I’ve been considering over the past couple of days maybe doing a weekly post about Raw and Smackdown now that the brand split is a thing – kind of comparing both shows and seeing which show was better and so on. It’d make there be more activity on here and give me more of a reason to watch Smackdown than the little there is. Of course, I can’t promise this will actually happen weekly – I can say that it will, but then it could get boring or I might just not want to. There’s plenty to talk about this week, but that doesn’t mean there will be every week. Obviously with this being the first week, it’s pretty easy – also, the fact that Raw was one of the best episodes we’ve had in years helps. Smackdown…Well, I guess it at least has some talking points.
Some things I want to say about both shows in general, first. I liked how they changed up the sets. It might not have been much, but it was nice. I appreciate the Raw commentators being up by the stage again, I appreciate the different camera angles, and I liked the postmatch interviews.
In terms of new theme songs, it’s not even close. Raw used a song by my favorite band, Smackdown got a theme created for it by CFO$. And while CFO$ has done great work with the themes these days, if you use a song by my favorite band, you win by default. The song is “Enemies” by Shinedown, and while I’m not sure I would pick that specific song as a theme for Raw compared to some of their other songs, I’m not complaining either. Also, the last person in the opening video is considered important – and the last person in the Raw video is none other than the boss, Sasha Banks, which I appreciate. Nice to see they finally figured it out to give that spot to one of the best people on the roster. Better than most the guys, that’s for sure.
And commentary, it’s not even close. Raw was better by far. As much as Mauro Ranallo is the best commentator they have, he’s brought down by how freaking awful JBL is, and David Otunga wasn’t good either. Sure, I’m not that big of a fan of Michael Cole, but he can be good at times, especially when JBL is not next to him. I think Cole is dependent on what he’s being told to say, whereas JBL is terrible no matter what. In all honesty, I’d prefer Daniel Bryan as a commentator on Smackdown instead of as a GM.
I don’t think I’m going to run through everything from both shows in depth. I’ll talk about the important things, and touch on some other stuff.
Raw’s opening was hot. Sure, it opened with an authority figure segment, but it kind of had to. Also, it was quick and to the point. They set up a few matches to help determine a contender to face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for a new World Title, called the WWE Universal Championship. That name needs a lot of work, but if the image of the title I saw is real, it looks pretty sweet. So, they set up two Fatal 4 Way matches and the winners of that would face each other in the main event and the winner would face Rollins. Naturally, everyone assumes the main event was going to be Rollins vs. Reigns, which would have been fine with me. Reigns served his punishment, and he got pinned by both Rollins and Ambrose clean. He doesn’t need to be punished anymore as far as I’m concerned.
The superstars in these matches were Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Rusev, Sheamus, and the birthday boy and first draft pick from NXT, Finn Balor. Just him walking out at the end got a big pop from the crowd and it was so awesome to see.
The first of two fatal 4-ways was Balor, Rusev, Cesaro, and Owens. It was great. It was chaotic, which is basically what the appeal of fatal 4-ways are. There’s not really much storytelling or psychology in matches with four or more people. Of course, I’m positive there were people up in arms saying that if Balor didn’t win then he was going to be buried, because if you don’t win your first match the internet thinks you’re auto-buried. They expected him to win and not get “buried” by Reigns, the almighty burier of Raw. >.> People are stupid. Now, I would’ve been disappointed had he not won the fatal 4-way, at least a bit. I’m not expecting anything crazy like Balor winning the whole thing and fighting for the title at SummerSlam. This is WWE we’re talking about – they don’t do things like that. But I would’ve liked to see him at least make it to the main event so he at least got some kind of rub to at least show that he’s going to be a big deal – remember, Vince, if you fuck this up, we will all physically kill you – but then he’d lose to Reigns. I don’t have a problem with that at all. Fuck the people who think getting pinned by Reigns or Cena automatically makes you crap. I might not like their characters, and Reigns might not be ready to be in a Cena kind of role, but losing to these guys once isn’t going to kill someone. Thankfully, Balor did win the first Fatal 4-Way to move on to the main event in the better of the two 4-way matches – and he did so by pinning Rusev, the U.S. Champ. So even if Balor lost the main event, he had direction for SummerSlam – he could stake a claim for the U.S. title since he pinned Rusev. Hell, Rusev could’ve cost him the main event too, making it even better. Also, just seeing Balor’s entrance – even the non-demon entrance – in a big arena was awesome. His music seemed even better than usual – I can’t wait to hear that in an arena. His theme is so damn good. I might have to go to the live event in September now, actually, considering Balor’s there and I might finally get to see Sasha wrestle – that’s eluded me even though she’s been on Raw for a year and I’ve gone to one Raw and one PPV since then. She didn’t wrestle on either because WWE hates me.
