For the first time since the draft split Smackdown has beaten Raw in viewership. Smackdown aided by multiple title matches and John Cena’s return drew 2.9 million viewers, with Raw trailing slightly behind with 2.85 million.
Unfortunately Raw has recently felt like it has been missing something, at least when compared to Smackdown. While Smackdown feels like a really fresh show that passes quickly and that I’m excited for each week, Raw isn’t quite that. Monday nights feel a little more played out and nothing quite feels that new or fresh, not to mention it certainly drags on.
A big issue for me with Raw is that I’ve seen both Bayley Vs Charlotte and Roman Reigns Vs Kevin Owens before. So therefore, the way Raw wants to make me excited for the same matches at the Royal Rumble is by having those matches once again on Raw? A good portion of the matches on Raw this week are ones we’ve seen time after time. That isn’t necessarily a problem, a lot of the time the history between two wrestlers only adds to the quality of the match. However, normally that is when they are spread over a great period of time, not when they happen week after week. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens are great wrestlers but I saw them wrestle at the last pay per view, I know they are going to wrestle at the next one; I don’t need to see them wrestle in the weeks in between. Doing this just makes the match feel less special to me and lessen my interest in the Raw matches especially because not only have I seen the match before, but I know another match between the two is coming – with much higher stakes.
For some the excuse about this may be that this is just a result of weekly television. However, you’d have to question why Smackdown don’t suffer a similar fate? Sure sometimes Smackdown does repeat matches, Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch faced off again this week, but why don’t they feel as overdone as similar type matches on Raw? Well for starters it just seems as though Smackdown is far more creative than on Raw. We see all types of matches on Smackdown. Battle royals, tag team turmoil matches, gauntlet matches and we’ve seen a good few triple threat and fatal four way matches on the blue brand. I mean Raw has found ways to mix it up at times, but it has just seemed like a lot more one vs one and tag team matches.
Smackdown had a lot of highlights this week; one of the major highlights for me was American Alpha winning the Smackdown tag team titles. Not only was the match particularly good, with the four teams involved all teams I’m really into right now, but the sense of surprise that Alpha won was fantastic. You can’t understate how important it could be for Alpha in the long run to be involved in some really great matches with the likes of Orton, Wyatt and Harper and the fact that Chad Gable pinned Randy Orton. Obviously this also led to the tease of dissention within the Wyatt family but I really hope they drag that out for two reasons. Firstly it’s a really awesome storyline that I don’t want to end any time soon, but even more so, I want to see a series of matches between the Wyatt’s and American Alpha. I wouldn’t even be against Alpha losing the titles back to the Wyatt’s to regain them eventually.
Both Styles and Cena felt like real stars on Smackdown, not like that would be surprising to anyone. Of course we have already seen both guys face off a few times this year, but again it has been made to feel special and I’ve been left really excited to see this match. Cena’s return was incredibly exciting to watch and I found myself thinking how much I’ve missed having Cena on WWE television week to week. We could be seeing limited Cena next year that could recreate the feeling from this show where Cena feels even more special due to the he is only sporadically appearing.
One thing I really could appreciate on Raw this week was the match between The New Day and Cesaro & Sheamus. The match itself was a really fun watch and a great first match of the show and the finish was fantastic. You do have to wonder where everything goes for the tag team titles from here. The obvious next challengers would be Karl Anderson & Gallows. The problem with the former bullet club members challenging for the title comes from the fact it’s almost a lose, lose situation. Sheamus and Cesaro have a lot of potential as the dysfunctional team and taking the titles off them so early could waste that. However, I really don’t want to see Gallows and Anderson fail to win the titles again. I’m certainly not the only person who feels the team could be utilised better than they have been since their debut.
I imagine Raw will have a better viewership next week and we will possibly see Smackdown fall a little without the promise of so many title matches and John Cena’s return.