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:
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, Jack Swagger (WTF?), Summer Rae, Mark Henry, Braun Strowman, Bo Dallas, Shining Stars, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, Curtis Axel
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
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
The opening segment of Raw this past Monday was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Coming off a near perfect main event last week, everyone was on top of their game here.
Seth Rollins is slowly making his long awaited baby face turn. Cool thing is, WWE doesn’t look like they’re turning him into one of those cookie cutter John Cena-esque babyfaces. Seth Rollins is still Seth Rollins. But what we have on our hands is a story of how Triple H betrayed someone who trusted him for the past couple of years. We all know what this story did for Randy Orton all those years ago. And Randy Orton isn’t even good on the mic. Seth Rollins is amazing on the mic. On the other hand, we have Kevin Owens, Triple H’s new boy. Also amazing on the mic.
The banter between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins was awesome. Stephanie and Mick Foley didn’t miss a beat too. Not only was this segment very entertaining, it also moved the entire plot forward. There’s an air of mystery surrounding the main event scene of Raw. Exciting times ahead.
2) SmackDown – Opening Segment
The opening segment of SmackDown was incomparable to Raw’s brilliant opener. But it did what it needed to do. The general manager of SmackDown, Daniel Bryan hyped up the upcoming six-pack challenge to crown the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion.
After that, all six participants entered the ring to do whatever it is usually happens in these sorta segments. They each start talking a little bit, before the whole thing turns into a brawl.
It is cool, though, to see that SmackDown entrusts its women to open such an important segment in the go-home show. These sort of segments are usually saved for the males only, with the females hardly given any time in the ring, let alone on the microphone.
Seeing how some of the NXT writers have been brought up to write for SmackDown, it sorta explains why the women’s division is given their fair share of time to shine as well. Kudos.
3) Raw – Squash Matches
The trend continued this week on Raw, as it featured two squash matches. One with Braun Strowman and the other with Nia Jax. Both of which meant nothing.
This week, Braun Strowman took on Sin Cara. Strowman threw Sin Cara over the guardrail and won via count out. If I didn’t have to write 150 words at the minimum for each entry, I would just put an emoji of a giant middle finger and be done with it.
What a complete waste of time this segment was. I think squash matches are fine, depending on the Superstars involved. This formula worked for Goldberg during the WCW days because Goldberg has charisma. There was just something so entertaining about watching Goldberg come out and spear the intestines out of his opponents. From his theme song, to his walk, everything worked out for Goldberg.
But Braun Strowman is just a big guy with an even bigger beard. He’s pretty much Bray Wyatt, except he sucks on the mic and can’t do that much in the ring either. So where does he go from here? After squashing 2000 jobbers, does WWE expect us to buy him as a main-eventer?
Nia Jax took on a random jobber. Except that random jobber turned out to be Alicia Fox’s niece or whatever. Again, who cares? I actually like Nia Jax and I feel this whole “I’m gonna come out and destroy every skinny woman,” angle would work, but WWE should have repackaged Nia Jax before promoting her to the main roster. Her theme song doesn’t scream DESTROY, it screams, “I like having sex with Kelly Kelly!” It simply doesn’t make sense.
WWE should have made Nia Jax an Awesome Kong type character. That would have worked.
4) SmackDown – Squash Matches
Again, a middle finger emoji would have sufficed. Why is Kane still an active wrestler? Look, maybe his contract states that he would have to appear on television weekly, until his popularity is at -342% and he’s 75 years old. Even so, why not pair him up with somebody and add depth to the tag team division. How does Kane or the WWE benefit from these squash matches?
I’ll be honest though. It’s way more entertaining than the squash matches on the red brand. Thus far anyway. This week Kane decimated Fandango. Fandango is a retard, but he’s also awesome, in a Santino kinda way? He knows he’s dumb and he owns the fact that he’s dumb. The fact that this segment actually got people reacting in any sort of manner, what more cheering relatively loudly, proves that WWE is doing something right with these segments.
