Total Engagement: What Raw Got Wrong, Smackdown Got Right

Was it SO hard?

We often forget that the point of serial based sports entertainment television ™ is to get fans watching the product not to just tune in THIS week, but the following week and hopefully the week after that. It is in violation of this simple principle that Raw wasted the unique commodity that was the RAW Reunion show. You’ve got the legends, fine. You’re going to pop a rating, cool. But…why should we tune in NEXT week? Whether you liked any part of the Raw Reunion or not (and who didn’t love seeing Steve Austin?), there can be no argument that this was a squandered effort to that end.

SmackDown, however, was almost the complete opposite in that respect. For that reason they will more than likely have an increased rating next week. The very real story of Randy Orton killing Kofi Kingston’s push? I want to hear more. New Day on commentary? I wonder who’s going to be there next week? Flipping the script and having Shawn Michaels eat a superkick from Dolph Ziggler after some very effective serious mic work from HBK and The Miz? I want to see where this goes. All of these segments made me more intrigued in the Smackdown show, as opposed to being given nothing to look forward to on Monday night.

Nowhere was this difference more profound than in the final segment of SmackDown when compared to the final segment of RAW. On RAW, we had that great toast with some of the biggest stars in wrestling history…none of which will be on TV next week. The “bump”, (the viewers who normally don’t watch), were not given any reason to make an exception to their regular Monday viewing habits for a second consecutive week. The powers that be at Raw didn’t even try. But on Smackdown? The pairing of Owens and Reigns against their mutual enemies presented a smart and fresh way to present one feud that was going stale and another that is gaining momentum…and I personally want to tune in to see THAT next week which is kinda the point….and the problem.

While Smackdown had us looking forwards to weeks ahead, Raw had nothing to offer viewers besides a nostalgic look back with no indication that next week could be compelling enough to watch.