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Raw vs SmackDown: Grades And Analysis (12th/13th September)

Wrestling
Raw vs SmackDown: Grades And Analysis (12th/13th September)

Via feeds.insanejournal.com

I’ve always been a huge fan of the brand extension format and I’m glad it’s finally back after so many years. To celebrate this fact, I have decided to write a weekly piece comparing the red brand and the blue brand of WWE.

Here’s what both the brands look like right now:

Raw

General Manager: Mick Foley

Commissioner: Stephanie McMahon

Roster: Seth Rollins, Charlotte, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, The New Day, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Chris Jericho, Rusev & Lana, Kevin Owens, Enzo & Cass, Gallows & Andersen, Nia Jax, Neville, Cesaro, Sheamus, The Golden Truth, Titus, Paige, Darren Young, Sin Cara, Summer Rae, Mark Henry, Braun Strowman, Bo Dallas, Shining Stars, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, Curtis Axel

SmackDown

General Manager: Daniel Bryan

Commissioner: Shane McMahon

Roster: Ambrose, John Cena, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Becky Lynch, The Miz & Maryse, Baron Corbin, American Alpha, Ziggler, Natalya, The Usos, Kane, Kalisto, Naomi, The Ascension, Hype Bros, Apollo Crews, Alexa Bliss, Breezango, Eva Marie, The Vaudevillains, Erik Rowan, Carmella, Jack Swagger

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how Raw & SmackDown did this past week. Which was the better show? The Red brand or the Blue?

1. Raw – Opening Segment

Just as SmackDown did last week, Raw kicked off this week’s programming with its women taking centre stage. Since debuting on the main roster – even during her NXT days for that matter – Charlotte has always been inconsistent on the microphone. This week however, she was excellent. Charlotte is slowly turning into one of the best heels on the Roster, only behind the likes of Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. In a weird age where the majority of the faces get booed and the heels get cheered, Charlotte is one of the rare few “traditional” heels left. People loathe her, and that’s a testament to her improving abilities.

On a more surprising note, even Dana Brooke was impressive this week. You know you’re doing something right when you get “YES” chants from the crowd. When Dana Brooke slapped Charlotte, it was AMAZING! However, I do hope they don’t split the pair too quickly. Charlotte vs Dana Brooke could turn out to be one of the more interesting feuds of the year, if WWE takes its time with it.

This segment may not have caused orgasms, but it did serve its purpose well, and more.

Grade: A–

2. SmackDown – Opening Segment

When I watched the opening segment of this week’s SmackDown, this ran through my mind:

All the Raw writers are going to watch this, run to the nearest gun store, buy a gun and shoot themselves in the head. Because, that’s it! Game over! SmackDown is better than Raw.

While the main event of SmackDown made me eat my words and figuratively beg the Raw writers for forgiveness – more on that later – this opening segment was the stuff of beauty.

First AJ Styles comes into the ring, all fired up, cutting one of his finest promos. JOHN CENA then interrupts AJ Styles. And this wasn’t the John Cena that farted perfume and pooped fruity pebbles. This was serious John Cena and he wasn’t interested in playing kids’ games in a sandbox. This itself would have been excellent, but it didn’t just end there. Dean Ambrose interrupted next. Mind you, Dean Ambrose has been way below his usual standards in recent months (both on the mic and in the ring), but here he looked his old self.

The chemistry between John Cena and AJ Styles was good. The chemistry between John Cena and Dean Ambrose was out of this world. While Triple-H helping Kevin Owens to win the Universal Title a couple of weeks on Raw was insane in its own right, this segment on SmackDown is my absolute favourite of the year thus far.

Of course, there’s that whole nonsense where Shane McMahon brought out his inner Teddy Long, but hey, it happens.

Grade: A+

3. Raw – Undercard

Good lord, this is going to be tough. This is literally where I try and figure out how I bullsh*t my way through 150 words. My actual proper honest analysis of this week’s Raw undercard would be *INSERT 150 DIFFERENT MIDDLE FINGER GIFS*

Alas, there’s such a thing called “journalistic integrity.” So, here I go.

Bo Dallas vs My Water Bottle

I say “water bottle” because that pretty much sums up the personality of whoever Bo Dallas was facing this week. Apparently Bo Dallas is heel now and he’s heel because, after hitting his head on the wall over and over and over again, he came to a realisation that only he can Bo-lieve in Bo? Oh look, an ant is crawling on my laptop.

Jack Swagger vs Jinder Mahal

Fun fact: Did you know that Jack Swagger has a job?

Fun fact 2: Did you know that the money WWE pays Jack Swagger could be used for more important things like paying Ra’s Al Ghul to assassinate Donald Trump?

