JC’s Top Rope Report: Winners And Losers Of The Brand Split So Far
It’s been awhile since I wrote something non daily feature/RAW/PPV/Lucha Underground related. It is a lot of work trying to get stuff on the site daily so my column writing has suffered because of it. But you get one today because I have a bit of spare time on my hands!
We are two months into the brand split, so I think it is fair to look at the brand split so far and look at who has benefited and who hasn’t from it. From an overall show perspective, Smackdown is better than RAW. Even with the addition of the Cruiserweight Division, RAW continues to drag on with its 3 hour format. It’s also lacking a true top babyface because Seth Rollins is not being treated like a big deal at all. And he hasn’t had a breakout moment as a face on the show. Meanwhile, AJ Styles is killing it on Smackdown. And the show has three strong faces in John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton.
But we are here to look at some of the individuals who have thrived because of the brand split. Pretty much everyone agrees that Smackdown is better than RAW at the moment, but lets dive deeper into each show and look at who is benefiting the most. And yes, I’m sure to find some on RAW as well.
WINNER: Heath Slater
-Don’t let anyone in the WWE fool you. They did not have this push planned for Heath Slater when he went undrafted. If they tell you otherwise they are lying. But Heath Slater embraced this role and made himself a player because of it. Crowds were chanting “We Want Slater” at SummerSlam. Slater is over more right now than he ever was during his entire career. Even when Slater was with the Nexus, he was more of a bit player. Slater’s experience helped him get this Tag Title reign with Rhyno. I actually think this reign will end at No Mercy. But the ride we’ve been on with Slater for the last two months has been a great story.
LOSERS: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
-The WWE is way too concerned about records. If they wanted New Day to break the record of longest reigning Tag Team Champions, they should not have fed Anderson and Gallows to the New Day over multiple PPVs. At this point Anderson and Gallows are jobbers on RAW. After losing via shenanigans at Clash of Champions, they lost clean the next night on RAW. I understand that the WWE wanted to get AJ Styles over on his own, so that’s probably why they separated Gallows and Anderson from him. But they need to get Anderson and Gallows back with Styles by pretty much any means necessary.
WINNERS: The Smackdown Women’s Division
-I was pretty worried about the women’s division on Smackdown after the Draft. There was Becky Lynch and Natalya, who had been feuding for the last couple months before the Draft. Plus some unproven NXT girls and Naomi. But each women has embraced their role and added new dimensions to their characters. Becky continues to be awesome. Natalya is just kind of there, but isn’t really bad. Naomi’s entrance is fun to watch, and it looks like she’s worked on her ring work as well. Alexa Bliss is great. The mannerisms and facial expressions are great with her. Carmella is better as a heel, and her program with Nikki Bella isn’t too bad. Especially considering Nikki has taken pinfall after pinfall against her. And Eva Marie was being used properly before her suspension. This division has been fun to watch on Smackdown.
LOSER: Sami Zayn
-The show after the Draft, Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens. It looked like the WWE could get behind Zayn and maybe give him a run at the United States Title. A program between Zayn and Rusev could have been fun. But since the Draft, Zayn has done nothing on RAW. He’s put on a few good matches, but he has no character or storyline direction whatsoever. Zayn is someone who could benefit from a move to Smackdown as well. I think the WWE screwed up by keeping Zayn and Owens on the same show.
WINNERS: Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
-Sure, Kevin Owens kind of lucked into his spot as Universal Champion. But Owens is someone who deserves a spot at the top. And his pairing with Chris Jericho is working out tremendously. Even Jericho continues to reinvent himself now with the brand split. He was getting to where he is now but he wasn’t fully there yet. But I never want to see the pairing of Owens and Jericho broken up. And if it is, it should be treated as a big deal. Like a match at Wrestlemania big deal. While RAW as a show overall is struggling, these two at the top deliver every time they are on the screen.
LOSER: Apollo Crews
-Apollo Crews now wins the award of being the wrestler called up from NXT too soon. He’s lost pretty much every match he’s been involved in on Smackdown outside of his #1 Contenders Match he won before SummerSlam. But he hasn’t done anything of note since. Crews could have used another year or so in NXT. Right now he would be one of the top wrestlers on NXT. Now he is a low carder on Smackdown. Hell, he was replaced by Jack Swagger in a feud against Baron Corbin. That is all you need to know about the WWE’s feelings on Apollo Crews.
WINNER: The Miz
-Adding Maryse with the Miz made his act fun. His great promo on Talking Smack got the wrestling world talking. And Miz has continued to ride the wave of momentum on Smackdown. His segments on Smackdown have become, no pun intended, must see TV for me. I know a lot of people hate on the Miz but I’ve enjoyed his work on Smackdown since the brand split. He’s also helped to elevate the Intercontinental Title during this time period. And in turn, that has helped this feud with Dolph Ziggler. Miz may never reach the levels he got as WWE Champion again (and I will DEFEND Miz being in the main event of Wrestlemania 27 to this day) but he might be just under it.
LOSER: Bray Wyatt
-I don’t know what there is left to do with Bray Wyatt at this point. I’m not really a fan of this feud with Randy Orton. I thought the segments on this past week’s Smackdown were pretty corny. And with Orton expected to move on to a feud with AJ Styles soon, I can’t see Bray winning against Randy Orton. And of course, Bray also lost to Kane at Backlash. Sure it was because of Orton, but no one should ever lose to Kane at this point in his career. I fail to see how Bray Wyatt can be saved at this point.
WINNER: Corey Graves
-Finally, the RAW announce team has someone I don’t mind listening to on it. I don’t think he’s doing as well as he did with Tom Phillips. But Graves is at least calling out Cole when he is wrong and pretty much bashing Byron Saxton at any chance he gets.
LOSERS: David Otunga and JBL
-Otunga is SO AWFUL. He hasn’t said one good thing since becoming an announcer. And JBL is still bad as well. Poor Mauro. He can’t get anyone good. And they took away Jerry Lawler from Mauro right when Lawler was getting better again.
So there are my thoughts, what are yours?
Until Next Time,
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