Raw hit 3,323 million viewers this week, meanwhile Smackdown raked in 2,628 million viewers. So that’s a small drop for both shows this week – which is slightly surprising as you’d maybe expect the viewership’s to hold up in the build to Wrestlemania.
After mentioning last week how it seemed Roman Reigns wasn’t quite playing the best character for the story in his feud with the Undertaker, I feel like there is a similar situation happening right now on Smackdown. I really did enjoy the segments involving AJ Styles and Shane McMahon this week, however a lot about the situation makes Shane come off as a bad guy and AJ come off as someone who has done some things wrong but is fairly justified in his frustration. AJ Styles has proven himself to be one of the best in the world over the past few years and has had one of the best debut years in the history of the WWE. Despite this, and being one of the biggest stars on the Smackdown brand, Styles has be screwed out of a title opportunity and until this week did not have a match scheduled for the Wrestlemania pay per view. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon has not done much to help Styles in this situation. In addition to that, the way Shane is used on television makes it appear as though in storyline Shane McMahon is not around a whole lot meanwhile Daniel Bryan is the more fun general manager who is doing large amounts of the work. This to me would seem the perfect opportunity to have Shane be more of the villain in this situation and Styles embracing the fans who have never stopped cheering him. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed having the good guy general managers in Smackdown and I’d probably prefer it long term to have it stay that way rather than dealing with an evil McMahon on both brands.
As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy the whole storyline with Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens and I feel they could have one hell of a match at Wrestlemania. An issue I do have with the build to this match though is one I’ve had with multiple matches in WWE, the vast amount of TV time the WWE must fill means that they end up interacting and even participating in matches together far too much for my liking. In a match such as this one where there is meant to be a high level of hatred between both guys and the match is meant to be rather personal, I’d prefer to see less interaction between the two as it allows the anticipation of their match, at least for me personally to begin to fade and makes the match become more ordinary in my end instead of the specialty that I felt it could be. Having said that, the excitement for this match in my mind is at least maintained a little more by the work on the microphone between the two. With Chris Jericho promising to reveal the real Kevin Owens next week, that is something that could be interesting and a real story building tool. Although you do worry that it could be a typical WWE segment where a potentially powerful segment in this blood feud could be turned into a poor attempt at comedy. It’s my hope that they can either make this into a more serious segment, although I’m unsure as to how they may do that – potentially Jericho doing something that will rile up Owens causing him to react angrily, thus revealing the “real” Kevin Owens? Or possibly a recording of Owens from months back? The mystery around what this could be certainly does help to raise interest levels.
Randy Orton’s feud with Bray Wyatt has helped both guys, as well as Luke Harper a lot for the past few months, I just hope it isn’t the same feud that lets them down. At the moment the on goings between the two are right at that spot where a storyline can hinge between being a fun, dramatic piece with some elements of pushing the limits of reality and the other end of just simply being too unrealistic and too dramatic with a tendency to make you cringe. I’d said last week I hope Wyatt doesn’t appear again on Smackdown again until the last episode before Wrestlemania. This hasn’t happened because he in fact did appear this week, however that was in an offsite segment, so I hope my idea can still be used in a tweaked fashion. By not having Wyatt and Orton become physically involved until the last episode before Wrestlemania, or even Wrestlemania itself, you may avoid the issue I mentioned beforehand of physicality happening too soon, draining a sense of anticipation. I just pray we don’t get the typical both of them involved in a tag team match against each other.
The storylines in the womens division on Raw have received high amounts of criticism this past year, it’s not like the wrestling has been bad, the main players in the division are some of the best competitors we’ve seen in the division in years, if not ever. Although the high amounts of title changes, Charlotte’s streak being protected at all costs but yet being lost on a secondary show, loose partnerships and questionable storytelling in terms of the good characters doing villainous things and vice versa has left some a little disillusioned with the division. I do feel the best match for Wrestlemania would be the triple threat we have now, although adding Nia Jax to that mix wouldn’t be the end of the world, it could actually even be a better match if they limited Jax’s involvement and used her in the things she does well. I feel Dana Brooke’s turn on Charlotte this week was fun to watch but I’m not sure I’d include her in the Wrestlemania match as it could simply become too clustered with too many competitors. Ideally I’d have had Bayley retain and then the next night on Raw Evil Emma could return, team up with Brooke once again and attack Bayley therefore setting up the next feud coming out of Wrestlemania. That could still happen, as even though it looks like they might be going down the fan favourite root with Brooke it could possibly be a short lived one in order to break her up with Charlotte and pair her up again with Emma. If not then Brooke will make a decent addition to the good side of the women’s roster which is fairly thin at the moment.
With Wrestlemania just around the corner I’d for sure expect ratings to stay at a similar level if not go up in this next week.