WWE’s blue brand, Friday Night SmackDown, has always been perceived as the “B” show. This has never been a knock on SmackDown but rather an implication of the success of what has traditionally been WWE’s flagship show since its inception in 1993, Monday Night Raw. The red brand has long been the “A” show; hosting the biggest names in the business and, for decades, receiving favorable treatment from management, not to mention bettors looking to cash-in online at websites like royalvegascasino.com.
In 2021, however, the landscape has flipped. With SmackDown now having a far more luxurious TV deal with FOX (Raw is still shown on USA Network every week), the blue brand has, at least for now, ascended to the position of “A” show. At SummerSlam, this has never been more evident. Prior to SummerSlam, SmackDown’s brand talent was already excessive; the face of the company, Roman Reigns, plays the centre role. Seth Rollins, arguably the second biggest contemporary name in the company, is also there. Returning legend, Edge, also occupies a crucial spot on the brand. Among the women, there is the company’s brightest new star, Bianca Belair, along with seasoned and recognizable performers, Sasha Banks and Bayley.
At SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar – the WWE’s most mainstream, legitimate talent – returned; immediately igniting what will be a “money feud” with Roman Reigns. Instantly, the SmackDown brand possesses an air of legitimacy that Raw simply does not. This was not the only return, however. Becky Lynch, who has been away from the company on maternity leave for the past year, returned to begin a storyline with Bianca Belair. Prior to her leave of absence, Becky was undoubtedly one of the top three stars in the entire WWE – her naturally likable personality, ability, and “Stone Cold like” persona having endeared her to the WWE audience in a way in which few others are capable of managing.
These returns have, quite simply, taken SmackDown beyond Raw. If Raw was still perceived as the more important brand by the WWE brass, you would be forgiven for not believing them. The blue brand now holds a bloated roster of some of the biggest and hottest names in the industry right now. Whereas Raw, also, is no stranger to talent, the fact that it lacks the likes of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Becky Lynch, and Edge demonstrates its reduced importance in the current era. Yes, WWE (and WCW) legend, Bill Goldberg, occupies a role on the roster but he is there, as evidenced at SummerSlam, to elevate some of the current talent – he is far from a full-time competitor and his final match is likely upon us. For the first time ever, SmackDown is the “A” show of the WWE and it has never been more noticeable.
Main image credit