Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Problem and Solution of Smackdown

With Smackdown's 15th Anniversary episode airing recently, it has got me thinking about the history of that program. What began as a catchphrase of The Rock, turned into the second longest running wrestling show in history. In the early years, Smackdown played a vital role and complemented Raw perfectly. Storylines would get shine on Monday nights as always, but once Thursday rolled around, the angles would continue. Then, the brand split happened and Smackdown actually surpassed Raw in some years. Now though, Smackdown is a complete afterthought and I know people who haven't watched it in months and have yet to miss anything of importance. That's a problem and it's time to see what can be done about it.

From it's inception in 1999 until 2002, Smackdown was Raw's brother brand and featured many memorable moments. However, Smackdown didn't become must see television until the brand split. With it's own separate roster and being written by Paul Heyman, Smackdown would actually go on to surpass Raw in ratings, house show ticket sales, merchandise and general all around greatness. During the years 2002, 2003 and even 2009, Smackdown clearly had the better product. 

Even early in 2014, Smackdown was at least fun to watch. But in the past few months, Smackdown has become irrelevant television. Instead of being a show that furthered storylines and had good wrestling, it became Raw 2.0 with less angle advancement. If I purchased tickets to a Smackdown event, I'd only look forward to seeing Main Event. The Smackdown portion would feature about six matches and usually one, maybe two go over four minutes. To make matters worse, the matches are mostly rematches from things we saw on Raw and nothing happens storyline wise that matters. There are nearly as many minutes spent recapping Raw with video packages as there is in ring action.

Now, there's news that Smackdown is moving from Friday nights in January. This will only matter if Smackdown gets back to being a vital part of WWE programming. What are some ways to accomplish that you ask? For starters, no more lazy booking consisting of rematches all of the time. What I saw on Raw does not need to be seen again just a few days later. With Brock Lesnar barely being on television the focal point of Smackdown should be the Intercontinental and United States Titles. Make them the belts that people are scratching and clawing for. If they are the focal point of the Friday show, with the right booking, the belts could mean something again. Also, big issue, cut back on the constant Raw recaps. We can see that on the WWE Network's "This Week in WWE" show or on youtube.

I know that a lot of people clamor for the show to go live but that's not going to happen. There have been budget cuts galore since the launch of the WWE Network and going live would cost too much. The biggest issue with Smackdown isn't that it's pre-recorded, it's that it's irrelevant. Something like The Rock's recent appearance on Raw wouldn't work for Smackdown since the shock value would be killed, but give the fans good matches with good story development and they'll watch Smackdown. One of the things hurting it, is the addition of the third hour on Raw as it over saturates the product but with the money they generate from advertising, this won't go away anytime soon. All in all, it's as if creative puts little to no effort in Smackdown and consider it a throwaway show. While a little care and dedication won't get Smackdown back to "A Show" status, it can get it back to important and watchable. After all, isn't the wrestling fan just looking for an enjoyable two hours?