Christopher McManus takes a deep dive into the WWE Smackdown Live side of this week’s Superstar Shake-Up!
The smoke has cleared and now the RAW and SmackDown Live rosters have changed dramatically over the span of 48 hours. The WWE Universe has seen an entirely new landscape with locker room leaders switching brands, tag divisions finding balance, and a women’s division stronger than ever. Today, I highlight the moves that were made to the SmackDown Live brand and what this means in a very pivotal year for the show going forward.
It is no secret that with SmackDown moving to the Fox Network in October, the brand was going to have a large number of star power and a roster that’s is presentable for a prime time slot that’s going to be available in every household possible. The Superstar Shake-Up did that in droves, creating strong moves that will make the blue brand an intriguing show going into its transition.
Let’s get to one of the main reasons SmackDown will be benefitting heavily with their impending move to the Fox Network and that is The Big Dog in the WWE. The former WWE and Universal Champion made his jump during the closing moments of SmackDown Live, delivering a Superman Punch to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and spearing Elias. This was the play that the company had in mind for well over a year, as Reigns swapping with AJ Styles was necessary for a number of reasons.
Reigns, much like Styles, have done all that he could on Monday nights. Highly regarded as the top male star in the company and the main locker room leader, Reigns bring the star power and motivation to a young SmackDown roster ready to transition. He will still be in the background as he’s still recovering from his leukemia treatment. Until then, he will be working small programs with Elias to pick up on his ring condition. When that happens, it’s going to be an exciting time with all the new match-ups at his disposal.
A move that was a year in the making, Finn Balor has the opportunity to be one of the top three names on the SmackDown Live roster. Balor also brings the WWE Intercontinental Championship with him, for who he is in his second reign. It is possible that like before, the midcard titles could effectively switch brands with Samoa Joe and the United States title going to Monday Night RAW. Balor also has Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows lurking around, so if creative was interested in pairing “The Good Brothers” again then that’s a direction worth looking into.
The Boulder Beast has finally found a home. After his debut was postponed due to him no-showing a couple of events in January, the Leviathan made his long-awaited presence felt by destroying WWE legends such as Kurt Angle and The Hardy Boyz during Mania Week. It seems like the WWE brass is still high on The Freak Man, having him decimate a number of super popular stars. With Sullivan officially being on the blue brand, many could expect some big plans heading his way.
“The War Goddess” made her return at WrestleMania after recovering from elbow surgery and didn’t miss a beat with her showing in the Women’s Battle Royal. As what was shown leading up to WrestleMania was the severe lack of depth to SmackDown’s women’s division, leading to Charlotte Flair to regain the title from Asuka to help with the brand’s credibility at the time. With the Shake-Up approaching yesterday, Ember was one of the easy candidates in providing balance to a depleted women’s roster and an opportunity to be a perennial title contender in the coming months.
While expected, this still came as a surprise that the former Women’s Tag Champion would now be on Tuesday nights. Bayley has been indirectly involved with the current fiasco surrounding Sasha Banks, who has taken a leave of absence following their defeat at WrestleMania. Whether it played a factor in Bayley moving over or has yet to be determined, but this was also needed for lovable babyface. Prior to her tag run with Sasha, Bayley tread throughout the RAW’s waters barely finding consistent footing. Far too often and even now, she is seen as the fourth wheel of “The Four Horsewomen” of wrestling and. This is her chance to “be the change,” as she likes to put it and make a name for herself as a solo star.
As promised by Paige last week, she would bring in an impressive team to SmackDown Live to combat against The IIconics. “The Pirate Princess” made her SmackDown debut aligning with Asuka as two STARDOM alumni and instant contenders for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Sane has been featured on both Women’s Royal Rumbles and WrestleMania Battle Royals to moderate success and participated in WWE’s sole women’s pay-per-view Evolution. The casual audience that knows her should fall in love with the Disney character come to life, as her charisma and mannerisms will have her as a longtime fan favorite for years to come.
