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Raw vs SmackDown: Grades And Analysis (19th/20th September)

Wrestling
Raw vs SmackDown: Grades And Analysis (19th/20th September)

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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, Rhyno & Heath Slater

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

After watching the opening segment of SmackDown, last week, I said, “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.”

After watching this week’s opening segment of Raw, I honestly believe Raw is run by assclowns or the Wayan Brothers. Or both. Seriously, what did the opening segment of Raw accomplish. A 273-hour long promo by Mick Foley and the only thing I learned was that Mick Foley is one of those annoying bosses who talk a lot of crap during meetings because he’s a bored old man.

After mumbling awkwardly in gibberish for what felt like an eternity, Mick Foley books a bunch of matches that nobody gives a crap about, especially on a go-home show. Seriously, WWE, Mick is one of the greatest promo guys in the history of WWE and this is how you use him?

I don’t get it. Why couldn’t WWE just open the show with Kevin Owens gloating on how his testicles are greater than the universe itself, and then have Seth Rollins come out. Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins on the microphone is exactly what we need. Then they start beating the crap outta each other, before Foley comes out and tells them to stop. But of course, they’re not going to listen to what Foley has to say. And so Foley goes something like, “You guys want to fight so bad??! At Clash of Champions, I’m making this a No-Holds-Barred match.”

I’m a genius!

But, as it stands…

Grade: D

2. SmackDown – Opening Segment

SmackDown had a much stronger opening segment as compared to Raw. SmackDown kicked off this week’s show as it did two weeks ago, with the Women’s Division, this time, a contract signing between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown women’s championship match at No Mercy.

Thus far, the women’s division on SmackDown has been impressive and this week was no different. Becky Lynch was the lovable underdog babyface, hungry to prove herself.

“I was not born to be a champion, I fought to be a champion!” – Becky Lynch

Alexa Bliss however, was the MVP of this segment. Few weeks ago, nobody thought much of her. Now, she’s on top of her game, proving herself to be one of the best heels in WWE. She cut a strong promo on how she’s pretty much going to destroy Becky at No Mercy!
Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss is slowly turning into one of the best feuds in WWE, right now. They’re setting the bar really high for the girls on the red brand.

Grade: B

3. Raw – Undercard

Raw’s undercard continued to be an absolute waste of time this week. If this is the kinda garbage Raw churned out during the Monday Night Wars WCW would have bought over WWE after two weeks. Yes, it’s that bad.

Big Bearded Dude VS Not-Rey Mysterio

This week Braun Strowman took on Not-Rey Mysterio once again in a match that meant absolutely nothing. I’m tired of these squash matches, especially since everyone in the world, besides Vince McMahon knows that there is absolutely zero potential in this Braun Strowman character. He’s essentially exactly the same as Erik Rowan and Luke Harper, except way less talented.

Can we have Nia Jax’s squash matches instead?

Bray Wyatt’s Loser Brother VS Random Idiot

Again, nobody cares about this “Bo-Lieve” gimmick at all. It has zero potential going forward, it’s extremely cringeworthy and the crowd doesn’t seem to care at all. END IT PLEASE!

Grade: F

4. SmackDown – Undercard

I’m confused. Are these two brands competing to find out who’s the best? Or are they competing to prove who’s the worst?

Love triangle between Baron Corbin, Jack Swagger and Apollo Crews

Fine, the whole love triangle between Baron Corbin, Jack Swagger and Apollo Crews isn’t the worst segment on WWE TV this week. In fact, it’s actually quite bearable. The problem is, this feud (if you can even call it that), is completely misusing the talents involved.

Baron Corbin has the potential to be one of the best mid card heels in the roster. He may not be great on the microphone, but he has enough charisma and in-ring ability to be an entertaining midcarder. The same can be said about Apollo Crews. Crews has the potential to be a very entertaining midcard babyface.

A proper feud between Crews and Corbin is what we deserve. Instead, Corbin is the SmackDown Braun Strowman, Crews is nothing but a jobber and Jack Swagger is actually getting TV time? Why can’t WWE use Swagger in a role that fits him best – not appearing on screen at all.

Nikki Bella & Naomi VS Camella & Natalya

Pointless, hopeless, useless. I expected more from the feud between Carmella and Nikki Bella, which had potential. And, since when did Natalya and Naomi hate each other? Whatever. Moving on.

Grade: D

5. Raw – Mid-Card

Last week, I sang praises about Raw’s mid-card and gave it a solid B+. While the feud between Cesaro and Sheamus is purposeless, both of these superstars have continued to impress inside the ring. Last week, we were also blessed with a back and forth banter between Jericho and Sami Zayn. Plus, what was initially a bunch of boring squash matches involving Nia Jax, turned out to be one of the more entertaining women’s division segments of the year – Nia Jax obliterating Alicia Fox.

