Smackdown this week continued to rise in ratings, tip-toeing from 1.92 to 1.95, as the show continues its ascent to being with the 2.0 ratings. Raw also saw a small increase, rising from 1.34 to 1.38. While only small increases, the WWE will be happy that both shows are slowly building their audiences. The challenge is to now keep this a consistent. Personally, as an overall show, I enjoyed Smackdown a little more than Raw this week. However, the biggest moment of the week came in the last few minutes of Raw.
A few years back I could hardly see the former Kevin Steen – now Kevin Owens – in the WWE at all, never mind being the top champion on Raw. I really liked Steen; however, he just didn’t seem to be what the WWE would be looking for. Steen didn’t and still does not have a six pack. He wore shorts and a t-shirt to the ring, and still does. He regularly swore in promos and had some very violent matches – Kevin Owens doesn’t really do any of that. It’s fitting that Triple H, the man Owens says is the sole reason he made it to WWE, would help the former ROH and PWG champion to his first reign as a top champion in WWE. While a few years back I never saw Owens making it to WWE, almost as soon as he stepped foot in NXT, I could see him rising to the top. Getting his foot in the door was the challenge for Owens; the rest seemed to be destiny.
In front of an excellent Houston crowd, Owens became the second Universal Champion, almost guaranteeing he’d become the longest reigning Universal Champion; an accolade which he has now achieved. The return of Triple H was truly shocking; the camera angle at which it was shot aided that. Sometimes if someone is coming out through the stage, you can tell it is about to happen as camera men get in position. However, this situation allowed for a real surprise as it looked like any normal camera angle, not telegraphing what was about the happen. The crowd is Houston was red hot; which only added to the match and the ending, an engaged, loud crowd cannot be underestimated, in its ability to either improve a show, or bring it down. This crowd added to the show.
Smackdown was your average, building to a pay per view show. In terms of big moments, there wasn’t much. However, storylines progressed and the viewer was presented with a solid amount of wrestling. Having now seen the brackets for the tag team tournament, I can see a few possibilities playing out. The Uso’s Vs American Alpha is the biggest match that can happen in the division right now. However, saving a match between the two teams, for the titles, until a later date seems smart. They’ll meet in the semi-finals instead. Either way I see the Uso’s taking a dark turn in this tournament. Should the Uso’s loss, I could see them costing American Alpha the titles in the final, possibly against Rhyno and Heath Slater. Possibly the Uso’s could cheat to win against Alpha, then progressing to cheat Rhyno and Slater, a team the crowd is behind, out of the titles at Backlash. A team of Slater and Rhyno as tag team champions seems interesting, although I’m not entirely sure you want them to be the first winners of Smackdown’s tag titles.
Also on Smackdown, we saw the building blocks of a Miz and Dolph Ziggler feud – likely for the Intercontinental Championship – we’ve seen this before, quite a bit honestly. However, both characters are in a different place now. Both are cutting fired up promos, both seem disgruntled. I’ve really enjoyed matches between these two in the past, the added level of character both can bring to the table now could add to their matches. I could see this one going either way. Ziggler however, either has to win, or if he loses, he needs a major change to his character. To lose two titles matches, two pay per views in a row, really does not help him. However, if Ziggler does lose, Ziggler’s character might need a real revamp to regain some of that momentum.
The inclusion of Big Cass in the Universal title fatal four way I felt was smart. They could have included Jericho or Rusev, or some other more established stars than Cass. However, even in a losing battle, to have had Cass in that match, adds to his character. This establishes Big Cass further, to be able to say he was in a Universal title match adds credibility to big Cass. While I still don’t want him to break out as a singles star just yet, as him and Enzo have much to achieve as a tag team, Big Cass has shown he does have the tools to be a singles star. Especially in the opening segment in this week’s Raw, Cass came off as a star; he looked like he belonged in the ring with three already established stars.
In terms of the womens divisions on both respective shows, I like the direction both are going. A feud between Bayley and Charlotte is bound to be great, the question is what happens next. The division is a little shallow, with Dana Brooke and Charlotte as a team, Bayley and Nia Jax both being new, therefore loses for them need to be limited, Sasha is currently away and Alica Fox & Summer Rae have hardly appeared. Smackdown on the other hand have what seems like a lot of feuds we haven’t seen before. Basically all of the women on that roster feel like they have points to prove. I feel like Carmella’s recent change in character has been fantastic for her. I remember Carmella playing the stuck up girl who wasn’t a fan of Enzo Amore in her early days in NXT. She played that character well; she is playing this character even better. That is not to say Carmella didn’t play the fan favourite well, her character just needs to be different right now. In terms of what both divisions are building to, the womens six pack challenge and Bayley Vs Charlotte are both matches I am extremely excited for.
That’s it for this week; Raw and Smackdown are both on a bit of a role right now. I’m excited right now being a wrestling fan. Week to week, there are many excellent products to be watching, however, I am sure you know that. I’m going to predict that both shows stay pretty stagnant on ratings next week. I’m sure unsure if they will go up or down in ratings, but either way I think it will be a small drop or small rise.