Raw managed to draw 3,014 million viewers as it competed with a major college football game this week, so that was good viewership when considering the situation. Meanwhile Smackdown wasn’t quite on that level, with 2,533 million viewers.
With pay per views being as frequent as of late the build to the Royal Rumble pay per view has seemed quite long. Obviously a longer build is generally better, however, that’s only really the case when the shows in between make it as such. While Smackdown has generally been engaging, I’ve found Raw to drag on a little bit. However, we did at least get some advancement this week.
Finally we’ve got a new United States champion. Chris Jericho managed to win the title when teaming with Kevin Owens against Roman Reigns. I’d like to say this will hopefully lead to a little bit of a shake-up of the matches we see every week on Raw, but I’m likely wrong. While I’ve seen just about enough of Roman Reigns Vs either Jericho or Owens, I’m happy they’ve finally moved the US title onto Jericho. I’d assume Reigns will take the Universal title at the Royal Rumble allowing Jericho to eventually defend his US title against Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania. Of course with Raw being three hours I can understand the difficulty in having a large variety of wrestlers rotating. With a limited roster it can become tough to keep everything fresh – and I can’t help but feel this would become easier if the tag team division was a little deeper, the women’s division didn’t have both Paige and Summer Rae out injured and the Cruiserweights weren’t saved for 205 live. With these division a little shorter than they could be, this puts more time into the main event scene – which at this point is essentially Reigns, Jericho, Owens, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Strowman, Rusev and then the closest to them would be Big Cass and Enzo. A Finn Balor return, possibly a call up for Samoa Joe or Nakamura and possibly New Day moving into some singles action could really shake the scene up.
Over on Smackdown the roster is smaller, but the way they’ve rotated the roster has been more impressive. Having said that, it might show over time that wasn’t a good decision, if we are a year or two down the line and we feel everything on Smackdown has been done. One thing Smackdown has done very well though is develop younger talent. Alexa Bliss, American Alpha and Baron Corbin have all been further developed via Smackdown. Having mentioned Corbin though, this week he found out that you don’t become an up and comer on a John Cena show without losing to Cena first. Of course some have defended Corbin losing as “Well he can’t beat Cena before Cena challenges for the title”. That’s fair but as I would say in most similar situations, the answer to that is to just not have the match in the first place. It isn’t the end of the world for Corbin but having Cena beat him just seemed like an unnecessary roadblock in the line for Corbin. Had they not immediately established Curt Hawkins as a guy easily beaten after his return, this would have been the perfect spot for a guy such as Hawkins – face Cena in a competitive match up but end up losing – it doesn’t look bad on Hawkins as he likely wouldn’t be involved in the main event scene in the future as you’d expect Corbin would, plus it looks better on Hawkins to then face others on the roster that he was competitive with Cena.
There have been a lot of rumours as to how the Wrestlemania card will look. Of course there are plenty of possible matches in my head, however with the build to the rumble speeding up; I’m trying to concentrate on that first. In terms of possible winners, I would have to say my favourite is the Undertaker. Of course having said that, the Undertaker could be on any match on the card for Wrestlemania and make an impact, so he wouldn’t need the title in his match. With the way Braun Strowman has been going, and with it looking like Reigns could take the Universal title, we could be seeing Strowman winning the rumble. On the Smackdown side I’m not sure who I’d see winning the Rumble, so I’d be surprised to see a Smackdown superstar win it.
Finally, I want to talk about next week’s steel cage match between Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. I’ve enjoyed the feud between the two and generally while the matches haven’t ever blown me out of the water, they’ve been good and I’ve always looked forward to them. The timing of next week’s will be perfect for them to have their best match to date and if they can manipulate some creative situations it could be a really great match. I’m split between if I think Lynch will take back the title in time to defend it at Wrestlemania or if Alexa will hold onto it via help from the mystery masked woman. Possibly Lynch will win the title to defend it against whoever the masked woman is at Wrestlemania.
Raw should have a better viewership next week unless there is a football game I’m unaware of, meanwhile I’d feel Smackdown may suffer slightly without an advertised John Cena match.