On first glance it looked like Monday Night Raw had absolutely gutted SmackDown Live courtesy of the Superstar Shake-up. However, upon reflection, SmackDown Live looks like it has every chance of regaining the must watch status it enjoyed during the early days of the brand split 2.0.
Yes, SmackDown is looking a little leaner in terms of quantity of talent, but the quality of the remaining talent they can focus on more than makes up for it. In addition, if the first episode is anything to go by, it appears that stories are going to be far less linear on the blue brand.
For instance, we have the recently returned Daniel Bryan finally facing off against the freshly transferred Miz, but at the same time as having a mini-feud with the just returned Big Cass.
How about Samoa Joe? He seems to have his fingers in many pies with his unfinished business with Roman Reigns, an IC title match scheduled against Rollins, and a possible Universal Championship match somewhere down the line too. This is all before we get to everything he said about taking out the likes of AJ Styles, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan.
Let us not ignore Naomi's little cameo appearance coming to the aid of her husband to beg the Bludgeon Brother's not to hurt him further. SmackDown Live sometimes suffers from only having one women's story at a time. So, why the hell not use her this way? A nice touch that added to the realism.
It might be known as B show, but it gets A+ for effort this week.
NOT SURE ABOUT THAT
Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss’s friendship breakdown had a very clear and cut narrative that concluded perfectly at WrestleMania 34. By comparison, Bayley and Sasha were given a minute or two towards the end of the pre-show Women’s Battle Royal for the advancement of their own.
One would assume that this meant the feud would carry on into a pay-per-view at a later date, but WWE chose to have their clash during the Superstar Shake-up edition of Raw. Admittedly, the match was interrupted and ended as a no-contest, but what was the point of them both being attacked by Absolution? Are they going to team up and fight them next week? Well, not unless they both get a late transfer to SmackDown Live.
This stop and start approach to their fractured friendship is really not getting anyone invested. Like the gradual implosion of any team, if you tease dissension for too long, people will start to lose interest. The Shield, DX, and Ciampo/Gargano are all shining examples of how much more effective the unexpected turn and sticking with it can be.
WWE had the perfect moment to go full throttle with this when Sasha dropped Bayley Lion King style at the Elimination Chamber, but unless something drastically changes, I do not see how this story will ever reach the satisfactory conclusion that it deserves.
So there you have it, my two choices for the week. What do YOU think are the Cheap Pop and Cheap Heat this week in professional wrestling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!