Red Vs Blue

New Stars Showcased & Sports Stars Dominate| Red Vs Blue (SmackDown 18/10/19 & Raw 21/10/19)

Benjamin Clem reviews last Friday’s SmackDown and Monday’s Raw and decided which brand is superior in this week’s ‘Red vs Blue’.

Ten days away from yet another controversial show in Saudi Arabia, WWE looks to rebound from recent sub-par booking as well as the ill-received draft.

Pro wrestling is, without question, one of the most unpredictable entities amongst modern television entertainment. Since the early sideshow beginnings of the sport, speculation has always been one of the driving forces behind the popularity of wrestling. Even now, with the internet allowing more behind the scenes access, and the veil of kayfabe all but destroyed, speculation still rules the collective fan communities. With that all said, I truly doubt anyone predicted that WWE would already be trying to save face just a month into the debut of AEW on primetime television.

From the heavy push of Bray Wyatt’s “Fiend” gimmick to spotlighting talent that utilizes more unique styles, it’s painfully obvious that WWE are desperately searching for something that’ll keep their heads above the proverbial floodwaters. This week’s programming seemed to be more of the same “see what sticks” mentality as Raw featured a heavy emphasis on the Lucha libre styles of Humberto Carrillo, Sin Cara, and Andrade, while SmackDown pushed the inclusion of outside talent the likes of Tyson Fury, and the Cleveland Browns. Now, I know I’m taking an overall negative stance in this article so far, but after a week of stellar programming from MLW Fusion, NWA Powerrr, and AEW Dynamite, how am I not supposed to be overly critical of what we were handed by WWE?!

All criticisms aside, it’s still my weekly task to watch both Raw and SmackDown with the intent of declaring which was better, so that’s what I’m going to damn well do! So, with all my belly aching out of the way, let’s jump right into the good aspects from this week’s WWE programming.

The Good

After last week’s Monday Night Raw featured Seth Rollins setting fire to Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse, many of us assumed that this week’s offering would continue to build the feud between the “Beast Slayer” and the “Fiend” as they inch closer to their Falls Count Anywhere match at Crown Jewel. However, as mentioned in the introduction, WWE instead opted to showcase talent the red brand recently acquired through last week’s draft. For once, straying away from current ongoing storylines may have actually been the correct choice for the WWE. With most fans viewing Crown Jewel as an overhyped house show money grab, WWE’s attempt to remind us all of the level of talent they still have under contract definitely felt like the right move. Not only does booking of this quality re-establish guys like Sin Cara, but it also reduces the risk of the Wyatt/Rollins feud growing stale.

Sure, this is still an episode that featured Cain Velasquez decimating former top tier collegiate wrestler, Shelton Benjamin, and a sad attempt of referencing the Attitude Era with a “public” conflict between Rusev and Bobby Lashley, but the excellent ring work throughout the night definitely made the low moments easier to ignore.

Moving on to the blue brand, this week’s episode of SmackDown was certainly a unique type of monster. From opening the show with a fairly decent Intercontinental Championship match between Roman Reigns and champion Shinsuke Nakamura to Heavy Machinery’s Otis chugging pancake batter prior to taking part in a comical eight-man tag match, it’s safe to say this week’s SmackDown was lacking an obvious blueprint.

But, in this current climate of expected WWE booking, a little nonsense can be refreshing. Did you expect Nikki Cross to win the six-pack challenge thus becoming the number one contender for Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s Championship? No, and that’s what made it worth watching! If the people watching your product don’t know what’s going to happen next, then you are succeeding at being entertaining. Where Raw actively tried to avoid Crown Jewel, SmackDown saw the upcoming event and said, “What’re the craziest things we can pull while also continuing the build towards Saudi Arabia?”. If Crown Jewel is already being perceived as a joke, why not push it further with more outlandish moments? For once, SmackDown took the path less traveled, and it definitely paid off.

The Bad

First off, I know that I pretty much slammed both shows during the introduction, so I don’t really feel the need to continue blasting the WWE despite this being the negative section. Therefore, let me quickly touch on some of the worst moments from this week’s offerings in the interest of structure before declaring this week’s victor.

Concerning the red brand, can we just end the Lana/Rusev/Lashley angle?! I mean, it’s painfully obvious that this storyline is only being used to hype the Hogan/Flair match at Crown Jewel, as well as being a pitiful excuse for Rusev, Lana, and Bobby to be featured on WWE programming. Seriously, don’t expect us to get behind a story when you have Jerry Lawler show up to meditate the situation! Was the thought that he’d know what to do because of how many failed relationships he’s taken part in? Comparing this to the more humorous moments of this week’s SmackDown shows you the distinct difference between funny and awkward.

As for the blue brand, the overall negative I gleaned from this week’s edition of SmackDown has to be the over-emphasis on sports stars from outside of wrestling.

If you want to push the upcoming match between Braun Strowman and professional boxer Tyson Fury, then have Fury actually show up instead of having Braun squash Drew Gulak for questioning Braun’s ability! The thing that made the inclusion of Mike Tyson feel special back in the day was the fact that Mike actually showed up.

The lack of a guest star making appearances undeniably comes across as said guest not taking the wrestling business seriously. And if that is the case, who could blame Tyson for being less than serious when WWE sees fit to show off the Cleveland Browns sitting ringside instead of focusing on their own talent. I know that showing other athletes in attendance has always been a pro wrestling troupe, but when your upcoming pay per view features two non wrestlers in main event level spots, you might want to ignore the Browns in favor of proving you’re still a wrestling company!

The Verdict

It’s safe to say neither show was without it’s flaws this week. As pro wrestling continues to build towards the dawn of a new golden age, WWE is quickly becoming the “better than nothing” option for most diehard fans. However, when it comes to the better of this week’s shows, I have to say the winner is…

It’s not tough to beat the poor calibre of Monday Night Raw we were given this week, but the blue brand blew their red counterpart out of the water with a great balance of decent in-ring work and outrageous backstage moments.

There you have it, folks. The blue brand takes another victory, but will this win streak continue next week with the Crown Jewel “go-home” shows? Only time will tell, so until next time… may all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars.

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