Also, why does every Indian person who wrestles in WWE have to play the character of an “Indian?” Jinder Mahal’s gimmick is someone who meditated atop the Himalayas. #MindBlown

Enzo Amore vs Epico

At this point, I’m convinced that the WWE higher-ups are conspiring against Enzo Amore and Big Cass. What a load of crap. This feud is like pitting the New Age Outlaws against two pieces of rat poo.

Grade: F. No, Z!

4. SmackDown – Undercard

I do not care about Baron Corbin. Not during his NXT stint, not now. Sure, he was popular back at NXT, but NXT is a peculiar place. Personally, he’s just another Sheamus to be. Big, strong guy that can wrestle well, but with charisma and personality of my water bottle. Nay, my water bottle lid. Lone wolf? At this rate, he needs to be an actual werewolf to be remotely interesting.

Oh and guess what? This week, he faced off against Mr. Interesting himself, Jack Swagger. That’s right, Swagger wrestled on Raw and the writers probably realized they don’t know what to do with him on Raw so WWE came up with some nonsensical statement about how his contract ran out and now he signed for SmackDown. Great.

So, yes. A match between Mr. Interesting himself and my water bottle lid. Fun fun fun!

Grade: F

5. Raw – Mid-Card

Besides the United States Championship scene – which will be discussed later – Raw featured a pretty decent mid card scene this week.

Jericho and Sami Zayn

The highlight was of course, Jericho’s Highlight Reel, this time featuring Sami Zayn. It’s been a while, but I’m starting to like Chris Jericho once again. Well, to be honest, I absolutely hate him, but that only means he’s doing his job well.

Zayn, on the other hand, is one of my favourite professional wrestlers of the now. But he, just like Charlotte, isn’t always the best on the microphone. And, just like Charlotte, he was excellent this week. No, I’m not saying he magically transformed into The Rock, but he did, however, speak from the heart and deliver a genuine promo.

In the end, Jericho nailed Zayn with the codebreaker and all of a sudden, we have an interesting match on our hands. Zayn vs Jericho is a potential show stealer at Clash of Champions.

Cesaro vs Sheamus – Best of 7 Series

I’ve said it once; I’ll say it again. I honestly couldn’t give two f***s about this feud. I don’t know why they’re fighting or why they hate each other, or maybe they don’t hate each other or maybe they do or maybe I’ll stop with the maybes now. Sure, General Manager Mick Foley said that the winner of this best of 7 series would get a title opportunity in the future. But what does “future” even mean? After Clash of Champions? At Survivor Series? At next year’s WrestleMania? Or when both Cesaro and Sheamus have wrinkled skin and sagging ball sacks? I don’t know, therefore I am unable to be emotionally invested in this match.

However, credit must be given where credit is due. Purely from a technical standpoint, these matches have been good. Cesaro and Sheamus have excellent chemistry. And thus, while I may not be invested in this feud, I do appreciate the athleticism of both these guys. Besides, if you’re gonna have a meaningless filler match, you might as well have it contain some good wrestling.

Nia Jax vs Alicia Fox

Last week, Nia Jax took on Alicia Fox’s grand uncle’s best friend’s niece or something along those lines. And I was like, “bathroom break!” This week, Nia Jax took on Alicia Fox and as I was about to type www.Redtu…, Nia Jax flung Alicia Fox around like a rag doll and then speared her through the barricade. BEST SQUASH MATCH OF THE YEAR!

Grade: B+

6. SmackDown – Mid-Card

The SmackDown mid-card wasn’t nearly as strong as Raw’s. Some might point towards the fact that Raw had a better draft and thus more depth in their roster. While that may be true, SmackDown has enough talent to produce solid mid-card feuds. Sadly, for the most part, such is not the case.

Randy Orton and Bray talk bullsh*t

That’s right. They’ve not even had a single match against each other and I’m already beyond bored. Bray Wyatt should have destroyed Kane at Backlash. But, for whatever reason that has very little to do with logic and a lot to do with idiocy, Bray Wyatt lost. Now, his sermons are meaningless. People do not care.

Bray should dip his feet in the tag team division with Erick Rowan. That could be fun.

And Randy should hunt for the Intercontinental Title once Miz is done with Ziggler.

The Hype Bros vs The Usos

Sure, in a way this match did serve a purpose and that is to reinforce the fact that The Usos are, in fact, heels. But there are so many ways WWE could have accomplished this (more on that later). In the end, this was nothing but a throwaway match with sorta kinda decent wrestling.

Grade: C-

7. Raw – United States Championship

Since Summerslam, many of us have been suffering from an extreme case of blue balls. Where on earth did Rusev disappear off too? And what happened to the United States Championship?

