The first of the brand exclusive pay-per-views is around the corner and with another week of WWE programming complete, it’s time to look at which show was better this week. Coming off their first win since week one, RAW had a lot of momentum to build off. Owens is the champion, Seth’s babyface turn is in the works and people were very eager to see what would happen next. As for SmackDown, they’ve kept trucking along and with Backlash a few days away, this was their go-home show and their chance to sell people on the event.
One brand succeeded and the other stumbled.
RAW – Positives
Kevin Owens is the correct choice to carry the brand. Everything the man does is interesting and the more spotlight he gets the better. It’s amplified too by Chris Jericho’s involvement. Their comedic chemistry over the last few months has been the highlight of every show and this was no exception.
The opening segment was everything it needed to be. It put the wheels in motion for Rollins’ turn, gave Owens the spotlight he deserved and leaves a lot of questions as to where they’re going with Steph and Mick. Will Steph turn on her partner?
The show went from strength to strength with Bayley versus Charlotte. Bayley is already getting massive reactions and having her beat Charlotte while struggling through a knee injury was a fantastic angle. THAT is how you build up Bayley. Maybe a quick feud with someone like Summer Rae would be good for Bayley. Just so her path to the title picture slows down a bit.
Rollins’ first match as a babyface was exactly what he needed to. Jericho pushed him to the limit and they put on a great match. Seth winning clean with the Pedigree is the perfect finish too. He should continue to use it as his finisher to piss Triple H off.
We’ve seen Cesaro versus Sheamus a lot, but the match was still good and changed up the dynamic from last week. Sheamus going up 3-0 just means we’re in for a full seven match series. The storytelling so far has been better than expected.
RAW – Negatives
Clearly, RAW did a lot right … but it also did a lot wrong.
The issue was timing. All of the positives came in the first 90 minutes. From there, the show spiralled downhill.
Enzo and Cass versus The Shining Stars – nobody cares.
Nia Jax squash match – seen it, nobody cares.
The New Day segment with Gallows and Anderson … let’s not even talk about it.
Darren Young versus Jinder Mahal – you’re doing well at this point if you’re still watching.
Braun Strowman versus Sin Cara – remember this filth is all in a row.
Then we got to Sasha’s segment which was well delivered by Banks, but the angle itself was so unnecessary. With so many real injuries occurring, it wasn’t right to play up the potential of Sasha’s retirement.
Owens and Zayn finished the show strong, but when you’ve had over an hour of segments that just plain sucked, it’s hard to see this show as anything other than a failure.
Show Grade: D+
SmackDown Live Positives:
It’s fantastic to see the Women’s Championship match actually being treated like a co-main-event. They kicked the show off and Becky was given the chance to cement herself as one of, if not the biggest babyfaces on the roster – male or female.
The Miz’ storyline with Ziggler continues to develop well. It’s not a match people will be particularly excited by, but you can’t say they haven’t done a good job capitalizing on the Talking Smack buzz.
Randy Orton should consider a job as a storyteller post wrestling. That was legitimately great and he out-Wyatted Bray.
Carmella tapping out Nikki was another smart decision. Carmella probably has the least chance of walking out of Backlash as the champ, but surely it also means her feud with Nikki will be continuing and Nikki won’t be leaving as champion?
EVERYTHING that happened between The Usos and American Alpha – that was the segment of the week. The bout was highly anticipated and the shock factor of it ending after 30 seconds seemed like a real catalyst for The Usos turning heel. JBL did a fantastic job of selling the angle on commentary too. Perfection all-round and hopefully this is the storyline that carries SmackDown’s tag division for months to come.
Slater’s journey towards a contract has been brilliant and having ‘his kids’ in the front row for the match was hilarious.
Styles and Ambrose’s face-off delivered too. It wasn’t overly long and both men sold the importance of the match while building tension towards Sunday. It was simple and effective.
SmackDown Live Negatives:
There wasn’t really anything negative, honestly.
Maybe they could’ve done something with Corbin during that Kane/Fandango segment, but that was still entertaining. The only gripe would be that it didn’t accomplish anything.
SmackDown’s depth in the mid-card will become an issue for them at some stage, making it all the more ridiculous that RAW gets the Cruiserweights, but for now, the show is holding on. They need Kalisto back as soon as possible to help that depth.
Show Grade: A-
SmackDown Live: 5
The concerns laid out last week in RAW’s victory proved to be accurate. Their championship match was fantastic and the swerve left everyone stunned, but the other two hours of the show need to be good too. This week, their mid-card got completely exposed and it led to a really poor show overall. SmackDown meanwhile keeps delivering like it always does.
Glorious Wrestling Podcast Episode 3 is available HERE. We give out our 2016 Wrestling Awards, go over the entire Backlash card and explain the big problem NXT is causing for RAW and SmackDown. Also available on YouTube! Follow Nic Negrepontis on Twitter at @NicNegrepontis.
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