Both Raw and Smackdown had some really great things going on this week, which I suppose made it rather unfortunate that the viewership’s for both shows didn’t experience any kind of noticeable increase. Raw had 3,199 million viewers meanwhile Smackdown drew 2,626 million viewers.
There is nowhere better to start than with Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. This segment had been built to over the past year and it’s fair to say this moment was fitting of such a long build up. I hadn’t expected the split between the two quite so soon, I’d assumed Jericho would accidentally cost Owens the Championship against Goldberg, leading to a split. However, the fact I didn’t quite expect this yet made it even better. Both guys are brilliant at what they do and executed this segment with absolute perfection. As much as I’ve thought Smackdown has been better on a consistent basis since the brand split, this was one of the best single moments since the divide – Raw seems to far more commonly produce these moments while Smackdown produces a more consistent product that has generally had better matches, but maybe not quite had the “moments” of this, Goldberg beating Lesnar or Balor’s debut. The best thing about this storyline for me is how is has developed both characters. You really can feel sympathy for Jericho after this, meanwhile there is a lot to be aggrieved at Owens for. However, Owens has ultimately cost himself the Universal title by doing this, as now he must face Goldberg alone.
Bray Wyatt is of course now the WWE Champion and in becoming the champion we gave started to build towards Wrestlemania. Of course the rumoured match is Wyatt Vs Orton, as Orton does need to use his title shot he earned from winning the rumble. However, Orton has said he will not use that shot against Wyatt, prompting Smackdown to schedule a battle royal next week to decide a new challenger for Wyatt at Wrestlemania. There are several different directions WWE can take with this, but I hope that they have Harper win the battle royal, leading to Orton deciding he does want the match and a triple threat between the three, as I suggested, at Wrestlemania. The issue with that however is if Orton has been trying to fool Wyatt this whole time, giving up his title match, allowing someone else into the match to then take it back but in more difficult circumstances seems an odd tactic. So possibly Orton never was playing Wyatt, he truly did want to be a part of the Wyatt family, and eventually Wyatt may do something to annoy Orton, leading to him snapping out of it, attacking Wyatt and demanding to be added back to the Wrestlemania match. The uncertainty will make the build up towards Wrestlemania entertaining.
I’ve felt Samoa Joe has been excellent since his debut, he’s looked like a real threat, a real badass and I really enjoyed his interview segment this week. One thing Vince McMahon has also been praised with being very good with is building up big guys, the monsters. It seems with the way Joe has been introduced would suggest this is how Vince sees Joe and if that’s the case, that is a very good sign for Joe. Hopefully the WWE stays committed with presenting Joe in this way. I’m unsure as to what he will end up doing at Wrestlemania. Possibly he won’t have a match and will just play a part in the Triple H Vs Seth Rollins match, should it happen. His attack on Sami Zayn could possibly lead to a match between those two, although with so many possible matches rumoured for Wrestlemania it seems that was a match set up for Fastlane.
We’ve got two new women’s champions in WWE within two days. Firstly Naomi on Smackdown who is someone I’ve always wanted to see involved in the Championship picture and there were times over the past few years I felt it might never happen, but I’m glad we have got to see it, even though I get the feeling it could be a short-lived title reign. Meanwhile Bayley has won the title over on Raw from Charlotte. Bayley’s win has come into a lot of praise but also some criticism. The match between Charlotte and Bayley was fantastic but it has thrown up some questions. Some of questioned if it was too soon for Bayley to win the title? One thing that was so good about her win in NXT was how long it took her to get there. Additionally there are some worries that this will follow the normal pattern with Charlotte. Charlotte loses the title on Raw, gets a rematch at the pay per view, and wins the title back. A short-lived title reign could work if Bayley is screwed out of the title, to then go on a redemption hunt to finally get it back, possibly at Summerslam? However, as many have pointed out you can only win the title for the first time once, plus if WWE want to try and make a long term storyline out of this, they have to consider that some fans will only look short term and not look at the bigger picture. Another possibility I can think of is that due to Sasha Bank’s involvement in the match Bayley could even possibly be stripped of the title by Stephanie McMahon next Monday.
I’m going to predict small increases for both shows again next week, but nothing drastic.