Raw once again won in the ratings war this week. However, the WWE will be concerned with both shows dropping in ratings. Raw drew a 2.05 rating, this is down from its 2.30 last week. Smackdown also dropped; going from last week’s 1.86 to 1.69. These drops can be expected, going from heavily hyped shows, post draft, some viewers are bound to drop off. This does show however, that WWE failed to retain those extra viewers. They’ll be pulling out all the stops over the next few months, in order to force the ratings the other way.
While still below Raw in the ratings – as is expected for the beginning of this brand extension – Smackdown certainly was the winner of the week, in fans opinions. Many fans felt Raw was quite boring this week. A main event of Cesaro Vs Rusev, for the United States title closed the show – followed by a Roman Reigns spear. The big difference between the two shows this week was possibly storyline progression. While Raw seemed to be stagnating – killing time until Summerslam. Smackdown offered both storyline progression, and some solid matches.
While Raw’s main storyline seems to be an act of killing time, as Rollins and Balor cut what are, seemingly, time filling promos. Smackdown’s main storyline continues to progress. The dynamic between Dolph and Ambrose continues to develop, while the Wyatts play the part of the wrench being thrown into the works. A special mention to the awesome way in which Wyatt managed to force Ziggler into superkicking Ambrose. I’ve got to say, I am quite excited for this Ziggler Vs Ambrose match. I’m not quite sure who I want to win. To see Ziggler have a run with the title would be awesome. However, I’d like to see him turn heel in the process. The problem is that, the Smackdown roster is quite heel heavy. Should Ambrose retain, he has the likes of Wyatt, Styles and even Baron Corbin, the Miz and Alberto Del Rio to face. As would Ziggler, should he win, not turning heel in the process. That would be my least favourite option though.
In terms of tag teams, it is clear Raw is currently ahead in that battle. Not only do Raw have tag titles, while Smackdown do not, but they also have more high profile teams. On Raw they’ve got New day, The Club and Enzo & Cass. They can build months of storylines just around rotating those three teams. On Smackdown, every team has already been made to see lesser to American Alpha. With some rehab, teams like the Ascension and the Vaudevillians could be worthy opponents for Jordan and Gable. However, the message I’m getting thus far is that American Alpha, are clearly better than the rest of the division. While the Uso’s will provide a challenge when they return, Smackdown will need to build up one of the other teams, or bring another in. Be that a team from NXT, or possibly a returning team of the past.
The mid card titles seem to be in very different places on either brand. The United States title is held by Rusev, a very impressive athlete, and increasingly impressive character. He has been made to seem dominant, and the simple story of a foreigner holding the US title is always good. His challenger is Roman Reigns, who in the WWE’s world is arguably the best wrestler on the brand. He has basically become the brands poster boy. No matter who walks out of Summerslam the champion, the title will only seem more important. On the other hand, the Intercontinental championship is held by The Miz. I have no problems with that whatsoever; I’m a fan of the Miz. However, his character is better known for sheepish shenanigans. Rather than the dominance Rusev has. His challenger is Apollo Crews. Again, I really like Crews. It’s clear though, he isn’t Roman Reigns. Unlike Reigns, a match doesn’t get launched up the card, like the US title match will be, by Crews being in the match. Crews and Miz could be a very entertaining feud, and the Miz took part in some entertaining antics this week. However, I need a real reason to want to see them fight, and see Crews win – like the Reigns and Rusev feud is providing.
The ladies on both brands are providing some quality entertainment right now. Smackdown’s women’s division needs a title to be introduced, as soon as possible. These ladies need something to fight for. I was a fan of the work Eva Marie was doing in NXT. I’m an even bigger fan of her work on Smackdown. I still don’t think Eva is as bad in the ring as many will make out. Nonetheless, when she finally has a match was Becky Lynch; it isn’t going to be match of the year. However, what Eva has done recently, has me actually wanting to see that match. We also have Alexa off to a winning start, and in addition to that, Carmella and Natalya had a good match this week. We also are yet to see Naomi make her in ring return. It will be interesting to see what happens with Raw’s women’s division after Summerslam. A Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks match is something I want to see. However, I’d want to see Nia pick up the win there, but I don’t want Sasha’s run with the title to be short lived. Dana Brooke can’t be the next challenger; she has been beaten by Sasha too much recently. I would not be surprised – nor would I complain – if we get to see another Sasha vs Charlotte match.
So, Raw leads 2-1 so far in which show has gotten the better reaction from the fans. Raw also leads 3-0 in ratings. Although, as I said last week, it isn’t fair to compare those directly so far. It will take a while to get Smackdown up to speed with Raw, and really present it as a true competitor. The WWE will be concerned with getting both shows ratings and viewership up, they won’t really care which has more.