Welcome one and all to the first main page edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, fresh off of being promoted from the Columns Forum. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so lets get right to…
– On the most recent episode of The Steve Austin show, Kane said that his character would not have succeeded without The Undertaker. I’d say that he’s one hundred percent accurate when taking into account the mystery surrounding Kane’s connection to The Undertaker. Once the mystery was revealed to be that Kane was ‘Taker’s brother, things just got more in depth from there. Luckily, Kane was actually good in the ring for a big man, which also assisted in the fans latching onto him. ‘Taker was undoubtedly the catalyst for Kane’s successful run in WWE and their story has garnered much love and respect over the years. Kane might still have been able to achieve a measure of success without an affiliation to The Undertaker, but it’s that very affiliation that aided in him becoming the legend that he is today.
– In a recent Q&A, Ronda Rousey stated that she believes an ironman run in the Royal Rumble will solidify her as a real wrestler. More specifically, she mentioned going bell to bell. I would have to disagree with her on that front. Rumbles are generally an easy match to compete in as most of the time you’re just punching, kicking, laying on the mat or trying to throw an opponent over the top rope. Therefore your wrestling acumen wouldn’t truly be tested. If Rousey wants to prove that she is a real wrestler she would have to compete in at least a thirty minute ironman match. That way everyone will be able to see all aspects of her wrestling ability, athleticism and endurance. Until such a time that she finds herself in an ironman match she just needs to continue working on the subtle nuances that makes wrestlers great.
– Speaking of the Royal Rumble, from the look of the card we appear to be in for a fun show. The two World Title matches shouldn’t disappoint as Brock works well with smaller guys and Bryan and AJ already tore the house down at TLC. The latter could go down as one of those legendary Royal Rumble World Championship matches that we love so much. You know damn well that Asuka versus Becky Lynch is going to be a great match when factoring in the talent involved. As for the men and women Royal Rumbles; not much needs to be said as we are all well aware of how exciting the Rumble match can be. If I were to pick the winners I’d go with Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. Overall this looks like a fantastic card and I must say that I’m looking forward to the show immensely.
THE MAIN EVENT
I feel like Smackdown does not get the recognition that it deserves for being as consistently good as it is. Perhaps fans have become disillusioned by WWE’s poor run of form these past few years, and in the midst of that the greatness that is Smackdown is getting overlooked. WWE has created such a sense of apathy in recent years that fans find it difficult to highlight the good that comes from their promotion.
Well, no more. I’m here to give Smackdown the recognition that it deserves. Smackdown’s blue light shines brightly and it’s about time somebody brings their valuable consistency to the forefront.
This is not to compare Smackdown to RAW because honestly the two shows are incomparable. This is also not to highlight RAW’s shortcomings; such as the red brand having an absent champion, not pushing their most talented superstars in their respective divisions, 50/50 booking, lack of storylines to sink your teeth into, etc. Admittedly, RAW has gotten significantly better these past couple of weeks so there appears to be hope yet.
But fuck RAW, Smackdown brings so much to the table and if you don’t watch the show then I’d have hopefully given you a reason to tune in by the end of this column.
The main thing that Smackdown brings to the table is consistency. To put on a good show on a weekly basis is not an easy feat, but for the most part they have done just that and the dividends has paid off. The blue brand now easily overshadows its red counterpart on a weekly basis. From top to bottom Smackdown utilizes almost every weapon in their arsenal to produce a show that brings the fire every episode.
They try to incorporate as many stories into the show to actually allow some form of story telling to take precedent. We are all well aware of how WWE struggles to maintain storylines, so imagine how good Smackdown’s writers have to be to run multiple storylines at once. It’s that factor that makes you want to tune in so that you can see the next storyline developments. The best part about it is that most of their stories are not just run of the mill as they try to incorporate some personal shots to heighten the sense that we should be invested in why these guys are fighting.
Everyone on the roster – besides a few exceptions – has a part to play on the show. R-Truth, for example, plays a significant role on the blue brand despite his lower midcard status. It helps the brand as a whole if wrestlers with no clear direction serves a purpose. A prime example of this would be Andrade Almas. He is currently embroiled in a competitive feud with Rey Mysterio, but just a few weeks ago he didn’t have any form of feud brewing. However, he still served a purpose as the guy that wrestles almost everyone on the brand who were in actual feuds, which helped in keeping him relevant and at the same time showing what he is able to do in the squared circle.
That aspect also aides in having the blue brand put on at least one fantastic match every single week. Normally I would recommend 205 Live for that great weekly match but Smackdown has been matching them at every turn. Most of the matches feel fresh on the show and because they are putting more focus on younger talents like Mustafa Ali and the aforementioned Andrade Almas, that freshness factor won’t dissipate any time soon.
You also have to appreciate how the writers have handled their veteran stars like Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. They allow them to have a major impact on the show but they refrain from letting them take over. They even managed to give Orton a decent gimmick as a destroyer of legacies, which in essence is his Legend Killer gimmick coming full circle. They do not shove these veterans down our throats. Instead, they utilize them to put over talent that the blue brand needs even more moving forward. Orton put over Mysterio to give his comeback more cedibility. Hardy put over Samoa Joe to solidify him as one of the top bad guys. And now, Mysterio is putting over Almas while Joe is locking horns with Ali. You wouldn’t be judged for mistaking this as planned in advance, but with WWE you are almost led to believe that it can certainly not be the case.
