Eight weeks into the brand split and both brands are starting to develop their identities. SmackDown currently has a commanding lead over the red brand, but with a killer main-event scheduled, can RAW get one back on ‘the B-show’ who are coming off their first exclusive pay-per-view, Backlash. Let’s find out!
Yes, it did appear that Sasha’s shoulders were down as well as Bayley’s, but that match summed up the change in mindset the women’s division has seen across both brands since the draft. RAW needs to give the women more time so it can fill its three hours and this triple threat match was a good example of that. Adding Dana Brooke to the match was smart because this was not the time to give away Sasha Banks versus Bayley. Dana didn’t even hold them back … much. It’s also good to see Bayley reverting back to the shy and overwhelmed character she portrayed in the early days of NXT. It will allow her character to build from scratch again like it did so perfectly in NXT.
Chris Jericho has become must-watch whenever he is on screen. His facial expressions and catchphrase work is becoming legendary. The Highlight Reel was good and Sami Zayn FINALLY has something to do.
A secondary women’s feud is getting air-time? That’s a positive in itself, let alone Nia spearing Fox through a barricade.
Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens put on a pay-per-view quality main-event. They were given plenty of time, as they should be given it’s a three hour show, and the bout lived up to the stakes presented. Having Seth get involved is interesting because the punishment side of things will have to be something unexpected. Foley won’t be taking Rollins out of the championship match, but will he make him defend his number one contender ship next week on RAW? It’s also good to see Rusev back in the mix after his honeymoon.
The third hour is really struggling. RAW needs the Cruiserweight Division as soon as possible because there’s only so much Jinder Mahal versus Jack Swagger people can take, especially two hours into the show.
Enzo and Cass have completely stagnated too unfortunately, and it’s not their fault. RAW has less tag team depth than SmackDown and feuding with the Shining Stars is so far beneath them that it just feels like a waste of time for everyone involved.
Why would you give away New Day versus Gallows and Anderson on RAW if the match is happening at Clash of Champions? Yes, it’ll probably be Kofi and Big E at the pay-per-view, but you’ve still given away the full-length tag team match. Again, RAW has no tag team depth.
Show Grade: C+
Dean Ambrose and John Cena absolutely tore each other to shreds. It felt real and it the tension was palpable. There is absolute money in that feud right there later in the year. For now, a triple threat match involving the WWE Championship and AJ Styles, yes please.
Everything in the Intercontinental Championship picture right now is fantastic. The Miz and Bryan’s feud also feels (probably is) real and it’s elevating the belt in the process. Miz and Ziggler showed at Backlash how good they are when given the opportunity in the ring and their mic work has been even better.
The Fatal-5 Way Match was good too and everyone got a chance to get some offense in. Bliss is the right winner. Carmella and Nikki need to continue their feud, Natalya has no momentum and Naomi versus Becky is a match probably best saved for now. Bliss is a massive star in the making.
Chris Jericho is to RAW what Heath Slater is to SmackDown. Long may Beauty and the Man-Beast reign!
Ambrose hinting at a heel turn or at least following up on his tension with Cena to close the show was the smart move and gave us something to tune in for next week.
Randy Orton not being cleared for Backlash has sucked the life out of this feud with Wyatt. Both promos this week felt so disjointed and out of place with the feud and Erick Rowan re-aligning with Bray seems so unnecessary. Bray should’ve been given the chance to look like a monster while Orton was injured. Instead he’s lost to Kane and let a henchman take an RKO. The ball has been dropped.
Jack Swagger was being wasted on RAW and yes, SmackDown needs depth badly, but Swagger isn’t the answer. He should put over Corbin and then be used in the undercard so guys like Crews don’t have to take pointless losses to guys like Miz and Styles.
The Hype Bros, The Vaudevillains and The Ascension have all been relegated to jobber status within two months of getting a fresh chance here on SmackDown. That’s half of the division classified as obsolete.
Show Grade: B
SmackDown Live: 6
It’s starting to get ugly now. The Cruiserweight Division is RAW’s best chance at getting some points back, but the blue brand has a commanding and possibly unassailable lead.
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