Why Smackdown! Is, Was, and Will Always be The Best Brand
March 21, 2005 by Antonio M. Figueroa
In early 2002, World Wrestling Entertainment split itself into two separate brands. On one hand, there was RAW. It was the first of the two shows, and at the time, it was under the watchful eye of the 16-Time World Heavyweight Champion, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Then there was SmackDown!, the "little brother", being run by Vince McMahon. After the initial WWE Draft, RAW's roster included the Undertaker, the entire nWo (at the time, it was Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and X-Pac), Kane, Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rob Van Dam, the Big Show, and the Hardy Boyz. Within weeks, they added the services of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Triple H. On the other side, athletes like the Rock, Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho, Edge, Kurt Angle, and Test called SmackDown! home. It certainly seemed like a one-sided equation at first.
Over the next several months, however, things shifted the other way. SmackDown! said goodbye to Chris Jericho, Test, Lance Storm, Christian, Maven, D-Von Dudley, and Stacy Keibler, as well as a few unknown newcomers by the names of Dave Batista and Randy Orton. In return SmackDown! welcomed some of the biggest names in the business. Chris Benoit, Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, Matt Hardy, and Big Show all made the jump to the Thursday night show. At the same time, RAW ran into a streak of bad luck, as Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, X-Pac, and Steve Austin all left the company in one way or another, some with injuries and some for personal reasons.
During 2003, Vince McMahon did everything humanly possible to make RAW seem like the better show. While SmackDown! was signing people like Sable, Roddy Piper, and "Mr. America", stars like Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and Kevin Nash all made their way to RAW (although none of these individuals are with the company now, it was quite relevant at the time). In short, McMahon tried as hard as he could to make RAW the #1 show. Did it work? No. While RAW promoted second rate matches for a third rate "World Championship", SmackDown! thrilled audiences with top-level superstars like Lesnar, Angle, Big Show, and Undertaker battling for the most coveted prize in wrestling history, the WWE Championship.
In 2004, McMahon's favoritism reached an all-time low, when he sent Chris Benoit, a man who had just reached the pinnacle of his in-ring career, back to RAW. During the Draft Lottery, major changes were made to both rosters. For the rest of the year, RAW revolved around the same boring matches and storylines it always had, only with Benoit thrown into the mix, while SmackDown! took stars that RAW wouldn't lay a finger on (Eddie Guerrero, Booker T, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and Spike Dudley, just to name a few) and made them bigger stars than they had ever been on RAW. RAW destroyed the careers of so many athletes, it seems almost like WCW all over again. Chris Jericho went from being Undisputed Champion to a glorified jobber on RAW, while SmackDown! took Eddie Guerrero, and brought him up from tag-team mid-carder to one of the greatest WWE Champions in recent history. Even Benoit, who was labelled as "so fortunate" to be on RAW, went from headlining pay-per-views to competing in opening match tag team bouts in a matter of weeks.
SmackDown! a second-rate show? I'd hate to imagine what that makes RAW.
by Antonio M. Figueroa ..
Smackdown being better then RAW?!? You were being sarcastic right? First of all, yes RAW has held Chris Benoit back ever since he lost the title, but take notice, Smackdown has done the exact same thing with Gurrero! The only reasons I watch Smackdown are for guys like Undertaker, John Cena, and Rey Mysterio. You take Bradshaw, an amazingly boring wrestler, fire his partner, give him a stale persona, and make him champion. JBL has decreased the value of the WWE title ever since he won it. RAW's World title is definitely the more valuable at this point. Another reason I think RAW is the superior brand is because Rob Van Dam, who was a star on RAW, went to being a jobber on Smackdown. Ever since Van Dam went to Smackdown, he was in the ppv opener 3 times! And to make things worse, they were all tag matches! The only reason I think RAW is the least bit boring is because of Triple H, who should have not even been given his ninth world title. But even Triple H isn't as boring as JBL! Something is seriously wrong with your show when guys like Bradshaw are miles ahead of Rob Van Dam and your using Undertaker to face Luther Reigns at a ppv. Compare last year's RAW ppv's to last year's Smackdown ppv's. Backlash beat No Way Out so bad I can't even describe it, Bad Blood was ten times better then The Great American Bash, and even the boring Unforgiven topped the horrid No Mercy, which was only saved by an awesome Last Ride Match, (made great by Taker, not JBL) and although they were both terrible, New Year's Revolution beat Armageddon. The point is, although all of WWE needs help, Smackdown needs more.
Antonio Figueroa wrote (in reply to xxxtomsterxxx):
For now, I'm going to focus on your argument about the 2004-2005 single brand PPVs, to give the other side of the coin.
