It was a tough week for both shows with Smackdown being broadcast on the fourth of July and the day before the fourth also being a tough spot for a TV show to be broadcast on. Raw drew 2,912 million viewers, with Smackdown struggling – even with a John Cena return – to 2,329 million.
Roman Reigns has come under a lot of stick in recent years, but generally whenever he’s been involved in anything with Braun Strowman, fans have reacted quite well to most of what the two of them have done. The build up to their ambulance match this Sunday has been no exception. In complete honesty and transparency, I don’t exactly look at ambulance matches as one of my favourite match types in wrestling, but that in all certainty does not mean that match won’t be entertaining. In fact with the build-up this match has had, I’m fully expecting this could be a really hard hitting, fun contest. The result of the match is of course still a question mark as it doesn’t seem as dry cut who the winner may be as it may have been a few weeks back. Generally it was assumed that Roman Reigns was to eventually face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. With Strowman being very likely to face Lesnar somewhere in between the conclusion of his feud with Reigns and Wrestlemania, it was expected Strowman would win against Reigns to launch himself into the match with Lesnar. However, recently it has been spread around that the WWE may be looking to shift the Reigns Vs Lesnar match to this year’s Summerslam. This of course would mean it would make more sense for Reigns to win this Sunday, however, as of yet we do not know if the plans for that match haver officially changed, so that gives the ambulance match between these two an extra little bit of drama this Sunday – as it is increasingly unpredictable.
Chad Gable has had two pretty impressive matches with both Kevin Owens and AJ Styles in recent weeks. During this time, Jason Jordan has been involved very little. The former tag team champions have really struggled for any kind of TV time since Wrestlemania and that has been pretty concerning to American Alpha fans. Of course there has been speculation that Alpha may end up being revealed as the people who have been messing with the Fashion Police as of late. I think for any American Alpha fan they can agree that both have very bright futures ahead of them as singles star – however, when you see the lay of the land on Smackdown at the moment, there appears to be limited space for more singles stars, but plenty tag teams that American Alpha could put on some really good matches with. The Uso’s and the New Day are the main faces of the tag team division, but there is no reason American Alpha cannot fill a space in there, with the only other serious tag team in the division outside of those main two being the Fashion Police. Of course being revealed as the mystery attackers would signal a character change for the team, but that may be what is needed to project Alpha into a more featured role on the brand. Initially when the team debuted in NXT it appeared they’d be more of a villainous act as they appeared quite cocky and full of themselves. The team ended up becoming so popular with the fans that didn’t last long, but I’m sure such an act would have legs on the main roster.
Raw’s womens division feels like it is almost in a transition period. Not just the division actually, but most of the competitors themselves. Sasha Banks had a good showing the gauntlet match but her storyline with Alexa Bliss still feels quite flat. Bliss is still in a good place but apart from those two and maybe Nia Jax, most of the division feels like they need character shifts before they will move on to better things. The biggest case of this would of course be Bayley and I feel like the biggest match that could be built to in this division would be Bayley Vs Sasha Banks. Many fans would have been calling for that match to happen at Summerslam a few months back, but it has become clear that neither character is really in the place they’d need to be in order for that match to work out. For me I’d think that a rematch from the Sasha Banks Vs Alexa Bliss match this Sunday would be the best direction to go for, either that or a multi-woman match. The division could really do with something to really light it up at the moment and I’d think that a new addition to the division could do that. My pick for that would be the current NXT champion Asuka. Many people would say that Asuka’s call up to the main roster is well over due and I’d agree, but I think they still haven’t really waited too long, the Japanese star would still receive a hell of a reaction. The way things are going in NXT it would appear that Asuka would need to either lose the title soon, most likely to Ember Moon, or be called up without having ever lost.
Smackdown saw both the return of John Cena and Rusev. While it might have made sense to begin the build to a flag match on the fourth of July, I’m generally against having two returning competitors beginning their returns by facing each other. Generally in feuds, by the time they draw to a close there is a clear winner and clear loser. To have two returning stars face off immediately seems silly, because it’s generally a lot harder to maintain that momentum of a return and propel that wrestler to bigger things when the first big thing they do once returning is to lose. The assumption here would be that Rusev will be the one to lose to Cena here. Many have assumed Cena will eventually Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, but even if he doesn’t, he will inevitably be doing something big. So it will make sense he would beat Rusev, because it’s more than likely Rusev will not be doing something as big as Cena. I feel bad for Rusev because he can be used better than this, but I feel bad for the WWE because clearly someone is not realising what they have in Rusev. Of course this could turn out with Rusev defeating Cena and going on to even better things, but it’s hard to see that being a reality. Of course I can understand the argument of “But Cena needs to win if he is going on to do this and the next thing” Of course that makes sense, but that simply doesn’t wash with me when you didn’t have to put them together in the first place. Hopefully there is a way to work this out without either man having to lose the steam of their recent returns, but I already feel like Rusev could have made a far more impactful return than simply interrupting Cena, but in fairness, that probably won’t matter in six months after plenty more has been broadcast on Smackdown. What happens from here will truly set out how Rusev can do from now on.
With a strong showing the Great Balls of Fire event on Sunday, Raw could see a rise in viewership. Meanwhile, Smackdown should surely see an up in viewership compare to be broadcast on the fourth of July.