Despite Monday Night RAW reclaiming their status as the number one wrestling show, not many would argue that Smackdown Live was once again the superior show. Despite always being considered the “B Show” the brand split has lifted Smackdown to new heights. Monday Night RAW is the “flagship show,” but why is Smackdown Live a better show? Let’s dig into the major reasons.
Smackdown Live is Only Two Hours
WWE had a very interesting WWE Network show a few days ago titled “Bring it to the Table.” The show featured Peter Rosenberg discussing numerous “Internet Wrestling Community” complaints against the current product. One major topic was whether or not Monday Night RAW should drop from three hours to two hours. Panelist members JBL and Paul Heyman laughed at the idea. JBL broke it down as a financial decision – which made complete sense and Paul Heyman continued to stay semi in-character and criticize smarks for “bitching” and that their opinion only matters if they tune out. A disappointing take from Paul Heyman to say the least.
I understand that RAW will never drop back down to two hours until USA demands it. WWE would suffer a huge loss in revenue by dropping that hour, but that is not my talking point here. The question is “Why is Smackdown Live a better show” and how does that relate to this?
RAW suffers from being too formulaic and containing too much filler. All direct results of having too much time to fill every single week and causing massive writer burnout. It seems like every Monday Night RAW opens with an overly long JeriKO, Stephanie, Foley, and Rollins/Reigns combined promo. Then you get to see said promo three more times throughout the show as it is constantly recapped. By having so much time to fill, RAW seems to be just a combination of random segments that usually go on for far too long without organization.
Meanwhile, Smackdown Live follows an incredibly organized and cohesive story form. Storylines weaved in and out as the show went on and seemed to have a good length to them – even the American Alpha squash match furthered their storyline with the Wyatts as Bray cut a pre-recorded video promo on the group. Which, again, had another story wrinkle to it as Orton seemingly cut off Harper and said “run!” Point being, Smackdown makes the most of their time.
The final point regarding this subject is audience burn out. Three hours is a long time to devote to a non PPV wrestling show. Especially if you can’t fill it with non-filler and compelling television. I find myself most Tuesdays actually wanting more after Smackdown ends and that is exactly what a wrestling show should do to its audience. I should be left with a compelling reason to tune into the show next week or the PPV that Sunday. Most of the time when RAW ends I’m glad I can head to bed.
Smackdown Live is Gritty
Hilariously, despite Monday’s being touted as “RAW,” the actual “raw and gritty” show is on Tuesday nights. Smackdown manages to push the envelope quite a bit more than RAW. Like it or not, the most popular shows on television are gritty and “adult.Breaking Bad is heralded as being one of the best shows ever constructed. It was violent, smart, and extremely adult. Game of Thrones and Westworld all follow that lead.
While RAW has R-Truth and Goldust dancing around singing songs, Natalya is calling Nikki Bella a bitch whose good looks will fade making John Cena leave her and she will die alone. Holy shit! Wrestling matches need stories that give the audience a compelling reason to watch them fight. Usuaully the more intense the feud is, the more compelled the audience is, which makes for a much better environment and better viewing experience. I want to see Natalya get her comeuppance as she has just been vile to Nikki Bella.
Then you have The Miz vs Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. This feud got out of control after Miz commented on Renee Young sleeping with Dean Ambrose. Renee promptly slapped the taste out of The Miz’s mouth after that. Dean and Miz have proceeded to have matches and segments which culminated in Ambrose winning the strap last Tuesday. Last Tuesday also featured the women getting involved as Maryse slapped the ever loving shit out of Renee Young backstage as revenge. This feud has soap opera written all over it and that makes for a good wrestling angle.
Everything boils over with AJ Styles vs John Cena. a feud that has been ongoing for over half a year now. The feud has gone full circle. Cena initially claimed that Styles needed to beat him to show he belonged here. Styles did that. He beat him at Money in the Bank, Summerslam, and No Mercy. Styles recognized this and said the tables have turned. Now, Cena needs to prove he still belongs here. Styles called out Cena’s part time schedule and hypocrisy in going back on his comments against The Rock for being part time. The main thread that flows through these storylines is their grittiness and realistic feel.
Smackdown Live has Better Wrestling
Some weeks Smackdown Live goes promo heavy and reduces their wrestling minutes. However, most weeks Smackdown consistently puts out great matches. Not only great wrestling matches, but great championship matches. It seems like once a month the WWE title is on the line in the main event on a mega show. It’s always built up and heavily advertised. The Intercontinental title is seemingly on the line every other week and actually changes hands. The Women’s championship is constantly on the line in the very bitter Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss feud.
Both RAW and Smackdown give us the same matches constantly. Jericho Vs. Reigns again? Baron Corbin Vs. Dolph Ziggler? We saw AJ Styles battle Ambrose numerous times for the WWE championship. That being said, I enjoyed every single match because those guys went out there and told different stories in the ring. Each match added its own little wrinkle to the ongoing storyline. RAW simply cannot touch Smackdown Live in the in ring category.
That will do it for today’s article. Keep tuning in for more of my thoughts and make sure to follow me on Twitter @Skared89