fans.
Let’s look at two shows from this week.
On Raw, we had a long, drawn out promo for Fastlane from Kevin Owens, wherein we were expecting some explanation for his actions against Chris Jericho, which we did not get. Instead of being suspenseful and keeping fans interested, it gave me a sour taste in my mouth.
The #1 Contender’s Match for the Raw Tag Team Titles was decent, but it lacked the stakes it was clearly trying to have. Enzo and Cass’ win was surprising, but I don’t think it had the shock that WWE creative was hoping for.
After that, we found out that we were going to be treated to something that we’ve seen too many times before: a match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
As the hours dragged on, we witnessed Brian Kendrick attack Akira Tozawa as retribution for refusing his help, the New Day be upset about their ice cream plans being stolen, Nia Jax versus some local competitor with a demand for a Women’s Title match, a contract signing between Jack Gallagher and Neville, yet another repeat in Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair, a 2-on-1 Handicap Match between Roman Reigns and Anderson and Gallows, another promo for Fastlane in the form of Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, and finally a match between Big Show and Braun Strowman to close out the evening.
What it comes down to is this: Raw is stale. There’s nothing exciting about it. You could have skimmed through that block of text and been as bored by the events of Raw as I was when I was watching it live.
Conversely, SmackDown Live kicked off with heartbreak for fans everywhere: due to injury, Naomi had to relinquish her Women’s Title.
As the blue brand’s show continued, we saw a Women’s Title match between Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch, American Alpha take down Breezango, Nikki Bella fought Natalya in a Falls Count Anywhere match, and finally a 10-man Battle Royal for the right to challenge Bray Wyatt for the WWE Title at WrestleMania – which ended in controversy to boot!
As compared to Raw, SmackDown has entertaining and believable storylines. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James are easily two of the best heels of the new era. Nikki and Natalya’s feud is always entertaining. And in my opinion, Battle Royals are as intense as you can get on live TV.
I know people are going to point out that Raw is three hours long as compared to SmackDown’s two. Due to that, Raw needs some filler events and SmackDown can keep their action constant. Truthfully though, if they wanted to, WWE creative could make both of these shows fantastic.
All in all, SmackDown is and will continue to be the better show. Unless leadership on Raw changes, it’s going to continue it’s downward spiral.