WWE RAW & Smackdown LIVE: What I Liked/Disliked

AJ Styles

Hot off a memorable Backlash event, I knew I wanted to write something about RAW and Smackdown this week. It seemed like a natural progression in the wrestling world known as WWE. However, then Raw happened...and well, my motivation suddenly went out the window. I lost the desire to review the show in a hurry.

Then Smackdown LIVE happened, and I was back on board. It's strange because that is the beauty and curse of the brand extension. One minute you love the company; the next minute you think the entire brand split is going to take a massive dump. That was Monday and Tuesday for me. Thus, I still had a "want" to write about the product but not much enthusiasm following such a good Backlash.

My compromise?

What I Liked

RAW - I really liked a few things from Raw this past Monday night. First off, Nia Jax looks like a monster out there. Kudos to Alicia Fox for taking the beating. Also, credit to WWE for using local talent in the right way building up a wrestler within just a few weeks. It is truly that simple folks.

Secondly, I loved the main event. Yeah, we all suspected Rusev was going to return. Nobody takes a 30 day honeymoon and constantly brags about it on Twitter. Clearly a red herring. Didn't fool this guy though. Kevin Owens felt like a champion, as did Roman Reigns. Good use of Seth Rollins as well not backing down from Mick Foley. Screw not interfering. He does what he wants when he wants.

Thirdly, I am looking forward to a mini-feud with Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn. Perfect spot on the card for both men right now. Sadly, that is where the positives end for Raw.

Smackdown - The much better show this week. I enjoyed the opening segment with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and a returning John Cena immensely. Fired on all cylinders. Going to be a great triple threat WWE World Title bout at No Mercy. Big ups to Cena for speaking the truth on Ambrose. Stone Cold said similar things, but this was right there in front of the world. Hope this lights a fire under his booty and gets him back in gear. Cool tease of Cena beating Styles for his 16th World title to tie Ric Flair's record. Rest easy though, it isn't happening.

The Usos keep rolling as heels. Long overdue move for them.

The Miz and Maryse are excellent together. Dolph Ziggler wants ONE MORE IC Title shot? Ugh, fine. The only reason I liked this segment is because it may finally lead to something with Daniel Bryan and Miz. My guess remains Bryan calls up somebody from NXT to battle the "soft style" from Miz. Maybe a "strong style" wrestler?

Big fan of Jack Swagger and happy he is getting another chance to showcase his skills. That wasn't going to happen on RAW, so why not flip brands? May as well give it a go. I wonder who else has an expiring contract...The Miz sure has been teasing it lately.

My hidden gem of Smackdown LIVE this week was Alexa Bliss becoming the new #1 contender to the Womens Title. Excellent yet surprising decision made there. Two thumbs up. Becky Lynch will likely beat her at No Mercy (as she should), but still, this was good stuff. The Smackdown women's roster felt secondary last month. Now? Not so much.

The tag main event was fine. What I really liked was seeing Ambrose lay out Cena afterwards. Notice the rabid (and diehard) Philly crowd booed Deano for this action. Same with the opening segment; they seemed WAY TOO anxious to boo Ambrose. Almost like they were just waiting for an opportunity. Backlash was the same. Maybe the masses are also getting a little bored of his act too? When Cena is getting cheered over Ambrose in Philly, you know there are issues. Can't deny it anymore.

What I Disliked

RAW - Too much to list. The opening segment began with an authority. AGAIN! Seriously. The women's title stuff was a little all over the place and felt unnecessary. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte was going to happen at Clash of Champions anyways. Why go through all the hassle of taking it away and going back to it? Also, the moment Dana Brooke turned on Charlotte was EXCELLENT! The fans loved it. Yet, 20 minutes later, she was back with her and apologizing. Um, okay. When is Emma returning again?

Don't care for the Bo Dallas reinvention.

Cesaro vs. Sheamus is just lacking that extra added boost. We know where this comeback story is headed, so I will let it play out in the final bout. Until then, I sense both are just filling up 15 minutes on the show without a real direction.

The New Day continue to falter as tag champs. The stable has been stale for six months or so. Plus, their longest reigning tag team title reign is tainted by not actually defending said belts at multiple pay-per-view in the past year and even losing recently at Summerslam. The Club are getting 'back to basics,' but what does that mean? Losing at Clash of Champions to The New Day?

Jinder Mahal returned for this. Hope the money is worth it. When we read reports of past stars coming back to fill space, this is not what I had in mind. Get better Shelton Benjamin; the RAW brand could use you more than Smackdown.

Oh, and Enzo and Big Cass are still feuding with The Shining Stars. No thanks. Cass was just in a RAW main event going for the Universal Title, right? Thought so.

Sorry for all the negatives, but this Raw did not do it for me. Even against the big NFL/ESPN opener, they missed the mark. Bad time to do that with television ratings on the decline...again.

Smackdown - Glad for Heath Slater (and Rhyno). He has made this entire thing work well. At the same time, these new Smackdown Tag Team Titles need to be credible and built up. Not on a comedy pairing that will be broken up at some point. Transition them to The Usos and then American Alpha.

Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews. Two dudes with a ton of potential. Come on WWE, find them SOMETHING relevant to do! Anything with a purpose. Not pointless matches and/or attacks each week.

Hype Bros.

Guess I am the only one who doesn't care about Curt Hawkins. He was set to debut this week, and I didn't even notice it. Completely forgettable vignettes. Don't see this going well. Jinder Mahal may be getting some company on WWE Superstars and Main Event soon.

James Ellsworth - same with Curt Hawkins. I don't get it. The lovable loser who got crushed by Braun Strowman? Okay. Yay? Wonderful? All the while ratings are at all-time lows...

Despite those minor complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed Smackdown on Tuesday and love the little roll they are on. AJ Styles is the new WWE World Champion. Becky Lynch is positioned to be a mega-star in WWE. Different guys and gals are getting a spotlight. Plus, Smackdown wasted no time in already announcing an intriguing main event for No Mercy next month.

What's not to like?

Oh yeah, Raw.

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