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Raw & SmackDown Takeaways: 8 Ups And 7 Downs

Another week is in the books and we're getting closer to the biggest event of the summer, SummerSlam. This week’s action, on Raw in particular, generally focused on hyping up the event which took away from the show's overall quality, but we'll have more on that throughout the article.

SmackDown instead vastly improved, as the show finally took its talents to the ring with several matches. We'll discuss the improvements made to the show particularly in the women’s division and tag team scene.

Overall, SmackDown enjoyed one of its finer shows while Raw took a little step back because of a lack of in-ring action and way too much emphasis on entertainment.

It's been very neat to see some of the new era changes made and one of the biggest pertains to match booking and how an encounter is being worked in the ring. The company has changed their in-ring philosophy and it's really starting to take shape. We discuss that point even further in the final up point of this takeaway article.

So enough of the chat, let’s begin. Here are the eight ups and seven down from the week that was on Raw and SmackDown. Enjoy and let us know your thoughts. What did you like? And what needs to be improved? Let us know!

15 15. Up: Another Great Start To Raw

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Raw got off to yet another tremendous start with arguably the shows most intriguing storyline between Enzo & Cass and Canadian stars, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. The segment was once again beautifully worked and lasted a total of 33 minutes, along with a match. The booking was very similar to last week’s show, which saw the opening segment last a total of 37 minutes.

The feud is quite reminiscent to The Attitude Era, filled with comedic shots that are actually funny. Enzo hit some epic lines, like his “Jon Bon Jericho” reference while Y2J fought back with some excellent haymakers, calling Enzo a “Hip Hop Hobbit” and “Enzo Annoying.”

The match itself was fantastically booked with Enzo being the loveable underdog in the story between the four. He once again showed that he’s more than capable of holding his own, putting on another great match. Expect this tag team match to be a potential show stealer and the fact that it takes place in Brooklyn will only add to the intrigue.

14 14. Down: Too Many Important Faces Missing

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A theme for this week was an abundance of big names missing from both shows. Particularly on Raw, with so much time being wasted on meaningless segments (which we'll discuss even further later). We find it hard to believe that there wasn’t room to slot various missing Superstars. The likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor were a part of a star-studded list of wrestlers that did not compete on Raw. We understand that some were still a part of the show, but with a need for more in-ring action, some fans will be upset that none of these five found themselves in some type of match on a night that saw even The Dudley Boyz fight.

SmackDown also had some notable omissions which included the likes of Kalisto, Baron Corbin, John Cena and, the supposed franchise player, AJ Styles, who was not in action for a second week in a row. We called the SmackDown main event last week and look for the same ordeal next week with AJ and Cena most probably partaking in a tag team matchup against one another heading into SummerSlam.

13 13. Up: SmackDown Learns From Mistakes

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A major down from last week was SmackDown’s lack of direction pertaining to their women's and tag team divisions. Well, the creative team must have read our piece because both divisions were quite different this week and improved dramatically, starting with the tag team division, which kicked off the show with the opening bout.

It’s obvious American Alpha is the team to beat, but it still felt nice to see other teams in the mix. It's still unclear why the creative team did not put American Alpha against enhancements talents last week in order to not make Gotch & English look like a joke. But, anyway, the division finally saw improvements.

The women also finally got a chance to shine with two matches that saw NXT debuts rein victorious. Alexa Bliss picked up the upset win, which was brilliantly worked. Carmella also won her match and gave us a pretty good showing against a great seasoned vet in Natalya. All and all, both divisions saw huge improvements.

12 12. Down: Bray Loses Again

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For the third week in a row, Bray Wyatt found himself on the losing end of things. Talk about a push right? It’s nice to see him as a prominent player in the main event, but the truth is that he’s 0-3 and picking up absolutely no momentum with these losses.

His repackaging is off to a pretty brutal start. We appreciate his work in the main event picture but things just haven’t changed. Not only is he once again putting over others, but the company also decided to put Erick Rowan by his side again. Adding Rowan has only made things worse and it seems like a step back for the SmackDown star.

At this point, Bray needs to get rid of Rowan and start winning some matches. Seeing him align with someone else, like Baron Corbin, is another mouth-watering possibility. At the end of the day, this was a major down for Bray and his start on the new program.

