After 3,600 million viewers last week, Raw dropped to 3,469 million viewers in an episode headlined by a Braun Strowman Vs Big Show match. Meanwhile Smackdown drew in 2,544 million viewers, way down from 3,105 million the previous week – which is to be expected with last week being a draft episode, but WWE surely would have hoped to retain some of those viewers, although the NBA playoffs surely won’t aid viewership’s for the coming weeks.
There is no better place to start with WWE this week than with Jinder Mahal. A guy who on Raw was consistently used to make other people look good, has been drafted to Smackdown and now finds himself the number 1 contender to the WWE title, possibly with a stable comprised of himself and the Bollywood boys. This is obviously odd for a few reasons, firstly it seemed to come almost out of nowhere, plus the Bollywood boys had hardly been used since the cruiserweight classic and I thought if they were going to appear anywhere it would be in NXT’s tag team division which could do with a little bit more depth. Possibly the WWE didn’t build up Jinder too much before this as the whole reasoning behind it was to shock people. I’m sure Jinder isn’t going to stay anywhere near the main event picture but I’d assume he could still end up in a decent midcard role which would be better than where he previously was. He might be more accepted in that role after having had a WWE title match. Plus the important thing to remember here is Jinder isn’t portrayed to have suddenly become a much better wrestler overnight – he was given help to win that match, having lost the previous week to Mojo Rawley. Jinder will probably be defeated in quick fashion by Orton but as a small program to fill time between Orton feuding with others, I have no problem with it. If Jinder and the Bollywood boys can be established as a stable on the show, obviously not a dominant one, but hopefully more threatening than 3MB, they could be a good addition to Smackdown.
Braun Strowman has obviously been one of WWE’s projects over the past year and in a way that has probably surprised many, they’ve done a pretty great job with him. I think many would argue that the way Braun was beaten by Roman Reigns before Wrestlemania and probably the way Braun’s Wrestlemania itself worked out wasn’t perfect, but everything else has been pretty great. Braun was established by crushing enhancement talents for quite a while and after not having seen that for a long time, it was a refreshing sight. Strowman did well in his feud with Sami Zayn as well as other little programs he has had but his best work has generally come with two people. While it was frustrating to see Strowman beaten by Roman Reigns, the matches were fun to watch – and the segments, especially since Wrestlemania, have been even better. The other guy I’ve loved to watch Strowman with is Big Show. While generally big man matches aren’t always very well received, with Strowman having incredible agility for a man his size, and Big Show being in fantastic shape, these two have been very entertaining to watch. The ring breaking segment on Raw this week I thought played out very well, you can only do it every now and again and this was a good time and made Strowman look like a monster. I do however wish they’d shown Big Show walking out on TV, a clip which was later uploaded to Youtube. I thought the clip showed the fans respect for Big Show – which has largely been regained over the past year after many fans grew tired of the World’s largest athlete – but also showed some great work from the Big Show, making him look incredibly tough. Although I do understand why they wouldn’t include that on TV as it was Braun’s moment, not Big Show’s.
The women’s division on Smackdown after the draft was not only always fun to watch, but it also threw a few surprises out there. I remember after the draft was made quite a few people wondered if the women’s division on Smackdown would have enough star power, or be able to provide the same quality of wrestling or focus on storylines much of the audience had grown used to. The division ended up providing some highlight moments and matches since the draft and now after losing Alexa Bliss, one of the main components to Raw, and Nikki Bella who probably had the most star power becoming a part timer due to injury, the division has a bit of a re-build on its hands. With the division gaining Charlotte however, I think they’ve got the women’s MVP for 2016 and a contender for the same accolade of 2017. Her and Naomi both have some fantastic athletic ability and I’m looking forward to the title match between the two of them. Becky Lynch is also a favourite of mine and I’ve enjoyed her matches with Charlotte in the past, so hopefully it won’t be long before we see them face off on Smackdown. Add the likes of Carmella, Tamina and Natalya to the mix, as well as Nikki Bella on a part time basis and I think it’s still a really strong division.
With Matt Hardy showing more and more elements of the broken character this week, the rumour mill is turning quickly. It appears as though WWE are wanting to use the characters, or at least Matt Hardy’s sooner rather than later and are working out a legal remedy to do so. If you ever read my Impact review I used to do here on Inside Pulse, you will know I was a fan of the broken characters so I am for sure happy to hear we could be seeing them in WWE, and I know I won’t be the only one. Raw looked like it was setting up to have a pretty strong tag team division, and I think it still will, but one of the key components will have to be sitting on the side lines for a month or two after Dash Wilder’s injury. Nonetheless, when the Revival come back to join a tag team division including Enzo and Cass, The Hardy’s, Cesaro & Sheamus and Gallows and Anderson, I think we could have quite a few well above average matches and storylines on our hands.
I’m predicting fairly similar ratings for both shows in the next week, probably both slightly slipping down, but no large changes either way.