That being said, Reigns won the other 4-way to no one’s surprise. It wasn’t quite as fun, but that’s what happens when Sheamus is in it. We got a little buildup video for Balor later in the show, and a small segment between Balor and Reigns before the main event before it happened. Balor got both the shortened and the remix of his theme played tonight so that was amusing – just not the demon/heartbeat part. Anyways, the main event was good, and I was thinking at the time – this whole show has been pretty awesome, if they could just top it off with something epic, it’d be one of the best shows they’ve had in years – and Reigns winning, while I wouldn’t take issue with it, wouldn’t really be anything to write home about. Predictability doesn’t usually create moments – it can in certain cases, like a title win you’ve been waiting to see that, even though you know it’s probably coming, is still awesome because you want it so badly. But Balor counters a Spear with a Slingblade, hits a Shotgun Dropkick, and the Coup De Grace and PINS REIGNS CLEAN. HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. If anyone was worried that when Finn Balor finally got to the main roster that WWE wouldn’t put that much stock on him just because he’s not super tall or anything like that, that was immediately been silenced. Finn Balor won two matches, pinning a two time and current United States Champion, and a 3 time former WWE Champion, on the same night, and is now going to SummerSlam to fight Seth Rollins for the new World Title for Raw. Finn Balor was made a star tonight. Well, he was already a star. The world was just informed that Finn Balor is here, and he’s going to own this business just like Cena, Batista, Orton, Punk, and Bryan did/do, as much as the Shield is right now – and as much as Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Bray Wyatt will in the near future. Finn Balor is here to stay, and he will not be ignored. Thank you WWE for doing something unexpected, and investing in the future. Thank you, Roman Reigns, for helping make Finn Balor even more of a star – even if fans can be assholes, you’re still positioned as one of the top guys, and without you being in that spot, the win wouldn’t mean nearly as much, whether WWE is “punishing” you or not. So, thank you.
And fuck you, Vince Russo, for going on some kind of rant because Finn Balor beat Roman Reigns. You are a complete idiot. Pro wrestling isn’t “dead” because Balor beat Reigns. Pro wrestling is NOT about big, muscular dudes beating each other up. Pro wrestling has evolved. If you don’t like that, that’s tough shit for you. Get out of the business. In fact, you and Jim Cornette need to get the hell out with your terrible opinions. Go get stuck on a deserted island together – that should be fun, I know you hate each other. If you can’t accept that wrestling has evolved with the times and you can’t evolve with it, we don’t need you, we don’t want you. Your opinions aren’t necessary. Nobody’s bringing wrestling back to how it was in the 80’s – back when it was boring as hell. There isn’t an audience for that, and you either get over it, or shut the fuck up. That won’t sell tickets, that won’t get ratings. The days of that kind of wrestling are dead and gone, and thank God for that.
