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What Is WWE Doing With Smackdown Live?

I have no answers, only questions over how the show’s been handled lately. Granted, Smackdown hasn’t been WWE’s focus for ages, but at least they had some moments of glory. Despite what looks like a decent roster on paper, WWE’s managed to do more harm than good the past couple of months. Of course, some of the damage was not their fault directly, so they can’t be entirely to blame.

Clean Sweep – I cannot remember a brand war so one-sided since the WWF buried the WCW/ECW Invasion 17 years ago. Michael Cole and Stephanie McMahon appeared to brag about Raw’s dominance, drilling it home that Raw had made the “clean sweep” .. even though we all know it wasn’t as Smackdown won on the pre-show. Corey kept reminding us of this, but stayed quiet during Raw as it was repeated.

And what made it worse? Smackdown had no response. No one blamed Shane McMahon or anyone else for what was their worst result in history .. only weeks gone from the 1000th milestone episode. Everyone was expecting Shane to win the Survivor Series match with some heel tactics .. but nope. Nothing. Why? How does that benefit anyone? Did Raw need it? Wasn’t it already getting all the perks?

Shuffles Hurt – The last time WWE had a shuffle of its talent it figured Smackdown was heavier than Raw. There was no doubting it was the better show, and WWE wanted this to change. Swaps were made in the Superstar Shakeup, and Raw made better use of who they got: Baron Corbin, The Riott Squad, KO & Sami Zayn, and Dolph Ziggler. And who was the biggest winner jumping to Smackdown not named The Miz? R-Truth. Seriously .. R-Truth was nothing on Raw, but has since become a full-time dance break attraction. Smackdown has wasted talent, while Raw has at least tried to enhance those they acquired (except Jinder Mahal & Bobby Roode who were more valued on SD).

Shane O’ Mac Is Too Damn Strong! – In typical WWE fashion, the McMahons are so strong you’d think they’re World Heavyweight contenders. Shane’s so good he doesn’t need to wrestle regularly and can beat a former World Champ like Dolph Ziggler. But why does WWE make its talents look so weak against Shane? Don’t get me wrong, he’s the best McMahon who is always willing to put his body on the line .. but really? Beating Ziggler for the World Cup? Will it lead to a heel turn? Did they need to make talent look weak to get a heel turn over? Not really. It could’ve been done in so many other ways.

I don’t get how Shane can go toe-to-toe with guys like The Undertaker .. at any stage of his life. Did they not learn from Vince McMahon’s mistakes? There’s a time and place for a talent vs. boss storyline; and the only time was Austin vs. McMahon. Otherwise, you’re merely sticking a McMahon in there at the expense of someone who desperately needs it. I’m a big Shane O’ fan but .. jeez, stop booking him like he could win the WWE title. He’s good at jumping off cells and going coast-to-coast .. but that’s it. He could turn heel but .. he’s gonna’ go over again and it sucks. And not in a heel way, but in a “feeling sorry for the actual wrestlers” way. At least Stephanie isn’t winning anything when she wrestles; which is hardly ever.

Should they turn Shane heel though? And have two heel commissioners? I don’t believe it’s happened before with the McMahons. WWE usually likes one face, one heel authority figures on separate brands to give different auras for each. If Shane turns heel .. does that mean Stephanie turns face? I don’t know .. it’s a mess from where I’m sitting. I don’t care if Shane turns heel at this point.

Passive Paige – Tired of seeing the trailer for her movie. Release it already and put us out of our misery? There’s only so many times we can see the Dwayne Johnson cameo. But what is more annoying is the fact the movie is all she is now. What does she do otherwise? Instead of looking pretty while announcing matches? She does nothing. She’s a glorified ring announcer at best. And I don’t mean to be critical of someone who had to retire at such a young age but .. at least try to rock the boat.

