For the past few months, most wrestling fans that regularly watch WWE programming would tell you that SmackDown was superior to Raw. Tuesday nights had higher quality, better women’s wrestling and an overall freshness. Since the Superstar shakeup though, SmackDown has been reverting back to the B show.
On the surface, that doesn’t make very much sense. SmackDown added the biggest name in NXT: Shinsuke Nakamura. Although the blue brand lost Miz, Bray Wyatt, Alexa Bliss and Dean Ambrose, it added the two biggest names of the swap in Kevin Owens and Charlotte. Despite all these new, great acquisitions, the show has just seemed disjointed.
The fact that Orton and Wyatt’s WWE Championship feud is happening on different shows is a big part of that. The same can be said for the Owens/Jericho feud. Why couldn’t Wyatt continue to appear on SmackDown in promos until WWE Payback was over? Why couldn’t Owens continue to be on Raw until Payback was finished? Their feuds would have been much more fluid and interesting if that were the case. Seemingly, no one cares about them now because we already know Orton is on to Jinder Mahal and Kevin Owens is on to AJ Styles.
Speaking of Orton/Mahal, I don’t understand why Mahal was even in the #1 Contender Six Pack Challenge. And then he actually won? I realize that as wrestling fans we should be happy when we are surprised by something, but I just don’t see how this feud gets interesting at all. I hope it is just a one and done throw away. Sami Zayn should have won the number one contender spot to face a heel-turned Orton for a few months. Now Zayn is most likely going to be feuding with Corbin for a while, which could be good, but I expect he will come out on the losing end of that feud.
The angle between Nakamura and Ziggler has potential, but I’m worried that Dolph is so irrelevant now that it will make people care less about the King of Strong Style. Losing Miz was a huge blow for the blue brand. He was arguably the top heel in the WWE. Ziggler serves the role of the very poor man’s Miz right now. I have little doubt that Ziggler and Nakamura will put on good matches, I just don’t know if the promos will be that interesting.
There are a few things that I think SmackDown is doing right: Breezango getting a Tag Team Title shot amuses me. They have been a joke for so long that it makes you forget both men are very talented. Although, I assume this is just a holdover until The New Day arrives to serve the Usos with a great big bowl of Booty Os.
The women’s division has also been fun. Creating a mini stable of Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina because of their jealousy toward Charlotte was a good move. Now you can keep the title on Naomi for a little while longer while presumably she, Charlotte and Becky Lynch feud with the others.
Owens vs. Styles will undoubtedly be terrific. The Phenomenal One is the best in ring performer in the WWE and Owens is great in the ring as well as on the mic.
So has SmackDown been dropping the ball? Maybe not 100%, but it absolutely has not been the same quality that it was pre-Shakeup. Hopefully once Payback is over, SmackDown will tighten everything up and go back to being the better show in the eyes of the fans.
WRITER’S NOTE* – This article was written before Payback, where Chris Jericho defeated Kevin Owens. So…yeah that outcome made absolutely no sense. You already had the Styles/Owens feud in motion. AJ is already a face again and Jericho is probably the most over face in the business right now, so putting them against each other is stupid. Hopefully Owens wins back the title in a rematch tonight, although that would have made this match a big waste of time. Owens better get the title back, otherwise SmackDown loses the best thing it had going for it.