Is SmackDown becoming the "A" show again?
Is the blue brand heating up while RAW is cooling off?
It's been a wild ride to Survivor Series, and yet, all the right decisions have been made. Chaotic as it's been, it's actually added to the feel of a war that's set to unfold in Houston this Sunday. This all culminated in the go-home show last night, which was, in my opinion, the best SmackDown show all year. Nothing seemed to go wrong.
Two weeks ago, that would have been an outlandish thing to say. SmackDown seemed to be stuck indefinitely in the rut it's been in all year long, but especially since the Superstar Shakeup. Now, SmackDown's prospects for 2018 suddenly look much brighter.
Widely considered the superior show from the draft until early this year, there are many reasons to believe the "B show" might actually become "the show" again, regardless of Survivor Series hyperbole. There are just as many reasons to believe that RAW could soon return to being the inferior show.
#1. SmackDown has no Stephanie
This was always one of SmackDown's selling points. While Stephanie was constantly running down Mick Foley and everyone else in 2016, hogging as much airtime as she could, SmackDown was doing its own thing. It's far from a coincidence that part of the great momentum RAW has had since the Superstar Shakeup was that Stephanie was no longer on the show.
Stephanie may play her role well, but everyone else on the roster suffers because of it. Every time I see her I can't help but ask what positives she brings to the show? Nothing as far as I can tell. She's a bug zapper that destroys any character who flies too close, or a black hole warping and distorting the space of any story around her, making herself the centre of everything.
And her victims almost never have a chance at retaliation, even in promos.
While Stephanie was more like her father in the early 2000s, where she was willing to taste defeat or humiliate her character in the interest of the overall story being told, those days are long gone. The tyrant that never faces any consequences isn't a particularly endearing character in a medium that's supposed to be entertaining.
It's too much like real life for there to be an element of escapism. While Stone Cold Steve Austin epitomized the fantasies of so many around the world by beating and humiliating his tyrannical boss, the daughter and heir of that tyrant instead remind so many people too much of what they have to deal with all the time.
Where's the fun in that?
While Shane McMahon can be tiresome on SmackDown, he's at least more like his father in this regard. His feud with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is actually entertaining, and he's willing to beat himself up to put people over. No Stephanie on SmackDown is an automatic selling point for the blue brand.