Raw drew in 3,141 million viewers this week, a bit of a drop from 3,469 million last week. It was 2,493 million viewers for Smackdown on Tuesday, which is a slight drop from last week as Smackdown continues to struggle against the NBA playoffs.
As much as it has come out of nowhere, I can’t say I am disliking what is being done with Jinder Mahal right now – unless I am totally misinterpreting the whole idea of this storyline. I’ve looked at this storyline, as I mentioned last week, as explaining that Jinder Mahal has not just suddenly become a much better wrestler, but instead that he has used his connection with the Bollywood boys to his advantage and is cheating his way towards opportunities. I really am hoping that Jinder does not defeat Orton, as I do believe that would be a bridge too far, but in addition, I’d assume that’s not the way they are going as it would appear the next challenger is set to be Rusev, who you’d assume would challenge Orton, not Mahal. Speaking of Rusev, I liked the feel his promo gave this week. For a long time Rusev was the anti-America foreigner, when he was speaking it was with more of an accent at times and was more of a shouting, angry type promo. Whereas this week Rusev had more of a calm speech. Rusev has earned himself an opportunity at being in the main event scene and Smackdown is the perfect place to do it. While him and Lana are a pairing that I enjoy, I can understand splitting them, or at least not having them always have to be beside each other. Lana I’m sure has aspirations to wrestle and it would seem reasonable to let her focus on that, and Rusev as he shows basically every time he is given the microphone, does not need a mouthpiece.
As soon as I heard there would be a dumpster match this week on Raw, I kind of knew it would be a disaster. Such a random match type normally doesn’t do particularly well, and with the result we ended up getting, you wonder what the point was. Kalisto winning wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for Strowman, he wasn’t pinned and it can be taken as a bit of a fluke, but the win didn’t really seem to do much for Kalisto considering he got beat up afterwards. Considering what happened to Kalisto following the match I feel as though Strowman may as well have just beaten him in the first place. Strowman will come up against Reigns at the pay per view and considering we haven’t seen Reigns since Strowman attacked him, I’d assume the idea will be that he isn’t 100%, which will be the excuse for Strowman beating him. At this point I’ve got to hope Strowman will beat him anyway, Reigns has had the upper hand between the two to this point and I’ve seen some big guys get a lot of focus and dominance in the past, only for them to be beaten one too many times and the WWE machine behind them to get bored and spoil a lot of potential.
Smackdown has been referred to by some people as the land of opportunity. Guys who maybe didn’t get as much focus before the brand split have been given a chance to shine and perform in a role higher up the card. Well the brand is striving to prove this lately, as not only is Jinder Mahal challenging for the WWE title, but Breezeango will be challenging for the tag team titles. I don’t have a problem with the idea that Breezango could challenge for the titles, nor do I have a problem with them acting as the fan favourites when facing the Uso’s. However, this sudden chance for Breezeango has the same issues as Jinder Mahal’s, it has come out of nowhere. As I’ve said with Jinder, the excuse that the WWE can use is that he hasn’t gotten better; he is just cheating his way to victories. You can’t really use this with Breezango though, as they look to be playing the fan favourites in the feud, so you can’t have them cheat their way to victory, so you basically are telling the fans they’ve just suddenly somehow gotten better at wrestling. Of course this could work, and fans could get behind it with a little more build up. However, I do fear for both Mahal and Breezango that if fans really don’t react to them being placed in higher spots – which is understandable when you don’t offer much build up to get there, the WWE might that they aren’t of the ability to be in those spots and never give them the opportunity again.
While I feel the Raw’s womens division is packed with some really entertaining characters, who put on really great matches to boot, I do feel like the division often goes round in circles. Of course this is generally going to be an issue for the womens division on both brands, they will always be compared to the womens division that many of these women were involved in with NXT. NXT had the benefit of having a single one hour show every week, in comparison ton Raw’s 3 hour show every week. This meant on NXT the likes of Sasha Banks and Bayley could build storylines but draw them out far longer because they could only fit so much into a single week. Some weeks there wouldn’t even be a womens segment, and if there was, it might be used by one of the other feuds going on in the division, so you weren’t as quickly burned out by long talking segments and feuds that seem to take too long to move onto the next pivotal point with a lot of filler. NXT also made better use of enhancement matches, meaning that when you finally got to see the likes of Sasha Banks and Bayley face off, you hadn’t already seen them in the ring together multiple times. This is really an issue across the WWE in terms of Raw being too long and big pay per views being too long, it’s nothing new and I’m not the first person to talk about it, but it’s worth mentioning because I do think the ladies of Raw are making the best of a difficult situation.
I would assume there will be a similar viewership for both shows next week. The NBA playoffs are doing quite well this year and as they progress I imagine they will do even better, again having a bit of an impact on Raw and Smackdown.