11 11. Up: Raw’s Rebuilding Of Superstars

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We discussed SmackDown dropping the ball with Bray, but the same cannot be said for the Monday program, which is doing a tremendous job with certain talents. Neville is finally looking great again, as he took off his silly cape and is not speaking. He's just going into the ring and doing what he does best, being a breathtaking highflyer.

The same goes for Braun Strowman who seems to be getting better and more comfortable every week. Once again, his rebuild has been properly worked.

The Club thankfully has been salvaged as well and are looking fantastic. Their doctor segment was brilliant, showing the duo has some serious range as entertainers, and then they dominated in the ring like they should have. It's safe to say The Club has finally arrived.

Finally, Roman Reigns continued to gain momentum, as he actually looked terrific on the microphone and the crowd seems to be changing their perceptions slowly, as the boos are starting to fade a little bit. Project rebuild is off to a great start with these five Superstars.

10 10. Down: Way Too Much “Entertainment” On Raw

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For the most part, Raw took a step back from its previous weeks of tremendous in-ring activity with too many meaningless entertainment type of angles. These segments didn’t allow the show to flow and really hurt the entire program. The P Diddy segment was absolutely horrendous and the WWE needs to stop incorporating these celebrity skits. Everything felt unnatural about it and not even New Day could save the segment.

That theme continued for the bulk of the program, with constant video packages pertaining to matches and the commentators constantly discussing the Orton/Lesnar match. The Lana/Rusev/Roman segment was also way too long. We get that WWE wanted a “memorable” moment with Lana getting cake all over her, but it was WAY too long. The entire segment just dragged on and could have been surely cut in half.

Thankfully, the show didn’t finish with a segment pertaining to Foley and Bryan, although that entire angle seemed like another waste of time. We hope this theme doesn’t continue next week.

9 9. Up: Alberto Del Rio

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With rumors swirling all over the internet about the 39 year old's possible departure this fall, he showed us that he can still be a valuable asset for the Tuesday show. Orton and Del Rio put on the match of the night, which saw Del Rio carry the encounter for the most part. At the age of 39, he can still work a match to perfection, performing a top rope maneuver, taking a superplex off the top rope and still integrating his original submission style with some terrific arm bars.

The match was brilliant with Orton and Del Rio using contrasting styles, as Randy used upper cuts while Del Rio thrived with his kicks. The ending made sense and it seems like the WWE did not want to see Alberto get pined, which leads us to believe they may have something greater planned for him.

After such a match, it's clear Del Rio can still hold his own as a big time player. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets handled in the upcoming weeks. For now, we applaud his effort.

8 8. Down: The Miz

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So let’s put things into perspective, Raw has seen their US Champion work two championship matches, with one being the main event. SmackDown’s IC champ has...lost to Randy Orton. Apart from that, there really isn’t anything to report. With such a plethora of mid card talent, it seems like such a waste to see The Miz constantly working promos alongside Maryse or with Scooby Doo.

The title is desperate for some sort of identity and it just really isn’t getting that at the moment. The Miz holding the championship really isn’t doing the title any good and we seriously hope he drops it to a fighting champion like Apollo Crews, who has a ton of upside as an in-ring performer.

He did however put Scobby-Doo over, so you never know.

7 7. Up: Raw’s Main Event

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It seemed like we were getting a typical Raw finish, with yet another in-ring promo segment closing out the show for a second week in a row. Well this time, Raw threw us a major curveball, giving the fans a tremendous in-show segment, which led to a main event between two great stars.

What we truly loved about the match is that it featured two Superstars that were extremely deserving of the main event.

The Bulgarian Brute is quickly emerging as Raw’s finest heel. Not only is he talented in the ring, but his promos have improved leaps and bounds. The same goes for Cesaro, as he's a beast in the ring and we are finally starting to see that charisma ooze out from him. The show hit a major home run with this booking. The starting segment and main event match certainly saved the show on the night.

6 6. Down: Too Much Of the Old Guard

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Don’t get me wrong, we certainly love seeing Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley hold their positions, but there was way too much of them on the show. Both GMs stressed the importance of making it all about the talent, although Monday was anything but that. Foley appeared time and time again in backstage segments, while he also had an in-ring promo with Daniel Bryan, which the WWE hyped the entire night.

