A segment-by-segment breakdown of the two events
By Joe Smeltzer
Looking back at Raw and SmackDown last week, both had their high points and low points. Let’s compare similar segments from each show (i.e., Raw’s women’s match vs. SmackDown’s women’s match), compare them and see which one was more effective.
Raw: The show got off to a good start with Kevin Owens cutting a promo with Chris Jericho. Owens has come a long way on the microphone, and I think that he and Y2J make an interesting pair.
Seth Rollins then interrupted the segment, and this led to a match between Rollins and Jericho. While I enjoyed the opening promo, I did not like how the last match from last week had to be the first match of this week.
From an in-ring standpoint, the Seth Rollins over Chris Jericho match was solid. Both Jericho and Rollins are excellent workers and thus can work well together.
However, one must wonder what the point was exactly. The previous week, Rollins faced off with Jericho in the night’s main event and defeated Y2J with a pedigree.
This week, Rollins faced off with Y2J, this time in the first match of the evening and again defeated Y2J with a pedigree. What was the point of having the same match with the same result two weeks in a row?
To add confusion, in the segment that led to this match, Seth Rollins called out Kevin Owens, saying that he abandoned Jericho last week. So, what does Y2J do? He tells Owens not to be at ringside for the upcoming match, and it didn’t make too much sense to the viewers.
Overall, the match was good, not great, and it did not make sense to me given that the same thing happened the previous Monday.
SmackDown: Randy Orton comes out to talk some stuff about Bray Wyatt, who he has been feuding with for the past month. The lights go off, and Wyatt appears on the Jumbotron to cut a typical, creepy promo.
Wyatt ends his promo by saying “He’s here,” with “he” being Luke Harper, Wyatt’s longtime lackey who made his return at “No Mercy” 11 days ago.
Orton and Harper start their match when the lights go out, and Wyatt’s theme music hits. Wyatt is being wheeled ringside while sitting in a casket and observes for the remainder of the match.
The match ends in a cheesy DQ, with Harper and Wyatt beating up on Orton. Then, all of a sudden, Kane sits up in the casket, coming in for the save. The Viper and the Demon clean house when the lights go out again. When the lights go on this time, nothing happens.
My two main gripes with this segment were:
- Why didn’t they just make it a casket match? The casket that Bray Wyatt was sitting in really had no purpose, so why not just turn that into a gimmick match that we don’t see anymore?
- Kane. He’s too old and his character isn’t interesting anymore. The Dudley’s got it right and retired. As much as I respect the Big Red Monster and all he has done for the business, he has nothing left to accomplish. Unless Kane can put Bray Wyatt over, which he didn’t do at Backlash, I see no point of his role in this angle.
As can be inferred, I had some problems with SmackDown’s opening segment. I am not a fan with how Bray Wyatt is booked and think that he hasn’t made any progress since his initial push in 2014.
Raw’s opening segment, on the other hand, helped grow Kevin Owens’ character and was a nice way to build up the Universal Title match between Owens and Seth Rollins at “Hell in a Cell.” I like this partnership between Owens and Chris Jericho and hope they drag it out at least until Survivor Series.
SmackDown: The past Thursday saw a little man, James Ellsworth, defeat the WWE Champion, A.J. Styles, with more than a little help from Dean Ambrose. Nonetheless, SmackDown’s GM, Daniel Bryan, awarded the jobber a rematch with Styles, this time for the title.
In this interview, Styles expresses his disgust with Ellsworth getting a title shot. While Styles is entertaining on the mic, this was not one of his best efforts. It felt like A.J. just came up with the whole thing on a whim, and the words he was saying just did not gel together.
Raw: The Lita interview with Charlotte are the types of in-depth interviews that the WWE has abandoned over the years, and I think they give much greater insight into a character than the typical backstage interview does. Despite liking this style of interview, it seemed that Charlotte was trying too hard to fit into that heel role.
In this interview, she referred to herself not only as the greatest female competitor of all time but also put herself in the conversation as the greatest wrestler, male or female. Charlotte is very talented, but to put her above Trish Stratus, Lita, The Fabulous Moolah or Chyna is premature at best. To put her above Stone Cold Steve Austin is something that I don’t think I need to explain as an absurdity.
Remember when a few months ago when Charlotte broke away from her father, Ric Flair, and shredded his legacy in the process? If you remember that, then this interview was quite the contradiction, as Charlotte referred to herself proudly as “Charlotte Flair” and referenced that wrestling was “in her blood.” So, does she need to Nature Boy or not?
Nonetheless, the parts where Charlotte talked about her upcoming “Hell in a Cell” match with Sasha Banks were entertaining. Charlotte is talented on the mic, which is why it puzzles me how she has to overstate her accomplishments. It’s one thing to get heel heat; it’s another to insult the intelligence of the audience.
Raw’s in-depth interviews were something that SmackDown lacked last week and Raw’s interviews were much more entertaining than SmackDown’s backstage segments.
Raw: Mark Henry and Golden Truth defeated Titus O’Neil and The Shining Stars, and just like Kane and The Dudley’s, Goldust needs to go. Dustin Runnels was entertaining once-upon-a-time, but that time has passed.
R-Truth still has his moments, but I think “The Golden Truth” is just an unsuccessful attempt to recreate the Magic that was Booker T and Goldust. The problem with this is, Booker T was far more entertaining than Ron Killings.
