There are more than a few fans in the WWE Universe asking the question: has SmackDown Live become unwatchable? A program that fills most of its two hours focusing on two main characters who rarely, if ever wrestle, the blue brand has lost some respect from fans who thought the Tuesday night offering was going to be about new opportunities for wrestlers when Raw was about the "stars".
Over the course of 2017, SmackDown Live offered a champion that not six months earlier was an enhancement talent who had just made his return after being future endeavored by the company years earlier. They lost a number of their main stars to Monday night and some of their best wrestlers got pushed aside for veteran talents on their way out the door.
None of those things seemed to sit well with fans. But, all is not lost. There are still ways to save the show and here are five of them.
In the late part of 2017, WWE did the right thing by putting the title around the waist of AJ Styles. If SmackDown Live wants to ensure that fans believe the brand has what it takes to keep up with Raw, they should focus their efforts on keeping Styles the champion and setting up five-star matches for the title.
Styles has the ability to make anyone look spectacular. Why not take advantage and be known as the brand with the best bouts for the belt?
It's an interesting storyline to have a tournament for the vacated U.S. Title, but mixed in there is the fact that the U.S. Title was vacated for no apparent reason. For a title holder like Dolph Ziggler — one who badly wanted to win a belt — just to ditch it doesn't say much about the belt.
SmackDown Live can't afford to have belts that talent doesn't care if they hold or not. The company needs to ensure the U.S. Title is as important, if not perceived to be more important, than the Intercontinental Title.
Bobby Roode has the talent to be SmackDown Live's top heel. Yet, for some reason, he's a babyface character and struggling to get the same reaction he used to. Fans were behind him when he was trying to "save" NXT and not pandering to the crowd. It would make sense that he believes he could do the same for the blue brand.
WWE is missing a golden opportunity to make a character as popular as it can be. The "glorious" one is not so glorious when he's on the wrong side.
The one thing the SmackDown Live brand was supposed to have that Raw didn't was that talent who might not have received a shot on the red brand would be heard and given opportunity on the blue brand. Things started that way, but lately SmackDown Live has gotten away from promoting the best in-ring talent.
The show has focused on Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. One isn't a full-time wrestler and the other hasn't been cleared to wrestle at all. Why not focus on names like Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, Rusev, Chad Gable, Ty Dillinger, and talents the fans are clearly behind?
Raw has long been known as the show that revolved around The Authority or the McMahons. SmackDown Live was supposed to be a breath of fresh air from the same type of writing. Somehow, in 2017, SmackDown Live became the Shane McMahon hour.
WWE needs to take the focus off of the McMahon's and put it back on the wrestlers. Even Daniel Bryan and Shane-O-Mac said when they first started running SmackDown Live that it wouldn't be a show about the management. Oh, how wrong they were.
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