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Battle of the Brands - Raw vs. SmackDown Live: June 06, 2017

A clean-sweep for Raw.
Daniel Crump

For the first time in a number of weeks, the reactions to Raw were almost universally positive. Coming off the back of a strange Extreme Rules PPV, the Monday night roster got back to form and started moving towards some new and exciting feuds. SmackDown was by no means a bad show, but it just didn’t have the minerals to threaten WWE’s flagship weekly episode. Here’s a more in-depth look at Raw’s dominant victory over SmackDown Live this week:


#1 Match Quality – Winner: Raw

Solid action from start to finish.

While both brands had their fair share of solid matches this week, Monday Night Raw offered just a little more than its Tuesday night rival. Two matches, in particular, made Raw a very passable show in terms of overall match quality, those being the opening bout and the main event. While we have seen Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt square off a number of times in recent weeks, the two of them consistently manage to show that they have great chemistry and very complementary styles.

In the main event, we saw another instalment of a rivalry that we’ve also become pretty familiar with recently when Samoa Joe took on Seth Rollins. Again, this match involved two people who know each other well and have compatible move sets. There was nothing in either match to grab our attention, but they did both manage to elevate the quality of the show in their own right.

We also got a number of short matches to break up some of the talking segments this week on Raw. Short matches aren’t necessarily a bad thing on a weekly show as it’s important not to give away too much action that could have been saved for a PPV. Sheamus and Cesaro’s victory over Slater and Rhino did what it needed to do, for example, and the Enzo and Big Show Vs. Gallows and Anderson match-up was just there to continue an interesting storyline.

On paper, SmackDown could have easily tipped the balance here. Going into a show in which AJ Styles takes on Dolph Ziggler, and Shinsuke Nakamura faces Kevin Owens, you’d expect to see a ‘big four PPV’ worthy card.

However, the matches weren’t anything special, but this was probably down to all four men holding back so as not to expend fan’s interest too prematurely. You also had some pretty throwaway bouts on Tuesday, seeing Mojo Rawley take on Jinder Mahal, and a tag team match between New Day and The Colons, neither of which you’ll be looking back on in a few week’s time.

Also read: 5 best Money in the Bank Ladder Matches of all-time

#2 Promo Quality – Winner: Raw

Great segment.

Both shows had a very strong week in terms of promo/talking segments. Not all fans are keen on the WWE filling their shows with mic work as opposed to matches, but I for one think they are badly needed. There has to be some differentiation between episodes of Raw and SmackDown, and their respective PPV events. Raw just about won it this week, owing mainly to a very interesting and well-worked segment involving The Miz, Maryse and Dean Ambrose. The reigning Intercontinental Champion is a special talent on the microphone.

He can handle crowds better than anyone in the company at the moment, mocking the fans in attendance for chanting ‘You deserve it’ at him, for example. Usually, when a heel is being cheered, they just lap it up and don’t attempt to turn the fans against them, Miz does that effortlessly.

At first, when the dancing bear was in the ring, you just assumed it was going to be Dean Ambrose, which might have let the segment down quite a bit, but instead they played things out a little longer, revealing that it wasn’t Dean in the costume after all, but some poor randomer than received the brunt of Miz’s frustration.

Then Miz set about dismantling a grandfather clock bought for him by his wife, again thinking that Dean was inside. This segment did more than it actually needed to do, and for that, it was probably the highlight of the week overall.

In addition to this, Samoa Joe was finally given the time and space to remind everyone of his talents on the mic. He talked about his upcoming match with Brock Lesnar and was eventually interrupted by Heyman, leading to the latter being placed in a Coquina Clutch. There’s no doubting Paul Heyman’s ability to get fans excited for upcoming matches, but he’s especially effective when he’s not being utilised every single week. Very much like the man he is advocating for, a little bit of the former ECW GM goes a very long way.

A close rival to the Miz segment, in terms of comedic value, was the dialogue between Enzo Amore and Big Show. After learning that Big Cass was unable to compete in the tag match against Gallows and Anderson, Amore recruited the Big Show as his tag partner and attempted to do an ‘Enzo and Cass’ style introduction.

It’s easy to forget how much of an asset Big Show is when it comes to the more lighthearted side of WWE. His chemistry with Enzo was fantastic here, and I don’t think too many people would be upset if they did form a proper tag team at some point in the future.

SmackDown did have a number of good promo segments too. For example, the opening of the show saw all five of the women’s MITB ladder match sharing a ring with each other. While not all of the women’s roster are particularly talented talkers, all of them got their message across and the segment as a whole went by without a hitch.

One notable addition to the segment was the debut of Lana. Considering she used to be the advocate for Rusev, and was, for a time, one of the best heat magnets in the entire company, Lana’s abilities on the mic should not have come as too big a surprise. I’m really looking forward to how they incorporate Lana into this very stacked division, and it was great to see how well the fans responded to her.

