Now that SmackDown has been moved to Tuesday nights, WWE fans are looking at three straight nights of wrestling with Raw on Mondays and NXT on Wednesdays. Then, add a PPV every couple of Sundays, and that’s a whole lot of content to watch in a short period of time. To help out with this new flood of shows, each week going forward, we will go over both the best and the worst that Raw and SmackDown has to offer the WWE Universe. This week we’ll also add in the best and the worst of Clash of Champions from Sunday.
On Sunday, Raw put on its first exclusive PPV and if we were to compare how it did against Backlash (SmackDown’s first PPV), SmackDown absolutely crushed them. Not only was Backlash enjoyably shorter, but they had match endings that fans wanted to see, while Clash of Champions had a number of questionable outcomes to their matches. It went just over three hours and things didn’t get much better the next night on Raw as the show continued to put on pointless segments throughout the night.
If you were still a fan on Tuesday, you were rewarded greatly by SmackDown where Randy Orton went through a mini-horror movie to get to Bray Wyatt. Along with an absolute fire segment between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler where Ziggler decided to put his career on the line to get one more shot at Miz’s Intercontinental title. With that said, let’s get to the awesome moments of the week!
15. Cesaro And Sheamus Put On A Show
After wrestling seven times you would think fans were totally over these two going at it for so many weeks in a row, but that wasn’t the case for Cesaro and Sheamus. After dropping three straight matches, Cesaro (and his annoying back injury) was able to work his way all the way back to getting this series 3-3. At Clash of Champions, they had their seventh (and deciding) match where both men gave it everything they had, including Cesaro pulling off a suicide dive nearly landing straight on his head. Luckily he was able to get his shoulder down just a bit which looked ugly, but it could have been way worse.
Both men began selling injuries as the physicality reached a climax that forced the ref to stop the match. It was a decision that got plenty of boos from the live crowd who yelled out “Let them fight!” over and over again. Even with a less than desirable ending, it was easily the match of the night on Sunday.
14. Cruiserweights PPV Debut
After ten weeks of the Cruiserweight Classic tournament, it was time for these guys to hit the main roster and show the WWE Universe what they could do. After Brian Kendrick won a fatal four-way match to determine the number one contender, a match was quickly booked between him and TJ Perkins. Kendrick and his “This is my last chance” quasi-pirate gimmick went up against TJ, who was given a Mega Man infused gimmick complete with video game music. Even Mega Man’s official Twitter account gave him thumbs up for his entrance.
While the match itself wasn’t either man’s best match, it still gave fans an idea of what this division will be all about. TJ has been noticeably nervous with his big push, but with a solid gimmick and a little bit of time, he should be a quality champion for the division. Using his signature knee lock submission, TJ was able to get Kendrick to tap out. Post-match Kendrick went in for a hug and ended up head-butting TJ which got a solid reaction from the crowd. It’s clearly not over between these two.
13. Kevin Owens Continues To Impress
On Raw, there really wasn’t much to cheer about since a majority of the segments either made no sense or were just straight up boring. One person who is never boring though is Kevin Owens, he is one of those wrestlers you should watch closely because that’s where you’ll find his genius. His body language, side comments, and constant talking (to opponents and the crowd) keep his gimmick fresh week-to-week.
On Monday, he did his usual mocking of another wrestler’s taunt when he did Enzo’s step-back dance on the apron. More impressively while Enzo was down, Owens looked to the ref and yelled “He shouldn’t even be out of NXT yet!” He was able to win the match when he gave Enzo his Pop-Up Powerbomb finisher allowing him and his best friend, Chris Jericho, to celebrate as the show went off the air.
12. Give The Cruiserweights A Chance
Three hours is a long time, and luckily the Cruiserweight Division was formed to help fill that time with some fantastic matches. This week we saw Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann go up against Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado in an outstanding back and forth match. Unfortunately, the crowd decided to chant “CM Punk” and “Randy Savage” throughout parts of the match, clearly bored with the action in front of them.
These guys are new to the WWE Universe so it’s going to take some time before people get invested in them, which should come in the form of some storylines. You can’t just send random people out for random matches and expect fans to be totally into them, they need a reason to care. Also on Monday, TJ Perkins took on Tony Nese, who looked really impressive out there in his first Raw performance. Support these guys because we all know Vince McMahon isn’t into the smaller wrestlers and if he decides to ax them from the show, there’s going to be a lot more filler time with the same tired veteran wrestlers.