SmackDown: The Miz and The Spirt Squad vs. Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, and Rhyno posed an interesting matchup. I find all six men involved in this match entertaining, and therefore, this match was enjoyable, with the Miz and the Squad going over. Heath Slater and Rhyno make a unique tag team, and in this case, the fact that they are different is a good thing. The feud between Ziggler and the Miz is the best in the business right now, and let’s see how it ends up.
Raw: Big E over Sheamus was hardly a technical classic. Was it entertaining, though? Yes.
I love the team of Sheamus and Cesaro, and it will please me if they are the ones to unseat the New Day as Tag Team Champs (it has to end eventually). Cesaro and Sheamus were bickering throughout the match over Cesaro filming the event for Facebook live.
I’ve developed a comparison between Cesaro and Kurt Angle. Not that Cesaro is anywhere near as successful as Angle, but they have their similarities.
Both are bald, both are gifted technical wrestlers with good size to them and both can transition between being dangerous characters and comedic characters.
SmackDown: Baron Corbin over Jack Swagger is a very confusing match for fans. One minute, he’s losing to Jack Swagger on pay-per-view. The next, he’s destroying him on free TV.
The WWE management of Corbin lately has been perplexing. Do they want him to be a force to be reckoned with or a jobber? Are the building him up as a future star, or as a loser? Who is Baron Corbin? He has the combination of size and talent that could make him a star if the WWE wanted him to be. We will see if Baron Corbin’s character can develop a consistent pattern.
SmackDown: Alexi Bliss vs. Naomi wasn’t a bad match. If this was the effort that these two ladies gave at “No Mercy,” Naomi in particular, then I would have been much more pleased than I ended up being. Bliss picked up the win, which should have been the result at “No Mercy.” It did what it needed to do, and I’m interested to see what Alexa Bliss can do as the No. 1 contender for the SmackDown Women’s Title.
Raw: Dana Brooke vs. Bayley was overall choppy, sloppy and overall not a great match. I also did not like to see Dana Brooke go over, as I want Bayley to be built up as the future of the Raw women’s division. Bayley seems to be over enough with the crowd as a babyface, and it would be a huge mistake of WWE to drop the ball with her.
Raw: Braun Strowman vs. The Mile High Trio was a jobber match, which are fine when more than one person is destroying the jobbers. Beating up random dudes has become Strowman’s whole gimmick.
SmackDown: To start Curt Hawkins vs. Apollo Crews, Hawkins comes in the ring, talks smack to Apollo Crews, gets punched and then just leaves. I like Hawkins’s intro with his personal ring announcer, but I wanted to see a match. I wanted to see Crews in action, as he is a very talented worker. How do you go from battling the Miz at “SummerSlam” to a no contest with Hawkins?
SmackDown: The Carmella and Nicki Bella segment showed impressive stuff from Carmella, who is growing on me as a top female heel. I loved that montage she put together to show Nikki’s love for her boyfriend, John Cena.
There was some solid mic work and heel tactics from Carmella, and to add to it, for the first time in a long time, the WWE is firmly establishing whether Nikki Bella is a face or a heel. She is a face, and I look forward to seeing where this non-title feud goes.
Raw: Lita interview with Sasha Banks showed that Sasha, as usual, is fantastic on the mic and does what she has to do to hype her historic “Hell in a Cell” match with Charlotte in two weeks.
These types of interviews make wrestling seem very real. The way Sasha described her feud with Charlotte sounded as if they were truly going at it to see who was the best with no script needed.
Both of these segments were good for what they were trying to accomplish, but I’ll give a slight edge to SmackDown. The tiebreaker is that Carmella entertained me more than Sasha did.
Raw: In the Karl Anderson vs. Big Cass match, I didn’t like seeing Karl Anderson get squashed, which is what happened here. At 1:12, this match was over. I’ve heard the Bullet Club referred to as the “Bald Jobber Club,” and I can see why.
SmackDown: When it comes to the AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth match, I have a mixed opinions on the whole James Ellsworth saga. I thought Ellsworth did an excellent job playing the role of an underdog, and he seemed to be over enough with the crowd. We all knew that Ellsworth wasn’t leaving with the title, but he did get a near fall, before picking up a victory by DQ, meaning that Styles kept the belt. My problem with this match was Dean Ambrose.
Of all three former members of the Shield (yes, that includes the dreaded Roman Reigns), Ambrose is by far my least favorite. The WWE builds him up as a dangerous lunatic, but Terry Funk and Brian Pillman were dangerous lunatics. Dean Ambrose is a lunatic in the same way that your awkward uncle who shows up once a year at Thanksgiving is a lunatic, and this match is a perfect example of that.
For those who did not see it, SmackDown’s main event was “The Dean Ambrose Show.” Throughout the match, Ambrose was just saying random, goofy things to distract his rival, A.J. Styles. If you love you some Dean Ambrose, then you probably enjoyed this. I don’t, so I thought it was obnoxious.
Ellsworth wins by DQ, and Ambrose makes for once, a funny crack about how Ellsworth now has more victories over A.J. Styles than John Cena does. Styles tries to attack Ambrose, and Ambrose hits him with his finishes, the “Dirty Deeds.”