Baron Corbin gets involved .. he pushes his weight around and causes friction. There’s no controversy with Paige .. her relationship with Shane is rosy and the heels never get their way. When Daniel Bryan was GM you could feel the frustration oozing out of him .. but there’s nothing with Paige. She’s just .. there. And I’m a Brit so I’m supporting her all the way, but I wish WWE would make her do more. It still does not feel like she’s the General Manager of Smackdown to me.

Unforeseen – So it’s not entirely WWE’s fault, because injuries happen and contracts need renegotiating. Smackdown lost Big Cass, and it wasn’t their fault as he’s a tool. Samoa Joe injured? Not good. He was working a solid program with AJ, and having to cut it short meant WWE had to look for the next best thing. The Bludgeon Brothers were dominating the tag team scene, and they were doing a good job til Rowan got injured again. They decided not to use Luke Harper after it .. even though he’s exceptional on his own.

As for AJ .. he lost his WWE title because they had to renegotiate his contract and change the Brock Lesnar match at the last second. And of course there’s Becky Lynch, who is probably their hottest star right now .. but is out with a severe concussion and facial trauma. All of it unforeseen, and WWE’s had to make do with the remains.

Nakamerica – Let’s put this into perspective. As United States Champion, Shinsuke’s had nowhere near the amount of exposure the Intercontinental Champion’s had. And can you remember the last time he defended the title on the main show of a PPV? He’s done it only once since defeating Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules in six seconds (July), and that was at Summerslam (August).

Since then he’s retained against Rusev on a pre-show, and lost champion vs. champion against Seth Rollins at Survivor Series. I don’t get it .. is it meant to make us hate him? Crazily enough, the Cruiserweight title has enjoyed more exposure than the US title lately. Yup.

Brock Wrecks SD Again – Want to devalue your most prestigious championship? Call up Brock Lesnar. It doesn’t matter whether it’s AJ, Bryan, Joe, Nakamura, Orton, Mysterio, Hardy .. whoever is champion at Survivor Series will be destroyed by “The Beast”. WWE’s made it clear two years in a row that the WWE Champion is #2 behind the Universal Champion. So anyone who is the champion of Smackdown is second-rate. Even AJ with his phenomenal year is second-rate. Do you know how much it hurts to say things like that about AJ & Bryan? Too much. We shouldn’t be able to say it as fact.

Charlotte Gives Up – While the LA fans had fun booing Ronda Rousey through Becky’s proxy Charlotte, I was perplexed at how she gave up on the match despite having the clear advantage. So .. because Charlotte couldn’t pin Ronda after so long she beats her up? What happened to her wanting to win? What happened to the Flair mentality? While it was fun to see Ronda get destroyed, Charlotte giving up made no logical sense. And now somehow .. she’s a face again!? She gives up on the match, beats up Ronda and turns face? I .. I don’t know what to think anymore. I know Bryan enjoyed calling fans “fickle” this week, but sometimes we don’t know how to react as WWE makes it so confusing.

But There’s A New FOX Deal! – I recently asked on social media why WWE was trying to kill Smackdown (I sometimes exaggerate for dramatic effect .. so shoot me). Apparently it was the stupidest question ever asked by a human being as the backlash read “OMG THEY NOT KILLING IT YOU IDIOT ‘COS OF NEW FOX DEAL!”.

In the famous words of Steve Austin .. “What!?” Let me get this straight .. WWE cuts back on match time for dance breaks (although reports claim Fox wants more “wrestling”), and you’re telling me they’re doing everything they can to impress? Huh? Are you seeing what I’m seeing? How has anything they’ve done lately helped their new deal? Where’s the great matches? We might be lucky to get one a week perhaps? If I was Fox I’d be reconsidering the offer, because Smackdown is not killing it. I’ve watched the blue brand over 16 years .. and this weeks episode was up there among the worst.