11. Miz’s Homecoming
Since the show was in Cleveland, Miz came down to a red carpeted ring, paintings of him, fireworks, and a completely career retrospective. Clearly, he got everything he wanted in negotiations looking like a star out there in front of his hometown fans (yes, he did receive some cheers). Miz started in about how the Cavs won the NBA Finals and that 1.3 million people lined the streets for them, and this was all he got?
He called LeBron James a traitor and said the only two decent people in this arena were his parents, who were in the front row. He then called out Dolph Ziggler’s parents, who were also in the front row, asking them how it felt to raise an “Elite level loser?” Dolph immediately came down and said Miz can’t talk to his parents like that and that all he does is cheats to win. Miz then said Dolph is just like the city now, he loses over and over. Miz decided to bounce before Ziggler asked for another match, Ziggler then went on an incredibly passionate promo about why he gives, gets nothing back, and he does it because he can’t stop. He then asked Miz to put the title up one more time and he’ll put his career on the line at No Mercy. This segment had such fire in it and is something you should get eyes on immediately!
10. Horror Movie On SmackDown
After many weeks of talking and not a whole lot of wrestling, Orton opened SmackDown by calling Bray down to the ring, to face his fears, to face him. From the back Bray talked about “Hansel and Grettle” and they he knows it’s a story that Randy has told to his children. Bray turning up the creep factor in this promo. He then called himself a God and that he makes the rules, not Orton.
Wyatt then sang “He’s Got the Whole World” and the screen went to black, Orton immediately left the ring and headed to the back. Shortly after, we find Orton searching the bowels of the arena for Bray, coming across a weird looking arrow, going the opposite way of Erick Rowan, who was waiting in the darkness. These segments ran throughout the show kind of like a horror movie, when eventually Randy was able to sneak up on Bray. A short brawl ensued before Bray took off, leaving Randy to sing the song Bray did previously.
9. Rounding Out Thier Gimmick
The Usos received the only full entrance for their 8-man tag team match and WWE finally changed up their music to something more fitting to their heel turn. Going with a hip-hop styled song, with the usual “Hey, Hey, Hey” in the background, it’s nothing amazing but works well enough for the number one contenders.
The Usos came out of this match looking very strong as they put down a pumped up Heath Slater with their usual chop block into a Tequila Sunrise for the tap out. They continue to be awesome with their stripped down heel gimmick, giving the division a much needed shot of life. With The Ascension and Vaudevillians not having any success, expect The Usos to stay near the top in the near future. At the moment, American Alpha is waiting in the wings, so it’s entirely possible Jimmy and Jey could capture the titles at No Mercy to go on and feud with Gable and Jordan.
8. WWE Title Match Breaks Down
With John Cena on commentary, Dean Ambrose got his rematch against AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship to close out an amazing SmackDown this week. The live crowd was firmly behind Dean in this match and was hot throughout the main event, further evidence of how WWE keeps the pace going at a nice speed so people don’t get bored.
Even though this match wasn’t on a PPV, both men gave it everything they had as Styles got straddled on the top rope (only to be clotheslined off), while Ambrose sold a leg injury for most of that match, actually pulling his leg up as he climbed to the top rope. The ending came when Styles hit Cena, who then jumped up on the apron, causing a distraction to the ref while Ambrose went for the pin. An angered Ambrose then went out and attacked Cena for getting involved. Styles was able to roll up and pull heavily on Ambrose’s jeans to get the win. Cena then put down both men and held the title proudly over his head as all three men head into their triple threat at No Mercy. As a bonus, hit up this week’s Talking Smack, Cena went on there and absolutely decimated Dean Ambrose in a lengthy promo.
7. Carmella Carnage Continues
With Alexa Bliss tied up with Becky Lynch, Eva on vacation, and Natalya sucking the life out of the arena, Carmella has been creeping up the division as one of their most despicable heels. Since returning from injury, Nikki Bella hasn’t been able to shake her “Bootleg Nikki Bella” foe as Carmella has continuously attacked her from behind, caused Nikki to lose matches, and most recently, defeated her in a match.
On Tuesday, Naomi and Nikki took on Carmella and Natalya in which Nikki received a hot tag that brought the fans to their feet. She received huge reactions from the crowd, but got caught in the numbers game when Carmella was able to sneak up from behind and get the roll-up win against her. In an effort to get Carmella over as a heel, Nikki has constantly put her over almost every single week. It’s clear these two will have a PPV match, and on Twitter Nikki asked for it to be No DQ, no word yet of either coming to fruition.
