By RJ Marceau (Senior SmackDown Columnist)
A month ago I wrote an article how SmackDown Live was no longer the “B” show and was on par or better then Monday Night Raw. Since that article I can say confidently that SmackDown is hands down better then Raw. SmackDown has been able to install fresh new faces in all four title pictures that Raw has failed to do.
No Mercy and Backlash were both better then Clash of Champions and Raw still drags over the course of three hours. Here are some things that Raw needs to learn from SmackDown Live to be good again.
Invest in the Women's Division
SmackDown has done a phenomenal job with their Women’s division by crowning fan favorite Becky Lynch champion, revitalizing Naomi, and using veterans (Nikki Bella and Natalya) to get over Carmella and Alexa Bliss. Alexa Bliss and Carmella have become exceptional in their individual roles and SmackDown Live has been able to turn these two into household names. On Raw, they had Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte as the main event but the title change has already happened once and the moment with Bayley winning would’ve been more genuine.
Sasha and Charlotte have been feuding over the title all summer and the feud in my opinion has gotten stale. It will be amazing to see them fight inside Hell in a Cell but now that Sasha is champion I don’t see the point. If Charlotte kept retaining due to Dana Brooke interfering I would be more accepting to the idea but it just seems like they are just doing it for the first time ever selling point. Outside of the title picture, Bayley has no direction and she would be a main focus on the SmackDown brand. Nia Jax hasn’t excelled at all since getting called up and Alicia Fox is Alicia Fox.
Raw needs to invest in more women feuds and make the title picture different then Charlotte vs. Sasha. Bayley should be next in line but they need to do a better job of building her up instead of just relying on her NXT popularity. Alexa Bliss and Carmella played second fiddle to her on NXT and are main focal points on SmackDown each week which Bayley isn’t.
The New Day Need New Challengers
When The New Day blew up last summer I was all on board. They were the most entertaining part of Raw and SmackDown with their witty antics and good to great matches. Over the course of the year, they have defeated all challengers and has gotten to the point that the team has no viable challengers. The Club seemed destined to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships and lost multiple times. They beat The Usos, Prime Time Players, Lucha Dragons, League of Nations, Enzo & Cass and The Vaudevillians. The only new team to face them is Cesaro and Sheamus whose best of 7 series was horrendous if you ask me.
The act has lost some steam but it’s because of the dominance they have had and the act hasn’t changed much over a year. If I was booking Raw, they would have dropped the belts to The Club and would have focused on the United States Championship. If they are able to beat Cesaro & Sheamus I honestly have no idea who they will face. The act needs a tweak to stay relevant before becoming old news by the casual fan.
The Kevin Owens Show Might Be Cancelled
When Kevin Owens won the title last month I was excited. Owens finally was able to win the WWE title and become the “face” of Raw. He came out with The Kevin Owens Show t-shirt which is great but he hasn’t been booked good as champion. He defeated Seth Rollins at Clash of Champions in a good match but besides that has been stuck with Enzo and Cass for some reason and taken a back seat as a main focal point on Raw. The segments have been good but witty segments with Jericho doesn’t really help him individually but them as a pair.
I think Owens deserved to become champion but without Chris Jericho I don’t see Owens getting the push. Owens has failed to differentiate himself from Jericho and could suffer once he leaves. It’s similar to when a wrestler has a manager, partner or valet that adds to the act and is taken away. Imagine Maryse leaving The Miz and Enzo leaving Cass, each act would suffer. The same will happen with Owens since the JeriKO tandem got over so fast. Owens must build his own identity because if not, The Kevin Owens Show will be cancelled soon.
These three points need to be addressed to help Raw be on par with Smackdown Live. They need to focus on the midcard in particular, Sami Zayn, focus more on the Cruiserweights and give Braun Strowman an actual purpose. I don’t see Raw changing their formulaic ways but they need something new and fresh to compete with SmackDown Live.
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