No Way Out (SD!)- This pay-per-view suffered from being thrown together quickly, but there is no doubt that it had several stellar matches, including the Rey/Chavo match (BTW, I HATE Rey Mysterio), the Angle/Cena/Big Show match. and the Lesnar/Guerrero match. Rating- B
Backlash (RAW)- I'll openly admit that this was a great show, but face it, it was RAW's ONLY great PPV. In my opinion, the Triple Threat match was better than the WM match, and Orton/Cactus was amazing. As for the other matches...I can't remember them. Rating- B
Judgment Day (SD!)- This show was so much better than anyone expected. I went in expecting a D, but this show deserves a C. The Guerrero/Layfield, Booker/Taker, and Cena/Dupree matches were all fantastic. Rating- C
Bad Blood (RAW)- This PPV was so bad that I LITERALLY went to sleep and had a friend wake me up for the HIAC. With the exception of the HIAC, every match was absolutely horrible, and the finish of the World title match destroyed what was left of Kane's hopes of ever being a main eventer again. After watching this PPV on DVD, the only thing I can say is that even the fantastic HIAC match couldn't save this one. Rating- D (ONLY because of the HIAC)
Great American Bash (SD!)- This was probably the worst SD! PPV of the year, but still a lot better than Bad Blood. The Four-Way U.S. title match blew away anything RAW had given us since Backlash with the exception of HIAC. The Guerrero/JBL Bullrope match was better than the entire Bad Blood card put together, minus HIAC. Rating- C
Vengeance (RAW)- I can't say enough terrible things about this one. With the exception of Edge/Orton, the entire PPV was horrible. I will go as far as to say this was the worst show in WWE history. Rating- F-
Unforgiven (RAW)- The HHH/Orton match and the Jericho/Christian match were the only bright spots in this black hole of an event. Rating- D
No Mercy (SD!)- I was at this show live, 2nd row on the camera side, and I can say honestly that this was one of the better single brand PPVs in a long time. The Booker/Cena match blew Unforgiven away by itself. The Angle/Big Show match was probably the best match of Show's career, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole thing. I loved the Last Ride match too. Rating- B
Taboo Tuesday (RAW)- I'm not going to dignify this with an explanation. Rating- Nonexistant
Armageddon (SD!)- Probably the best single brand PPV EVER next to Vengeance 2003. With the exception of the Tough Enough fight (which didn't deserve to exist) and the Jackie/Dawn match, every match was as good or better than expected. The Fatal Four Way was better than ANYTHING RAW gave us in 2004, because any of the four men could have emerged victorious. Rating- A
NYR (RAW)- A one match PPV built completely around the Elimination Chamber, which had an ending so predictable that HHH should have just been handed the title, the match was just a formality. What's that? There WERE other matches on the card? Gee, I wouldn't have known. Rating- F
No Way Out (SD!)- I don't care what the damn buyrate says, this PPV was AMAZING. The Angle/Cena match is a Match of the Year contender, the barbed wire cage was great, and even the mid-card matches, like the CW and TT tiles, as well as Taker/Reigns, were better than expected. Rating- A
So there's my view on the Pay-Per-Views. (Oh, and by the way, RVD was a jobber on RAW long before he was a jobber on Smackdown!. It's not Smackdown!'s fault that RVD isn't a main eventer, it's RVD's fault. He's way too much of a high-flier, which is the same reason Mysterio will never be WWE Champion. Thank God.)
Okay, this is gonna be my final response in my little arguement concerning the "Why SD! Is the Best" article. Here are MY pay per view rating for the the RAW and Smackdown ppv's of 2004 and 2005.