I figured, WWE just got bored of looking at Lana’s melons and decided to just not care about the United States Championship anymore. But how stupid can I be for thinking so? It is absolutely impossible for anyone to get tired of looking at Lana’s ample melons. And indeed the melons returned!

Not only did them melons make an emphatic return, they distracted Roman Reigns from winning his match against Kevin Owens. After that, these melons proceeded to destroy Roman Reigns and lay him to waste.

Pause. I’m sure it wasn’t Lana’s melons who did all that, but Rusev. I don’t know, it’s all very fuzzy to me.

On a serious note, it’s great to see this feud reignited. It’s gonna be fun watching Roman Reigns take on Rusev over the cause of the next few months.

P.S.: Lana’s melons for president.

P.P.S.: Reigns is better than Ambrose in the ring these days.

Grade: B+

8. SmackDown – Intercontinental Championship

This is a feud I’m fully invested in. The Miz is one of my favourite heels in WWE (both SmackDown and Raw combined). Every time he opens his mouth, I feel like punching him in his face and that’s a testament to his talent.

Ziggler versus The Miz is always going to be interesting, so long as WWE allows the animosity to build. Ziggler is someone the WWE Universe will always support. He’s the ultimate workhorse, who will probably never again step inside the main event spotlight. Sad, but true. However, he thrives in the mid-card role.

Ziggler desperately trying to dethrone Miz as the Intercontinental Champion is going to be fun and heartbreaking to watch. Because realistically speaking, The Miz should hold on to this title for as long as possible and only lose it to someone like say, Randy Orton?

It is also intriguing to watch the heat build between The Miz and Daniel Bryan, especially because Daniel Bryan has retired from in-ring duties. Where will this rivalry head to? Will Daniel Bryan take someone under his wing? Or will he return for ONE MORE MATCH? The possibilities are endless.

Grade: A-

9. Raw – Women’s Championship

Last week, the Women’s Championship scene felt awkward and lacklustre. This week, each and every one of these women got their collective sh*t together.

Bayley, Sasha Banks and Dana Brooke took each other on in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the Raw Women’s Championship who will face Charlotte at Clash of Champions. This was a good match overall and all three women looked hungry and desperate for victory.

Even Dana Brooke, the least experienced of the lot, showed a lot of promise and did not look out of place at all, proving that she has a bright future ahead of herself. The crowd was red hot throughout this match, which only added to the overall experience.

If I do have one gripe about this match it’s that, for the most part of this triple threat, one person is always outside the ring, rolling around on the floor in “pain.” What’s the point of having a triple threat match if 96.33% of the time, it’s just a one on one matchup? I have a lot more to say regarding this matter, but I will when I talk about the SmackDown’s Women’s Championship scene.

Side note: Some might say it was a poor decision on WWE’s hands for Bayley to take the pin, but I say it’s clever. Having Sasha steal a victory, once more, from one of her best friends, leaves the door open for future matches between Bayley and Sasha.

Side note 2: Both Sasha and Bayley’s shoulders were on the mat when the referee counted 1, 2, 3! But hey, because it’s Bayley and Sasha, I’ll close one eye. Screw it, I’ll close both.

Grade: B+

10. SmackDown – Women’s Championship

I still can’t believe it! Becky Lynch is the SmackDown Women’s Champion babeh!!

If there is a female Daniel Bryan, it is definitely Becky Lynch. Not so much in terms of in-ring ability, but rather in terms of what their characters are about. Both Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch are the ultimate underdogs. And it’s gonna be fun watching Becky Lynch’s title run.

This week, 5 women (basically the same people who contended at Backlash, minus Becky Lynch), participated in a fatal-5-way match to be the number one contender for Becky Lynch’s title.

While the match was decent overall, it suffered from the same logic problems as the triple threat on Raw. Why are these women simply rolling out of the ring? Sure, if person A does a very powerful move onto person B, person B can sell that “injury” or “agony” by rolling out of the ring and rolling around the floor. But, you do not need to even watch closely to realize that these women are simply rolling out of the ring because they simply aren’t creative or competent enough to know what to do in these types of matchups. Which is sad.

That aside, though, this match served its purpose and the right person won. While Alexa Bliss may not look like the best choice to win this match at first glance – Nikki or Carmella seemed like the more likely victors – this was a great decision by the SmackDown writers.

There is a lot of potential in Alexa Bliss, especially if she’s choosing to take this Harley Quinn route. Besides, this leaves the door open for Nikki Bella to settle her issues with Carmella, which could turn out to be a great mid-card match, if handled correctly.

Grade: B

11. Raw – Tag Team Championship

If you asked me about half a year ago what I would pay to watch Andersen and Gallows take on The New Day, I would have answered, “my life!” This is of course a lie. But I’m trying to make a point here, so hush.

