Raw and Smackdown Live have been treading two completely different creative paths. It is true that Raw has been beating Smackdown Live in terms of rating week after week, but the real acclaim is not on The Flagship show but on the blue brand.
The approach taken in each brand has been vastly different. Raw has been an overcomplicated mess week after week while Smackdown Live has gotten praise for it’s simple, straightforward and effective storytelling plus its utilization of talent despite the fact that it is considered to be the thinner roster of the two.
The women’s division is the perfect example of this – In the beginning of the draft, most felt that Smackdown Live got absolutely robbed getting a far thinner female roster. However, over the course of the past nine weeks, they have proven that simple booking can be effective. Raw has the names, but only five women are consistently featured, and the story told is generally convoluted as well.
The past nine weeks, many have felt that Smackdown Live has beaten Raw 7-2 in terms of show quality. The only time people felt Raw was better was when major things happened (Finn Balor defeating Roman Reigns & Kevin Owens winning the Universal Championship). However, that is not possible every week, so that is where consistency is key, which is where Smackdown Live has been winning.
The question that pops up looking at these differences is: Is Smackdown Live run by someone else? Perhaps Triple H? Triple H is known for telling a good story and straightforward booking, which is what made NXT as acclaimed as it is today.
However, as per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, both shows are creatively run and overseen by Vince McMahon. This is quite surprising due to the vast difference between the two shows.
It is a well-documented fact that former NXT head writer Ryan Ward was moved to Smackdown months before the draft to take head writer duties. Ward was one of the instruments of success that NXT has obtained over the past few years.
However, from the looks of it, Vince and Triple H are definitely looking and using two completely different approaches for these shows. While Raw is the entertainment show, Smackdown Live is the wrestling show. Smackdown Live has been creeping up on Raw’s ratings, and at the rate things are going, could exceed it anytime soon.
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