This past Friday’s SmackDown on FOX very much made the best of a bad situation when NXT stars were called in to invade the show due to the rest of WWE’S talent being stuck in Saudi Arabia.
The angle excited fans and kicked off the road to Survivor Series, which NXT will now be a part of along with SmackDown and Raw, in a very intriguing way, leaving us waiting to see how this continues to play out.
Other than that though, the blue brand hasn’t really impressed since moving to FOX about a month ago. If you take away the most recent episode, the new stage and pyro, it’s basically just been SmackDown Live on a Friday.
With that said, this list will look at nine ways WWE can continue the momentum it started on Friday and make SmackDown feel like the big deal it should.
1. The Right Booking
For numerous years now, WWE has been heavily criticised for its mediocre and confusing booking.
“Why did [wrestler 1] beat [wrestler 2]?”
“[wrestler 3] lost. WWE sucks.”
The wrong booking is scaring away fans from getting invested in the product. Why put emotion into something when it will backfire in a few months time?
Look at the Fiend, for example. He was the hottest thing in the business (luckily still is after winning at Crown Jewel), but when he got crushed by Seth Rollins at WWE Hell in a Cell it was awkward, frustrating and pretty much pointless. Why book a championship match if you never wanted him to win the title there?
If WWE can amend its silly booking of shows and make sure the right wrestlers go over in matches, then SmackDown will stack the ratings again as the fans get emotionally interested in the feuds happening on the show.
2. Exciting And Fresh Storylines
Another reason why SmackDown doesn’t feel special is the stale and boring storylines.
Who was excited for Roman Reigns vs King Corbin before it had to be cancelled?
If WWE was known in this day and age for its fantastic storylines, then maybe this match would have been entertaining – but we know how WWE does things.
Storylines need fluidity, they need to have people on the edge of their seats. WWE needs to book segments that have fans talking about it beforehand and even months after.
Each feud should have meaning. If SmackDown started building towards John Cena vs CM Punk-like rivalries, then SmackDown will be the place to get the much-needed answers for the fans’ biggest questions of the week.
3. Better Commentary
This is a well-needed improvement not just for SmackDown but for WWE as a whole.
Currently, Corey Graves and Michael Cole are doing the commentary for SmackDown on FOX, and even though two-man booths was a nice thing to return, it doesn’t feel any different.
This is because the commentary is being spoon-fed and forced into the mouths of the commentators. More freedom allows for more personality and that is what SmackDown needs.
If the commentators seemed engaged in the product and less robotic, then the fans watching at home may feel more engaged also.
I know not everyone can be Mauro Ranallo, but little bit more character would go a long way.
4. Incredible Matches On The Show
Most TV matches only last a couple of minutes and have a high chance of ending in a disqualification, interference or roll-up.
This means you need to wait for the pay-per-view matches to get the thrilling action you desire.
So what is the point in watching the shows weekly?
This is the main reason why ratings are so low. We want our heart to sink once the show is all said and done and to mutter under our breath: “That. That was amazing.”
Look at NXT, for example. They wrestlers have lots of incredible matches on the show. They tell the story through their impressive ability to put on instant classics. No one has a problem with NXT and therefore, that is exactly what fans are wanting.
Is it too much to ask for wrestling on a wrestling show?
5. Follow the Hype
One problem with WWE is that it hypes up its shows too much and doesn’t follow through.
Why get invested when you will be let down in the end? WWE is good at the getting excited part. However, afterwards, you feel like you got excited about nothing.
Matches and angles either end with a very anticlimactic finish or follow up with something nobody wants – which is also disappointing.
If WWE pays off its hype with a massive climax resulting in stars, then fans will feel the need to stay for the next episode and the episode after that.
6. More Fiend
The WWE fans – myself included – are still buzzing after a victorious Bray Wyatt at Crown Jewel. The Fiend is our Universal Champion.
With Brock Lesnar having been moved to Raw, the Fiend needs to be utilised heavily as SmackDown’s top champion.
He is the biggest attraction that isn’t named The Undertaker or The Rock, and a character that fans are definitely invested in. If people from all around the world are going to pay to see the Fiend make his creepy entrance live, then use him more.
This is something I can see WWE doing, as they have booked Wyatt to perfection – excluding the Rollins feud blip.
8. Appreciation For The Women’s & Tag Team Divisions
The SmackDown women’s and tag team divisions have lots of potential if used correctly.
On the women’s side of things, we have SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Carmella and a few more. One of the standout names is Sonya Deville, who can carry the division if given a chance.
The Revival are the SmackDown Tag Team Champions and are joined on the brand by The New Day and Heavy Machinery, to only name a few.
If these divisions are given more time, allowed to have impressive matches and new stars are formed in the process, then the fans may care a little more for the show.
9. The Wrestlers Feel Like Stars Again
Unfortunately, when it comes to creating stars, WWE hasn’t been successful for years.
There is a reason why The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan are immortalised and feel bigger than the company itself – because they were made to feel like legitimate superstars, larger-than-life and the best things to ever step foot on this planet.
WWE hasn’t been on its star-making game for a long while and most of the biggest guys on the roster are either forced or took a long while to persuade WWE they are supposed to be on top.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins come to mind when thinking about forced stars. They never got their naturally and were instead rushed to the top. They still have a huge star-feel though and aren’t just another lad on the roster.
Becky Lynch and Daniel Bryan are good examples of reaching star level naturally. WWE didn’t think of them as top talent until they had to listen to the fans.
Kofi Kingston had the potential but frustratingly, has dropped back down – which is a big problem with WWE.
Look at Rusev. Rusev Day was the most over thing in the company two years ago, but now he is fighting Bobby Lashley over his wife.
WWE needs to start letting wrestlers naturally climb the ladder to the top.
10. Give The Fans What They Want
Remember when Mr McMahon, Stephanie, Shane and Triple H came out to the ring and apologised for the bad product, stating they will give the fans what they want? It is time to start doing that successfully.
Us fans, are the reason why they are the biggest wrestling company in the world, and us fans, are getting fed up of WWE doing whatever they please and not dishing out three exciting shows every week.
If SmackdDown is going to feel special on FOX, WWE needs to start trusting in the fans cheering and booing. That is how they should book the babyfaces and heels.
They need to understand the type of matches we like and what we want. Then instead of teasing us, give us what we are watching the show for!
Only then, SmackDown and the rest of the WWE can become the show we grew up loving again.