AJ and Friends: Imagine, if about six months ago, someone approached you and said, “You know that Daniel Bryan and CM Punk feud that you want so bad? Well this is how they’re going to handle that. 1. Most of the feud will revolve around a love triangle between the two of them and a diva. 2. That diva will be so important that at MiTB, the PPV where Punk won the championship last year, the WWE Championship match will have said diva as a guest referee. 3. At random points Kane will be thrown headfirst into this feud for seemingly no reason whatsoever. “ How depressed would that description have made you? The only thing is that all of this is somehow being pulled off in a spectacular fashion.
A lot of this can be credited Punk and Bryan. Right now this whole feud should be stuck in the same pit that Nexus storylines were in about two years ago. We know that every time Punk and Bryan are in a ring together (and sometimes just one of them) we know that AJ is coming out to interrupt the match. But Punk and Bryan seem to put on a great show every time that they are together, that I literally don’t care who wins a match, it’s just fun to watch these two in the ring.
Additional credit also needs to go to AJ. I have no idea where the long-term goals for this character lay (and I’m willing to bet that WWE creative is not so sure about that either) but she has defiantly made the most out of what she has been given. Backstage interactions between her and Punk are currently the highlight of the show each week. Family members who roll their eyes when walking past me and the TV on Mondays actually laughed and stayed to watch for a while during AJ and Punk’s argument about a phone call. And anything that can get them in front of the TV is something that WWE need to have a lot more of.
And for SmackDown: This Tuesday, when I went to watch SmackDown on my television, I realized that it had been quite a while since I had actually watched an entire episode of SmackDown, on TV. I realized that because I couldn’t remember what channel number SyFy was. See every week I have the opportunity to watch about nine hours of wrestling. (Raw = 2, SmackDown = 2, NXT = 1, Superstars = 1, TNA = 2 ROH = 1) and twice a month (depending if I’m willing to shell out for a PPV) that number goes up to 12. Now a lot of that time is actually commercials and on many of those shows, a lot of the time is also dedicated to replays from other shows, but for simplicity sake we’re going to say 9-12 hours of wrestling a week. Even on the busiest weeks, I will still get Raw watched. And have TNA on, though it will most likely be competing for my attention with something else (and frequently losing that battle) The thing is, that SmackDown, which use to be the second highest show in my must watch list, has gradually slipped down to the very bottom of the pile.
Several things contribute to its new status at the bottom. For one, with all the SmackDown recaps that I get on all of WWE’s other shows, as well as highlights hitting the internet, making sure I’m watching SmackDown of Friday night doesn’t seem that important. Why watch something that you know you will be forced to see multiple times in the upcoming week? But more importantly it seems like nothing happens on SmackDown. Part of the excitement, for me at least, of watching wrestling is the soap opera factor. The idea that this might be the episode where Punk delivers a promo that friends will talk about the next day, or an unexpected wrestler will return to make a major play for a title. And these things don’t ever really seem to happen on SmackDown. Surprises are saved for Raw. In the past two years I can only think of two really “shocking” SmackDown moments that happened. One was Orton winning the Heavyweight title from Christian less that a week after Christian’s first victory and the other is the first time we got two Sin Cara’s in the ring. And both of those things had been spoiled by the Internet around 10:02 on Tuesday anyway. Don’t get me wrong on those two occasions, I made sure I was watching on Friday night because those were matches/storylines that I was interested in, but if the Internet doesn’t have anything to say about Smackdown before Friday Night, it seems like a fairly safe bet that I can skip that episode.
Unrelated Thought: WWE, the commercial at the end of Raw this week was maybe the best piece of advertising that you have done in the past several years. Please, more of this and less of Alberto Del Rio is rich promos for any upcoming events.