Raw drew 2,759 million viewers this week, meanwhile Smackdown had a decent week, drawing 2,328 million viewers. Could Smackdown once again begin to catch up with the red brand?
I’m not sure if it’s something to do with this time of the year, or if it’s just the current state of things, but I find myself quite unenthusiastic about both Raw and Smackdown right now. In term of Raw, I find myself quite excited for the upcoming Extreme Rules pay per view, which I’m sure will be filled with plenty of fantastic matches. However, I am finding it a struggle watching the Raw’s in the build-up. We already know where the storyline is heading, so it feels as though it has some predictability to it. This leaves us with basically a heap of set up which can appear to be filler for a lot of viewers. The current situation is basically we have a rotation of the 5 guys involved in the fatal 5 way facing off against each other in either tag team matches or singles matches. Of course it doesn’t help the predictability and feeling of little happening on the show that the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is very rarely on Raw. While I am sure that the promised matches next week of Balor Vs Wyatt Vs Joe and Rollins Vs Reigns will be very good, you know nothing massive can happen in them with the extreme rules match still to happen. I’m sure once we get a little closer to Summerslam some bigger names will start to show up and some intriguing storylines will be taking place, but at the moment Raw can be quite a tough watch.
Smackdown has been a mixed bag lately. With it being shorter than Raw, it always feels like an easier watch – but recently it still has felt like a bit of a chore to watch. Again this comes down slightly to there being quite little at stake, quite little development. I think the WWE missed a trick by not having qualifying matches for the Money in the Bank ladder match. Because the names have simply just been announced I would assume we will end up with a similar build up to the match as we are seeing with the fatal 5 way match on Raw, we will see the individual competitors rotate in and out of matches with each other over the coming weeks. Qualifying matches would have given the competitors on Smackdown a little bit more of a focus; it would have given matches in the build up to Money in the Bank a little bit more meaning and given the competitors something tangible to fight for. I do understand that there is a bit of a thin roster on Smackdown, but it wouldn’t be difficult to find 6 guys to lose the qualifying matches: Mojo Rawley, Luke Harper, Eric Rowan, Tye Dillinger, Sin Cara and Aiden English are the names I would suggest. So again I think the build up to the next pay per view could be a bit boring on Smackdown, as I just don’t imagine much big storyline development will take place on those shows.
One thing that I am looking forward to quite a lot at Extreme Rules is the match between The Hardy’s and Cesaro & Sheamus. Of course this match will take place inside a steel cage, which adds an extra element of excitement to the match. The storyline has been quite formulaic over the past few weeks, which has added to my feeling that Raw doesn’t have too much on it that is “can’t miss”. Generally the Hardy’s have beaten their counterparts in 1vs1 matches, which is mainly because they don’t really want to beat either of them yet. This has led to growing frustrations from Cesaro & Sheamus and of course triggered their turn back at the last Raw pay per view. I really do feel there has been a lack of creativity on the weekly shows as of late and this feud has been a god example of how formulaic and predictable things have been. Nonetheless any combination of these four always leads to at the very least a decent match. I imagine the cage match will be fantastic, and it could very well be a way to get the titles off the Hardy’s without pinning them, but I’d hope they keep them in order to feud with the Revival who look to be on their way back to action after it appears they attacked Enzo Amore this week on Raw.
Jinder Mahal has certainly improved in the past few years, and he is clearly putting in a lot of effort to it. Unfortunately for myself I’m not finding his run in the main event that entertaining. Part of it is the fact I know there is so much star power on the roster right now. You’ve got Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin and AJ Styles all on one roster and I feel like I’m desperate to get various combinations of these guys fighting it out for the top title on Smackdown. I still have this idea of the character Jinder is in my head, and I’m not even sure if that’s exactly how WWE want to portray him. To me his character is one that still really is that guy who mostly lost in the past, he’s gotten better to some degree, but he is cheating his way to a better footing in the company, lucking his way into it. Although I enjoy this, I’m not sure I am fully convinced that character should be world champion.
I’m going to be positive this week and predict raises in the viewership’s for both Raw and Smackdown next week. Hopefully both are able to capture my imagination a little bit more and become a little less predictable.