Welcome to a brand new article that will replace the weekly RAW rankings and will pit Raw and SmackDown against each other to determine which brand had the better week. Vince McMahon wants competition and we’re going to give it to him!
This one is particularly important as it is the first week of the brand split and with it came new sets, new theme songs, new commentators and of course, new rosters. So which brand reigned supreme in week one? Let’s recap their weeks!
Monday night Raw got off to a bang with a fatal 4-way match that included four supreme competitors in Cesaro, Rusev, Kevin Owens and, of course, Finn Balor. The introduction of Balor so early was a fantastic treat and the match itself was very good. The second fatal 4-way wasn’t quite as good and was pretty predictable, but any show with two matches of that type is almost guaranteed 45 minutes of good programming. Nia Jax’s debut was handled perfectly, as she was showcased exactly how she needed to be. Neville returned, Strowman was repackaged and The Club added themselves to the title picture. Add Corey Graves’ genius to commentary and this felt like a fresh show where anything could happen and it got off to a perfect start.
Moment of the Night:
There were a lot of fantastic moments, but nothing surpassed the crowning of Sasha Banks as WWE Women’s Champion. The decision to do it on RAW rather than saving it for SummerSlam was genius as it was the moment that made the revamped RAW feel special. Sasha is a supreme talent and even though the women’s division should not have been split, she is absolutely the right person to spearhead it.
Show Grade: A+
Right from the start SmackDown didn’t quite reach the momentum levels of RAW. The energy was off and nothing about if felt particularly bigger than the old pre-taped version. Becky and Natalya had a solid match, but without a title or anything to fight for on the brand, there’s no end to the means. Introducing Alexa the way they did seemed like a really great introduction… until they decided to roll out the entire women’s division at once. It accomplished nothing and wasted the first appearances of Carmella and Bliss. Add… whatever it was Eva Marie did… and you have yourself a nothing segment. The Miz and Orton stuff dragged on far too long and also wasn’t particularly good. The battle royal, thanks to the unfair drafting rules, felt shallow with very few top stars. Cesaro, Titus O’Neil and Kevin Owens should all be on the blue brand. The lack of star power didn’t allow SmackDown to reach the levels Raw did. Keeping American Alpha off the show was an incredibly questionable decision too.
Moment of the Night:
The only thing that saved SmackDown from being a colossal failure was the main-event. The match itself wasn’t even anything special and didn’t surpass either fatal 4-way from the night before, but the result makes SmackDown worth tuning in for next week. Having Dolph win was a perfect way to show how SmackDown will be giving everyone an opportunity. However, it’d be easier to swallow that message if they’d drafted some of the guys who actually fit that need. Ziggler versus Ambrose at SummerSlam will be an incredible match and Ziggler will show why he should have always been in main-event feuds.
Show Grade: C+
It was clear that RAW was the better show this week and as such, it claims the first points in the battle between the red and blue brands of the WWE.