The differences between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live are rather stark. Raw, which operates in three-hour windows, has historically been a lot of filler. SmackDown, in a two-hour window, has less time and can ill-afford wasting any of it, which should force the blue-brand into an almost no-filler type of situation.
Yet, here we are, and SmackDown is already starting to put some worthless segments in its programs.
This isn’t an every week thing, however. While only having a small sample size to work from, as the brand-split isn’t even six months old yet, we are starting to see a pattern emerge in how SmackDown is put together. If the program isn’t closing in on a WWE Network special, the creative team apparently decides to be the human embodiment of a shoulder shrug emoji.
We can look back at the latest edition of SmackDown to see how much filler is entering our lives by way of bad booking.
- There were FOUR backstage segments related to James Ellsworth vs A.J. Styles (that’s far too many for a glorified jobber heading into an obvious main event ending).
- Curt Hawkins’ promo/non-match (a pointless segment, with an incredibly NOT over talent).
- Baron Corbin beats Jack Swagger in a squash match (not only a squash match, but we already saw this).
That’s two matches, with one of them never actually happening, and a total of four segments on a two-hour show. And what did all of them accomplish? Not very much in terms in advancing any of the characters or angles.
Some of the Ellsworth-related backstage work was certainly needed. However, four backstage promos not only seemed a bit excessive, but if the company is putting that time and resources into making fans care about a jobber, what in the hell are they doing for the not-yet-over younger wrestlers who actually have talent?
It is all a bit troublesome. Not the end-of-the-world bad or anything, but two hours — which really isn’t two hours because of commercials — isn’t a lot of time to tell multiple stories on one broadcast. Considering SmackDown’s concept is giving different guys big opportunities, it is odd the WWE is so willing to give away TV time to useless and pointless endeavors.
Consider this: SmackDown has multiple titles on its brand. None of them were featured in earnest on Tuesday’s episode. The champions were there, but all in not-advancing-anything kind of ways.
There was a mostly-entertaining jobber vs. champion match, which gets a free pass (minus too many backstage promos); Dolph Ziggler was in a six-man tag, teaming with the tag team champions, but that featured the gosh slam Spirit Squad… a pair of washed guys who are getting more TV time than actual tag teams in the division; then, through no one’s actually fault, Becky Lynch is still nursing some medical condition, leaving the women’s division in a bit of a tough spot.
Basically, we jammed two titles (the IC and tag team) into one bout involving feuds that were already set in stone. Unless a miracle were to actually be performed in the ring, the fans were given a match between six people for the sake of buying time. The outcome of that match didn’t matter. So, uh, thanks for watching, I guess?
Anyway, the point here is that if the WWE wants to get guys over, the company needs to give them the platform to do it. Less filler, more chances for other talents to get time on the TV. Instead of four Ellsworth-related promos, cut that down to two, and give American Alpha a match.
Instead of an already never-going-to-work Curt Hawkins gimmick/non-match match, have him come out and get destroyed by one of the younger wrestlers in quick fashion.
Rather than give us Corbin vs. Swagger again, present Corbin with a new challenger, even if it is one he is going to beat in a squash match. Just don’t give us the same thing over, and over, and over again.
Maybe this is preference based, and I’m being too nit-picky, but sitting through SmackDown has mostly been fine, as two hours goes by far quicker than Raw’s three. However, when the creative team begins to jam repeat matches down our throats, or too many of the same kind of segments designed to one thing, it can make consuming SmackDown like attempting to drink a gallon of creamer.
Be better, SmackDown. You — you inanimate object, you — only have two hours to work with. Work with it better. Sincerely, it’s a pretty terrible look to have to use filler, most of it being worthless, in that short of a broadcast, especially when you have worthwhile talents at your disposal that can use the time on the broadcast to help us care about them.