I don’t know where this nonsense is heading, but if WWE gets it right, this could make for a very entertaining undercard.
5) Raw – Other Midcard/Undercard Feuds
Currently, Raw has a couple of mid and undercard feuds going on. The more prominent one being Sheamus vs Cesaro in the “best of 7” series. The storytelling here hasn’t been the greatest so far. But, this feud does serve as a strong filler-esque midcard match, with two extremely talented workhorses.
This week, Sheamus took on Cesaro in their 3rd match of this best of 7 series. Cesaro having lost the first two matches, looked to be the resilient baby face, looking to crawl his way up to victory. Sheamus, on the other hand looks the most brutalizing he’s been in a long time.
After a decent match, the end result wasn’t as what many of us predicted, as Sheamus clinched the victory once more.
If this was the only mid card match on Raw, it would have easily have gotten a “B” from me. However, there was another…
The never ending Darren Young and Titus O’ Neil feud, this time, featuring Jinder Mahal. Horrible, nonsensical, farcical, bullsh*t. Please, end it already.
6) SmackDown – Other Midcard/Undercard Feuds
If the match between Orton and Wyatt happened a couple of years ago, it would have been one of the hottest matches on any card, including WrestleMania. But, Wyatt has been poorly booked since he made his debut. At first, Wyatt’s promos were a thrilling affair, sending shivers down your spine. Now, they’re just another one of his weird promos.
The good thing is, Bray Wyatt has enough charisma to make these promos work, for the most part at least.
This week, Wyatt and Orton had not a battle of strengths, but a battle of words. Although Wyatt and Orton are both nowhere near their highest right now, WWE has made this feud somewhat engaging. Both Wyatt and Orton kept their promos focused.
It’s simple: Both of these guys are predators and they’re on the hunt for each other.
At Backlash, WWE would be wise to give Wyatt his much needed victory or risk completely ruining a character who once had so much promise.
7) Raw – Women’s Division
Considering the talent involved, this division should be so hot that Dixie Carter would immediately drown all of her Knockouts into molten hot lava, before shooting herself in the head 275 times. Because game over. Best Women’s Wrestling of all time right? Wrong.
For whatever reason – which to be honest, I don’t find surprising at all – WWE has failed to capitalize on the talents and popularity of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley. During their NXT days, Sasha Banks was one of the best pure heels on the roster, right up there with Kevin Owens.
This week, we saw Sasha Banks spew some nonsense. The fake retirement angle was interesting. The problem is, it didn’t scream, THE BOSS! Sasha Banks isn’t supposed to be coming up with sob stories. Sasha Banks is supposed to make little girls cry.
Bayley and Charlotte? I don’t know. They pretty much did what the women on Raw do every other week.
8) SmackDown – Women’s Division
Things are slightly better on the blue brand. While SmackDown may not have ¾ of the four horsewomen, it looks like the writers and the Superstars involved are trying their best and making the most of the situation.
Becky Lynch looks to be the underdog, always ready to lay out a “lass-kicking,” baby-face. Carmella seems to be slowly, but surely making a name for herself again, after being separated from Enzo and Cass. Natalya seems to have put her “farting” days behind her. Hey, even Nikki Bella seems purposeful.
I would be lying if I said “THIS IS THE BEST EVER,” but the SmackDown women’s division has definitely exceeded my expectations thus far, given the talent involved.
This week, Natalya, Carmella and Alexa Bliss faced off against Becky Lynch, Naomi and Nikki Bella. While, on the surface at least, it seemed like one of those unnecessary tag matches where the faces take on the heels, WWE did a good job of telling some interesting stories during the match-up.
Lynch was her usual resilient self. Natalya was vicious. But, perhaps, the biggest surprise came when Carmella made Nikki Bella tap.