It was a foregone conclusion that Buddy Murphy would be making a jump to the big boys after losing the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania, the only question is where he would go. When Cedric Alexander was announced he’ll be heading to RAW, Murphy was the next name to be leaving 205 Live to join Team Blue. This is an incredible story for “The Best Kept Secret”, who just in 2017 was grinding on the NXT Florida loops and having heavily-praised classics with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black. He would continue to chase for the brass ring in shedding enough weight to join the 205 Live roster and stealing the show on a weekly basis.
The former “Cruiserweight Juggernaut” will have a chance to do the same thing on Tuesday nights, with a fresh set of faces to display his skills against. He can rekindle his old feud against Ali, trade strikes with Finn Balor, and even step up to Roman Reigns himself. The possibilities are endless for him and if there’s one man that can prove his opportunity is worth it, it is him.
Vince McMahon’s “biggest acquisition in SmackDown history” turned out to be RAW’s former drifter Elias. Feeling that now he longer have to deal with the interruptions on Monday, Elias was quickly dealt with by Roman Reigns. This is likely to be his first program on the blue brand, as SmackDown has always been the breeding ground for midcarders needing to break through to the top of the card. He’s always been a serviceable act on RAW and now will have to step it up a notch on the show full of workhorses.
The Riott Squad started like a ball of fire nearly two years ago only to fizzle out throughout 2018. As with many members of the main roster, they became victims of circumstance, often fed to Ronda Rousey and The Four Horsewomen. It was only a matter of time that the trio would run their course and had to split in order to truly get the most out of each other. In Liv Morgan’s case, this is a show-and-prove moment for the mischievous, plucky superstar. It will be her first true test as a potential singles competitor, which means she will have to go out of her way to stand out on a now stacked division. Hopefully, she has grown enough not to draw similarities to Carmella, who both developed a brash and urban-influenced gimmick in NXT and are both billed from the Tri-State.
Gable’s run on the main roster has been flashes of brilliance marred with being lost in the shuffle. After being swapped to RAW last year in hopes of a solo run, he was paired with Bobby Roode in a makeshift tag team with moderate success. Then he got stuck again after losing the tag team titles and was sent to SmackDown when it looked like the duo was starting a heel run. Now on his own again, this might be the last shot for Gable to make something worthwhile after so much push and pull.
Getting placed in a tag team with Shelton Benjamin again would only defeat the purpose of Gable’s desire of wanting a solo run. With Fox focusing on a sports-oriented product for their weekend slots, Gable could be seen as a potential athlete to promote. He’s a former Olympian and can be seen as the heir to Kurt Angle if given the right push.
Mickie James has been absent over the past few months before returning for the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania. She returns to SmackDown as a veteran leader into the SmackDown locker room full of talented women. I doubt that she will have much of a bigger role on a roster that includes Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Bayley, and Ember Moon, but she will be a great hand to get younger stars like Kairi Sane and Liv Morgan over and will have good matches.
Heavy Machinery was built for SmackDown Live. The comedic powerhouse duo of Tucker and Otis is a great fit to a dynamic tag team division full of colorful individuals. I wouldn’t be shocked if they have a small run with the titles, though there will more interactions between Mandy Rose and Otis for my amusement.
Apollo, much like Chad Gable, was a victim of being bottlenecked on such a top-heavy RAW roster over the years. He would find some success with Titus O’Neil and Dan Brooke as a part of Titus Worldwide but later went solo facing Jinder Mahal and Baron Corbin in small TV programs. Now back on SmackDown, Crews help in a diverse midcard where no matter where he is placed, he’s gonna do well. He may not be a future world champion now, but Crews have the ability to get to the next level.
SmackDown Live continues to be the beacon of in-ring athleticism and new faces making their mark in the company. This year, the roster has a chance to truly cement themselves as THE A Show.
You can follow more of Chris’ musings on Twitter: @RappersRActors
The WWE TV YouTube Experiment (Week 4: RAW/ July 8, 2019)
Not a good episode of Monday Night RAW. Join me as we traverse the truncated world of WWE on YouTube.
The WWE TV YouTube Experiment
Monday Night RAW/ July 8, 2019/ Newark, New Jersey
I’ve been bleating on and on about how this isn’t a review column, how there was time for that elsewhere and that what I was doing here was more for analysis than anything else. When I looked back at the original article, in which I laid out my tentative plans, I stated that this was about seeing if the content WWE chooses to upload to YouTube is good enough to get me watching their shows regularly like I used to. If it drew enough interest for me to invest hours of time into watching full shows.
