With both shows in full hype mode for Money In The Bank, was it Smackdown or Raw that delivered the goods?
Find out in the latest edition of Red Versus Blue!
After an unusually quiet week for WWE in 2020, it was back to controversy and poor business in the past seven days. Which, in many ways, has become a comfort blanket to wrestling fans throughout these odd times.
Curtis Axel found himself the latest star to be out of a job, with the potential for more releases to follow along yet.
WWE has found themselves on the wrong end of a class-action lawsuit accusing them of a “fraudulent scheme”, which could have dire ramifications for the company.
To top it all off, Jimmy Uso is set to be out for six to nine months following a serious knee injury.
It would be fair to say that Vince and company will have been looking to Raw and Smackdown to shine a ray of positivity into their lives. To do that both shows would have needed to be wall to wall brilliance.
Spoiler, they were not.
This isn’t to say that they were bad by any means, but there was a lot to be desired in both instances.
Still, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, and there were segments on both shows that made it worth watching. It was particularly interesting to see how they built to this unique PPV just around the corner. Smackdown took a simpler route, but was it more effective overall?
You know the drill and it isn’t changing with a stand-in writer. I’ve watched the shows, I’ve made copious notes, and now it’s time for me to lay out what worked for me. At the end I’ll take everything into account and announce the winner of this week’s battle. So let’s get going.
Smackdown started off strong, with Daniel Bryan in the ring selling Money In The Bank to the masses. The man can make you buy into anything and he showed that once again here. His emotion made it seem like winning the match was a make or break deal for him and everyone else involved.
This led to a really good match between himself and King Corbin. D-Bry won via DQ, which is always a flat finish, but the action was superb up until that point. A post-match melee between the two ended with Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro aiding Corbin to take out Bryan. Really good stuff.
After this, we got a dreadful promo from Braun Strowman that was saved by the latest edition of the Firefly FunHouse. Bray Wyatt read from a storybook titled ‘The Black Sheep’. It spoke in a not-so-veiled manner of Strowman’s time with the Wyatt Family and of his perceived betrayal of Bray by leaving the group. This was good, creepy fun even if the match it is leading to should never have been booked.
A highlight every week, this episode was no different for Otis. His schtick is familiar at this point but it never fails to bring a smile to the face. He interacted with Mandy in an adorable backstage interview. Just his reaction to her kissing him is enough to make your heart melt.
Later in the main event, he defeated Dolph Ziggler in a perfectly good match. Otis probably won’t win the briefcase on Sunday but I wouldn’t be against it if he did.
Speaking of Mandy, the other half of America’s favourite couple took on Carmella to qualify for the Women’s Money In The Bank Match. Interference from Sonya Deville cost her that opportunity but it led to a brutal looking beat down that really sold Sonya as a true threat in the division. Once this programme is over, she could easily be moved on to a title feud and look convincing as a challenger.
The final positive to be taken from a fairly good episode of Smackdown was the Tag Team Match between The New Day and The Forgotten Sons. Having just been randomly called up to the main roster, Blake, Cutler, and Ryker could easily have been lost in the shuffle. However, this match proved that they aren’t at risk of looking weak just yet.
They put in a strong showing against their formidable opponents and eked out a win, albeit one borne of interference.
Switching gears to Raw now, we start with the women. More specifically the VIP Lounge segment that saw Nia Jax get dumped out of the ring by Asuka and Shayna Baszler. I’m not a fan of Nia in the slightest, but the tease of Shayna going head to head with Asuka was enough to pique my interest. If they were given enough time to work, then they could well produce the most hard-hitting women’s match in company history. That isn’t hyperbole either – no one other than Ronda Rousey is as legitimate as these two.
A possible controversial pick next, but I enjoyed seeing Shane Thorne and Brendan Vick pick up a decisive win over Ricochet and Cedric Alexander. It is a shame to see the latter duo get jobbed out when they both hold so much promise, but the division is crying out for a legitimate force and perhaps it could find it in MVP’s charges. They’re tough, talented, and look the part so why not commit to pushing them and see where it goes?
Back to the women again as Liv Morgan showed why she’s become such a popular figure amongst fans by stepping up to Charlotte Flair. She lost via submission, but she looked damn good in defeat. The future is incredibly bright for this likeable young star and it’s good to see her being given TV time alongside a performer of Charlotte’s calibre. Hopefully, she goes on to pick up a series of wins before once more challenging The Queen.
Finally, I’d like to talk about how strong Drew McIntyre is looking as champion. He handily disposed of Murphy before surviving an attack by Seth Rollins and sending the Monday Night Messiah scurrying. Too often WWE books anyone not named Brock Lesnar to look weak when holding the gold, but that’s not the route they’ve taken with Drew. He should retain over Seth in their upcoming clash and go on to reign for a long, long time.
Both brands gave us something to enjoy over the course of their runtimes. Whilst neither was a homerun, they were far from the doldrums of the shows we’ve seen earlier this year. The build to Sunday was solid in both instances, but throwaway matches hampered the overall product. No one wants to see Sheamus butcher some poor local talent anymore. Nor do they want to see The Viking Raiders decimate the current Raw Tag Champs in a non-title match. With all that in mind, the question remains of which show was better. I’m using my one week only power to call it in favour of…
Raw had plenty going for it, but it wasn’t as complete a show as Smackdown. The gauntlet just didn’t land for me and AJ’s return was poorly executed, considering he was recently buried alive. Whereas the blue brand had almost all great main matches and a better selection of promos too.
Your usual guide on this journey has his signature sign off and I can’t bring myself to steal it so…
Until next time, may you continue to avoid Carole Baskin.
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy