I have to start this off by saying that if you are going to watch one wrestling show throughout the week and you want to get the most for your time, Smackdown or New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS are your best bets. I don’t know how many of you have AXS in your cable package, and I’m guessing it’s not much, so with it having the better outreach, I would say go with SD. You really get a different product than Raw. Raw is stuff happening with an occasional plot twist, while Smackdown delivers with actual storylines and payoffs.
That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. The Jeff Hardy/Randy Orton/Shinsuke Nakamura thing is weird and confusing. Sure, you get Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton at the Pay Per View come Sunday, but why do you need Nakamura for this story? All it does is tie up the United States Title and it doesn’t do anything for Shinsuke or the championship. These two could have had this same feud away from the belt and still be able to deliver on a good story. Instead we have this meandering tale of whatever it is. Come Sunday, I am almost certain the match is going to deliver, but this hasn’t really piqued my interest at all.
Another complaint I have is obviously the Becky Lynch scenario and how badly WWE has dropped the ball, yet again, on an organic baby face that people want to get behind. Charlotte Flair is amazing, and she is clearly one of the top female wrestlers in the world, but anytime WWE tries to cram someone down the crowd’s throat, this same thing happens and it backfires. I understand their thinking. If they call an audible for this, it will mean they will have to make changes to everything the crowd hates, and then what will happen to their writing? But in some instances, especially ones as glaring as the Lynch situation, you just have to give in and do what the people want to see. I guess the one positive out of all this is that Becky has been killing it, and taken her role and ran with it like a pro. She has really stepped from the back of the line and shown how good she can really be lately, and anytime that happens for any worker, I think we should applaud that. This has turned into one of the most interesting stories in all of wrestling, and I really can’t wait to see what happens next on Sunday.
On one last Charlotte note: did anyone else notice that she botched that armbar reversal and still was able to power Sonya Deville into a powerbomb? Holy hell, that was amazing.
The tag team match for the shot at the championship on Sunday really stole the show for me. Rusev Day vs. The Bar is another reason you want to see Smackdown every week, and that is great tag team wrestling that you aren’t going to see on Raw. It just hands down has a deeper roster when it comes to tag teams, and each Smackdown Tag Team Championship match seems to always steal the show for me. I am partial towards tag team wrestling, and I felt it was a dying art before the roster split, at least when it came to WWE. Now a days I feel like it has evolved into a great division.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe are so good in this feud, and I think that it may be the top program of the year so far. Holy hell, if I told you ten years ago that AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were going to be stealing the spotlight in a WWE ring for the WWE Title, I don’t know how many of you would have believed me. I am not sure I believe it myself. But this is one of those amazing stories where AJ is playing the whitemeat baby face and Joe is playing the cocky jerk taking swipes at AJ’s family to get in his head, and it all melds perfectly. I just want to point out that this feud is so good, so alive, and it is really just basic professional wrestling. No crazy gimmicks or hotshots, just a nice build, around a reason anybody can relate to, which makes you want to see Joe get his face bashed in. How did we miss the mark on things like this for so long?
The Smackdown writing team is leaps and bounds better than the Raw team. These shows feel alive and like can’t miss television. Meanwhile, Raw is something you fast forward through when it gets slow and tiresome. I think you can attribute that to the three hour format. Smackdown, without commercials, is about ninety minutes, and that is a lot easier to fill than the gargantuan running time of Raw. Regardless, it is much easier to watch a show where you find some things that you shake your head at while enjoying the majority of it, compared to a show where you have to dig through a lot of filler to find any gems. For those of you with less time on your hands and a Hulu subscription, their ninety minute version of Raw is vastly superior to the live version. The only problem is that you have to wait for it to get posted the next day. By that time, if you have social media, forget it, the entire show will probably be spoiled already.
Take care everyone, and enjoy Hell in a Cell this Sunday!