I’ll admit that Week 1 was far more enjoyable than I anticipated. Week 2 was a drop, but definitely not bad. Week 3 was the best yet.
Week 4 was trash. I liked what I’ve seen from SmackDown (especially the Kevin Owens stuff), but RAW was a nightmare. So bad that I’m not going to write about SmackDown because I’m tired after watching RAW. And it was supposed to be the “go-home” show for Extreme Rules! The first week of this little experiment was the go-home for Stomping Grounds. They hit every note, didn’t waste any time, and used the entirety of the show to focus on only the matches featured on the PPV. That was not the case this week.
Monday Night RAW 7/8/2019
Total Number of Clips: 19
Total Time: 41 minutes, 14 seconds
*Note: In the interest of saving space, I won’t be embedding every clip this week, only the ones that I feel are necessary.*
Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch vs. Andrade & Zelina Vega (2 minutes, 59 seconds)
This was a “mixed tag team elimination match”. Something like that. It makes no damn sense and was probably the biggest stretch yet to find a reason to not wrestle during commercials. I know it’s been said a million times online by now, but I have to get it out. If it’s a mixed tag match, that means men fight the men and women fight the women. Therefore when Becky eliminated Zelina, she eliminated herself, right? What if Andrade were to then defeat Seth? Is it a draw? It must have been a poorly explained mini-Survivor Series style match. One of the four competitors would be the sole survivor, winning it for their team. Jesus. Why not just make it a 2-out-of-3 falls match instead of doing something convoluted and not explaining it? (0 for 1)
Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans revel in Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch’s misery (49 seconds)
This was SO BAD. It’s worse than porn dialogue, and without context based on the poor acting and the way they’re dressed, one might even think that this was the beginning of a porno movie. Good lord. (0 for 2)
Paul Heyman propagates paranoia before WWE Extreme Rules (2 minutes, 14 seconds)
Typical Heyman fare. That’s not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a thing. I will say one positive thing about Brock holding the briefcase is that it’s being done differently than ever before. In the past, we’ve had a number of tropes that have repeated themselves. There have been immediate cash-ins (on the night of the win as well as the next night or a couple of weeks later). There have been guys who have waited a long time and picked their spot (Edge, the first, is the best example of this — he stopped carrying the briefcase after a while and many of us forgot about it until that night in Puerto Rico).
There has been a litany of “fake-outs”, foiled cash-ins that guys have claimed were fake-outs, actually foiled cash-ins that were stopped before the match could take place, and a few failed cash-ins. There have also been a couple of cash-ins that were announced ahead of time (RVD in 2006 and Cena in 2012). This time, the tropes are going to be limited. I can handle having Paul Heyman muse about it and threaten the champions every week or so. It’s different, so that’s good. (1 for 3)
The Miz & The Usos vs. Elias & The Revival – 2-out-of-3 Falls Match (1 minute, 29 seconds)
This was a thing. Sounded like a fine match based on the reports. Usos get the win and earn a tag title shot on Sunday. Miz vs. Elias is such an insane placeholder, though. They’re only on TV to fill a non-existent void, and nothing ever happens. (2 for 4)
Drake Maverick and his wife are still not on their honeymoon (3 clips/ 1 minute, 28 seconds/ 1 minute, 28 seconds/ 48 seconds
None of this was nearly as fun as it has been in recent weeks. It wasn’t actively bad, but they have to move on from the honeymoon gimmick. At this point, it’s only happening so they can put a pair of big tits on the screen since they’re allegedly moving away from TV PG and looking to get a stranglehold on the teenage demographic. Getting them to put a stranglehold on themselves by using attractive women has certainly worked in the past. The YouTube views for 2 of the videos after just under 48 hours were around 240k for two of them and around 575k for the one that best featured his wife’s chest. Drake and Truth are still great, though. Also, is “the honeymoon” just going to be some sort of gag? They referenced that they already went, and now… they’re going again? Continuity error or joke? It’s tough to say. (5 for 7)
Shane McMahon searches for Roman Reigns’ tag team partner (2 minutes, 27 seconds)
Nope. Still can’t get behind this angle. (5 for 8)
Bobby Lashley obliterates Rey Mysterio (2 minutes, 57 seconds)
Nothing wrong with this. People are upset that Lashley isn’t selling his injuries, but it was already established that even though he’s the one who took the spear, Braun suffered worse injuries. I’m also not upset that Mysterio made his comeback only to get his ass handed to him. That’s the point! (6 for 9)