9) Raw – Mid-Card Title – United States Championship
United States Championship? What United States Championship? Remember the good ol’ days of John Cena defending the United States Championship on a weekly basis? No? Yeah, me neither. The days where the United States championship actually meant something are long gone.
A lot of people don’t even know who the current United States Champion is and I don’t blame them. For your information, it’s Rusev.
This week, Rusev faced nobody in a nothing match. Sure, maybe he’s injured. Maybe he’s kayfabe injured. The thing is, nobody knows and nobody gives a crap. Why isn’t Lana coming out and cutting promos on how Rusev is gonna crush Roman Reigns when he returns? Why isn’t Roman Reigns coming out and bragging about how he destroyed Rusev? Oh right, it’s because WWE decided to shove Roman Reigns in the main event scene again. Hooray! That’s what everybody wants.
At the very least WWE could force Rusev to relinquish his title and have a United States Championship tournament, where Sami Zayn would go on to destroy everybody before going on to be the longest reigning US title holder in history!
10) SmackDown – Mid-Card Title – Intercontinental Championship
This week, The Miz took on fake Apollo Creed in a somewhat entertaining, but completely meaningless match-up. Sure, the purpose was to give The Miz some victories under his belt and, in that sense, this match did its job. But, considering how Backlash is less than 24 hours away, I’m still not feeling the hatred and animosity between Miz and Ziggler.
I’m confident that the match itself will be nothing short of decent, but WWE has done a less than stellar job of making us care about this feud. Hopefully something intriguing happens at Backlash.
The biggest let down, though, is the fact that WWE failed to ride the wave of The Miz’s fantastic promo during Talking Smack a couple of weeks ago. Miz’s Talking Smack promo, was literally the best promo cut by a WWE Superstar since CM Punk’s Godly Pipe Bomb.
The Miz has a lot of potential to once again be one of the biggest main-eventers in the company, but it has to start here. If WWE screws things up this time, Miz may never again be in the main event, like he was many years ago.
11) SmackDown – Tag Team Division
We may never see the tag team division as lit as it was when The Hardyz, Dudleys and Edge and Christian were having threesomes (or sixsomes, whichever way you choose to look at it) on top of tables, ladders and chairs. Having said that, the SmackDown Tag Team division has been hotter than a tied up Jennifer Lopez in a 69 position with a tied up Kim Kardashian.
SmackDown currently has four very entertaining tag teams in The Usos, American Alpha, Hype Bros and Heath Slater & Rhyno. This week saw The Usos take on American Alpha, while Slater & Rhyno took on Hype Bros in the semi-finals of the Tag Team tournament.
The Usos vs American Alpha started off in high octane fashion. Only 30 seconds later, American Alpha defeated The Usos. And I was like, “Whaaat? These writers need to be shot dead!” Only 10 seconds later, USOS HEEL TURN! The furious Usos destroying American Alpha, injuring Gable in the process. And I was like, “Whaaaat? These writers need to get a dozen cookies!”
Then there’s the match between Hype Bros and Rhyno and Slater. While most people predicted Rhyno and Slater to clinch the win, WWE did a good job of making it seem like Hype Bros had an equal chance of winning.
With Gable injured, The Hype Bros will take on The Usos at Backlash, and the winner will move on to the finals and fight Slater and Rhyno for the tag team titles. Also at Backlash.
Exciting times ahead.
12) Raw – Tag Team Division
Remember what I said about Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian in a 69 position? Now imagine that same 69 position, except instead of Jennifer Lopez, you have Mae Young and, instead of Kim Kardashian, you have Hillary Clinton. That pretty much sums up the tag team division on Raw.
1. Lack of depth:
There’s pretty much only four teams on Raw right now. Enzo Amore and Big Cass, The New Day, FormerClubNowRetards and WhateverTheHeckPrimoandEpicoAreCallingThemselvesTheseDays.
Four teams do not make a division. Four teams merely cover the grounds of a pre-school sandbox.
