Both Raw and Smackdown dipped down in viewership’s this week. Raw had 3,233 million viewers with Smackdown drawing 2,566 million viewers.
This week had me wondering why WWE don’t let us have nice things, and by nice things, I mean Luke Harper. I can understand why WWE may not see Luke Harper as being quite the pinnacle of their talent – not everyone can be John Cena or Roman Reigns etc. However, I think over the past few years and especially in the past few months Harper has proven to be incredibly entertaining in the ring, solid if not above average on the microphone and also has the perfect story to be thrown into the mix with the best of the best on Smackdown. Yet it seems that recently WWE has been educating it’s viewers that Harper is good, but just not quite good enough to be on the same level as Cena, Wyatt, Orton and Styles. Don’t get me wrong, Harper could be in a much worse position than losing competitive matches to AJ Styles and Randy Orton, but the feeling I’ve had after these matches is that WWE was saying “Hey look, Luke Harper is great, but just not quite as great as these guys”. Sometimes a guy can make a really good storyline out of that, finally proving he is just as good and getting that big win, but it just doesn’t seem as though that’s the direction WWE is taking. That’s frustrating for someone like me who wholeheartedly believes Harper is just as good as Smackdown’s best and belongs in the mix there. While he currently is in the mix, if he keeps losing he won’t stay there for long.
As much as I enjoyed the Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho friendship over the past year, these past few weeks have reminded me exactly what Kevin Owens we were missing. The prize fighting, ruthless Kevin Owens is for sure my favourite Kevin Owens. While I’m not that excited to see Owens face Goldberg, as I’m not so sure that match will play truly into Owen’s strengths, I’m for sure excited to see a Kevin Owens Vs Chris Jericho match at Wrestlemania – which I can only assume we are getting. With both this feud and the feud between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, WWE has managed to build two long term storylines. Both of which have used friendship or the two involved in the eventual feud as a tag team, however with each being the opposite of each other. In one story, Chris Jericho is the ally who was turned on, he will likely play the fan favourite in his match with Owens. Meanwhile Bray Wyatt was turned on by Randy Orton, yet their match will likely be the opposite, with Wyatt portraying the villain. I find it interesting they’ve managed to take two storylines with distinct similarities and put in those differences to make sure they don’t clash. I can see the Owens Vs Jericho match up lasting 2-3 events as their feud really does have the potential to go through a range of different stipulations. This could obviously depend on how long Jericho is sticking around for. Jericho has been on a full schedule for a while now and it’s possible he could be making new music or touring with Fozzy sooner rather than later.
Randy Orton sure does have some history with criminal damage being caused to property when he’s involved in a feud leading to Wrestlemania. First Orton used a car to attempt to murder the Undertaker, resulting in a match at Wrestlemania 21, he was attacked by Triple H in his own home, and with the now corporate HHH causing what you’d assume is thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Now Orton has burned down the Wyatt compound, seemingly also burning the corpse of sister Abigail? (It’s a very weird situation I’m not sure). Nonetheless, it sure makes a feud personal in quick order. As I’ve said before, I feel like while these two guys will have a good match, it would be more exciting if Luke Harper was thrown into the mix – however we’ve already talked about that. It seems Orton will be the challenger; it would actually be incredibly weird if he wasn’t, but he will have to beat AJ styles on Smackdown next week to get there. I’m very excited for that match as I feel AJ and Orton will be a good mix for a matchup. Of course the rumour is that after AJ loses to Orton he will be upset he had his Wrestlemania match taken away from him, leading to a feud and match with Shane McMahon. I can’t say the proposition of that match excites me even nearly as much as many other matches you could have put AJ in, but given AJ such a match does show the WWE trust him and see him as a star, otherwise they wouldn’t have him in a match with Shane – so at least that’s a good sign.
I heard someone say this week that WWE are doing everything with Roman Reigns you’d want them to do with a big fan favourite. The issue is that when the fans, or at least a large portion of them, don’t like Reigns going into it, it’s going to be almost impossible to make them cheer for and like Reigns by doing things you’d assume they’d have to do with someone the fans already like. Getting beat up by Braun Strowman and still getting up to sign the contract for their match is pretty badass but to the fans that already don’t like Roman it just seems like another attempt to present Reigns as some kind of super hero that they simply do not want to accept him as. I think Roman and Strowman will have a decent match at Fastlane but it will be the type of match that will never be perceived by the majority of fans as above a certain level. I’m hopeful that either Roman will be cost the match by the Undertaker or that the Undertaker will make some kind of none finish as it seems like a waste to beat Braun here.
Next week I’m predicting a jump in viewership for both shows as Raw comes off the back of an event plus the build up to Wrestlemania really picking up pace, then Smackdown with the promise of AJ Styles Vs Randy Orton should help Smackdown out.