For Raw, the program they have going for Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins is really starting to hit its stride now. Raw really turned up the intensity in this rivalry when they had these two brawl backstage before there scheduled fight later that night. Then, they put on a good match on Raw, but the finish ended in a DQ, which is going to lead to another match between these two at Extreme Rules, hopefully with a stipulation this time around. This rivalry really didn’t have much attention going into Payback, but now Raw has increased the importance and intensity of this rivalry where fans are now excited to see what happens with these two next.
For Smackdown, the opening segment between all the main rivalries going into Backlash was very enjoyable. It started off with Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal exchanging words, then Kevin Owens coming out to say that not only is he the Face of America, but next he wants to become WWE Champion and be the face of WWE. This then leads to AJ Styles coming out and saying that he will win at Backlash. But, then things got really good when Baron Corbin comes out and says that he doesn’t have an opponent for Backlash, only to be attacked by Sami Zayn, which leads to an all out brawl between the superstars and help establish that not only will Corbin and Zayn face off at Backlash, and but we had the main event announced for the show in the process. I expect Zayn vs. Corbin to be a good match too. Great job by Smackdown building up their biggest matches on their upcoming PPV.
For Raw, I guess the whole thing between Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt is irrelevant now. Last week, Bray Wyatt cost Finn Balor an opportunity to face Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. Instead of these two fighting this week or cutting a promo about it, neither of them interfered in each other’s matches and it wasn’t even mentioned in the program. They mentioned Samoa Joe costing Rollins the opportunity, but didn’t even bother to mention the other interference in that match. Now, I know that Braun Strowman getting hurt probably is going to change things up with some rivalries on Raw, but they need to at least address this first before moving on to other programs with these superstars.
For Smackdown, the whole promo with Mojo Rawley and his Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy really was a waste of time. This trophy has really lost its significance now that Rawley has won it and it doesn’t feel like it is going to lead to a fight against anyone at Backlash either, unless it is on the Pre-Show. Basically, this promo just showed that he won it…..and that’s really it.
The Final Verdict
Both of these shows really did a good job of laying out blueprints for what the future holds. Smackdown did it by building up their upcoming PPV, Backlash, with segments between all the superstars involved in the show. Raw did it by building up the future too between Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe, the women’s division, and the tag team division for their next PPV. This week though I will have to give to Smackdown because this week they really established what the Backlash PPV card is going to look like and they were able to help hype up some of those matches as well as build new ones in the process. Jinder Mahal has done a really good job at establishing himself as a Main Event talent on Smackdown and we still have Rusev, who will make his first appearance for the show next week to determine if he will get a championship match. Overall, both shows did a really good job this week, but since the PPV is right around the corner for Smackdown, they were able to put on a better show this week in order to get us excited for Backlash!