WWE Monday Night Raw - August 29, 2016 - Toyota in Houston, TX
WWE SmackDown - August 30, 2016 – American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS:
RAW vs. SMACKDOWN
FACTOR 1: CROWD
Crowd is always a huge factor in every single wrestling show whether it's WWE or not. That's one big reason why the NXT TakeOver events are always better than any main roster show. The level of hardcore fans and crowd involvement is through the roof. Main roster shows are generally a little different with more casual fans there to enjoy the experience in a different way usually outnumber hardcore fans.
This week, I have to give the edge to the Raw fans. The Toyota Center was loud throughout most of the show, even though it was mostly voicing their displeasure with what they were seeing. Especially in that main event, the roof came off the place with the return of HHH, and the "You deserve it!" chants for KO to end the night.
FACTOR 2: COMMENTARY
The commentary teams for each show are eerily similar. Both teams have two guys who I like. SmackDown having JBL and Mauro Ranallo, Raw having Corey Graves and Michael Cole. Then, each has a guy I'm not so big on—SmackDown with David Otunga, and Raw with Byron Saxton. Otunga has hope. He is green to his new spot, so he deserves some time to settle in. Saxton, on the other hand, seems uncomfortable and awkward nearly every week.
This week was no different. Corey Graves is my favorite guy in general, but not even he can fix the gaping hole that is Byron Saxton. SmackDown wins.
FACTOR 3: MATCHES
Monday Night Raw had one of the best main events and endings in the entire history of its existence this week. Not only was the match itself damn good, but we also saw HHH making his first appearance on main roster TV since WrestleMania, hitting Reigns with a Pedigree, turning on his guy for the last year in Rollins, and helping KO win the WWE Universal Championship, much to the surprise of his wife. But in terms of matches, this is literally all Monday Night Raw had to offer. Everything else was just not worth talking about.
SmackDown, on the other hand, had great matches throughout the entire show. AJ Styles vs. Apollo Crews was an entertaining bout, Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Headbangers was decent, and the main event between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin was a breath of fresh air. SmackDown wins.
FACTOR 4: PROMOS
The Miz showed the importance of promos last week on Talking Smack when he tore into Daniel Bryan for calling him a coward. The Miz is a great promo guy and heel in general, and this was not only his best work in years but also one of the best pure promos in WWE in a long time. This week, The Miz didn't have enough time to capitalize on that head of steam as he was only on TV for a few minutes. However, a solid promo by AJ Styles, an incredible segment by unsung MVP Heath Slater, and not to mention Bray Wyatt—second only to Paul Heyman currently—and Randy Orton give SmackDown strong promos this week.
Monday Night Raw opened with a great promo. All four guys in the Fatal 4-Way main event were interviewed by Corey Graves in the ring. Everyone got their words in and looked great, and keeping Reigns to a "no words just actions" profile is definitely the best move as he chose to throw hands instead of verbal jabs. After that, we had a great segment between Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon. It doesn't get better than Heyman, and Stephanie is the perfect female authority heel. So of course that was a great segment. There were some other small promos for each show, but SmackDown wins where it matters.
FACTOR 5: STORYLINES
Storylines get the fans invested in every part of this business. From promos to the outcomes of matches, its the storyline that drives them to be great.
As a whole, SmackDown has the more interesting storylines. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, Bray and Randy, Miz and Daniel Bryan, and of course Heath Slater is an incredible storyline in himself.
BUT, the Monday Night Raw main event was a storyline masterpiece. It opened up so many options. The return of the King of Kings, HHH, and his turn on Seth Rollins sets up for the two to finally face off one on one. It can have Seth take on new champ, Kevin Owens, or take on Stephanie and Hunter. It opens up the championship picture for a new guy to step up and challenge Owens. Roman Reigns can either go back to his feud with Rusev, continue another feud with Rollins or HHH, or move on to literally anything else. This is how a story is written. Monday Night Raw takes the cake thanks to their main event alone.
FACTOR 6: SCHEDULING / PACING
You don't want to throw all your best tricks out too early. Pacing of your matches and card order is a big deal in pro wrestling. I think the odd match order killed SummerSlam, and it could easily kill a weekly show like Raw and SmackDown.
Raw is consistently at a disadvantage here being three hours long compared to SmackDowns two. So they are generally more promo heavy, and definitely drag on compared to SmackDowns fast paced and sleeker feel. This week was no different. SmackDown wins this, as I'm sure they regularly will.
FACTOR 7: VISUAL PRESENTATION
There is no company in the world better at the production of their product than WWE. From the stage light/setup, the pyro, and various other things that go into it WWE is on top of the world in this aspect.
As a whole with the brand split, I was hoping for a more distinctive difference in the stage set up for each brand, but it isn't as different as I'd like it. That may be me being picky. The one thing that is definitely different are the unique camera angles we see during SmackDown matches. For that reason, SmackDown takes home the W here.
EXTRA CREDIT BONUS ROUND!!!
This may not come into play every week. This section is purely for the crazy things that can happen in the business that is pro wrestling/sports entertainment. For example, a title change could gain a show an extra point, where an injury (or something just absolutely abysmal) can lose a show a point.
I'm giving Raw two extra points this week. One being for the epic surprise return of HHH, and the title win for Kevin Owens.
POINT ADJUSTMENTS: Raw (+2 / -0) / SmackDown (+0 / -0)
THIS WEEK'S WINNER = SmackDown
Even with the surprising two extra points given to Raw this week for its game changing main event, SmackDown takes home the win in week one with a 5 to 4 win. At points, Raw seemed boring. It was incredible when we hit the main event, but it wasn't anything overly entertaining until we got there. The blue brand wins!
That's my pick for the better show of the week, but how do YOU stand?
Which was better, Raw or SmackDown?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!