Why is SMACKDOWN the better show?
SMACKDOWN succeeded last night where RAW failed: in the final minutes of the show.
Even though SMACKDOWN had a great main event, Randy Orton vs AJ Styles, you almost wouldn’t know it from the crowd reactions. They weren’t on their feet and chanting “this is awesome” like they were last week in the match between Styles and Luke Harper.
A lot of this might be because the fans just weren’t that thrilled with the card leading up to the match. Two matches before the main event and one of them was a mixed tag match including John Cena and James Ellsworth. (Although there was also a vicious brawl between Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose. We’ll circle back to that in a minute.)
Looking back at old SMACKDOWN results, I see that this is sort of a pattern. Going back to Feb. 21, the matches came in sets of three: two matches that I was just never very interested in and then a great main event.
A part of this is probably my own personal taste. American Alpha is good to watch in the ring, I just never got interested in them because their theme is so generic. The women’s division has a lot of potential. I like Becky Lynch quite a bit and Alexa Bliss looks good in the ring. Last night’s tag match between Bliss and Mickie James vs Lynch and Natayla was pretty good. But there are a couple of reasons why SMACKDOWN’s women’s division falters compared to RAW’s, and one of the biggest reasons is time. RAW has three hours and can include more than one women’s division match and storyline. I think WWE probably would do better to put the entire women’s division on RAW, or maybe even with a branch out show like they do with the cruiser weight division.
When I sit back and compare, I can’t help but feel like RAW should really be doing better than SMACKDOWN. I never have any trouble getting interested in RAW’s mid card matches. Several of RAW’s mid card matches are good enough to be pay per view main events. And as much as I despise Roman Reigns, I can’t really blame it on him because this has been happening long before this lunacy of Roman vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
But the big success of SMACKDOWN, in my opinion, can be summed up in two words: Bray Wyatt.
Last night provided the perfect contrast to prove this point. SMACKDOWN featured a fantasy main event last night, Orton VS Styles. The announcers were even saying it was the greatest SMACKDOWN main event of all time and this was before the match even started. They might have over sold it just a little, but it was still great, despite the lack of a pop from the fans.
That happens sometimes. There are times when the crowd is pretty much just dead no matter how great the matches are. But I think the reason they didn’t lose their heads like they should have last night is because they were waiting to see what Bray Wyatt did after that unbelievable moment last week, and Wyatt never showed up.
When I think about SMACKDOWN’s best moments since the brand split, it’s mostly Bray Wyatt. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ambrose, Styles… all of SMACKDOWN’s main event guys except John Cena. But Bray Wyatt’s moments just adds a level of atmosphere over the entire event. You saw this in a huge way when he was feuding with Orton (the first time) and we SMACKDOWN fans are holding our breath to see what he’s going to do next. What Wyatt contributes is just a step above even the best guys on the current roster of either show (with the exception of The Undertaker).
He may not have the whole world in his hands just yet, but he’s certainly got a firm grip on SMACKDOWN.