Raw & SmackDown Takeaways (Aug 30-31, 2016): 8 Ups & 7 Downs

It was a crazy week in the world of sports entertainment, which was highlighted by the crowning of a new WWE Universal Champion. The main event was met with a mixture of reactions, as the match itself was phenomenal but many fans questioned the way the ending was booked. We will have more on that issue a little later in the article.

SmackDown also put up another stellar show and keeps improving. Styles and Ambrose were both in action which was a major plus and the Women’s division continued to thrive on the episode. We also saw The Miz actually speak with passion, which was another major hit. There were also some downfalls which we will discuss and most of them pertain to Backlash being less than two weeks away. This has hurt several matches which has caused for some lackluster booking that we will also discuss further in the 'down' section.

Like usual, let us know what you liked and disliked from these past episodes of Raw and SmackDown. What was your take on how KO won the championship? Should it have been worked differently? And which show did you prefer?

For now, sit back relax and enjoy our take on the week that was in the WWE. Enjoy!

15. Up: Chris Jericho

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Even though he's 45, we truly are “drinking in” every last bit of Y2J since the brand split has occurred. Jericho’s taken his heel demeanor to new heights since the draft and has been one of the best heels in the WWE over the last few months.

He proved that once again this past Monday, with a brilliant, comedic pre-match promo, where he called Neville Mighty Mouse, to a match against Neville, which was the second best bout of the show.

In his mid 40s, Chris hit a flying reverse elbow off the top and ended the match with the Liontamer, which was absolutely chilling to watch. It's hard to find a guy better than Jericho in the entire WWE at the moment, as his depth value has been a massive asset to Raw thus far. He set out to be great in the Pg-Era of wrestling and is absolutely thriving in doing so.

All we can do as fans is just “drink it in mannnnn.”

14. Down: No Rusev

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Since his main roster debut back in January of 2014 at the Royal Rumble, it’s truly quite remarkable to see how much Rusev has grown. He’s become a brilliant talker on the microphone and delivers five star quality nearly every match. I really can’t think of a Rusev bout that wasn’t smooth.

With Roman in the Universal Championship picture, the WWE decided to take Rusev off television this week and relegate him to a performance on WWE Superstars against Jack Swagger (a match we’ve seen far too many times). Rusev deserved at least a minor part on the show seeing how great his work rate has been since the brand extension. Whether it be an in-ring promo or squash match, the company needed to involve Rusev and this was a major down.

13. Up: The Miz Finally Goes Off

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In his fifth reign as IC Champ, The Miz has held the championship since early April when he defeated Zack Ryder for the title on the Raw after WrestleMania 32. The announcement of his lengthy title run just made things worse to be quite frank and reminded fans just how long that championship has been irrelevant for.

Well, Miz finally addressed this issue and blew up on the fans, Daniel Bryan and even Renee Young. We finally saw The Miz show some passion and an edgier side that we’ve been waiting to see. You could argue that his promo was the greatest of his entire career and added even more value to his name than when he held the WWE Championship.

We hope to see more of the same from him in the upcoming weeks, as the building of this story is a major plus for not only SmackDown, but Miz as well.

12. Down: The Hype Bros Push

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We hate to bash on a couple of dudes with heart and enthusiasm, but their push and climb to the top of the tag division isn't warranted and premature.

It’s rather obvious the WWE is quite high on Mojo Rawley. He was a huge college football star and enjoyed a brief NFL career getting signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers. Most of all, the WWE loves him because he is homegrown.

The problem is that Mojo still seems green in the ring. After all, he made his debut only three years ago on NXT, competing in a battle royal with no prior in-ring experience. You can see it in his work, he’s over “hyped” and is very limited, hitting scoop slams and “Stinger Splashes” constantly. His call-up was premature and most fans seriously hope the team of Rhyno and Heath Slater can pull off another upset and book their ticket into the tournament finals.

11. Up: Big Cass

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Aside from Kevin Owens, Big Cass was next in line as the wrestler that absolutely shined on the latest episode of Monday Night Raw. Colin Cassady was given the ball and ran with it, from a great promo to kick off the show to a great performance in the main event, even if it saw him get eliminated first.