This leads to a few things – what will be an amazing match between Rollins and Balor – I hope they try to Slingblade each other at the same time. And now, what doesn Reigns do? The postmatch interview Reigns had seemed kind of heelish to me – I wonder if Reigns will cost Balor the match. As much as I love Balor, and I’m so happy they with him vs. Rollins, I’d have a hard time believing that Balor will go all the way and win the championship at SummerSlam. That’s too crazy for me to think that WWE would actually do that. But, if Finn is the demon at SummerSlam, do they want Finn to lose as the demon clean immediately? The demon is something WWE would want to protect, and starting with a clean loss is probably not the way to go. The NXT faithful won’t think much of it, probably, but the main roster only fans will be like – well, that was cool, but what really did it accomplish? I think that it might be best for Finn not to use the demon paint at SummerSlam, even if Reigns were to cost him it. I know it’s SummerSlam, but I don’t really think it should start with a loss, and I don’t expect Balor to win the title at SummerSlam either. So not using the paint solves the issue. I also don’t really want him to use the demon paint at every PPV – the demon is special, and something we should only get every now and then. They did fine with it in NXT and just had him do it at live specials. But there were six of them a year. I don’t really know if I want him to do it once a month at PPVs. Or if he ends up in a tag match on a PPV. It needs to be for one on one feuds that are personal. If he ends up in a less meaningful match, then I don’t want to see the demon. Like, Demon Balor should never be fighting someone like R-Truth. The match has to be a big deal. And this match is a big deal, but I don’t think it should start with a loss either.
Regardless if Reigns costs Balor the match, he still has to face someone. So who is it going to be? Sami Zayn? Cesaro? Chris Jericho? Kevin Owens? Ideally I’d like him to fight Cesaro. But then where will the other three end up? Cesaro vs. Zayn would be better to me, because I think it’s safe to say Owens/Zayn is over for now. But then what does Owens do? I don’t want Owens vs. Reigns – Owens needs a win. And I would have to expect that now the punishment of Reigns is completely over, so whomever he fights at SummerSlam I expect him to win.
Other things that happened on Raw (I’m saving the best for last, don’t worry):
I enjoyed that Braun Strowman and Nia Jax both got squash matches so they didn’t just start beating talent on the roster. I’m not that excited for Nia on the main roster or Braun on his own, but this is the right way to go with them for the time being. Nia being a thing is going to just lead to her squashing Paige at some point which is a problem. I don’t really like the women’s roster on either show as a whole, to be honest. You’ve got a few good people on both shows, but not enough. Going forward, despite what happened on Raw, splitting the women up like this was a mistake. They needed to keep, and I say this ONLY for the sake of the strength of their respective divisions, tag teams on one show, and women on the other. Since WWE isn’t going to have intergender stories/matches, there’s not much you can do with only six women on your roster. Especially when, for Raw, some are Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, or Alicia Fox, or for Smackdown, some are Eva Marie, Naomi, or Natalya. (Less so Natalya but I hate her so she gets put in that class regardless.) And the same deal can be said for tag teams. Not much you can do when your only tag teams are New Day, SAWFT, the Club, and the Dudleys. Or your only tag teams are American Alpha and Breezango.
The New Day segment was good outside of the fan/plant coming into the ring. That was awkward. And while I don’t agree with the Club going to Raw, it’s been clear that they will be the ones to take the titles from New Day before eventually losing them to SAWFT, so that was good.
Great to see Neville back.
SAWFT vs. Shining Stars was kind of pointless because Golden Truth walked through finding Pokemon. You can tell the Shining Stars don’t mean anything when they lost to just a Big Boot.
That being said, the moment of the night or moment of the week or moment of the year, I don’t know – Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the WWE Women’s Championship. They set up the match at the start of the show because Sasha made Charlotte tap at the PPV, and I’m thinking – well, Charlotte’s just going to cheat and there’s the SummerSlam match setup. I’m sure we were all thinking that. It’s been pretty obvious they were waiting to put the title on Sasha until SummerSlam. So I went in thinking “How long until Charlotte cheats?”
So the match is going along, and then Dana Brooke gets thrown out because Sasha threw the title at her and the ref thought she was about to use it because Eddie Guerrero. And I’m thinking – okay, she’ll just hit the ref or something. And this match was really good. A match of the year candidate. Not the winner, but a candidate. Also, can we please stop with these dives where people almost die? I swear – Big E, Sami Zayn, and now Sasha Banks have all almost killed themselves within a day. No more of this, please. Dive properly or have the people catching you catch you better. Big E was on him, Sasha seemed like Charlotte caught her improperly.