No Way Jose vs. Cesaro (1 minute, 31 seconds)
It’s nice to see Cesaro beating people up as he should be. This was the entire match. We also now know that they didn’t change their mind as rumored, and Cesaro will indeed be facing Aleister Black at Extreme Rules. Should be a great match if they let them do it, but are they sacrificing Cesaro to Black? I’m hoping they figure out a way to protect both guys without making either of them look like goons. (7 for 10)
The Street Profits make Extreme predictions (3 minutes, 57 seconds)
They ran down the card for Sunday. It was somewhat entertaining because these guys are great, but it felt like a gigantic waste of time and talent. Why are they here? What the fuck is “the smoke”? Interested in the team, not interested in… this. (7 for 11)
Maria Kanellis craves pickles and ice cream (2 minutes, 12 seconds)
You drop a bombshell and start an angle in such a dramatic fashion and do it in a way that actually upstages RAW’s top stars, who are also in the segment, and follow it up with THIS? Holy shit. To everyone who said the angle had Paul Heyman’s fingerprints all over it last week, I say that this week, it had Vince McMahon’s asscheeks all over it. Hot garbage. Awful, stupid, dumb, not entertaining, cringe-inducing. Every trope of every pregnant, emotional woman on TV was used in 2 segments (this clip was two segments that aired at different times in the show). Wow. I had an open mind. I did. Now they’re going to have to get some Russian goddamned scientists to open it back up again. (7 for 12)
The Viking Raiders vs. Colin & Devin Justin (1 minute, 47 seconds)
Just keeping the guys on TV. No harm here. There are two sets of tag titles and yet somehow the tag team scene is actually really jammed up. It’s a good problem to have, I guess. (8 for 13)
Ricochet vs. Luke Gallows (2 minutes, 30 seconds)
Ricochet vs. Karl Anderson (2 minutes, 57 seconds)
Nothing extraordinarily wrong here. I don’t see the reason that they needed to have Ricochet beat both guys, though, and it is a problem. They just turned last week, but they’re still just a couple of losers. Why not have him defeat Gallows and then have AJ and Gallows interfere when it looks like he has the upper hand on Anderson? Why pin them both? It’s little things like this that actually turn me off of the product just as much as awful stuff like Mike and Maria. (9 for 15)
Bayley vs. Sarah Logan – Beat the Clock Challenge Match (2 minutes, 31 seconds)
This was fine. Match seemed okay. The crowd chanted “CM Punk” during a perfectly good match because, despite all of the “women’s evolution” bullshit, they still have a terrible women’s division. The women range from decent to great. The use of them ranges from terrible to okay-ish. Impact just had a PPV with a really good four-way match for the Knockouts Title that saw the women doing weapons spots better than most men do. They also ran a man vs. woman main event that was totally fucking believable, and outside of a handful of mentions that it was the first intergender main event on a major (well, they were a major promotion at one point) PPV, they didn’t act like it was some earth-shattering event. It was a pair of wrestlers who had a personal rivalry and were settling the score. The end. (10 for 16)
Dana Brooke vs. Nikki Cross – Beat the Clock Challenge Match (3 minutes, 2 seconds)
I still hate the storyline. Glad that Bayley showed some backbone, though. (10 for 17)
The Man and The Man’s Man come around at WWE Extreme Rules (1 minute, 40 seconds)
Corey Graves tried to stir the shit. This is so unbelievably contrived that it almost physically hurt to watch it. We know one can lose the other’s title by taking the loss, and we know that something like that could potentially hurt a relationship. It doesn’t need to be shoved down our throats. Trust your audience. Just a little bit. (10 for 18)
Roman Reigns & Gary “THE GOAT” Garbutt vs. Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre (2 minutes, 28 seconds)
What was this? Earlier in the night, Roman said that he was fucking with Drew and Shane, not the other way around. I have to assume, based on the fact that THEY STILL LOST IN 2 MINUTES that all Roman was doing was protecting some poor hobbling janitor from getting hurt and not staying one step ahead of Shane by getting an opponent that could help him win. This was an unbelievably dumb segment that made all four guys look bad. (10 for 19)
Wow. This was bad. Just not good television. Or in this case, not good YouTube clips. Even the 10 clips that I rated positively weren’t all that good, including the 24/7 Title stuff. Nothing was more than, I guess, kinda okay. At best. Episodes like this were the reason I quit in the first place. I can’t even further articulate how bad it was. Illogical, silly, dumb, often pointless, unfunny crap. Ugh.