The entire experience showed he can hang with the big dogs and even thrive with them. Throughout the match, Cass received the biggest pop out of all four men and was a massive draw during the match. It's great to see all his hard work finally paying off, as we shouldn't forget that Cass has been a part of the WWE system since 2011, under the umbrella of the FCW brand. He's been around the block for several years and we can all applaud him for his performance on this past episode of Raw. A future WWE Universal Championship is definitely on his radar.

10. Down: Raw’s Female Divisional Depth

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When the rosters were finally revealed, the first thing several fans noticed was the discrepancies between the females on Raw and SmackDown. Raw was absolutely loaded from top to bottom with names like Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, Paige, Dana Brooke and the champion, Charlotte. The Tuesday show on the other hand featured inexperienced names with Becky Lynch being the only true standout.

Well, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned that it’s truly not the case and might be the opposite at this point. The inexperience of the SD performers has led to a brilliant division featuring several storylines. Carmella and Nikki Bella are involved in an intriguing story while Bliss continues her quest for the title, while Becky continues to fall short as a lovable babyface.

As for Raw, well the division seems to be lacking at this point and calling up Bayley was a sign of true desperation from the show. To make matters worse, she is already in the championship picture, something the company wanted to avoid initially when calling her up. We understand injuries and suspensions haven’t helped, but the show needs to improve the division by connecting all the storylines together like SmackDown has done brilliantly in the last couple of weeks. Look for Nia Jax to enter the fold sooner rather than later.

9. Up: SmackDown’s Women Division

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Since the announcement of a new Women’s Championship on SmackDown Live, we can finally say the division has arrived. Rather than setting up another tournament, the company took a clever route by booking the title bout as a Six Pack Challenge featuring Natalya, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Bella, Carmella, Naomi and, the fan favorite, Becky Lynch.

This announcement has sparked the division considerably and has created numerous angles as we discussed in the previous point. Bliss seems to be driven to become the champ with a very Triple H-like, heel demeanor, while Lynch continues her heroic struggle while the crowd gets behind her. An unlikely feud between Carmella and Nikki Bella has added a great amount of depth to the entire division. Dare we say most of us are actually excited to see who gets crowned as the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion? I think we can safely say we are and we applaud the Tuesday show for their booking and creativity pertaining to the division and its depth.

8. Down: Throwing Bray and Orton in a Match

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Once againm Bray Wyatt is taking on a top tier wrestler which will surely end up in another loss for Wyatt or a disqualification finish. If he does somehow pick up the W, expect Lesnar to be involved, as the company has set another match between Orton and Lesnar at a live event.

The entire build was very poor and random, with Bray calling out Orton just cause he “doesn’t like him.” The two then played off Randy’s “voices in his head” and the script seemed rather thin to be honest. Before you knew it, a challenge was laid out and the two are now expected to compete against one another at Backlash, which is less than two weeks away.

Such a story between two great Superstars needed more time to blossom and this match set up was a major fail. Most of us are hoping it ends with an inconclusive finish and not another loss for Wyatt.

7. Up: The Booking for the Best-of-Seven-Series

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Bringing us pure, in your face, stiff-shotted action, this series has been a treat to watch so far. Sheamus seems to be gaining momentum while Cesaro looks great as always, even if he's down 2-0.

The bouts have been great, but the booking has been even better with Sheamus winning the first two matches and going up 2-0 early on. The score thus far is very symbolic to the character that Cesaro possesses as a major underdog who constantly seems like he’s fighting an uphill battle. The WWE said Cesaro suffered “multiple contusions” following his match, so expect Sheamus to possibly go up 3-0 before Cesaro storms back in true Swiss Superman like fashion.

If this is the case, we applaud the WWE for their unique booking of this best out of seven series.

6. Down: Kalisto & American Alpha MIA

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Remember when Kalisto beat Ryback... well those days seem to be long gone and Kalisto has been relegated to being a pre-show performer of late. His start on SmackDown couldn’t have been any worse, as he delivered the worst promo of the year after he was interviewed on the Draft Special to discuss his thoughts about joining the Tuesday show. He was visibly nervous and ended the interview by saying he was excited to bring the “Lucha thing” to SmackDown. His promo skills need work, yes, but his in-ring work doesn’t need a microphone and we need to see him back on television immediately. Expect the WWE to book him at Backlash against Baron Corbin which will probably end up in a loss.