If you ask me today what I would pay to watch Andersen and Gallows take on The New Day, I would say, “my dog’s pubic hair.” That’s how much I care about this feud and that’s how much WWE has ruined the pairing of Andersen and Gallows.

This week, it seems as if WWE has sorta realized their mistake and are working towards making Andersen and Gallows what they’re supposed to be – one of the best tag teams in the world. The commentators kept repeating nonsense along the lines of, “Andersen and Gallows have realized their mistake. They don’t want to be idiotic clowns anymore.” Plus, Andersen and Gallows did look quite ruthless against The New Day, this week, unlike previous weeks. It’s cool and all, but it’s gonna be a long road ahead for WWE to erase our memories of past weeks.

Grade: B-

12. SmackDown – Tag Team Championship

Oh, this should have been so much better. The segment started off great, with Heath Slater (with Rhyno) coming out to sign his SmackDown contract. This would have been a boring segment but, because of Slater’s charisma and the crowd showing full support, this actually turned out to be quite the entertaining few minutes.

Then it all went downhill. Slater and Rhyno had to immediately defend their titles against The Ascension. The Ascension deserve a title shot as much as my grandparents do. It simply doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Of course Slater and Rhyno won, but what on earth did The Ascension do to deserve this title opportunity in the first place?

Logic aside, this match wasn’t even that entertaining to watch.

The best booking decision would have been The Usos coming out once Slater signed his contract and brawled with Rhyno and Slater. Watching The Usos destroy Slater and Rhyno, maybe even send them crashing through the commentary table, would have made The Usos seem like bigger heels than a match against The Hype Bros could ever accomplish.

Grade: C+

13. Raw – Universal Title

While other segments on Raw were fluctuating in recent weeks, The WWE Universal Title scene was molten hot. This week was no different. Kevin Owens took on Roman Reigns in match where, if Roman Reigns won, the match between Owens and Rollins at Clash of Champions would be turned into a triple threat match. In other words, #Sh*tJustGotReal

Both Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns looked desperate and had to dig deep into their arsenal to get through this match. Anyone who doubts Roman Reigns’ in-ring ability needs to watch this match. He may not be Shawn Michaels or Chris Benoit, but he does have good in-ring psychology. In many ways he’s like John Cena, in the sense that he tells good stories in the ring and people actually give a crap whether or not he wins or loses.

Seth Rollins’ interference was brilliant as well. Interferences and cheap finishes happen way too often in the WWE and that can get annoying. However, here it made perfect sense. It was logical on Seth Rollins’ part to interfere, because the outcome of that match would affect him as well.

In the end – after Foley restarted the match and an interference by Lana’s melons *wink* *wink* – Kevin Owens got the pin after hitting a Pop-Up Powerbomb.

What a match! Great job, everyone.

Grade: A

14. SmackDown – World Title

This is going to be about the main event of SmackDown this week, rather than the World Title scene in general. The main event of SmackDown saw AJ Styles and The Miz take on John Cena and Dean Ambrose. I hate these type of purposeless matchups. A few weeks from now, at No Mercy, John Cena, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles will be involved in a triple threat match for the WWE World Title. And because of that, they must now participate in a tag team match? What?

Instead of having the three of them talk to each other at the start of the show, why not do it at the end of the show and end it with Shane McMahon booking the triple threat match to take place at No Mercy? That would have ended SmackDown on a high.

This tag team match served absolutely no purpose except to highlight the fact that WWE writers run out of ideas far too often. Sure, Dean Ambrose nailed John Cena with a Dirty Deeds but, again, that sorta thing would have been better had in just been the three of them talking.

Grade: C-

15. Final Thoughts & Grade

via: wwe.com

via: wwe.com

Overall Grade

Raw : B
SmackDown : B–

Raw wins! 

SmackDown was the better show last week. This week, it’s Raw’s turn to clinch the victory. Overall, both shows stepped up their game as far as titles are concerned – though, both SmackDown and Raw could have done better when it came to their Tag Team Division. A lot of missed opportunities there.

Raw clearly has a better mid-card by a mile and that is due to the fact that they have a much better overall draft. However, a large portion of the blame also lies in the hands of the SmackDown writers. Both Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton should have been utilized better.

As far as the main event is concerned, though, both Raw and SmackDown are tearing the roof off the buildings. It’s that brilliant.

At Clash of Champions Kevin Owens will defend his WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins in what potentially could be match of the year. And, at No Mercy, AJ Styles will defend his WWE World Championship against Dean Ambrose and John Cena in match that is sure to be a nail-biting affair. Exciting times ahead!

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