Average Clip Length, Week 4: 2 minutes, 10 seconds
Week 1: 2 minutes, 32 seconds // Week 2: 2 minutes, 44 seconds // Week 3: 2 minutes, 33 seconds
Shorter than usual average by 20 to 30 seconds. None of the segments reached 4 minutes in length (recent weeks, at least one has hit 5) and the longest was the 3 minutes and 57 seconds of somewhat entertaining silliness from the Street Profits, a segment that had no business even being on the show.
I didn’t catch viewership numbers after 48 hours, but as of Friday night, here are some figures:
- Over 2.6 million views for Roman and Cedric The Janitor
- 193k views for Becky & Seth with Corey, and 173k for Mike & Maria
- Just under 2.2 million for the Becky/Seth mixed tag match
- Just over 530k for Lashley beating down Rey Mysterio
Lashley’s segments have been performing well every week, which is somewhat interesting. His booking had been trash for a while. I wonder if the feud with Braun brought some eyes to him, and I wonder how much Mysterio’s involvement factored in. None of the 24/7 Title stuff reached over 300k views, after being so popular for the first few weeks.
See you next week. Hopefully with a better show to talk about.
Nick Marsico/ Writer (kinda)
The Chairshot Dot Com
The WWE TV YouTube Experiment (Week 3: RAW & SmackDown)
The WWE TV YouTube Experiment
Monday Night RAW/ July 1, 2019/ Dallas, Texas
SmackDown Live/ July 2, 2019/ San Antonio, Texas
As I said from the very beginning, I really didn’t have any clue where this was going, how it was going to work, or what the format would become. After reading the first two installments (and writing them… golly) I realized that for one, they’re just too damn long. Over 4,500 words is an excessive length for something like this, in my opinion. Secondly, it ended up being just another RAW review, only based on a very limited sample of the product. Plus, we already have a RAW report, a RAW review, and a RAW podcast. What I did the last two weeks was superfluous. I’m taking that element out of this experiment. I will provide some brief thoughts, but nothing as detailed as I have been doing. I can do that elsewhere if I feel the need. It also allows me to incorporate a short-form version for SmackDown. You’ll see that after the RAW section.
Monday Night RAW 7/1/2019
Total Number of Clips: 17
Total Time: 42 minutes, 36 seconds
Braun Strowman drives Bobby Lashley through the LED wall (2 minutes, 49 seconds)
Very strong start to RAW. It bugs me that the rest of the LED wall went back to working again for the rest of the show, but I don’t know how that stuff works. As many people online have mentioned, the commentators going silent was a great idea. The crowd reaction was amazing and the whole deal felt important. (1 for 1)
Strowman and Lashley are taken to a medical facility (3 minutes, 38 seconds)
I don’t know why this wasn’t included in the first clip. Three and a half minutes to show two guys get rolled into ambulances while the commentary team used their best Owen Hart Voices? To me, it completely killed the chaotic feeling the first clip created and dragged everything to an irritating halt. Plus, they had them talk on camera for a whole minute after the guys were in the ambulances. Do the crazy shit, go to commercial, come back with both guys almost already in the stretchers, and move on. (1 for 2)
Samoa Joe interrupts The New Day’s battle with The Viking Raiders (1 minute, 57 seconds)
This was more chaos. The minute of the match they showed was good, and Joe’s appearance was perfectly timed. I guess this also confirms that the Viking Raiders are heels, as they joined in on the beat down. I know people are complaining about WWE coming up with ways to avoid wrestling during commercials (even though they did it anyway this week) but this was at least a great way to do it. (2 for 3)
The New Day vs. Samoa Joe & The Viking Raiders (2 minutes, 48 seconds)
The crowd was on fire for this and the match appeared to be pretty awesome based on what they showed. Joe choking out Kofi is great because it shows that Joe is a killer, and Kofi didn’t tap. He’s protected and continues to avoid being pinned or submitted while being champion, which is unheard of. I really want Kofi to hold onto that title for as long as possible. It’s going to be his only reign, so let him run with it for a while, please. (3 for 4)