And of course, the Fashion Files deserves mention. While Breezeango are entertaining enough by themselves, involving the New Day here made this a big highlight of the show overall. If it wasn’t for the Miz segment, this could have potentially tipped the balance in SmackDown’s favour. This has the makings of brilliant television as it allows Fandango and Tyler Breeze the opportunity to let their personalities show.

This is the kind of segment you wouldn’t have seen before the brand split, which is why, so many lower mid-card talents used to be so underused. These segments remind me a little of the anger management pieces involving Daniel Bryan and Kane a few years back and look at the effect they had.

#3 Storyline/Character Development – Winner: Raw

A twist in the tale?

Considering this was one night removed from a Raw PPV, it’s not surprising that Monday night saw quite a bit of development in terms of storyline and character development. The show after a PPV is typically when the roster gets a mini shake-up, and new feuds start to emerge. For example, we got a new rivalry in the Raw women’s division between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax.

Perhaps Nia’s comments last week struck a chord with somebody backstage, as not only was the women herself catapulted to the main event scene, but the writers even found a way to incorporate more of the roster into this story. Dana Brooke and Mickie James played important supporting roles here, which is what the division needs to be doing. It’s not enough just to concentrate on the two women who are fighting for the title.

Unsurprisingly, the upcoming bout between Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar took its first steps with some impressive mic work from the former, and it looks as if Roman and Bray are also going to be feuding for the next few weeks.

For the second week in a row, however, Raw showed us all that it has the advantage in terms of storyline interest. The mysterious matter involving Kurt Angle made an impact on the show yet again, although it would have been nice if we’d have got a few more clues as to what is actually happening.

The Enzo and Cass storyline is still interesting and took a rather unexpected turn this week when we learned that Big Cass was this week’s victim, as opposed to Amore. Again, not many clues were given as to where this is going, but that’s not necessarily a negative.

What if Big Cass himself staged the whole attack to shift the spotlight away from him? What if it was the Revival who attacked them both buidling up for a feud upon their return, afterall they have been spotted on RAW in recent weeks.

SmackDown is working towards a PPV, so doesn’t really have the space to be developing new storylines. Instead, we got another collection of matches involving the six MITB competitors and a rather pointless match between the WWE Champion and the Andre the Giant Battle Royal winner. This is likely to change after the next PPV, where new feuds will hopefully begin to develop on the blue brand.

#4 Shocking Moments – Winner: Raw

Who saw this coming?

Another close category this week. SmackDown did have the debut of Lana, which received a much warmer welcome than I think many were expecting, but other than that the show mainly relied on the in-ring action and a few comedy talking segments.

Raw managed to pull ahead again here, especially when you take Samoa Joe’s beat down on Paul Heyman into account. Perhaps if the Beast himself had have shown up, the shock factor would have been even higher. I don’t think many people were expecting Joe to take Heyman down like that, as this usually happens a little closer to the PPV itself when Brock is there to make the save.

The dynamics of this feud are actually pretty interesting, as it's not too clear who is supposed to be the face/heel. When Brock does finally come back, it’s going to be difficult for SmackDown to match it.

Nia Jax receiving a title shot so soon was a bit of a shocking moment in itself, but not necessarily for the right reasons. This feud needs a lot more build before they start giving away all the action so early.

It was right for Raw not to give away too much in terms of their two mysterious backstage storylines, but when we do learn the truth surrounding them, expect a lot more shocking moments than we got this week.

#5 Overall enjoyment – Winner: Raw

Monday Night reigns supreme.

It feels harsh to give a clean sweep victory to Raw this week, as the SmackDown show was by no means bad. Monday night was just far too entertaining, however, and I definitely had more fun watching on Monday compared with Tuesday.

Raw was solid from start to finish. There were two excellent matches either side of some very entertaining, very humorous promo work. Seeing new rivalries develop is always going to make a show more interesting, and the fact of the matter is that Monday night just has the better and deeper roster at the moment. When you consider that the Universal Champion didn’t even appear on the show, it’s impressive to think that Raw’s title scene had more to it than SmackDown’s.

Yes, we actually did see the champion appear on Tuesday, but the match and promo he was involved with were both instantly forgettable. It’s starting to become clear that not having Brock on Raw every week is actually more of a help than a hindrance when your other main champion is Jinder Mahal.

Hopefully, SmackDown can pull it back over the next couple of weeks as we head into Money in the Bank. We also have the return of John Cena, scheduled for July 4th, which ought to deepen the roster considerably. This week, however, Raw annihilated its main competitor.

Winner: Raw 5-0.


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Edited by Staff Editor

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