No Way Out- Eddie vs Brock, Triple Threat, Crusierweight title, a decent ppv. B-
Backlash-This ppv was awesome, the main event was even better then the one from Wrestlemania, the No Holds Barred Match was the best in years, and the opener was solid . A
Judgement Day- I thought this was actually a great ppv, the last three matches were all really good. B
Bad Blood- You thought this was a bad ppv? This ppv kicked butt!!!!!! First off, I'll admit, the ending to Benoit vs Kane was bad with the lame rollup, but the actual match was a classic! Great technical wrestling, and as Bishoff (or however you spell his damn name) mentioned the next night, it's a match both men can be proud of for the rest of their careers. Also, the IC Championship, between Shelton Benjamin and Randy Orton was a great match, one of the best IC title matches of the year, and combine those great matches with the amazing Hell in a Cell, this ppv gets a hands down A. A
The Great American Bash- Now that raps up another edition of Sunday Night Heat! Wait, this was a ppv!?!? One match worth mentioning, The Texas Bull Rope Match, which although it was great, it had an even worse ending then Benoit vs Kane from Bad Blood! It was a cool ending to see Paul Bearer get buried in a Concrete Crypt, if only it didn't come after the worst Handicap Match ever! D
Vengeance-Ok, even I'll admit, this ppv sucked balls, but it was still better then The Great American Bash! Edge vs. Orton was an instant classic, and the rest of the card, wasn't to good, but I think this ppv beat out The Great American Bash by a small margin. - D+
Unforgiven- Smackdown won once, and that was because No Mercy beat Unforgiven. Unforgiven sucked, if it wasn't for the Ladder and No DQ matches, WWE would try to make people forget this happened. Still, the two matches I mentioned make it decent. C
No Mercy- Let me start off by saying when you attend a ppv, you find it alot better then it really is. I attended Backlash 2002 and thought it was good until I watched it on DVD and found it was one of the worst in history. no Mercy, was good, with three good matches, which beats Unforgiven. Last Ride Match, Cena vs Booker, and Angle vs Show. B
Taboo Tuesday-Revolutionary event, Smackdown could never deliver like this. Ric Flair was in a great match! That's how unpredictable this is! A
Armageddon-The first and last matches were good but everything else was a snorefest. D
New Years Revolution-Terrible ppv, but Elimanation Chamber is one of the best of all time and Snistky vs Kane was brutal, and those two matches beat out the two good matches from Armageddon. C-
No Way Out- Your right, this ppv was awesome, Barb Wire Cage and Angle vs Cena were both great. I would say Smackdown won, but let's see what RAW comes up with for Backlash. A
Nathan Jones (obviously not THAT Nathan Jones) wrote:
Im sorry, but there is no way Smackdown could ever beat RAW. RAW has done a much better job of bringing the newer talent to superstardom. RAW has brought guys like Batista, Orton, Chris Masters and hell, even Tyson Tomko farther than SD has gone with guys like Jordan, Suzuki, Dupree and Jindrak. Before the Draft, Dupree and Jindrak were promising atheletes on RAW with a bright future. When they were sent to SD, they were quickly forgotten. Remember when Suzuki first came in? It was played up to be a major deal, but within 2 months, he became a jobber. As for Dupree? He went the same route as his tag team partner. Jindrak, who i have been a fan of since WCW, lasted a little longer, and when he started feuding with Reigns, i thought a good feud may be in the works. But no. Jindrak, who was on the winning side of the feud, was dropped back to being a jobber while Reigns fought Undertaker at a PPV. As the Hurricane might say: WHASSUP WIT DAT? On RAW, even Tyson Tomko's gimmick has started to come around. Right now, it seems, he is in a good feud with Kane that i would be interested in. As for the titles, RAW has SD beat horribly. How the heck did JBL become champion? One month he is a nobody teaming with Farooq, and loses at Wrestlmania, and 2 months later, he becomes WWE Champion. HHH on the other hand, has been able to lose and regain the title numerous times. They say JBL is one of the best champions in a while, but how do they come to that conclusion? We havent seen him lose the title so who knows? When he loses it, he might end up cracking like Eddie G. did. Also, who has he feuded with that makes for and interesting match? No one. Undertaker has been used to beat up Heidenreich, then gets thrown into a title match as a filler. Angle was SD's last hope, but he seems to be out of the title picture now. The Big Show became another Hardcore Holly of early 2004. He comes back and is pushed heavily, but can't get the job done, and is forgotten. I dont even want to say what i think of Cena because it would take too long. As for RAW, HBK, Benoit, Kane, Orton, Batista, and Edge have all been eyeing the title. All of them could easily carry RAW if they won the big one. What about the US and IC TITLES? Well, we have had 4 US champions in how long? Soon to be 2 years. And who has held the title? Guys who couldnt get the job done against the WWE champion. The IC title had been used traditionally to catapult guys to World Title status. Shelton Benjamin is a fine champion, and RAW has plenty of guys who have enough push to face him for it. Tomko, Snitsky, Christian, Hassan, Masters, and Jericho. SD has plenty of guys who could be great: Hass, Dupree, Reigns, Jindrak, Jordan, and Suzuki just to name a few. RAW is very much the same way with guys like Hassan, Masters, Tomko, and Maven. RAW just seems to use the guys better. Also, RAW has been the place to go with a serious role. SD has recently been a go to place for failing gimmicks( Mordechai) and guys who cant be taken seriously(Cena). In my opinion, i would rather watch Viscera take on Val Venis in a squash match than watch anything SD has to offer because none of the SD guys have enough push for it to mean anything. These are the reasons Vince had been putting all of his time into RAW...its just better and can carry the WWE and the weight of the failing SD brand.