Drake Maverick must choose between the 24/7 Title and his wife (1 minute, 27 seconds)
Drave Maverick is tremendous. He has excelled at everything I’ve ever seen him do, from everything he did in TNA, to 205 GM, to this proper comedy character. Didn’t see the AOP manager stuff, but he put his heart into it and went all in, so he gets credit for that as well. (4 for 5)
The Street Profits bring “swag” back to Raw (1 minute, 33 seconds)
I absolutely love these guys. As everyone says, Montez Ford is going to be a star. He’s got everything. I just hope they get to tag for a good while before going their separate ways. Angelo Dawkins is a guy who took a bit of time to find his groove, but now that he has it, he’s great. Feels like a classic tag guy, but that’s not a bad thing. No idea why they’re on RAW, but they’re entertaining so I have no reason to complain. (5 for 6)
The Undertaker is Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre’s “Reaper” (5 minutes)
I don’t know what the hell was going on here. I’m hoping all of this leads to Drew getting a decisive win over The Undertaker at SummerSlam, dropping Shane and becoming a proper challenger for Seth Rollins. This particular segment was long and dump. It reminded me of Undertaker’s infamous promo about leaving Big Show in the desert that happened on RAW in the summer of 1999. This wasn’t at all on that level, but the silly shit Undertaker was saying was ridiculous, and the whole time it felt like he was just trying to remember his lines. Not a fan. (5 for 7)
Natalya vs. Lacey Evans (2 minutes, 32 seconds)
This was just a match. They only clipped about a minute of it out. What they showed was just fine, decent wrestling. Not much you can really do in a 3 and a half minute match. Lacey probably could have controlled more of the match, but that’s just picking a nit. The goal here was to give Lacey a win over an established wrestler and show her and Baron working as a team. That’s what they did, and it worked. (6 for 8)
The Miz vs. Elias — 2-out-of-3 Falls Match (2 minutes, 48 seconds)
Just a match. Seemed good based on what they showed. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to any trouble to actually give a storyline reason as to why they’re doing these matches, but it is what it is. I kinda like the idea of doing rounds based matches. Regular matches get up to 3 rounds, title matches get up to 5 rounds. It’s one fall to a finish and there’s no scoring system (like the dumb Impact Grand Championship). If it goes the full 3 or 5 rounds, you have a draw. That caps all TV matches to 25 minutes at most unless stipulated otherwise. Just have Vince make the decree, and that’s the end of it. PPVs can stay the same. (7 for 9)
Maria & Mike Kanellis interrupt Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch (3 minutes, 20 seconds)
Seth and Becky continue to have very little chemistry as an on-screen couple. I don’t watch 205 Live — has Mike been Maria’s “bitch” on that show for a while, or is that new? Nothing offensive and this set up a preview of sorts for Extreme Rules, as well as… something else. (8 for 10)
Maria Kanellis claims she is pregnant during Mixed Tag Team Match (2 minutes, 59 seconds)
Well then. I wonder if the people chanting “Thank you Heyman!” after the exploding LED wall spot were cursing his name after seeing this. It’s an interesting direction to take, I guess, and I’m interested in seeing where this goes. It’s like an inverted version of Meat (remember when they had Shawn Stasiak do THAT?), where instead of being worn out because his valets spent the whole day… being with him… Maria just never gives Mike any at all. I thought the Meat gimmick was awesome. I’m not willing to shit on this yet. I have a lot of goodwill to throw around. (9 for 11)
The Street Profits meet Paul Heyman (1 minute, 28 seconds)
This was pretty funny. I guess they’re just trying to put over the idea that they like to stir up shit. I like how they can put this on YouTube, but none of the Gallows and Anderson stuff gets there. Still, this was fine. (10 for 12)
Carmella crashes “A Moment of Bliss” (2 minutes, 56 seconds)