6. This Is The Show That Never Ends
Including the pre-show, Clash of Champions was just over four hours long, and that’s just not necessary for these brand exclusive shows. With Nia Jax going up against Alicia Fox on the pre-show, that left seven matches that could have easily taken up less time. While the initial matches were ten minutes or less, the second half really dragged on with each match being over fifteen minutes each.
It’s one thing if each match is well laid out and entertaining enough to go that long, but Jericho/Zayn and Bayley/Sasha/Charlotte were both sloppy affairs that couldn’t get fans interested. By the time we got to Rusev/Reigns and Owens/Rollins, nobody really cared anymore. They were solid match-ups on paper, but the show just goes on so long that it’s tough to really get invested when your bed, sofa, sleeping bag, or floor is calling you to sleep. WWE should look to Backlash as a good benchmark for these kinds of shows, keep things moving, leave the filler out.
5. No Titles For Anderson And Gallows
If New Day won their match, they would be champions for 400 days (adding in their first reign, they are currently at 451 days), which is a big deal and made it seem unlikely Anderson and Gallows would get the win. They even got another shot on Raw and still couldn’t capitalize, which makes it pretty obvious New Day is going to hold those titles until they become the longest combined reign ever for a tag team, topping Demolition’s run of 698 days. They still have a long time before that number, but on Raw Demolition were mentioned, so it’s a possibility.
If that’s the case, the tag division is going to become a bit stale, unless they finally decide to pull the trigger on Big Cass and Enzo, who are clearly over with fans even though they constantly lose matches. For Karl and Luke, they continue to just challenge for the titles, and wade through the mud of mediocrity. With no AJ or Finn by their side, it’s tough to really care much about these two.
4. Rematch City
With Monday Night Football and the Presidential Debate also going on, it wasn’t looking like a good night for Raw (which ended up getting a very low 1.75 rating). They did have one hour to grab fans before either of those events started up, so what did they do? Put on two rematches that fans saw the night before! In a match that sucked up more than 30 minutes, Rusev and Reigns grinded out a match that ended in a double count-out. Then New Day defeated Gallows and Anderson, yet again, causing most fans to click away once football and the debates got going.
It’s likely Raw’s rating were going to take a hit anyways, but why put on such uselessly long matches right at the start? In the first 30 minutes of SmackDown, they were able to showcase 13 different wrestlers, which has a better chance of engaging their fans to stick with the show.
3. Did We Just Become Best Friends?
Sheamus and Cesaro have been great, the end of their final match wasn’t so great, their reward from Mick Foley downright sucked. Rather than making them fight one more time, Mick decided to keep them from really hurting each other, instead, they should become a tag team and get a shot at the tag titles. This of course renders everything that their feud was about completely useless. Instead of using this feud to help push one of them into the U.S. or Universal Title scene, they get relegated to the tag division.
Now, a Sheamus/Cesaro tag team would be awesome, but the vehicle they used to get there made absolutely no sense, fans actually got invested in these two, and the payoff was not satisfying. The point of all of this was lost to the fact that Raw’s tag division is incredibly weak and needed a shot of life from some other wrestlers.
2. Main Event Bomb
Earlier we talked about how great Kevin Owens was on Raw, but the main event of Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens vs. Big Cass and Enzo was not a great choice. Partly because these two teams have already faced off at SummerSlam with Owens/Jericho getting the win. In a night of rematches, this was something that really wasn’t need, especially with Owens/Jericho just going over the young guns for a second time.
The show simply ended with the heels celebrating… where’s the cliff hanger though? What’s the reason we should be tuning in next week to see what happens? It really seemed like Raw wasn’t even trying this week, and maybe they won’t bother as long as football is taking eyes away from their product. For a company where 30% of their revenue comes from TV revenues, it seems like they would be trying everything possible to get that rating up, and no, bringing in Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson isn’t going to get the job done.
1. Curt Hawkins Continues To Be Weird
“Doctors say you should get 8 hours of…Curt Hawkins…” Yep, we got to see more of this Chuck Norris rip-off, complete with strangely angled a** shots. It looks like he’ll be coming to SmackDown next week to make a big announcement! If you’ve seen one of these vignettes, you’ve seen them all, and it’s almost a certainty this gimmick is going to bomb hard.
Most likely, Curt will be brought in just to put other guys over, so on the plus side; he at least already has a gimmick that some fans may latch onto. This was barely a 30 second segment and still ended up making it to the awful section, mostly because SmackDown was just so amazing overall that we had to nit-pick the bad parts. There really wasn’t anything awful that went on, minus the miscue when they mixed up live Randy Orton with a taped Bray Wyatt segment on the TitanTron. If you’re not watching SmackDown, you should be, it’s the best thing WWE is putting out right now.