It's been a tough couple of weeks for the blue brand in the WWE. SmackDown Live has got off to a sluggish start and their first two episodes have been filled with bland promos, disappointing matches and inexcusable botches (like Daniel Bryan saying Apollo Creed - when referring to Apollo Crews).
However, all is not lost... yet. It's only been two weeks and the SmackDown roster has the tools to succeed and become a solid wrestling show. That being said, they need to act quickly before fan interest wains and SmackDown goes back to being a show that the WWE Universe can skip on a weekly basis.
On this list, we'll look at potential free agent signings, NXT callups and loads more that the WWE can do to make SmackDown Live the best it can be! Here are 15 Ways To Easily Improve SmackDown Live!
In the first two weeks of SmackDown Live, the female elements of the show have been lackluster, and we might be being too kind with that assessment. After an embarrassing segment in the first week, where each female wrestler came out and delivered a bland one-liner, except Eva Marie who luckily said nothing, the second episode of SmackDown Live managed to somehow top that futility. There were two female matches scheduled for the show, but none actually happened. Eva Marie was supposed to take on Becky Lynch, but had an "injury," which forced the match to be cancelled. This is likely going to be an on-going gimmick where Eva Marie will continue to duck fights (which we don't really mind).
Then, Natalya was set to face Carmella, but attacked her before the match, leading to a grand total of zero women's matches on the night. The female division might be a little green, but there's still plenty of talent there. Let them work!
After two weeks, we still haven't seen Dean Ambrose compete on SmackDown Live. The WWE Champion is supposed to be the face of the company. If he isn't competing, fans are going to be disappointed and that's been the case for the first two episodes. While he's been involved and cut a few promos, he hasn't been in an actual match yet and that's kind of troubling.
While we love Dean Ambrose, he's far from Brock Lesnar. Lesnar thrives as an attraction act, who shows up sporadically and demolishes everything in his path. His run as WWE Champion was entertaining even though he wasn't always on Raw. Well, Dean isn't The Beast and he'll grow as WWE Champion if he actually wrestles on the show and demonstrates the quality that makes him a huge fan favorite.
We get that NXT needs some star power, but SmackDown Live needs it a lot more. After the draft, many fans were worried about the lack of depth on the show and that's been a major issue over the first two weeks after the split. How can they rectify it? Bring up the best heel in the company, Samoa Joe, who happens to be the NXT Champion at the moment. Raw has monstrous heels in Brock Lesnar, Rusev and Kevin Owens (to an extent), but the only large heels SmackDown has are Baron Corbin and Kane, who no one cares about anymore. Corbin still needs some time to grow, so Samoa Joe should move to the blue brand to give them a much needed imposing heel.
At the moment, AJ Styles is the only truly elite heel on the brand, so Joe could really help as a different kind of top heel. We hope he drops the belt to Shinsuke Nakamura at TakeOver: Brooklyn, so that he can make the move. Also, NXT has Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and a returning Hideo Itami to help The King of Strong Style carry the developmental promotion for the rest of 2016.
When fans rallied behind the blue brand during the initial Brand Split, it was because SmackDown was more of a wrestling show, while Raw was more of an entertainment show. For the first two weeks, it's been the exact opposite. Raw has delivered exceptional wrestling matches, while SmackDown has had extremely long promos that really haven't led anywhere.
Though they lack some depth, SmackDown boasts top wrestlers like John Cena, AJ Styles, American Alpha, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose, along with top female wrestlers like Becky Lynch, Natalya and Alexa Bliss.
Cut some of the mic time and give us more matches!
When fans saw rumors that Corey Graves would be called up from NXT, they immediately fantasized about the sweet music he'd make with Mauro Ranallo on SmackDown Live. Sadly, he was moved to Raw, while JBL moved to SmackDown along with David Otunga, While JBL can be a little bit annoying, he's still a proven veteran at the announce table and a genuine star of the industry who has credibility with fans.
On the other hand, David Otunga has neither of those credentials. He's already made a variety of basic errors and has offered very little value to the show. While we don't see who they could replace him with, we'd be more than happy for WWE to go with two announcers for SmackDown and send Otunga back to Main Event, where he can continue to improve as an announcer.
We discussed earlier how the WWE needs to let their talented women wrestle and they can emphasize that fact by bringing one of the best female wrestlers in the world to SmackDown. This one is fairly obvious. SmackDown has got off to a rocky start and fans need a reason to invest in the show. That reason can be the infectious Bayley.
On top of that, they can set up some long-term storylines that will have huge payoffs. On one hand, they can keep Bayley and Sasha Banks apart, before they finally have the two face off at a huge event like WrestleMania or SummerSlam. On the other hand, they can reunite The Four Horsewomen and have Banks and Charlotte dominate Raw, while Bayley and Becky Lynch take control of SmackDown. It'll be tough to book because of the feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks, but it's definitely doable. If they have Nia Jax run through Banks and Charlotte, they'll have a reason to reunite.
While fans still love Shane McMahon, it's mostly because they haven't seen him in a long time. If they want to maintain that affection towards Vince McMahon's son, they need to have him off-air for long periods of time.
