Lewis Michie here, in addition to my weekly Impact review, and variety of other columns I write on the site. I’ve taken on a role in writing the ‘Who won the week?’ articles. In these articles I shall compare and contrast the ratings of Raw and Smackdown, my opinion on those shows, and the general opinions on both shows.
So this week we saw Raw draw a rating of 2.30, slightly down from last week’s 2.36. While Smackdown drew 1.86, down from 1.92. Both shows fell by 0.6, however, with these shows not following a pay per view and not being the first shows post-draft, that isn’t too bad. Raw easily beat Smackdown, which can be expected to continue, for quite some time. WWE will have to keep working at building up Smackdown, making it clear it’s a real competitor and not a B show. This will be a slow process, but I truly believe competition between the two shows, could really ignite interest in both.
I felt both shows were strong. It’s a struggle to pick which one of the two I enjoyed most. If pressed, I’d probably say I enjoyed Raw slightly more than Smackdown. Both shows were entertaining, and both shows seemed to gather positive reactions, from the majority of fans. In terms of feeling new and fresh, Raw still seemed to drift more, from what we’ve expected from a WWE show, in the past few years. While Raw offers something seriously different from what we’ve come to expect, the opening promo, enhancement matches and a different layout. Smackdown seems a lot more similar to the general WWE product of the past five years. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as both shows feel different from each other, then I will be happy.
In terms of commentary, Raw’s broadcast team continues to receive a better reaction. Michael Cole and Corey Graves seem to work well together, and as many predicted, Cole has benefited from not having JBL by his side. Byron Saxton, in my opinion, is quite good. Many don’t like Byron, but he has at least not received as much criticism since the brand split. Smackdown’s commentary team, on the other hand, have not gone down quite as well. JBL has still felt to many, to be talking over other announcers and generally not adding, but rather taking away from the show. In the first week David Otunga went mostly unnoticed. This week however, many have said they are not fans of Otunga on commentary. Many have noted they don’t think his tone of voice is right in many situations. Others saying much of what he says comes off as cringey and hard to listen to. Personally I think a solution that could fit everyone, is to reduce both shows broadcast teams to two members. Cole and Graves on RAW and Ranallo paired with Saxton on Smackdown.
Both shows had a lot of good, and truthfully, not much bad either. Of both shows, probably the worst thing was the way the women were treated on Smackdown. Both Eva’s fake injury and the beat down of Carmella had their purpose. Both were important to their storylines, however, I can’t help but feel they could have been a week apart. I would have liked to see one of the women’s matches actually take place. Maybe, we could even have seen the Natalya angle saved for next week. This week we could have maybe seen Alexa Bliss, facing an enhancement talent instead.
I must say, full credit has to go to Eva Marie. The woman has learned what her part is, and how to play it. You’ll hear often enough, how too many heels nowadays are interested in being cheered, not being booed. Eva knows most fans do not like her, she knows what will frustrate them. Now sure, Eva is not the best wrestler, or the best promo. She knows what she does well though, and she, I’d assume with the help of the writing team, has highlighted that.
Going into next week, I am excited for both shows. Despite Raw being the better show two weeks running, at least in my opinion, I’m anticipating Smackdown more than Raw. I’m personally intrigued by a lot of the storylines happening on Smackdown. I’m also eagerly waiting on seeing the introduction of both, a Smackdown women’s championship and tag team championships. I’m still obviously excited about Raw, but more so in a way I know it will be a good show, rather than being as interested in current storylines, as I am with Smackdown. No matter what, this is an exciting time in WWE, and wrestling as a whole. The fantastic wrestling content week to week continues.