After what many consider an entertaining debut of Smackdown on Fox, some chinks in the armor have appeared.
While Smackdown had the intensity of a pay-per-view, it lacked certain things that made the show standout, and those mainly come back to booking and possibly even arrogance.
One thing that was noticed doing a head count were the lack of Smackdown superstars. While the brands have been all but nonexistent for the last few months, this puts the question out there that the creative team or someone else may not have as much faith in their talent as one would expect.
Some signs of this were the first two current superstars to come out were Raw’s women’s champion, Becky Lynch, and King Corbin, both Raw wrestlers. Four out of the eight men in the 8-man tag match were from Raw. The lumberjack match balanced things out some despite Ricochet and a few Raw members being present. But does anyone really care who makes up the superstars outside the ring in a lumberjack match? As fans, we don’t notice unless we get a closeup or they do something worth noticing.
The thing is, this can be easily overlooked given it’s a celebration of the past and ushering in a new era.
Arrogance at its worst?
The audience had several notable legends like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, Kurt Angle and Mark Henry, and Trish Stratus and Lita among others. It was great to see them in attendance, but why not give them some spotlight like during the Raw Reunion?
Several fans have taken to social media to share their displeasure at a couple of other missing legends that were heavily promoted to be there. The Undertaker and Steve Austin. When asked, the Undertaker reportedly said he was told he wasn’t needed.
Let that sink in for a minute. Two of the biggest stars in the company’s history didn’t show after the fans were told they’d be there, and one has allegedly said he was told he wasn’t needed?
To be fair and give the WWE the benefit of the doubt, we’ll take the above as rumors.
If the claims are true, maybe something came up. Maybe they couldn’t find the time to fit in what they needed? Though, NXT was given an extra few minutes and Fox pushed Smackdown so hard it’s hard to imagine them not giving McMahon and company anything they requested. Of course, an exchange between the Rock, Undertaker, and Austin to open the show would’ve blown the roof off, but they wanted to put Corbin and Lynch over.
Maybe having an 8-man tag match to get on Sports Center and sports radio by having Braun Strowman piss off Tyson Fury. Fury jumping over the barricade made a lot of news sites, so it worked.
It’s about selling tickets, so what if they used the time they could’ve spent giving the legends ring time to celebrate or run an angle pisses off the fans? If they sell more tickets, it’s worth it, right?
Or, and this is just a hunch, McMahon and company don’t care what we think and will just hand something over with a pretty bow wrapped around it and expect us to be placated?
The numbers don’t lie
A good test on how successful Smackdown was last night is the ratings. It’s important to note that according to reports, Smackdown raked in 4.217 million viewers between 8:00 and 8:15 (when the Rock was there), and dropped roughly 357k to 3.860 million viewers for the rest of the show. To put this in perspective, Smackdown scored roughly 2.2 million last week, but Fox is a network channel, and network channels nearly always, repeat, nearly always get better ratings than cable channels, so the “improvement” may not be that significant.
One thing WWE creative knows is that we want the legends and the current crop aren’t close to their status. The truth is, they have the talent. It’s just how they’re being used. They didn’t learn after shoving Roman Reigns down our throats and are doing so with Rollins. Rumor had it that Vince is the only one that believes in King Corbin and refused to budge. The Fiend has been built up so phenomenally that many are waiting to jump ship if they screw Bray Wyatt over and not give him the Universal title at Hell in a Cell.
Some point to AEW and say it’s not as exciting, and to a degree that’s right. The thing is, AEW is reminiscent of the ‘90s when it was balls to the wall fun, and they’re winning fans because of it. Vince McMahon is a genius, and we can’t move forward by going backwards, but we never grow if we ignore the past and refuse to accept what’s not currently working.