You also have to admit that Smackdown planned out their divisions pretty well. They defined exactly who are the top dogs in each division and who most of the attention will be given to in those divisons. And the best part is that the divisions are centered around the most popular stars that they have. Smackdown has the best World Championship, Tag Team and Women’s Divisions arguably in the entirety of WWE; and all of the wrestlers in those divisions are respected and popular. The World Title picture is firmly in the hands of Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, which makes sense, but they have a great supporting cast in Joe, Orton, Mysterio and Hardy who can slot into that role at any time to freshen things up. Their Tag Team Division has the three best tag teams (that are properly used) running the show and Smackdown could not have asked for better. Should I even mention the Women’s Division? Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka; three of the most popular wrestlers in the world. Not to mention that Lynch and Charlotte can arguably say their rivalry is like that of The Rock and Steve Austin in terms of most popular, and of course their matches are fantastic too.
The above-mentioned are the things that I look at when determining how good a show is. Consistently trying to allow almost every wrestler to play a role, at least one stellar bout weekly, fantastic handling of veterans and clear definitions of divisions and choosing the most popular stars to be at the forefront makes a show feel well-rounded.
But don’t get me wrong. I am not naive enough to believe that Smackdown is the perfect show. That is why I highlighted consistency, because there has never in the history of professional wrestling been a perfect show that fans and critics alike unanimously applauded. There is always room for improvement, no matter how good the brand is and Smackdown is no different.
I do think the U.S Title picture can look a little better than what it currently looks like. The writers on the blue brand still did the right thing by putting the title on a popular midcard act and I appreciate that they are trying to personalize the feud between Rusev and Nakamura. However, the only problem with the U.S Title picture is that it lacks depth. They would do well to flesh out the division once the Rusev/Shinsuke feud concludes so as to prevent the staleness factor from rearing it’s ugly head.
Another risk of staleness can be attributed to the Tag Team Division. I think because of how great The Bar, The New Day and The Usos are (and how many fantastic matches they have between them) has somewhat convinced regular Smackdown viewers that those three teams are enough to run the division. In essence they are, but they need a supporting cast to maintain a competitive flow. I thought they took action with respect to that by featuring Sanity and The Good Brothers alongside The Bar/Usos but nothing came of that. Smackdown’s Tag Team Division is absolutely amazing but it can be near perfect with the more effective inclusion of Sanity, The Good Brothers, The Bludgeon Brothers (Rowan had an injury), and The Colons (as jobbers).
Besides the latter teams that I’ve mentioned, the only other wrestlers not to have a regular spot on Smackdown are Tye Dillinger, Aiden English and Shelton Benjamin. That should say alot considering that Smackdown is only a two hour show and uses everyone else regularly and to great effect by highlighting what makes them entertaining.
Overall, besides those few things that Smackdown needs to improve on to make them a near flawless brand, you have to admit that Smackdown is a fantastic show that almost lives in its own bubble away from the other shows that WWE has to offer. It’s their consistency in their show’s presentation, goals and handling of wrestlers that set them apart from the flagship show.
But despite the red brand’s status as the flagship show in WWE, the blue brand has been laying the Smackdown on RAW week in and week out.
Release Speculation: The Revival and Sasha Banks
There has been rumours and speculation circling around The Revival requesting their release from the WWE. If this is indeed true it should come as no surprise whatsoever. The Revival was a force to be reckoned with when they were on NXT. They worked their way up to become the best tag team in the entirety of WWE and they became arguably the greatest tag team in NXT history. But like alot of NXT call-ups they found themselves lingering in the shadows due to ineffective booking.
I can only imagine how disappointed their fans must be with their main roster run when comparing it to their legendary NXT run. In all honesty the WWE shouldn’t have expected anything less now that AEW has provided a viable alternative to WWE. And now all of a sudden The Revival picked up a win over The Lucha House Party after weeks of losing. WWE is clearly afraid to lose these guys because they know that their level of talent and the competition that’s out there. Regrettably for The Revival, the WWE’s creative team on RAW is too incompetent to book them – and the whole Tag Team Division for that matter – correctly. According to even more speculation, WWE declined their release and they now have to wait until their contract expires in 2020 before they can make a move. WWE needs to start realising what they’ve got and start using The Revival to their full potential, which is something they’ve got a year to do.
And the exact same thing can be said about Sasha Banks. From being The Boss on NXT to revolutionizing the game with Charlotte Flair to now being a staple in the midcard. Whenever I see Sasha Banks I always shake my head in embarrassment for the mistreatment of this exceptional wrestler. Hell, WWE never even gave us the honor of seeing her as The Boss on RAW yet. I legitimately do not want to see Banks leave WWE, and giving her a throwaway match for the title against Rousey to keep her busy will not be sufficient.
Nor do I believe Sasha being in the Women’s Tag Team Division will suffice either. Banks is meant to be at or extremely near the top in any Women’s Division and WWE needs to start realising this before they get another disgruntled employee on their hands. They need to give the other women on RAW some time as well and not just put all their focus on Rousey. Allowing Sasha to become unhappy is something that WWE should avoid doing at all cost. I bet all she wants is to just be involved in something more meaningful.
WWE cannot afford to let valuable talent go to the competition because once they do Vince will realise that they are worth more than he originally thought or cared to admit.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. What do you think of the Royal Rumble card? Do you believe that Smackdown is constantly better than RAW? How do you feel about The Revival and Sasha Banks possibly wanting to leave WWE? Please leave a comment below. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time…
This is Don Franc signing out.
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