Depends on which show you are watching! All joking aside, I think with the revamp of SmackDown, and the fact that it is now live and WWE officials have a renewed focus on the show, there hasn’t been much of that same focus on RAW. SmackDown has consistently entertained post-draft, with the exception of the Backlash go-home show. RAW has been up and down: some shows have been good, others have me struggling with staying awake. In general both shows are moving on from the newness of the brand extension,¬† which is how it should be. I think RAW continues to be that show that nails it some weeks, and others, not so much. Sometimes I wonder if this is being done on purpose to help heighten the hype and audience around SD LIVE in general, until it’s more established. Things that make you go ‘hhhmmmm’.
I think it has, and I have ideas as to why. They might be bad, they might not be, but bear with me, they are just out of my own crazy head.
The last time I remember the split (it’s been a few years, so my memory is rusty), there seemed to be more differentiation between the two. There was also a gap between when you saw RAW, and when you saw SmackDown. I think back then, one was still on Mondays (that’s the easy one to remember), and I believe SD was on Thursdays. It may sound crazy, but that time gap? I think that was an important chronological gap that helped split the brands too.
Now? Now they are on back to back nights, and what complicates things more-I think, at least for me-is that WWE runs advertising on the shows-so, during RAW, we will see ads for SmackDown Live. Look, I don’t blame them. They want to maximize exposure for the products. Fine. But now that all of WWE programming happens on USA, you can’t escape either show. Before, one was on it’s cable channel, and one was not. I literally went years without killing myself to watch SmackDown, usually just reading the recaps of the tapings, and if anything was of interest I might tune in.
My point? 5, 10 years ago? It was a lot easier to actually keep them separate. Now? Not so much, even though from a roster perspective they are split.
If you asked me to rank the shows now, post-draft? NXT is still my favorite hour of wrestling each week. SmackDown is generally 2nd, with RAW bringing up the rear. The last few weeks of RAW have been especially flat, outside of a few bright spots. SmackDown has generally been better, but I didn’t even think this week’s show was great, so hopefully that one was just an aberration.
The best thing thus far about the split? The women’s division, on both rosters, has, in my opinion, really grabbed the brass ring, smashed through the glass ceiling and owned the spotlight. Like that overuse of cliches? Seriously though, over the last few weeks, the best matches of RAW and SmackDown have consistently included women’s matches. They’ve been bringing it.
Steam wise? I think this ultimately (hopefully) is just growing pains-figuring out what chemistry works, and just tweak the rosters (like the Swagger “free agency”).