Still not digging the Nikki/Alexa story but if it ends with Nikki going back to being a crazy babyface (like she was during the NXT feud with Asuka, for example) then it’s a means to an end. I just wish they would do something else with Alexa. She’s so good and so easy to hate, and I get that she preyed on Nia, who lacked confidence and she’s using Nikki, who is new and naive, but they’re sorta playing up and ignoring ner NXT gimmick at the same time. Why would none of the women in the locker room welcome her unless they saw her in NXT and think she was crazy? But if she’s crazy, why would she be shy and naive? Either way, I love Carmella and it’s nice to see her in this spot. She’s over. Use her! My pontificating aside, this was a good segment. (11 for 13)
Carmella vs. Nikki Cross (2 minutes, 29 seconds)
Carmella beating Alexa in under 10 seconds in the previous clip was interesting — I’m not sure if it does anything for Carmella so much as it lends credence to Nikki being more deserving of a title shot. And that’s probably what they’re going for. I just hope Carmella gets some shine off of this. The match itself was 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The clip was 2 minutes and 29 seconds, and they showed 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the match. Why not just make the clip 26 seconds longer and show the whole match? They did the same thing last week for no reason. The match was fine and all three women are over, and that’s good. (12 for 14)
Alexa Bliss has no comment on Nikki Cross’ success (33 seconds)
Got the point across. Completely on the nose, which is necessary sometimes. (13 for 15)
Drake Maverick reclaims the 24/7 Championship (1 minute, 19 seconds)
We weren’t as heavy on the 24/7 shenanigans this week as last, but it was for a good reason. While the silliness of having a million goobers all over the place is fun, they’ve actually built a really good storyline between Truth and Drake. Who the hell would have seen that coming? It’s still hard to get behind Drake as a heel if that’s even what they’re going for at this point. I’m really a fan of this stuff. (14 for 16)
Ricochet vs. AJ Styles — United States Championship Match (3 minutes, 1 second)
They showed the final 23 seconds of a 6-minute match. That obviously wasn’t the point. Honestly, I’ve been complaining about it, and even though it would have added to the moment, not showing any of the other interactions between AJ, Gallows, and Anderson before this doesn’t really hurt it. If you’re going just by YouTube, the commentary team did play it up during their matches the last two weeks on RAW, so viewers knew something was going on between them. The heel turn and overall beat down was very good, and it’s going to be nice to see The Club back together. And if they’re going to be a legit team, that adds yet another strong team to the growing roster of great tag teams on the main roster. (15 for 17)
Just like the first two weeks, I liked all but two of the clips. I found something to dislike a lot quicker this time, as it was the second of 17, and then I ended up also not liking clip number 7, which was around the time I disliked something the first 2 weeks. I enjoyed this show more than the previous two, and I wouldn’t attribute that to Heyman, because from what I saw, he was likely only deeply involved with a couple of things. The camera angles and how the commentary team reacted when Braun speared Lashley through the LED wall was all Heyman. The actual spot itself is something that WWE has done a trillion times, so you can’t really say that it was a Heyman thing. Even if it was his idea, it wasn’t groundbreaking. It was done well, at least, even if the explosions were overkill. The Maria and Mike stuff also felt like it was a Heyman deal, but it also could just be WWE pushing the envelope and seeing what sticks. Everything else was typical, but not bad.
Average Clip Length, Week 3: 2 minutes, 33 seconds
Week 1: 2 minutes, 32 seconds // Week 2: 2 minutes, 44 seconds
The average length of clips for RAW has stayed right in the same ballpark, with this week being almost identical to Week 1. My hypothesis for the shows being about 45 minutes long on YouTube has stayed true for 3 weeks now.