Anyways. And, well, just watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EOhZQzB4Ko
Sasha won. Sasha Banks won.
SASHA BANKS IS THE WWE WOMEN’S CHAMPION.
Like, I can’t even express just how awesome that was and is. I know that Paige is subjectively my favorite woman in WWE, but objectively, Sasha Banks is the best woman in the company in terms of overall package. Sure, Asuka and/or Becky Lynch might be just a bit better in the ring, but in terms of wrestling, mic skills, character, etc., Sasha is the top of everyone. Don’t try to fight me, it’s not just opinion, it’s an objective fact. I’m not joking when I say she’s one of the best wrestlers in the company – you could argue that she’s the best. To quote CM Punk, some have argued she’s the best in the world, and I wouldn’t argue it.
I’m sure there are ignorant people laughing at that statement, but I’m not here to cure their ignorance. Facts are facts that don’t need to be believed by others to be true. I know some people are like “But Bayley!” because God knows the world can’t just let the “Hey we want some Bayley” chants die. Bayley is amazing, but she is not quite Sasha Banks. Yes, Bayley is incredible, her character work is excellent, her matches are great, but she’s not quite Sasha Banks. Sasha is like CM Punk, Bayley is like Daniel Bryan. Put them together, magic happens.
No title win over the past couple years was as incredible as Bayley winning the NXT Women’s Title from Sasha Banks at Takeover Brooklyn. I can watch that over and over – the match is incredible, the moment is incredible, the postmatch is incredible.
I wouldn’t say Sasha/Charlotte as a match quite hit that level as Sasha/Bayley did, but the moment was just as incredible. On the other hand, Sasha and Charlotte did something Sasha and Bayley did not. Sasha and Bayley had the crowd from the get go, because it was put in front of an NXT crowd who was ready to eat that shit up. Sasha and Charlotte were put in front of a main roster crowd, and who, while they were good for most the show, and they did pop during the entrances, they weren’t there in the beginning of the match. As much as they have pushed the Women’s Revolution, they haven’t done enough yet to recondition the main audience enough to make them realize that they were to take the women’s matches as not to be piss breaks anymore. Unfortunately saying “Hey idiots, women’s wrestling matters like it always should have, pay fucking attention” isn’t going to work, even though it should. In fact, during this match there were fucktards chanting CM Punk. They might not have been loud, but there were still morons chanting it. But Sasha and Charlotte was so good that they shut that shit down immediately and got the crowd shortly thereafter. That is a skill that only the best have. That’s a skill to be valued. In fairness, Sasha/Bayley would’ve gotten the crowd if it didn’t have it either, though.
Sure, Sasha winning the title probably should have been at SummerSlam, but I’m not going to complain about the best woman in the company getting a title she justly deserved months ago. Maybe they were just waiting to push Charlotte’s title reign to pass the 301 day mark that Nikki’s reign made it to because it did hit 307. It’s possible. I know the Bella fans will be all up in arms with me saying that Charlotte broke her title reign, but I mean, she did. “Oh but the Divas Title was retired at Mania.” Irrelevant, really. An arbitrary change of belt and title name doesn’t change that Charlotte made it past 301 days. Sure, wikipedia will say that it’s a different belt, but Charlotte would still have been champion for 307 days whether they changed the belt or not, so Nikki’s only the “longest reigning” because of an arbitrary decision.
That being said, it was an amazing moment. Probably my moment of the year in WWE. Not even Dean Ambrose winning the WWE Title is quite as high up on this list. Johnny Mundo winning the Trios Title in Lucha Underground isn’t that high. NXT hasn’t really had that level of moment at all this year. They’ve had some better matches, but not better moments. Also nice to see that, even though the moment clearly meant a lot to her, Sasha is so good that she still can’t completely break character.