2. GARBAGE WRITING
Sure, we can give lack of depth as an excuse, and a valid one at that. But, if WWE actually utilized the available teams properly, we wouldn’t even be thinking about the lack of depth, not yet anyway.
In the red corner, WWE has two of the most entertaining tag teams in recent memory. Enzo Amore and Big Cass receives the biggest reaction from the crowd these days, even more than the likes of Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. That’s saying something. The New Day are wildly popular as well.
When The Club first made their debut, people went nuts! Karl Andersen and Luke Gallows in the WWE? Woah! They started off promisingly as the brooding destroyers. So, why on earth has WWE transformed them into the bast*rd children of Doink the Clown and Santino?
This week saw The New Day in another pointless comedy segment with The Club and some jobbers. It easily was the worst segment of the year. Garbage!
And what’s up with Enzo and Cass losing to Primo and Epico. It makes absolutely no sense.
13) SmackDown – Main Event Scene
Smackdown’s main event scene has been thriving as of late and it’s all thanks to AJ Styles, the WWE writers, and Vince not letting his ego get in the way of things.
When AJ Styles made his debut, I was sure Vince would opt to bury him immediately. AJ did wrestle in TNA after all. Fast forward to today, AJ Styles is the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, having beat John Cena CLEANLY not once, but TWICE! What a run it has been.
On the other side of the coin, we have Dean Ambrose, the reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I’ll be the first to admit that Dean Ambrose has become extremely stale these days. Once upon a time, Ambrose was magnetic on the microphone – now he’s sluggish and boring. However, this feud with AJ Styles is slowly starting to take off and Ambrose is slowly starting to become his old self again.
I’m definitely invested in this feud 100%.
14) Raw – Main Event Scene
Something magical happened last week. The kinda magic that I have not seen in a very long time, perhaps even since the CM Punk and John Cena rivalry many years ago.
Finn Balor had to relinquish the title he won at SummerSlam because of an injury. Personally, I love Finn Balor, but he was nowhere near ready to be in the main event of Raw.
When these sorta injuries happen, WWE has the tendency to put the belt on someone they’re extremely comfortable with. So, when the Fatal Four-Way elimination match was announced last week, most of us were dead sure and, more importantly, dead worried that WWE would immediately put the belt back on Roman Reigns.
Little did we know, that TRIPLE H would show up, destroy Roman Reigns, back-stab Seth Rollins and help Kevin Owens win that title. Grades? That was an A+++++++++++++ segment.
This week started off great, too. The opening segment between Rollins, Owens, Stephanie and Mick Foley hit every note there is to hit. Rollins looked fired up and re-energized, cutting a passionate promo. Kevin Owens was as confident as he’s ever been, turning “you deserve it” chants into “boos” in under 0.2 seconds. It was storytelling at its best.
The Raw main event scene would have gotten an easy “A” from me, had it not been for the main event segment that closed the show this past Monday. After the match between Kevin Owens and Zayn, Roman Reigns showed up in typical Roman Reigns fashion and now things are becoming messy, awkward and confusing.
15) Final Words And Overall Winner
While WWE is still no Attitude Era, and may never again be, tons of improvements can be seen since the draft. Everything seems fresh and most of the superstars seem re-energized.
This week, Raw most definitely had a better opening segment than SmackDown, although SmackDown’s opening segment did do its intended job well too. As for the squash matches, both Raw and SmackDown and throwing together matches nobody actually cares about. Speaking of matches nobody cares about, can we all agree that both Darren Young and Titus O’Neil should be water boys instead? Jinder Mahal too, for that matter. However, Cesaro and Sheamus and Orton and Wyatt are heating up the midcard in the red and blue brand respectively.
SmackDown’s tag team division looks to be trashing Raw’s tag team division, a shocker considering the talents involved on the red brand. Almost the same thing can be said about the women’s division. The SmackDown midcard title scene is also looking way more electric than the virtually non-existent midcard title scene on Raw.
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