The biggest highlight was the Bryan promo. That’s it .. everything else wasn’t worth remembering. If I didn’t feel obligated to watch, I’d have turned it off halfway through. They didn’t even acknowledge the thrashing they received at Survivor Series. Hell .. they didn’t even let Raw invade Smackdown before the PPV either. Raw’s good enough to invade, but Smackdown isn’t apparently. They invaded, went to Survivor Series .. and lost. Way to sell the show to the new TV executives!

B-Team! B-Team! Go! Go! Go! – No I’m not talking about Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel. For years fans have sometimes referred to Smackdown as the “B-show”, as it’s often treated as such. But do you know how you sell Smackdown to a new network? You publicly allow Stephanie McMahon and other talents to call it the B-Show. Whoever thought of that was genius! The Smackdown roster will be fine  .. they can take it.

I’m totally befuddled .. it’s like, owning a company with two products. You make one product vastly superior and allow the staff behind it to belittle those working for the lesser product. It doesn’t make business sense .. hell, it doesn’t make sense for the morale of the Smackdown roster either. And did Raw need to rub it in the next night? I can only assume they’re trying to garner fan sympathy for the blue brand, but instead it tells us we shouldn’t care.

If You’re Not In The Main Events, You’re Nobody – We’ve gone through a lot already, so I don’t want this to turn in to a ramble. In closing, I’ll give you some bullet points on other talents:

  • Asuka — Way to destroy everything she ever did in NXT. Now Charlotte is a face again .. Asuka’s stuck in limbo. Charlotte has basically stolen her feud with the IIconics as it’s the only thing she can do. Expect Asuka & Naomi to feud with Absolution soon, but only if she’s lucky.
  • Shelton Benjamin — Remember when he said he wanted to wrestle more? So they brought him back .. and he won a couple of matches. But then .. outta’ nowhere, Men In Black memory wipe! It never happened. Go back to forgetting about umm .. who?
  • Rusev — RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! Boy did that get over. But audiences hijacking shows with the chant was the last straw for officials .. and now where is he? Not challenging for titles any day soon. Anytime he gets remotely over, they sweep the rug out from under him.
  • Every Tag Team — Not limited to Smackdown .. but literally every team not called the Authors Of Pain mean so little despite taking up half the rosters. As we know, the tag team elimination match on the Survivor Series pre-show meant so little it didn’t count. Even with Big Show at ringside, AOP picked up their win over The Bar in under ten minutes with an assist from Drake Maverick pissing himself. Hilarious. My sides have split.
  • Samoa Joe — Already mentioned him, but I’d like to remind you of what happened at Survivor Series. He was probably injured but .. he was still booked in the match to get pinned by Drew McIntyre. And what did it take? To down the mighty Samoa Joe? One Claymore. How long did it take since the bell rang? 35 seconds. The LA fans were right to chant “Bulls**t!”. Why book him in the first place if you’re going to job him out in 35 seconds!?

Hoping I’ve not gone on too much and brought valid points. Ok, so I’m aware Smackdown is not going to die. But does that mean I can’t be unhappy with the way it’s handled? Raw isn’t exactly breaking down barriers, but at least it feels like they are trying to make memories. The Smackdown 1000 episode was so full of nostalgia pops they forgot to celebrate the current roster (except Becky getting her moment with Edge). And what happened the week after? If you can remember a single thing of what happened on episode 1001 without looking it up, I’ll be impressed.

The show is an afterthought, and it’s painful to see. I’m not acting like it’s only happened this year, it’s been a steady decline year-on-year. It doesn’t make sense, but maybe .. just maybe, WWE has a plan. I’m hoping the recent changes lead somewhere, but if they don’t .. well, it’s impossible to say they’re doing their best leading in to the new Fox deal.

And that’s all from me, and I’d like to hear your thoughts. Did Smackdown suffer after the shake-up? Has WWE done wrong by clean sweeping them? Should talents be putting it down in public? And what can they do to bolster those who remain on the B-show? Please let us know. Thanks for reading.

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What Is WWE Doing With Smackdown Live?


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