And, I’d call things mixed, at best.
Honestly, the point I struggled with the most is that what WWE is and has pushed with this, is separation. And while it was only the first one, and it had necessary carry-over from RAW, the premiere episode felt like anything but separated from RAW. I will do my best to look past that, and with that in mind, here are my issues or concerns, things that I hope wind up being non-issues in due time.
1-Is it too much in too short a timeframe?
It used to be 3 hours of RAW on Monday, an hour of NXT on Wednesday, and two hours of SmackDown on Thursday. Not everyone watches NXT (Though I highly recommend it), but generally, with that schedule, things felt rather spread out. I get why they are going with Tuesdays now, because that’s when the tapings for the taped SmackDown happened. So now, it’s not a taping, it’s just a live broadcast. But I’ll be honest. Usually, after I watch three hours of RAW and crank out my Nutshell, I look forward to a Tuesday night respite, where I don’t have to do a Nutshell again, and if I want to write general pieces, I can. Or, catch up on regular television, or life in general. I wasn’t miserable watching SmackDown, and I am sure at least some of the feeling is just because it’s a change to the routine, but five hours of wrestling in back to back nights is a bit much. I think-I hope-that once the separation is really evident, this fades away, because we won’t be seeing Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose main event shows on Monday and Tuesday again. But even as things become distinctly different, I do wonder if the shows being on consecutive nights leads to fans picking one show over the other, or if WWE sees a lot of people DVR’ing one show or the other, so that they can still watch, but not necessarily on consecutive nights.
I mention the need for the separation to be felt, because as I write this on Wednesday morning, I know there is NXT tonight, and I don’t feel the same concerns-because it’s a one hour show, and because the rosters are completely different. So the differences, I think, make an impact.
2-Pushing for separate identities
The debut isn’t probably the best show to judge on, because it wasn’t even the start of the split really. It was the draft, but everyone was around for it. Next week, and beyond, will tell the tale. But what I really mean here, is will they be able to differentiate themselves, and not just with special divisions on a particular show. Because on the premiere, I didn’t see much of anything different between RAW and SmackDown. Put in different terms, I have not yet seen what the storyline leadership team of Shane and Daniel Bryan can do to bring new viewers to the show, or to keep me coming back week after week.
OK, so really it’s just two points, and I know, it’s a rapid reaction. In a month, things may feel a whole lot different. I am sure a month or two down the road, I will circle back and re-assess. I think there’s definite promise to the split.