Both Smackdown and Raw initially battled back-and-forth for supremacy, but post-Summerslam, Smackdown has left Raw in the dust and has never looked back. Raw has a few good moments here and there though predominantly suffers from stagnancy, filler, and little story advancement from week-to-week. In contrast, Smackdown is continually an interesting and compelling episodic television show with smooth and rational story progression.
Admittedly, Smackdown being 2 hours is a fresh breath of air, though Raw could camouflage its show’s length better. There have been Raws, in the past, which did not feel 3 hours due to how stacked they were with interesting and developing content. But when a show, almost every week, consists of matches that mean nothing the following week, endless of matches with cold characters, wrestlers doing the same shtick every week, characters remaining stagnant and not changing up even a little, repetitious “how to build a feud or move it to the next step” ideas, as well as heaps of filler permeating the insignificant cracks, the show will seem elongated no matter how long it truly is.
Due to the way Smackdown’s writers put the show together, the show conversely has a much better flow to it. The writers piece the show together, intertwining it all together with everything, on the show, having purpose and reasoning. It is a show that progresses week-to-week, leaving viewers a reason to watch next week. Even though Smackdown would dip in quality if it went 3 hours, I still firmly believe it would still produce good shows and handle the extra hour much better than Raw does.
Unlike Raw, Smackdown moreover opens up the door for creativeness by coming up with unorthodox ideas that break WWE out of its repetitive creative bubble. Characters move from feud to feud logically and organically, scrupulously paving the storyline’s road without any noticeable plot-holes. There is also an established hierarchy, and wrestlers can earn title opportunities without having to weaken the champion by having him pinned on television all the time.
If Miz and Dean Ambrose were on Raw, Ambrose would have had a random match against the Miz, defeated him, and then had an IC championship match at the Royal Rumble. On Smackdown, though, the writer augmented drama, suspense, and heat into the feud via creating a feud between the two that keep intensifying. Miz handed Ambrose a participation trophy for his effort at TLC against AJ Styles, creating heat between the two and allowing the feud to get even more heated down the road.
What also makes the show great is how colorful and well-rounded their wrestler’s characters are. Between the face/heel or heel/face turns, new developments to characters, characters positioning themselves in different roles, and characters have distinct objectives and motives – Smackdown’s characters have more depth to them.
It does not need to use even-steven booking to protect its wrestlers. It instead uses character development to protect its wrestlers, and the results are more effective. Its wrestler’s characters arc, making them different from their once former self, which also avoids the wrestlers from becoming motionless and stale.
Even if there are plot holes in a story, the characters on the show will point them out instead of pretending they do not exist. We saw this on this week’s Smackdown as AJ Styles called out Daniel Bryan for allowing John Cena to get a number one contendership and then Bryan clarified why Cena is getting a title opportunity.
Speaking of Cena and Styles, the visceral animosity between the two and layers of the storyline is something that rarely ever happens on Raw anymore. Both wrestlers hate each other, so they point out one another’s flaws and jab each other with lines that hit each other below the belt, where it hurts. Styles believes Cena is a hypocrite who is no longer needed while Cena wants to prove he is still the best in the company and wants to be the one that makes the disrespectfully bigheaded champion finally eat crow.
Even though the match will take place in three weeks, the match already has established a “big fight feel” thanks to the layered booking, great promo work, well-defined characters, history between the two, the magnitude of the match, and expectancy of the match being an instant classic.
Making conflicts ultra-personal is just a Smackdown strong-suit, and this feud is a perfect example of just that.
If one is going to laud Smackdown, they have to mention how amazing AJ Styles has been as the face that has run the place. He has cemented himself as arguably the best all-around wrestler in the world. He can have a great match with nearly anyone and have match of the year contenders with anyone remotely good, but everyone knew before Styles one of the best and most versatile wrestlers in the business. What they did not know is that he can portray an outstanding character that can effectively articulate its inner feelings on the microphone. His improvement on the microphone is uncanny, transforming himself from just an average talker to one of the best in the entire WWE.
They also have to mention how much better the announcing is. Even if the announce team is too clogged, and only needs JBL and Mauro Ranallo, they are still much less insufferable than Raw’s crew is. JBL has become a good color announcer who adds insight, explains things happening in the ring, and gets over the stories. It is an infinite improvement from his half-hearted, inconsistent heel character on Raw, which stated the obvious, shouted, and shilled the program to a hyperbolic level.
Ranllo, on the other hand, is the new Jim Ross of WWE and is light years better than Michael Cole. He has a clean, easy-to-listen-to voice and knows how to augment drama and suspense into the match as long as get the characters, moves, stories, and so forth over.
All around, Smackdown is a better show than Raw. It has better booking, wrestling, announcing and character development along with better characters and more personal feuds, and the difference between the two is day and night. The ratings are starting to reflect that, and if Raw keeps dishing out its same ole lifeless shows and Smackdown remains producing greatness, Smackdown’s ratings will continue to rise while Raw’s will continue to fall.