The following contains spoilers
This week of Raw was up 0.22 from 2.12 to 2.34. Similarly, Smackdown rose from 1.72 to 1.92. I suppose this is to be suspected after a pay per view. I guess I’ll come to know; now I’m paying more attention to ratings. Honestly, I am a bit surprised by this. After the reaction to Summerslam I thought some viewers may be turned off. Especially because my main problem with Summerslam, was how lengthy it was. I’m somewhat surprised some viewers simply just didn’t tune in, due to being overwhelmed with the vast amount of wrestling these past few days. Either way, we had a decent show and an excellent show this week, at least from my view. With the excellent show being Smackdown. Again, I think it’s going to take a while of this draft split, until we see if Smackdown can really compete with Raw. If this upward projection continues, we could see Smackdown up into the 2’s, which certainly make the WWE happy.
The draft split has resulted in new championship titles. With that comes a lot of excitement. The Universal Championship, in both look and fortune, hasn’t gotten off to the best start. The look is even more confusing now Smackdown’s tag team championship and womens titles have been revealed. The womens and tag titles resemble Raw’s, just a different colour scheme. The same can be said for the Universal title and WWE World title. Just the colour schemes are so vastly different. Instead of changing just the back plate, similarly to the womens championships, the strap and plate have been giving different colours. I feel as though following the differences between the womens titles was all that had to be done. Even something as subtle as a blue swoosh under the Smackdown title and a red swoosh under Raw’s. As Smackdown’s world title does not have a blue strap, I feel the titles do not follow the consistencies that the womens titles have.
However, as correctly pointed out by Seth Rollins and many others, what goes on in the ring is far more important than what a title looks like. Smackdown obviously has a smaller roster than Raw. However, I’d agree with the opinion I’ve seen from quite a few people this week. That Smackdown makes better use of their roster. At the beginning of the draft a lot of people criticized Smackdown’s roster. Specifically the womens roster – claiming it was too small – and the tag team roster – claiming while it had numbers, really only had two credible teams. These statements weren’t really all that wrong. All teams on the roster, bar the Uso’s and American Alpha, hadn’t really been presented as legitimate threats to many of Raw’s tag teams. Plus, I can see why some might consider six womens competitors as being not enough.
However, I maintained that there was a lot of talent on the Smackdown roster. Many of those talents simply needed some “rehabbing” and different presentation. Nikki Bella has been added to the womens roster, plus we’ve seen decent character development to the women who really needed it. Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss and Natalya were not really characters many were worried about. Eva Marie developed a character that presented a reason to tune in every week, plus prevented her getting in the ring. Which many don’t consider her to be great at. Carmella had a character some viewed as boring. She has now become a villain, attacking Nikki Bella, viscously, twice. Then there is Naomi, who has debuted a new entrance and ring gear which I must say are excellent. In terms of tag teams, work is still needed. However, Breezeango had a match with American Alpha this week, in a match which got a few people talking. Some of those people saying despite being sure Alpha would win at the beginning of the match, they questioned later in the match if they might get swerved. A team like the Ascension, if treated like monsters, could really become a threat post Backlash. Using enhancement talents could be a really great way of achieving this.
In terms of the top titles on each brand going forward, there are some exciting times to come. On Smackdown the stage is being set for Styles Vs Ambrose. While next week on Raw we are set to crown a new Universal champion – which should keep the ratings up. The four competitors in with a chance of becoming the second Universal champion are Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Big Cass. Personally, one option sticks out way more to me than the other three and that is Kevin Owens. I feel like the WWE still want to put a spin on Raw that makes it seem new and different. Putting the title on either Rollins or Reigns right now does not achieve that. The title and the focus have been put on those two to large degrees, over the past two years. Big Cass obviously does other something different, although it does feel far too early. A Kevin Owens title reign sounds pretty great to me.
In terms of Smackdown, a Dean Ambrose Vs AJ Styles feud is far more than enough to keep me interested. AJ was all types of entertaining this week, just like he has been since he came to the WWE. Not just in the ring though. While AJ was never bad on the microphone, AJ has been incredibly entertaining while speaking recently. Ambrose also has quite the talent on the microphone, which will make for some interesting interactions in the coming weeks. The question now is whether Dolph Ziggler will eventually be added to the match. I don’t feel the match needs Ziggler, but I also feel after Dolph’s great work recently, he deserves to be somewhere on the Backlash card. So if they do not have other plans for Dolph, I hope he does end up in the main event. I have a feeling Dolph could end up challenging The Miz for the intercontinental championship.
To end this week’s article, let’s talk about long events like Summerslam. Summerslam, including the pre-show, lasted just over six hours, Containing 13 matches. Once the AJ Styles Vs John Cena match took place at Summerslam, I was burnt out, the crowd seemed burnt out. Seth Rollins Vs Finn Balor was a really good match; however, it was inevitable that after watching some much wrestling before it, I just wouldn’t get the same enjoyment out of that I could have. These long shows also make the crowd far more irritable, creating situations like Sunday, where the crowd chants things like “That belt sucks” rather than paying attention to the match. I believe there are two solutions to this. Firstly, WWE could just stop running such long events, although I feel like that just won’t happen. So the other option could be a two day event. Moving NXT takeover to Friday night and having Summerslam spread across Saturday and Sunday could be ideal. It splits the times of the shows in half and means more matches will receive the attention they deserve. This also allows the WWE to make more money from selling tickets, gives more of a reason to buy the network and allows them to brag about selling out the Barclays centre four nights in a row. At the very least, I’d like to see one or two matches removed, allowing for an intermission during the show.
So I’m going to predict differing fortunes for Raw and Smackdown next week. Thus far, both shows have similar results. Both falling or both rising in ratings. Next week, with a Universal title match, I am predicting that Raw’s ratings will go up, while I could see Smackdown’s ratings going down ever so slightly.