In addition, the company is still overly reliant on the old guard, promoting the Lesnar/Orton fight one too many times. The match sells itself and doesn’t need to be repeated over and over again. We get that it’s a big deal, but we'd prefer the focus to be on the talent that is there on a daily basis. This was a major flaw and theme on the night. When SummerSlam is done, we look forward to seeing these types of situations finally die down a little bit.

5 5. Up: Wrestling On SmackDown

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For the last couple of weeks, the major complaint for the Tuesday show was the overbooking of segments and not enough in-ring action. Well, finally this changed and the show predominantly ran with in-ring bouts, as even Rhyno and Heath Slater had a really good showing with a match of their own.

The booking of the show was vastly improved from top to bottom, as the opening segment only lasted ten minutes this time and was followed with a tag team match involving, American Alpha. Everything just flowed from there, with a women’s bout that was highly entertaining followed by the match of the night, featuring WWE vets Alberto Del Rio and the mayor of Viperville, Randy Orton. The wrestling side of things was a major up for SmackDown this week.

4 4. Down: Not Enough Cruiserweight Coverage

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In a recent article, we discussed ways to book the Cruiserweight Division properly once it debuts on Raw. One of the points we discussed pertains to the company doing a better job in hyping the division. However, the WWE still hasn’t done that and instead shows a 30 second highlight reel that ends with a wrestler flying, as the words “The Cruiserweights are coming to Raw” are written on the screen.

If you’ve watched the Cruiserweight Classic, you know the division is much more than high flyers, so the perception the WWE is giving its fans who don’t have access to the WWE Network is completely false and casual fans really don’t know what to expect from the division.

Quite simply, Raw needs to do a better job in hyping the division. Whether it’s doing weekly videos on certain talents or shedding a bigger light on the tournament, something needs to be done quickly.

3 3. Up: Video Packages

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There were several video packages on Monday Night Raw hyping up certain SummerSlam encounters. As we said last week, all the WWE really needed to do for Finn is show a video discussing who he is and what he’s all about, and they did exactly that Monday Night. For such a feud, less is more and that video was the perfect approach to the Balor/Rollins story, ias t really gave us a modern take on a nostalgic storyline.

The Lesnar/Orton video was even better, with the WWE pushing the envelope to give us a big fight feel. They gave the video package a UFC type of atmosphere with Lesnar dropping some rare F bombs and making it clear that he doesn’t care about Orton.

Like usual, Paul Heyman put the cherry on top with his quote at the end, saying “Orton is the best surfer on the beach, but Lesnar is the shark.” Another classic Heyman line.

2 2. Down: Rollins Drops A Triple H-like Promo

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We discussed the less is more approach for these Balor and Rollins, the company did a perfect job with Balor, but the same cannot be said for Rollins. Seth began his promo quite well, speaking emotionally, but it then took a comedic approach once again and just seemed irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, Seth is the best worker on Raw, but his promo slowed down the show immensely. From his “Rambo Apocalypse” rant to constantly praising himself, things just went on and on with Rollins just yelling at us at one point. You couldn’t help but think of Triple H, who was the master of this promo type, just going on and on about nonsense while talking about himself for far too long.

Rollins needs to create his own promo format and steer away for them outdated Triple H format, which just doesn’t work any more. The segment was a major down.

1 1. Up: New Combat Style

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It's always interesting to see the tweaks and changes the WWE makes to anything pertaining to a show. Since the brand extension, a noticeable change in every match is the new aggressive combat style that the company uses for their matches. Now more than ever before, the match types feature a variety of stiff shots to the face along with some brutal leg kicks. It looks like the company is trying to take a page out of the world of MMA and it's really starting to take a nice shape.

An obvious example of this was the Cesaro/Sheamus match, which was fantastic, as the two threw some massive bombs throughout the encounter. The theme stayed the same throughout Raw, with the likes of Titus O’Neil and Darren Young also throwing some heavy shots.

SmackDown followed that theme as well, with Orton and Del Rio delivered a brilliant MMA style match with submissions, kicks and uppercuts. We even saw Carmella win a match via a head scissor submission. Major up for this new addition to the matches.

Rating:

Raw: C

SmackDown: C+

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Raw & SmackDown Takeaways: 8 Ups And 7 Downs