Hello, everybody. I hope you all are having a good week and staying cool. Much like the climate outside is getting insanely hot in the US, interest in WWE seems to be at an all-time high. The brand extension is in full effect as of Monday with both shows giving us the first glimpse of what Raw and Smackdown have in store. WWE promised changes, did they deliver? Who won the week?

Well, in my opinion, that honor has to go to Monday Night Raw. And that’s not to say both shows did not have their merits. But in my opinion, Monday’s show did a little bit more to emphasize that this was going to be something different. It also felt like a much smoother show overall. It also didn’t hurt to have the awesome Sasha Banks versus Charlotte Women’s Title Match and really good fatal four-way matches. Add in Finn Balor winning a high-profile match in his main roster debut and you have an Internet darling. And due to the positive feedback of Monday’s show, Smackdown Live felt like a carbon copy of Monday show. They need to be careful about copying formats for each brand. I don’t blame them considering the rating bump Raw received. But it’s something you need to watch out for in the future.

Overall, I thought the shows were good. But Smackdown felt a little rougher on the edges in a lot of ways. It seems the Tuesday night brand is going to go to some growing pains before they find its rhythm. There has been talking on the Internet that Smackdown doesn’t look like a talent-packed show compared to its Monday night competition. I don’t really see it that way. It’s all about how you use your talent that matters. It’s going to take some time to build name value for some of these talents. And I think that was the problem with The Blue Crew this week.

Not to mention, the commentary was a little disjointed as Mauro Ranallo, JBL and David Otunga have just been thrown together. Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole have previously worked together with NXT so they have a little better chemistry. So it will take some time before that coalesces into something special. But remember from the looks of the thing is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. So everyone needs to hang in there.

Both shows added some interesting new production elements and camera angles. Particularly one with a jib camera that gets a cool shot of the ring. Smackdown definitely looked a little different than Raw from the way it was shot. At least for the first week of this experiment, the stilted backstage interview is gone in place with after the match comments in the shades of the NFL. I like that a lot better it feels more natural as a presentation element.

If you follow me on social media, then you might’ve read that I like the idea of bringing back the squash match or wrestling television. Raw did that this past week to get over Braun Stroman and Nia Jax. This seems to be a divisive topic in the wrestling community. I personally think it’s a good idea to use the idea of a squash match to build talent while not sacrificing the star power on your now limited roster. Some feel that it lessens the match quality of a show and is kind of boring. While I can see the merits of the argument I think the positives outweigh the negatives as long as you use the mechanic sparingly which I thought WWE did and will continue to do going forward.

Smackdown did backstage taped promos that were pretty cool talking about each characters motivation going into the six-pack challenge. I hope we see more of this in the future. Over the last few weeks even before The Draft, WWE has been tinkering with subtle changes using pre-match promos to hype the main event. These were much in the style of the old Saturday Night’s Main Event. You can definitely see WWE is trying new things. They definitely realize change was needed to revitalize the company as a whole. And I’m loving seeing the company evolve before our very eyes. I also like the idea of bringing in past veterans as the mechanics For the Blue Crew to get over younger stars really building up the equity of WWE’s Tuesday night franchise. Rhino, Shelton Benjamin, Curt Hawkins, MVP seem like perfect in ring teachers for some of the more inexperienced roster members.

New faces got a chance to shine. Some old names are returning. And SummerSlam is looking like a very interesting card, to say the least.
It’s a good time to be a wrestling fan. This week was a good start I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.