This year marked the 25th Anniversary of Raw which took place in two locations, which is something that hadn’t been done since the last WCW Nitro and Wrestlemania 2. During that three hour show we were treated to five matches relatively short matches and a lot of segments featuring legends. Nine months later Smackdown celebrated 1000 episodes and we were treated to four matches where three of them were quality matches. Most of these shows were filled with very long promos by nostalgic acts that either show up once a year or some we haven’t seen in a lifetime. Both Raw 25 and Smackdown 1000 had a lot of similarities and both had it’s fair share of disappointments. The fans weren’t happy with Raw 25 so why use the same formula on Smackdown 1000?
Both shows had a title change hands which gave each show that “shocking” and “excitement” feel to it. The Miz defeating Roman Reigns and The Bar defeating The New Day were a moves that progress the business. In order for the business to keep moving forward the nostalgic acts need to be used to give the younger talent the rub they need. Edge’s segment with Becky Lynch was brilliant, because Edge put her over with “compliments” that she reminded him of who he was during his prime. At Raw 25, the Klique attempted to put Balor Club over with the Too Sweet gesture, but since then the trio of Balor, Gallows, and Anderson have been severely underutilized. At least Smackdown 1000 didn’t take place in two locations because if you recall the fans who were at the Manhattan Center were extremely angry at the lack of in-ring action that took place on the show. Some fans even demanded a refund for the money they spent on those tickets. Lets think about they got DX, and a very strange promo from The Undertaker and they wanted their money back.
Speaking of The Undertaker, the last segment on Smackdown 1000 was the same two minute promo he cut just the night before on Raw. Instead of creating a new angle, the company decides to send a guy out who physically lacks in the ring now to talk about two other guys who physically lack in a ring at a pay per view that no one wants to see due to political backlash over the location. The Main Event match was between a returning Rey Mysterio and Shinsuke Nakamura, and in that match alone you could have setup a great story. My personal preference would have been to see Andrade “Cien” Almas attack Mysterio after his victory thus setting up a Triple Threat Match between he, Mysterio and Nakamura for the United States Championship. The sad part of it all is that Almas wasn’t even used on Smackdown 1000, which is travesty all on it’s own if you consider the amount of talent he has.
Talent is what people are supporting these days. You could have the largest personality in the world, but if you cannot perform in the ring at a level acceptable to the fans standards, than no amount of support from Vince McMahon is going to change the fans perception. I was more excited to see Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles teams than I was to see Evolution reunite. I was more excited to see The Bar win the Tag Team Championships than I was to see The Undertaker repeat himself in a promo that he cut the night before. The fact that stars like Jeff Hardy, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Sanity, Naomi, and Asuka were not used in any capacity at Smackdown 1000 really shows the terrible position the company has put themselves in by not allowing new talent to grow and develop.
Next August will mark the 20th Anniversary of Smackdown and I hope they actually listen to the fans when the time comes. Bring back the fist on the stage set up, have less talking and more matches. Raw and Smackdown both built themselves on shocking moments, building younger talent and incredible matches. When celebrating milestones the shows should a bigger representation of how the product has evolved. They can have their legends and Hall of Famers on the show, but not at the expense of the younger full time talent that’s trying to make a name for themselves. If I have learned one thing this year watching WWE programming, it is that nostalgia no longer sells and it’s no longer good for business. Triple H and Stephanie always use the phrase “that’s what’s best for business.” What is best for business is for the old guard to step aside and let the new generation of talent have their time to shine like they did twenty years prior.
I will leave you with this thought and this question. When was the last time we had a 1-2-3 Kid moment? When is the last time we had a Ric Flair-Mr. Perfect match with that much on the line? When was the last time the top babyface in the company did a 180 and became the most hated man in the company? When was the time a group like Nexus came around and destroyed everything? These are all question the fans, shareholders and the company should ask themselves going into the next year with their new TV contracts. Raw 25 and Smackdown 1000 celebrated a bright past but left us with a dim future full of disappointments and failures.