So, now that I’ve already talked about Raw more than I thought I was going to, moving on to Smackdown. This won’t take nearly as long.
They start similarly with Shane and Daniel Bryan addressing the roster, and saying that there will be a six pack challenge to determine the number one contender for Dean at SummerSlam. It would be Cena, Styles, Wyatt, Dolph, Corbin, and the winner of a battle royal, which ended up being Apollo Crews.
So, since Cena and Styles are likely going to face each other at SummerSlam, the logical pick out of the six for a winner would be Bray Wyatt. Corbin is too early, Dolph is a face, Apollo is a face and too early.
But Dolph Ziggler won, and while the match should be good with him and Ambrose, I don’t really care that much. I know, I know – I was at the front of the Dolph Ziggler bandwagon three years ago. But, like Zack Ryder, they buried him so much since then that I just don’t care anymore. Let’s just look at it for a few minutes.
Dolph Ziggler won MITB in 2012, and it was justly deserved. I agonized for the rest of the year just waiting for him to cash in, because I’ve been a fan of his since he debuted in 2008. Finally, the day after WM29, Dolph cashed in and won the World Title in one of the best moments in wrestling history. Just listen to that crowd pop when he won. Then, Jack Swagger, doing as Jack Swagger does when he sees someone take what he foresees as his spot, intentionally injures Dolph, giving him a concussion. Dolph is out for a month, and comes back at Payback at 2013. In probably the worst thing I’ve seen live, he lost the title in his first defense to Alberto Del Bitchbag Von Fuckenstein. They do a double turn. And a month later, A.J. and Big E turn on Dolph, but after Dolph takes care of that business, instead of going back after his title, Del Bitchbag Von Fuckenstein somehow ends up in a feud with Rob Van Dam and Dolph just proceeds to never get his proper title win back. All because of Steroid Guy and Del Bitchbag Von Fuckenstein.
He never even ended up in a feud with Del Bitchbag Von Fuckenstein after DBVF lost the title. DBVF would get released because he slapped a racist – which made no sense, the racist should’ve been released – so DBVF went all around Mexico saying WWE is racist, showed up at Lucha Underground and lost to Johnny Mundo, and then sold out and went to WWE again because money. What a fucking sellout.
Anyways, Dolph did basically nothing outsides eliminating one of his nemeses, Sheamus from a Battle Royal (His worst enemies are Sheamus, Alberto DBVF, and Jack Swagger), until SummerSlam 2014, when he won the IC Title from the Miz. Hurray. He won a title. The one he’d one a multitude of times. World Title or bust. He lost it back to Miz the next PPV (I think there was something stupid with Florida Georgia Line in that match) and won it back before the next PPV
Then he was the sole survivor on John Cena’s team at Survivor Series that destroyed the Authority. A big win, and that should have been the start of bigger things for him. Unfortunately,that’s the last time anyone’s been able to take Dolph seriously. He had a small feud with Luke Harper and won the IC title back again, before losing it to BNB. The authority fired him alongside Steroid Guy and Erik Rowan for being on Cena’s Survivor Series team. Cena got their jobs back, but even though he kept talking about “becoming the man” in 2015, he did nothing of the sort. He didn’t turn on Cena when he got back. So he didn’t get any kind of meaningful match at Mania. He didn’t get Cena even though Cena was why he was fired, because Cena was busy with Rusev. He didn’t get Triple H coming out of that authority vs. Cena storyline because Triple H was busy with Sting, who helped Dolph get that winning pinfall in that same match. So he was just thrown into the IC title ladder match, which was just there to give Daniel Bryan a title to make the fans not boo Reigns.
So, you can damage control that. In fact, there’s really not any damage done – he just didn’t get something he deserved. But here’s the problem. The angle with Rusev was a travesty. I was the biggest Dolph Ziggler fan before this feud. But it was SO BAD and it lasted for SO LONG and it didn’t even have a proper payoff such that this feud make me not care at all about Dolph Ziggler. This angle did to Ziggler what the Eve/Cena/Kane thing did to Ryder. And nothing that he’s done after it has helped. Right when it was over, Summer turned on him and joined Tyler Breeze in the three weeks Tyler was pushed – and he lost to Tyler. He lost in the same IC Title ladder match at Mania this year. And he feuded in a boring angle with Baron Corbin for three months, losing that feud that mostly only made PPV preshows.