As far as views are concerned, just under 48 hours after the show, Braun and Lashley going through the LED set had 3.4 million views. That’s a big number, bigger than Undertaker’s appearance at 2.1 million. Drake Maverick winning the 24/7 Title was up to 1.2 million views, continuing a strong run for him and R-Truth. Maria announcing her pregnancy also performed well, getting 1.4 million. That’s all the stuff that everyone was talking about. AJ vs. Ricochet was at 968,000, which is good, as the return of The Club has some buzz. Joe attacking Woods only had 179,000 views in contrast, and the 6-man tag that happened due to the attack only garnered 338,000 views. Not so hot for your WWE Title feud.
The Undertaker’s return last week to save Roman from Shane and McIntyre is up to 12.1 million views, which is insane, as that means in one week’s time, it earned another 4.5 million views. The 48-hour (ish) total for Undertaker’s segment was 5.6 million less than what his return had in the same timeframe. Obviously, that was a big deal, though, compared to a promo that had substantially less buzz. But ‘Taker still draws the eyes nonetheless, at least online. The 24/7 Title match from last week actually did a little bit better in the same timeframe that ‘Taker’s segment did this week, getting 2.2 million views in 48 hours. That video definitely stalled out, though, only making it to just below 2.6 million in a week. The tug of war is up to 4.9 million, which is complete insanity. That means it got another 3.1 million views in the last week. Not quite Undertaker numbers, but I wonder why that caught on.
SmackDown Live (July 2, 2019)
Total Number of Clips: 14
Total Time: 33 minutes, 52 seconds
As I hypothesized back in Week 1, SmackDown totaled just under 35 minutes worth of clips. The average length was 2 minutes, 25 seconds, just shorter than RAW’s average. Notably, they didn’t skip as much stuff that I would consider to be important. Oddly, they cut a backstage segment with Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss, something that they love over on that RAW YouTube playlist. The only other things missing were the comments from the teams involved in the SDL Tag Team scene. Heavy Machinery got to talk, but the reactions from New Day, Bryan & Rowan, and Ziggler & Owens were cut. And that’s fine, because they weren’t super important to the story. Heavy Machinery are much less established than the rest of the guys, so even though their promo pretty much said “we’re a team and we’re gonna win” and didn’t advance anything major, it was a minute and a half of extra exposure for a pair of guys who need it. I’ll check back next week to see if they leave anything important (or substantial, like the Gallows & Anderson stuff) out.
I enjoyed the show. I’ve always been mostly against the brand split. With the exception of the first 2 or so years of the original split (mid-2002 through mid-2004) and the first year of the new split (mid-2016 through mid-2017), I’ve pretty much just disliked the idea. Even though the dissolution of the original split led to SmackDown eventually becoming the RAW clip show, I’ve always preferred carrying some storylines through both shows, simply because WWE was unable to come up with things to do with their “limited rosters”. It led to insane levels of frustration, as I would read, all the time, “the rosters are just too thin” while they had no use for tag teams and both men and women would waste away on Main Event (or Superstars, or any of the equivalent shows).
I’m pontificating. Sorry. That whining is for another time.
Anyway, I enjoyed SmackDown last week (didn’t get a chance to write about it, but the YouTube stuff was fine) and this week as well. I honestly hope that watching the shows this way brings me back into watching the full shows every week. I hate that I don’t care about not seeing so many of my favorite wrestlers. But these last few weeks, while at its core still feels like the same show I finally gave up on almost a year ago, have been pretty good. I have hope.
Some Viewership Numbers
While it didn’t perform well on RAW, the Joe/Kofi feud looks good on SmackDown. Likely thanks to the middle finger (which they didn’t actually show), it has reached 871,000 views in under 24 hours. Aleister Black and Ali haven’t caught much, at 101,000 and 71,000 respectively. Kevin Owens putting Dolph Ziggler in his place reached 475,000 in 24 hours. I’m interested to see how the Joe/Kofi and Owens/Ziggler stuff progresses after a week goes by.
Drake Maverick’s segment with R-Truth from the June 25 SmackDown is at 2.7 million views in a week and a day, further showing how strong the interest is in that title and his and Truth’s interactions. Nothing else even hit 500,000 views, with nothing even sniffing that many, with the exception of Shane McMahon’s minute-long opening promo about The Undertaker, which hit 404,000.
I’ll check in next week.
Nick Marsico/ Writer (kinda)
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