This week Raw decided to flash giant middle fingers at us instead.

But first, some positives.

Cesaro VS Sheamus

Cesaro and Sheamus once again put their bodies on the line and delivered an excellent match. I’ve said it time and time again, this series of matches between the two means absolutely nothing, but the very fact that they’re delivering inside the ring over and over and over again, deserves some recognition.

And……. That’s about it. This was literally Raw’s mid-card this week. Nia Jax and Alicia Fox are apparently going to face off at Clash of Champions (as we found out via some video promo). Jericho and Zayn on the other hand? Well, I’ll explain more later, but let’s just say it almost made me jump off a building.

Grade: B – (For Sheamus vs Cesaro)

6. SmackDown – Mid-Card

If any of you guys were hoping WWE will find a way to make the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt awesome, or the very least watchable, then you’ve gotta keep hoping, because it’s still an absolute farce.

WWE had a great chance of making Bray Wyatt relevant again, with the brand split. However, while many things did improve tremendously since the brand split, Bray Wyatt still remains a complete farce.

This week was no different. Randy Orton faced off against Erik Rowan in a match that was only going to end one way – with Randy Orton hitting the RKO outta nowhere, once and for all burying Erik Rowan.

And of course, Bray Wyatt came out after that, delivered one of his usual gibberish cryptic promos, and then the segment ended. At this point, I don’t expect Randy Orton to suffer a defeat to Wyatt at No Mercy. Can we just quit clowning around and have Orton chase The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship?

Grade: C-

7. Raw – United States Championship

The match between Roman Reigns and Rusev promises to be a blood bath. Problem is, WWE is making some very questionable booking decisions. There are a few different routes WWE could have taken.

One, WWE could have had Rusev and Roman Reigns brawl backstage. Tables could have been broken, equipment destroyed. Lana could have even slapped Roman Reigns.

Two, Lana could be in the ring with Rusev, talking trash about Roman Reigns, which would bring out Roman Reigns and of course, a BRAWL WOULD BREAK OUT!

But instead what we had was a pointless match between Seth Rollins and Rusev.

And then a pointless match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens – which will be elaborated on later. By the end of it, all four men brawled with each other, which again, is unnecessary given that it’s two separate feuds altogether.

It wasn’t disgusting, maybe even a little entertaining. But one has to wonder why WWE chose to take this route, when there were clearly better routes to take.

Grade: B

8. SmackDown – Intercontinental Championship

Where Raw failed to capitalize, SmackDown thrived. This week saw The Miz take on Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. With each passing week, The Miz shows why he should be given another opportunity in the Main Event. Miz is the genius and still remains one of the only few superstars in the WWE who can really get under your skin.

The chemistry between Miz and Ziggler is electric, and while this wasn’t their best match, it was still entertaining nonetheless. Zigger and Miz both showed how desperate they are to win/keep the title. In the end, Miz won the match using heel tactics, which of course calls for a final showdown between the two of them, at No Mercy.

Side Note: As much as I enjoyed this feud, I do think it has run its course. The Miz should once again beat Dolph Ziggler at No Mercy and move on to an opponent that actually stands a chance of winning.

What’s also very interesting is the ongoing feud between Miz and Daniel Bryan. C’mon Daniel, ONE MORE MATCH!

Grade: A

9. Raw – Tag Team Championship

This was perhaps this week’s worst segment. To say this segment wasn’t entertaining at all, would be unfair. But considering all the talent involved, this segment redefined the term disappointing.

Instead of slowly building the feud between Zayn and Jericho, New Day and Gallows & Andersen, Enzo & Cass and Epico & Primo, WWE decides to make it a 100 VS 100 tag team match.

It would be understandable if WWE didn’t have time on their hands. The thing is, we literally had to witness a pointless squash match between Strowman and Sin Cara, a pointless match between Seth Rollins and Rusev and a pointless opening segment where Mick Foley mumbled nonsense. Couldn’t WWE have used that time to build these feuds instead?

Grade: D

10. SmackDown – Tag Team Championship

Excellent storytelling all around. This is exactly what we need on the road to No Mercy. The Usos faced off against American Alpha in a match to determine the number one contender for Slater and Rhyno’s Tag team titles. While the match itself wasn’t the greatest (it was still very good), the storytelling was.

The Usos have transitioned really well into their heel roles. Throughout the match, The Usos showed how brutal they can be by trying to injure Gable’s knee. American Alpha on the other hand showed resilience, fighting hard despite the injury. In the end, it was too much for American Alpha as The Usos picked up a significant win.

For years now, I’ve been waiting for an all out war between three tag teams very much like The Hardyz VS Edge & Christian VS The Dudleyz! While no team will probably ever reach their heights, I believe there is a lot of potential in The Usos VS Rhyno & Slater VS American Alpha. Only time will tell, but so far, it’s been good.

