RAW Deal: Brand split inequality

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis
RAW Deal: Brand split inequality
RAW is losing the title civil war following its first brand-exclusive outing since the brand split last July

CINCINNATI, USA — RAW’s Clash of Champions PPV, its first brand-exclusive outing since the brand split last July, just proved that unequivocally, RAW is losing this little civil war.

I’ve been mentioning it over and over for the past month, that SmackDown is doing way more with less than RAW ever will with its completely stacked roster (consider: all the main eventers, up-and-comers to watch in both men and women’s divisions, and the Cruiserweights). But with all the firepower the red brand has up its sleeve, for some reason they just can’t get it all together. What results is viewer fatigue, and while SmackDown isn’t always a perfect show, it ends up becoming totally refreshing, thanks to what they do right over there.

Before we get into SmackDown, however, let’s discuss Clash of Champions really quickly: a lot of things happened, but not everything stuck. Our very own Cruiserweight Champion, TJ Perkins, had a rather lukewarm debut as his matchup with Brian Kendrick was not the best one the division could have produced, even though Kendrick is currently the most recognizable name on the roster. There just wasn’t as much chemistry between the two as Kendrick does with fellow finalist Gran Metalik; in fact, the match at the PPV should have been a rematch for the title.

The cruiserweights are getting heavily sandbagged by the relative lack of direction most people have on RAW the show. Where they all fought in each match of the Cruiserweight Classic with a clear purpose – to win the tournament and take all the glory – on RAW, they’re just meandering around, fighting battles with no real idea of where they’re headed. If this is to be a sporting division, then the least they could do is establish some sort of ranking to decide who’s in line for a shot at the title.

Meanwhile, the other compelling feud in undercard, Cesaro and Sheamus’s Best of Seven series, has been brought to a draw at Clash of Champions. I’m in the minority here, as I believe that the two Superstars brought it hard enough to earn the draw finish – normally a detested decision due to the ambiguity it brings. They could’ve gone 60 minutes and the draw would have been well-earned. Perhaps what took away from the idea of a good draw finish was the fact that it ended after a mere clothesline over the barricade, something that would’ve never really prompted any fighter to stop fighting.

Maybe if it were some sort of high spot, like a nasty spill from the top rope that they were teasing all night, more people could’ve bought it. If the final visual from the match was Cesaro and Sheamus sprawled on the mat exhausted, it would have been more palatable. Alas, it wasn’t too well-thought out.

And lastly, Triple H still hasn’t come out to explain why he decided to give Kevin Owens the Universal Championship. He showed up at the end of the show, but didn’t even bother. There’s some laziness (or malice) going on here, and it’s not doing Seth Rollins any favors.

Meanwhile, SmackDown, once again, is hitting all the right notes. It doesn’t always do this every week, but it does it consistently enough that it has to be praised – considering that for the first six months of the year before this, the B-show had been treated as nothing more than an afterthought. Everyone from top to bottom on the blue brand, so long as you’re worth your salt, has something to work with. Everyone seems revitalized, even when they’re guys like the Ascension jobbing out to teams better than them.

And the emerging crown jewel of the brand is Talking Smack, the WWE Network exclusive show that gives SmackDown stars an extra half-hour to cut unscripted promos. Talking Smack is the third hour of SmackDown that doesn’t have to be a third hour of the show; it’s where everyone gets some time to flesh out their characters and communicate their motivations. The only bad thing is that not everyone gets to see this if they’re watching SmackDown on cable.

This week’s amazing Talking Smack promo was from John Cena, who responded to Dean Ambrose’s comments about him from last week’s episode. Ambrose called Cena a “lazy part-timer” who didn’t really get along with anybody and have any friends; Cena fired back, saying he was too busy opening avenues for the younger generation, and that he just doesn’t care if people don’t like him. It’s easy to reduce the whole thing when I talk about it like that, but it’s much more than that, trust me. Watch this:

Monday Night RAW wishes it had that kind of freedom, and I don’t even quite understand why SmackDown is allowed to have this freedom. But hey, I’m not complaining. If you’re a real WWE fan, you should be watching this.


Philippine Wrestling Revolution’s first big show of their new season, PWR Renaissance 2016, is next week! Troop on down to the Bayanihan Convention Center along Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong Saturday next week to see the best local wrestlers duke it out! The main event is the Senyorito Jake de Leon, arguably the best wrestler in the country right now clashing against the cutthroat John Sebastian for the PWR Championship, and you’re not gonna wanna miss that! Tickets are only P400, and they’re available at Playbook, the Appraisery, and at the gate on October 8! – Rappler.com

Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, they talk about Clash of Champions and how disappointing RAW has been!

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