It’s week ten of RAW vs SmackDown LIVE. The Red brand is coming off their first brand exclusive PPV and the Tuesday night crew continues to build towards No Mercy. Did SmackDown continue their dominance or has RAW fought back? Let’s take a look.
Monday Night RAW
Pros of the Show
- Hallelujah!- Monday Night RAW started with an actual wrestling match! There wasn’t even the obligatory NoC recap or anything. No promos cut before the match, heck one of the entances wasn’t even televised. I’ve been clamoring for a match to start off one of these shows since the brand split. I would have had my money on it being SmackDown but RAW beat them to the punch. The match itself was only okay, would have preferred a decision for the finish but at least they took care to work a different pace in the match based off of the grueling match they had the night before, and kudos to commentary for pointing it out. Regardless of the match itself, they started the show with an actual wrestling match. More of this.
- SheaSaro- A lot of people were not pleased with the no contest finish of the final match in the best of 7 series between Cesaro and Sheamus. I decided to hold my judgment until I saw where they were going with it. Now, I love it. Some people may be upset that we got a bait and switch, getting us invested in one of the two getting a singles title opportunity but I’m not too mad about that. Maybe it had something to do with how they booked the best of 7 series but nothing in it ever tugged at my heartstrings to the point of really wanting to see one of the two get a title shot. What the series did do was show that both Cesaro and Sheamus are physically dominating and neither should drop down because of that. I like the tag team idea for a couple of reasons. One, I just like tag teams made up of two guys who initially hate each other. This probably has something to do with growing up in the Attitude Era and watching the Rock & Sock Connection. Secondly, I don’t think there’s room in the main event scene for either Cesaro or Sheamus. They never specified that the singles title opportunity would be for the Universal Championship but that seemed the likeliest. If Cesaro were to have won the series, I don’t think now is the right time for him to win the top title so he would have ended up losing and then we’d be back at square one. Sure they could have used the US title but I feel like that would have been a step down for both guys. This lets both guys look good and add to their accolades and it should also be entertaining as all heck.
- Cruiserweight Action- There has been a lot of grumbling about the treatment of the cruiserweight division, some of it justified. This week, I think they did a better job of not focusing on the size of the competitors like they did last week. Would it be nice if they didn’t just throw some tag teams together to put on a match? Sure, but I never really expected much storytelling out of the cruiserweight division. I was always of the mind that they were meant to be fun exhibition matches to please the crowd and ultimately find guys who can break out and move on to non cruiserweight angles. So I’ll enjoy it for what it is. If anything it’s just nice to see new faces on the show, helping keep things fresh.
- Hail to the Queen- Other problems with the RAW Women’s title scene aside, Charlotte has just been A+ in her heeling lately. She is getting some actual heel heat with audiences, who resoundly booed her when she called them peasants in a way that I’m sure Kevin Owens wishes he would get booed when he insults the crowd.
- The Gift- Chris Jericho is the gift that keeps on giving… the gift of Jericho of course. No need to expound upon that any further. Just drink it in man, or end up on the list!
- Taking the Time- Nice to see WWE taking the time to reestablish Bayley after being pinned at Night of Champions by giving her a quick 2 minute victory over local talent.
Cons of the Show
- Above the Universe- Right now many things seem important on RAW. The Universal Championship is not one of them. There are times when your top title can take a bit of a backseat to other angles. The title remains important by virtue of it being the top title. The problem is that, unlike the WWE World Championship, the Universal title for all its positioning as a top title, does not feel like a top title. Nothing has been done to make it feel prestigious, which makes sense, it’s only been around for a month. That’s why WWE should be doing its best to make it mean something, but they’re more focused on what’s going on with Seth, Steph, Mick, and Hunter. It’s hurting a title that desperately needs to be legitimized.
- New Day Is Still A Thing- Why have New Day cheat to win at Clash but then retain cleanly on RAW? Your guess is as good as mine. Gallows and Anderson have been neutered seemingly just to service New Day breaking Demolition’s record. If it leads to SheaSaro winning the titles off them then I’ll be okay but right now I’m just pissed New Day is still going to be a thing for a while.
- Lazy Booking- Why is Brian Kendrick getting a rematch for the Cruiserweight Championship without having to earn it? He lost clean on Sunday. Why is Charlotte just agreeing to a rematch with Sasha? It’s bad booking.
- That Crowd- So I won’t actually use this against RAW in my decision but the crowd was awful. The CM Punk chants and Randy Savage chants during the cruiserweight match made me want to throat punch everyone and “let’s go jobber” is definitely my new least favorite chant.
Pros of the Show
- No Authority- Neither Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon was seen once on the show. This is so refreshing especially when compared to RAW. More of this.
- All About The Title- Unlike RAW, SmackDown’s top title is being made to feel like a top title. Everyone in the World Championship scene had a good night. Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles was much better than their first meeting, I don’t think anyone will be calling this one a carry job. John Cena was great on commentary and it was the right call to have him standing tall at the end of the show after being so beleaguered recently. Also enjoying this new John Cena character. He’s not that different from who he was before but the differences are there and it’s good.
- The Hottest of Fires- The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler is the best program going now. They’ve done a good job of shifting away from the Miz vs Daniel Bryan by making this not only about Miz’s cowardice but also about Dolph Ziggler’s floundering career. The video package on the Miz’s career was great (those are generally always well done by WWE) his promo was great, he’s great. Dolph Ziggler was pure fire. He did a great job at selling his desperation. Overall WWE did a good job at selling the gravity of Ziggler putting up his career for one more shot. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.
- Bliss From Behind- After extended talking time last week, I’m glad they kept the women’s title picture to just a sneak attack on Becky by Alexa. Save anything more for next week’s go home show. Bliss’s viciousness and posturing with the title was particularly on point.
Cons of the Show
- Can’t Hit A Home Run Every Time- The tag team title scene was the one title I did not feel was done any favors. Like the Usos new music and look and appreciated their continued viciousness in the match but I’m never a big fan of these 8 man tag matches and it didn’t do much to advance the story.
- Bray’s World- Credit to WWE for trying something a bit different and for running an angle throughout the show but this all fell flat for me. I think it had to do with being unable to take Bray seriously anymore. Also, this kind of supernatural stuff doesn’t feel genuine when WWE does it, especially since time and time again Bray has been shown to be nothing more than a charlatan. This may have worked for some people but it was a big miss for me.
- Facing the Facts- Can we just fast forward to Curt Hawkins failing to get this gimmick over and WWE giving up on it? Please.
Winner: SmackDown LIVE
I was actually pretty entertained by RAW. Which says something about the shows WWE puts on when they know ratings are going to be low. I was prepared to give the win to RAW if the Blue brand stumbled in any significant way. Unfortunately for RAW, they did not. The two major angles on SmackDown LIVE delivered so strongly, it overcame any other flaws in the show. Also the complete lack of authority figures on SmackDown compared to RAW, where the authority figures are the most important characters, helped propel the Tuesday night show to victory again.