Antonio Figueroa wrote:
At first, I started reading your reply with great interest, until I got to the part where Tomko and Masters are listed as top contenders for the IC title. Get real man. My grandmother could out-wrestle Chris Masters, and Tyson Tomko is the most limited wrestler to come into this business since Mark Henry. As for your World title contenders, HBK is the only one I would consider legitimate. Benoit, Kane, Jericho, and Orton have all been destroyed by the RAW writing team. Benoit in particular; he is little more than a glorified jobber who happens to have entrance music. Face it, RAW destroyed his main event status with pathetic title defenses and then...nothing. Benoit went from Champion in the Main Event of Summerslam to opening match tag team bout at Unforgiven. As for the Smackdown! talent, you can't possibly say that Dupree was better off on RAW. He went from being a solid tag team mid-carder to a top U.S. title contender within weeks of his move to SD!. Although he didn't capture the belt, his near 4-month reign as WWE Tag Team Champion with Suzuki should prove that his move to SD! was the best possible thing for his career. In regards to Jindrak...don't make me laugh. Just because he was a "star" in WCW doesn't mean a damn thing. Losers like Scott Steiner and Goldberg were WCW World Champions, so that should explain the legitimacy of Jindrak's "star power". Jindrak is exactly what his lack of charisma and lack of skill lets him be, a low mid-carder with no future. Also, the United States Championship has been used to "catapault" stars to WWE title contention much better then the Intercontinental belt in recent years. Think about it. Christian was IC Champion...no World belt for him. Jericho was given the IC title as a consolation prize when it became clear that HHH will never give him a World title match...and so on. Eddie was US Champ...with a few months, he was WWE Champion, and a GREAT one, far better than Benoit's simultaneous World title run. Cena was US Champ, and now he's challenging for the WWE Championship at WM21. Your argument has no solid points and no real facts. You were completely unable to "prove" that RAW is "superior" to Smackdown!. Just accept it, Smackdown! is the better show.
Peter Abonza wrote:
In my opinion Smackdown! Is a better show because of it's talent of many superstars. First of Raw is a desperate show. When they find out their PPV's aren't doing so well, they go and add another PPV, "New Year's Revolution". Although it had the so called brutal match called the "Elimination Chamber". It still did poorly and for a sold out crowd, I got a feeling many people went home angry. Smackdown! has many great superstars: The Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero, JBL, Rey Mysterio, Jr., The Big Show, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam and many others. As for Raw, you don't even know if the superstar is there because they are not willing to step up to the game. JBL has had different opponents. As for Raw, the Triple H and Randy Orton angle lasted through after Summerslam 2004 to the Royal Rumble 2005. Who wants to see the same crap over and over again. Years ago I believe 2002 at No Mercy, Raw got rid of the Intercontinental Championship and it was a big mistake and then all of sudden bring it back months later. "What's Up With That" Raw also got rid of the Hardcore Championship. As for Smackdown! they made two introductions, the United States Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championships. Raw was losing championships and Smackdown! was gaining championships.
It also seems that history always repeats itself on Raw. The same feuds, the same storylines, the same everything! I am getting sick and tired of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It is the WCW belt people, it's not that important. It always goes back to the original owner and that is Triple H. Let's take a moment see the WWE World Heavyweight Championship History: 1.)Triple H 2.)Shawn Michaels 3.)Triple H 4.)Goldberg 5.)Triple H 6.)Chris Benoit 7.)Randy Orton 8.)Triple H 10.)Vacated for a month. Surprise, Surprise! #10.)Triple H. It's like a broken record. Let's face it Triple H is right, without him there is no Raw. As for Smackdown! they have always had a different champ: Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero and JBL, do I see a pattern, uhmmmmm No!!!!!!! and it seems like it's always got to be an "Evolution" member to go against Triple H. Hello WWE! Your doing a Randy Orton again. Give the title shot to someone worthy like Kane or Chris Benoit, instead they are locked up in a ladder match to try to earn what they already deserve. If you see the Royal Rumble, John Cena clearly won. For Batista's 2 feet landed at the same time, while John Cena's one leg landed than following with the other leg. Don't give the main event to a wrestler who's barely been never been in a PPV event!
The worse thing Vince McMahon did in his life is separate the wrestler into 2 brands. Raw ratings Vs. Smackdown! rating, which show is better? If all the wrestlers were together their would be more possibilities, more WWE Champs, more US and Intercontinental Champions, more tag team champions, and more Cruiserweight and Women Champions and WWE PPV's will actually sell and Sunday Night Heat and Velocity wouldn't have to suck!
Bottom line is that Smackdown! is doing much better than Raw in storylines. They don't repeat the same stuff. In my opinion Smackdown! would better with Stephanie McMahon, she kicked ass! and Raw needs Stone Cold Steve Austin as General Manager and fire Bishoff. Hello WWE, the same guy who tried to kill the WWE.
Finally, I don't hate Raw I just can't stand what they are doing to their wrestlers. Hand the ball to someone else like Kane or Chris Benoit. I got a big feeling that the Batista and the Triple H feud is going to go on for a long time, so Raw fans get ready to have the same event every PPV, Triple H Vs. Batista. Raw please come back to Earth, we miss you down here. Finally that is all my people.
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