On top of that, Shane's, and Stephanie's for that matter, consistent presence on the shows have made fans wonder why they named GMs in the first place. If Shane wants Daniel Bryan to run SmackDown, why is he always by his side? Shane's role should be reduced to sporadic appearances, like if they need a figurehead to hammer out a dispute between the GM and a top star. That way Shane will remain fresh and fans will continue to rally behind him.
We'll start this entry off by saying that we kind of enjoyed Eva Marie ducking her match with Becky Lynch, partially because we didn't want to see her wrestle, but also because it's a pretty entertaining gimmick if they stick to it. They're taking a hated wrestler and having her find new and ridiculous ways to avoid getting in the ring, which we think can work.
An easier, and more reasonable, solution would be for them to just make Eva Marie a valet, as her heel heat could help build a stronger heel for the female or male division. We could see her teaming with Natalya (Pink and Red matches, right?) or Dolph Ziggler, if he ever turned heel. This way, she can continue to train in the ring on her off days and reintroduce herself to the WWE Universe when she's ready.
Monday Night Raw is getting a Cruiserweight Division, while SmackDown is getting... absolutely nothing. While we'll discuss potential tag team championships in another entry, SmackDown needs a different title that distinguishes them from the red brand. Though they have the WWE Championship and Intercontinental Championship, those are belts that the WWE Universe has seen before. To have SmackDown stand out, they need a new belt for a different kind of division.
While we're currently in the PG Era of the WWE, they could still benefit from having a Hardcore Championship, which would give them a different division from Raw. They could even reinstate the 24/7 rule to add a little something extra to the division. Regardless of what it is, SmackDown needs something unique to them.
We said before that SmackDown Live is lacking top heels. They have AJ Styles, but after him, the next big heel on the roster is Alberto Del Rio, who hasn't done anything on SmackDown so far.
They need to build some new stars and they should focus on Baron Corbin. Back in NXT, Corbin's gimmick was that he was beating up Indy darlings. In this New Era, where fans are more aware of the Indies and WWE is referencing a wrestler's career before WWE, this gimmick could really work on the main roster. Corbin can tear through wrestlers who have fought around the world like AJ Styles and claim that it doesn't matter where you came from, but how good you are in the ring.
The tag team division on SmackDown is lacking, as American Alpha are the only notable tag team on the roster. They need a top team to compete against and it's unlikely that fans will suddenly get behind The Ascension or The Vaudevillains. With Shelton Benjamin coming back to SmackDown, we think he should be used to help the tag team division.
While we're not sure who he should tag with, one potential name could be Jey Uso. His brother is apparently dealing with an injury, so Shelton Benjamin could be a solid stopgap.
SmackDown is lacking depth and fans are going to lose interest in the show if it continues to be as bland as it's been over the last two weeks. One way to generate some interest? Bring back a former star! When the Brand Split was announced, fans were certain the WWE would bring back big names like Goldberg, Jeff Hardy or Kurt Angle to add to the rosters. To this point, the only confirmed names are Jinder Mahal and Shelton Benjamin, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Kurt Angle has been campaigning to come back to the WWE and they should pull the trigger on it. Even if he works a reduced schedule, it would bring eyes to the product and generate interest in a show that's already looking like it's losing steam. It's true, it's true, the WWE needs Kurt Angle. We've very sorry for that joke.
This one seems obvious and it's been rumored that WWE has decided to bring a Tag Team Championship to SmackDown after SummerSlam. We're not sure why they're waiting, but one thing is for sure and it's that their tag team division needs something to strive towards. While they lack depth, there's still some talent there and it doesn't make sense for an entire division to have matches without it leading to something. American Alpha is one of the best tag teams in the world, but if they're not aiming for a championship, what exactly are they looking for? They need to be the inaugural SmackDown tag team champions and it needs to happen soon.
Nikki Bella deals with a lot of the same problems that her boyfriend deals with. Though she's vastly improved in the in-ring, fans continue to think she's a terrible wrestler. They see her as the face of Total Divas, rather than a bonafide women's wrestler. Well, we think they couldn't be more wrong. While Nikki isn't at the level of Sasha Banks or Bayley, she's definitely become a strong in-ring worker and is a recognizable face that casual fans and children will get behind.
SmackDown's women division is lacking talent, but it's also lacking a championship. With Nikki Bella getting closer to a return, she should return with SmackDown's new female Championship in hand, before feuding with Becky Lynch, Natalya, Alexa Bliss and (hopefully) Bayley for the title.
A lot of our focus on this list has been based around the women's division and that's because it's been the worst part of SmackDown Live so far. After the draft, fans were worried about the division and, so far, their fears have been confirmed. So, to finish off this list, we have one final big idea to help SmackDown Live become relevant again.
Since the Cruiserweight Classic has been a huge success, fans have demonstrated that they love a good tournament. So, at the King of the Ring, they should let Raw have a King of the Ring tournament for the male division, while SmackDown has a Queen of the Ring tournament for the ladies, with the winner getting a shot at SmackDown's female champion.
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