American Alpha was also MIA on the telecast. We know there were other tag matches that needed to take place, but these two phenomenal athletes need to be on television every week.

5. Up: AJ & Ambrose in Action

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After a slow start to SmackDown, the brand is finally thriving by doing what it does best, in-ring action. This was symbolized this past week by its two greatest assets, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, competing in matches against talented young performers.

AJ kicked things off with a tremendous showing against Apollo Creed, sorry Crews. Watching AJ in the ring is a joy, as the way he moves in the ring is easy, fluid, and such a treat to watch. Styles rightfully picked up the win while Crews still looked impressive, landing a beautiful Samoan Drop during the contest.

Ambrose was also in action abdthe fighting champion took on Baron Corbin to close the show. It was also a major plus for Corbin, who was not only in the main event, but fighting the champion of the show. The match went very well and they were a crucial part of the show’s success last night. Major plus to AJ and Ambrose.

4. Down: Rushing Storylines on SmackDown

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The blame for this entry goes directly to the WWE for booking a PPV so closely after a major event like SummerSlam. We credit SmackDown for giving us some great television, but it's unfortunate that everything has to be rushed because of a PPV date which is set for less than two weeks away, on September 11th.

The card features a variety of intriguing storylines from The Miz & Ziggler, Orton & Bray and the WWE Title Match featuring Ambrose and Styles. The only problem with these three matches is how two of them randomly came about with both Bray and Dolph literally just asking for a match, while AJ and Ambrose needed months to build such a prestigious matchup. We applaud the effort, but are unhappy about how quickly it all happened. We can expect several of the feuds and matches to continue following the Backlash event and rightfully so.

3. Up: Finally Getting Excited About the Cruiserweights

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It took a while, but the WWE is finally properly hyping the Cruiserweights coming to Raw. Not only did the creative staff finally set a date for the division's debut (September 19th), but they also announced the Superstars that will be entering the mix and hyping them up as well with some brilliant video packages.

This week, Raw announced another trio of new names joining the Monday Night flagship program; Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and the ever popular Cedric Alexander. These Superstars will join the other wrestlers who were previously announced in the experienced Brian Kendrick, high flyer Rich Swann, young star Noam Dar and the breathtaking TJ Perkins, who has a brilliant future.

All we can do now is salivate at the possibilities, as this division will be a joy to watch for years to come if booked properly. We cannot wait!

2. Down: Triple H

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In the world of sports entertainment, there is a time and place for everything. Triple H returning to Raw this past Monday was certainly not the time nor place to make such a return during a highly coveted bout to crown a new Universal Champion. Yes, it was cool and kind of nostalgic to see the ruthless Game back in the mix, but the timing of it all was way off.

It was KO’s moment to shine and instead the spotlight seemed to be on Hunter’s return, with him basically handing the championship to Owens. The story was fine, but just not for such a match. KO needed to win to solidify himself as a dominant performer and the face of Raw by winning on his own. Thankfully, most fans are just so happy to see him as champion that they’ve looked beyond how it all came about, but ultimately the decision was extremely poor with Hunter once again being thrown into the forefront.

1. Up: Kevin Owens Crowned Universal Champion

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The booking of it all was pretty reckless, but, at the end of the day, there was not a single Superstar more deserving of being champion than KO. The fans agreed with this decision and yelled “You deserve it” at the top of their lungs. We actually heard the chant loud and clear while his music played, which shows how crazy the fans went.

His journey as a pro wrestler began when he was 14 training in Quebec with Jacques Rougeau. He fought in small venues for year in Montreal before making the jump to the indie scene and joining Combat Zone Wrestling. He truly blossomed once he joined ROH teaming up and feuding with Sami Zayn. His feud with Jim Cornette was also extremely memorable and solidified him as a major future star. Many doubted his abilities solely because of his physical attributes, but this has became a moot point since he signed with the WWE and become a hot commodity.

Almost exactly two years after joining the NXT development on August 25th 2014, KO is now the face of Raw and we truly look forward to seeing his journey as the champ. Congrats KO!


Raw: C

SmackDown: B-

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