SmackDown Live: The true flagship show of WWE
When the brand split returned this past July, an immediate debate started: Would Raw or SmackDown be the better show? With a cornucopia of talent at WWE’s disposal, which brand would take the ultimate opportunity and run with it? I believe the answer is officially clear: SmackDown Live has become the thriving brand in WWE. Just like in the early 2000’s, the blue brand has an advantage over Raw, and its not even close.
Lets discuss a few reasons why, shall we?
To start things off, SmackDown is two hours compared to Raw’s three. With the “small” amount of time they have, everyone has a chance to shine. The talking segments are tolerable/short, and the wrestling has been solid each week. Also, the authority figures are rarely used on the show. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon have limited roles within the brand, only being used if the opportunity is right. There are times when Raw has a little too much Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley in it. When you can balance the appearances out it results in fresh appearances on a great show.
Every division on SmackDown has something going on. Even if there is a number one contender for a title (the tag titles for example), every team is involved in some aspect of the show. It may be a small segment, but the fact that they are being used is nice and refreshing. Speaking of, The Uso’s went from “just another team” to “THE premier team”. Their work as heels has been dynamic, and you can see it show in the ring. Zach Ryder is getting more time to shine, which is nice, and he is teaching Mojo Rawley (who is the ultimate hype man) a few things. The future of the division is American Alpha, and there appears to be a long-term plan for them leading up to WrestleMania.
Leading that division is the surprisingly hot team of Heath Slater and Rhyno (Yes you read that right). Slater’s redemption story has been one of the best things in WWE today, and its hard not to root for these average Joe’s. Also, it’s important to root for this team because HEATH HAS KIDS TO FEED!
Over on the women’s division, Becky Lynch is finally getting her chance to shine as a champion. Out of the Four Horsewomen, she was often seemed as the forgotten one, but SmackDown has given her the mantle as the true face of the brand. All of the women have an important role as well. Alexa Bliss is a very worthy adversary to Becky’s title reign. She may be small, but she can work well with anyone.
Someone who has surprisingly taken a back seat in the title picture is Nikki Bella. The longest reigning Divas Champion has been involved in a pretty good feud with the young Carmella, who has dramatically improved in the ring. Nikki has evolved her move set since coming back from her neck injury, even copying some off of her boyfriend, John Cena. I would even say she does his moves better than him (ex: STF).
Bray Wyatt seems to have a chance on SmackDown. I have high hopes for him, as long as he thrives against Randy Orton. He is an example of talent that require a fresh start. Maybe Neville, Sami Zayn and the cruiserweights could move to Tuesday’s to get in on that action.
A.J. Styles as WWE (World) Champion shows that hard work pays off. His feud against Dena Ambrose has been entertaining, with Dean looking as motivated (and sane) as ever. In only a few short months with the company, Styles has truly shown he is the new face that runs the place.
I cannot stress this enough: The Miz is the most important wrestler/entertainer on the show. Since his controversial statements to Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack (more on that later), he has been on top of his game. He is the guy you love to hate, and he does an amazing job at it. Even though he didn’t defend it as much, his run as Intercontinental Champion was FANTASTIC storyline wise. His match with Dolph Ziggler (one of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen) at No Mercy was well done and the latter’s story of redemption was well crafted by the creative team (some have done work for NXT, so that makes sense).
I was a fan of Mauro Ranallo when he first debuted, and having him as SmackDown’s lead commentator was a smart move. He is very knowledgeable of all things sports, and it shows in the way he talks. He makes everyone around him better; he’s even made JBL tolerable. Keeping JBL away from Michael Cole has made him quieter and back to his announcing glory days of 2006-2008. Switch David Otunga (who’s not bad) with Corey Graves and you could have the best announcing team of all time.
Finally, Talking Smack is so good that it’s worth buying the WWE Network for that alone (only $9.99 a month). Some of the promos may be discussed about beforehand, but the rawness of the show makes it special. People have a chance to be themselves; be as passionate as they want. A serious John Cena and Dean Ambrose have talked in a way we’ve never seen before, and its something I as a fan would like to see more often. Announcements are made with no grand gesture, storylines are progressed and it just seems like everyone’s having a great time. If anything, it should be an hour and not 30 minutes.
Although you may get exhausted watching a full week of wrestling, SmackDown is one of the shows I would recommend tuning into. As of this moment it is as hot as it can be. As long as they keep this momentum up, it will be the dominant brand for a long time. And if you’re not down with that, I got a few words for ya…
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