Red Vs Blue

Season Premiere and WWE Draft Showcase | Red Vs Blue (SmackDown 4/10/19 & Raw 7/10/19)

Benjamin Clem looks at SmackDown’s first show on FOX and Raw’s final show before the WWE Draft and gives his review in ‘Red vs Blue’.

Smackdown delivers a spectacular debut episode on the Fox network, while Monday Night Raw does it’s best to rebound from the disaster that was Hell in a Cell.

It’s a rarely seen battle of “before and after” in this week’s Red vs. Blue!

In what may be one of the most memorable weeks in recent pro wrestling history, the WWE sought to prove why they have sat at the top of the wrestling food chain for what feels like an eternity. Not only did Raw and Smackdown’s respective premiere episodes shine brighter than the usual humdrum we’ve come to expect from weekly WWE programming, but NXT also fought valiantly against the debut of AEW Dynamite despite ultimately losing to the latter in viewership ratings.

Vince and Co. had seemingly come loaded for bear, that is until this year’s Hell in a Cell revealed that four great shows in a week might be asking a bit much from World Wrestling Entertainment…

If waiting until two hours prior to announce most of the match card wasn’t enough evidence to condemn the WWE, the utilization of a ref stoppage “Dusty” finish in the main event definitely served as the proverbial nail in the coffin. After failing to beat their fledgling rivals in the first battle of the “Wednesday Night War”, WWE went on show that no one kicks their ass like they do!

Sunday’s closing moments featured fans erupting into a sea of boos as well as chants of AEW. Crazy how much can change over a weekend, right?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this week’s Red vs Blue intends to explore that question somewhat further as we put Smackdown’s Fox debut head-to-head with Hell in a Cell’s rebound Raw! You know the shtick, folks. I watch both shows, make note of the good and the bad, then I come to you all every week with my opinion of which show was better overall. So, with the introduction out of the way, it’s time for us to jump into the positive highlights!

The Good

Friday night’s inaugural episode of Smackdown was, hands down, the perfect example of what we get when WWE actually tries. In what can only be percieved as Vince and Co. destroying any tiny bit of buyer’s remorse that may exist in the Fox corporate offices, the blue brand’s debut episode featured a excellent segment with The Rock, a near record breaking WWE Championship match, and a veritable “who’s that?” of combat athletes making their first WWE television appearances.

In all seriousness, I’m not too proud to admit I had to Google Tyson Fury. Truly, there was almost no negative moments to this show. The thing is, if you’re going to not only give me Shane McMahon getting fired but also Brock Lesnar getting knocked on his ass courtesy of Cain Velasquez in the same show and not expect me to praise it, you’re out of your mind.

Moving on, the red brand’s attempt at saving face after crashing and burning at Hell in a Cell certainly wasn’t without it’s charms. The recent heel turn of Asuka and Kairi Sane is a thing of absolute beauty. Whether it’s Asuka spitting the green mist reminiscent of The Great Muta, or the old school heel tactic of refusing to cut promos in the audience’s native language, this is by far the best we’ve seen the Kabuki Warriors booked since their unification.

Speaking of great booking, glad to see I’m not the only person who remembered that Apollo Crews is an amazingly talented wrestler! And then you put him up against his former roommate and close friend, Ricochet?! Almost enough to make you forget that “Dusty” finish from Sunday, right? Well, intent on doing just that, WWE wrapped up this week’s flagship show with a final attempt to wash away Sunday’s lasting stench of failure, and they even sprinkled some nostalgia on this one!

In a segment very reminiscent of Steve Austin’s quarrel with another boxer named Tyson (Yeah, I see what you did there), Tyson Fury entered the squared circle demanding an apology from Braun Strowman for his disrespectful actions towards the “Gypsy King” on Smackdown. Locked in an intense debate over who would be getting who’s hands, the two behemoths inevitably came to blows before being repeatedly separated by a group of WWE on screen and backstage talent. Even the unintentional comedic gold of frazzled Braun shouting “He’s gonna get these damn hands!!!” from the gorilla position made this a definite redeeming moment for the WWE.

The Bad

Alright, I’m starting off with the elephant in the room. You all know the one I’m referring to. Massive, beast of a thing. Tattoo of a knife on it’s chest, and not a neck to be seen anywhere on it…

How in the hell are the WWE gonna build a legitimate “people’s champion”, eleven years in the making, just to have him get beat by Brock Lesnar in nine seconds?! Remember in the positives when I said this was a near record breaking loss?

Only one man has lost the WWE Championship faster than Kofi did: Bob Backlund. Now, if your response to that bit of trivia is either “Who’s Bob Backlund?” or “The old guy in suspenders that did that weird Trump angle with Darren Young?” then congratulations, you’re understanding how much of a travesty this is.

And as if it wasn’t heartbreaking enough seeing a man we’ve supported through thick and thin disrespected in such a brutal manner, then Rey Mysterio’s music hits and seconds later we all realize WWE just ended the best babyface championship reign they’ve had in years to put on a match in Saudi Arabia that everyone else in the world saw nine years ago.

It’s truly astonishing that the WWE brass saw the fallout within the fan community regarding Lesnar’s win on Smackdown, only to immediately anger the fans even further two nights later.

Jumping over to Monday Night Raw, the only thing that may be worse than a massive, tattooed elephant residing in your room has to be a massive clown faced elephant that the entire room refuses to acknowledge the existence of! How bad was the ending to Hell in a Cell, you ask? Bad enough that Raw opened with the Rusev/Lashley/Lana angle over highlighting the events of the previous night’s show.

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In fact, there was barely any mention of Seth Rollins, The Fiend, The Firefly Funhouse, or even the Universal Championship throughout the entirety of last night’s Raw. And I’m completely glossing over the decision to pick an even worse storyline in favor of avoiding the Hell in a Cell debacle. Seriously, commentary discussed the upcoming draft and December’s TLC pay per view more thoroughly than the happenings of Hell in a Cell. I won’t say it’s pleasing to see WWE doing this much damage control a mere two weeks into this budding golden age of wrestling, but hopefully this means they’ll start trying harder to actually entertain the fans they still have.

The Winner

Only the WWE is capable of breaching the gap between historical and infamous in three short days. It’s truly unbelievable that after such a stellar week of television programming, Vince and Co still found a way to come across as out of touch and uninspired. That’s being said, it seems that the historical moments are still coming because, for the first time ever, this week’s winner is…

Sure, it was over hyped. Sure, the inclusion of the Rock, Tyson Fury, and Cain Velasquez was mostly to make WWE seem more mainstream. Sure, Kofi got….beat….in… nine SECONDS!!! But, overall the pre Hell in a Cell Smackdown was leagues above the post-Monday Night Raw.

Well, with a deserved victory going to the blue brand this week, it’s come time once again for me to bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how!

May all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars!

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