Since Monday Night Raw permanently went from two hours in length to three, fans have called for it to revert back to the original duration.
The rationale being, quite rightly, that instead of adding an hour’s worth of top quality in-ring work or memorable segments, the extra hour would just either be filler or stretching segments out.
However, the WWE already host a weekly two-hour wrestling show and it’s become almost unmissable while Raw comes across as bloated and frankly too long.
The show in question: Friday night Smackdown.
By Craig Wilson – @CraigW4584
Smackdown was originally created back in 1999 as the WWE’s secondary show – similar to the way that, at that point, WCW had Thunder as their secondary show. Broadcast on Thursday it always had the feel of a secondary show despite the fact that The Rock referred to it as his show due to the fact its title came from his phrase “lay the smackdown”.
However, it cannot be denied that it has featured its pick of top class in-ring work his year with last week’s episode being case and point. Making it one of, if not the, best WWE TV shows of the year so far.
Six matches were featured on the show with the weakest being The Miz taking on Fandango but even that was a decent enough match – a six out of ten bout.
Of the rest, there was the stellar six-man opening contest pitting The Shield against Daniel Bryan, Christian and Sheamus, a great main event which saw Cesaro defeat Randy Orton in a non-title match and the match of the evening that saw Jack Swagger defeat Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio in a surprisingly excellent clash.
Smackdown has positioned itself as what most WWE fans want. A series of matches and a few interview/backstage segments. We know enough to realise that we can expect Raw or Smackdown to just be match after match – that’s what a PPV is – but that doesn’t for much of the filler that makes up Raw.
Heck, this past week’s Raw, despite its extra hour, had a total of eight matches and of those three came in at three minutes or less in length.
There is a great deal of potential for Smackdown to carve out its own identity. The only way that Smackdown will be able to shed the image that it is a Raw b-show is to make itself different from Raw.
When there was the brand split that was easier as half the roster were allocated to Raw and the other half to the blue brand. In the days since that the show has struggled to make itself different.
There are plenty of ways that the WWE can cash in and make Smackdown a big deal too. By far the easiest way is to promote the show during Raw. I used to be incredibly surprised that the WWE would even mention that a, say, John Cena was appearing on Smackdown content, instead, to advertise the appearance on their own website.
Thankfully the company appear to have realised the error of their ways and have increasingly promoted what is in store on Friday night on their Monday night flagship show.
However, it would still be good to see the WWE try something different with Smackdown. Even having a different commentary team to Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield would be a start. After all, they are two-thirds of the team behind the commentary booth on Raw.
With the commentary of William Regal being different from those of his colleagues it would be great to see him call matches on Smackdown. At the very least, it would make them sound different to Raw matches.
Smackdown already has a different set so having the content – bar the wrestlers – be completely different from Raw would mark the show as being a different entity. Even little changes like different lighting and production values would help separate the two shows.
Either way, I’m sure my missus is likely to be devastated at the prospect but I think my Friday night’s entertainment will now be Smackdown!