Grade: A

11. Raw – Women’s Championship

Backstage, Mick Foley made the match at Clash of Champions for the Women’s Championship, a triple threat match. Which is a great decision as it keeps Bayley in the title picture, and the in ring work itself promises to be great. Besides Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins, this is the match I’m really looking forward to at the upcoming Raw pay per view.

After that backstage segment, there was a match between Bayley & Banks and Charlotte & Dana Brooke. While the match itself was decent, it again, served very little purpose in terms of convincing people to tune in to Clash of Champions.

How does this tag team match impact the upcoming triple-threat match? It doesn’t. How does this tag team match further the storyline at all? It doesn’t. This would have been acceptable had it been on any normal episode of Raw. However, seeing as this was a go-home episode, WWE should have taken a more creative route.

Grade: B

12. Raw – Cruiserweight Division

Since I’ve already covered the SmackDown women’s championship in the opening segment page, I’ll talk about the Cruiserweight division here.

I might get a ton of flak for this, but I’ll say it anyway: This was a boring segment. Mick Foley stood in the ring to introduce the cruiserweights. The only problem is, while Foley tried to hype up this division, it clearly showed that he doesn’t care nor did he even watch the CWC tournament. Mick Foley stuttered and fumbled, before he took out a piece of paper to read the names of the cruiserweights. Yeap, that’s right. Mick Foley doesn’t even know who they are. Why should anyone care about this division, when the Raw general manager himself doesn’t seem to care.

What followed was a match that had a lot of exciting spots, with close to zero emotions or in-ring psychology. Remember the idiotic lightsaber battle between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan and Qui Gon in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace? Yeah, this was exactly that. Style without substance. That’s not what pro-wrestling is about. Pro-wrestling is supposed to be Kylo Ren Vs Rey.

Also, where on earth was the cruiserweight champion, TJ Perkins?

Grade: C

13. Raw – WWE Universal Championship

This had the exact same problem as The United States Championship. Why did Roman Reigns need to fight Kevin Owens in a steel cage match? How does that further Kevin Owens’ rivalry with Seth Rollins? And how does that further Roman Reigns’ rivalry with Rusev?

While this segment successfully solidified Seth Rollins’ face turn when he jumped from atop the cage to save Roman Reigns from Kevin Owens and Rusev, it didn’t actually do anything to add heat between Owens and Rollins.

It still baffles me why WWE isn’t allowing two of the most talented superstars on the microphone, who are currently engaged in a feud for the Universal title, actually talk to each other.

The match between Owens and Reigns would have been reasonable had it happened on any normal episode of Raw. But one week before a pay per view, WWE needs to go all out to convince people to tune in. Seth Rollins jumping off a cage just isn’t a good enough reason.

Grade: B –

14. SmackDown – WWE World Championship

While not as entertaining as last week’s segment, this week the WWE World Championship scene on SmackDown was purposeful nonetheless. At No Mercy, John Cena, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles will be in a triple threat match for the World Championship. This week, John Cena took on Dean Ambrose.

The match, which many predicted to be top quality, turned out to be lacklustre. There’s just something about Dean Ambrose’s in ring ability that’s just awkward, these days. However, Dean Ambrose picking up the win against John Cena came as a shocker. WWE clearly has a lot of confidence in Dean Ambrose.

Dean Ambrose would thrive in a heel role, but seeing how there aren’t many big name faces on SmackDown, WWE would be smart to allow Ambrose to be a tweener. Dean Ambrose is awkward as a babyface-pure.

Next week, AJ Styles will put his title on the line against Dean Ambrose, which seems to be a decision that came outta nowhere. I think there’s gonna be some form of screwy finish, which will allow AJ Styles to walk into No Mercy with his title intact.

Grade: B

15. Final Thoughts & Grade

Via youtube.com

Via youtube.com

Overall Grade:

Raw: Horsesh*t

SmackDown: B

Raw was the better show last week. This week, it’s SmackDown’s turn to clinch the victory. Overall, SmackDown stepped up its game this week. While the world title picture wasn’t as entertaining as last week, SmackDown really took it up a notch as far as the tag team, women’s and Intercontinental title scene is concerned. Great stuff.

Meanwhile, on the red brand, almost everything was absolute rubbish this week. It seems as if WWE is finding it difficult to manage a 3-hour show. Sacrificing Jericho and Zayn in place of Braun Strowman? Where’s the sense in that?

My stand on the Orton vs Wyatt feud is still the same as it was last week. An absolutely pointless feud that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Both these superstars deserve better.

As of right now, my most looked forward to matches at the upcoming pay per views are, John Cena vs AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose, Slater & Rhyno vs The Usos as well as Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss. All three matches are from the blue brand.

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