So what about Dolph Ziggler am I supposed to take seriously as a competitor against Dean Ambrose? I know Dean has only started to really be taken seriously, post WrestleMania, but he’s still far more credible than Dolph. And I’m not trying to take away from Dolph as a talent – the match will be good, they’re both great at what they do. But in terms of taking Dolph as a credible threat, it’s not there. And I would probably not be as critical if this was a decision they were making for a lesser PPV. If this was for a Smackdown PPV in, like, December, after what the first big title feud for Smackdown would go through the first few PPVs, then I’d be okay with this. But this is SummerSlam we’re talking about. And while I understand Cena and Styles are going to face each other, we need someone big for Dean. And Bray Wyatt is all Smackdown has at the moment to fit that criteria.
The only way, and I mean the ONLY way, to try to salvage interest in this, and three weeks of it might not be enough, is if Dolph turns heel. He really needs it – not just for this title match, either – he needs it to rekindle his career. He’s been the underdog for too long and he hasn’t won anything from it. He needs to turn heel and be repackaged. New music, too. I will gladly get back on the Dolph bandwagon but you, WWE, have to show me that you’re serious about pushing him the way that you should have been doing all along. Ryder is beyond saving, but Dolph isn’t. Do what needs to be done.
And what is WWE’s hangup on fully pushing Bray Wyatt to the moon? I’m damn tired of him just facing random people when he could be so much bigger than that. And now what? Is he going to fight Apollo Crews? That doesn’t interest me much, especially if Bray loses.
Orton being on MizTV was what it was. Orton and Lesnar probably won’t be on the same show until SummerSlam so I don’t see how the build for this will be too interesting. Lesnar will be on Raw on Monday. Also, it might be a new era, but the IC and US champs were pinned on the first episode anyway.
Shelton Benjamin returning is cool, but he should be on Raw. He and Apollo kind of fill the same spot, so two similar athletes being on one show is kind of pointless.
Why we need to wait a week for American Alpha makes no sense.
Heath Slater was never relevant or important, so whatever that promo was, no thanks. And Rhyno…..Sigh. I don’t need Rhyno back on tv. What’s he going to do really?
And finally, Becky Lynch beat Natalya which is great. And then all the Smackdown women showed up and talked for a minute to just introduce themselves, I guess. Well, unless you’re Eva Marie, then you get some kind of movie announcer telling everyone that you’re awesome and then you walk out and take off your coat.
God, Smackdown has three good women (four if you must imply that Natalya is good despite her many painful flaws) and two of them are not yet title material. Becky is going to have back problems for a long time because she is going to have to carry that division.
And what was the point of this segment anyway? It didn’t lead to the announcement of a new women’s title, so who cares? They should have just had Alexa go out there and mess with Becky because that’s the immediate feud I’d want out of those six.
So, that’s really all for this weeks’ shows. I’m still worried about Smackdown. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t compare to Raw at all. It wasn’t even a contest. Raw was entertaining throughout, had several great matches, and two amazing moments. Smackdown was just an alright to good show with some interesting/questionable decisions.
But SummerSlam could be really damn good. We already have:
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship)
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship)
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
And more than likely:
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte*
New Day vs. Club (Tag Titles)
*I just read Charlotte wants time off. Maybe she wants it after SummerSlam and this takes care of the rematch so she can go do that.
And Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Rusev (US Title), Miz (IC Title), SAWFT, Becky Lynch (Second Women’s Title), and American Alpha all need to be on here somewhere. But I’m not sure where to place them exactly.
This might be the first PPV with an NXT show within the same week that could live up to the NXT show.
That being said, Raw wins week one and it’s not even close. We’ll see if this becomes a weekly thing or not.
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