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The Best 3 Hours Come After Raw

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Monday Night RAW is the flagship show for WWE. At three hours, there’s lots of time to build new stars, give stories depth, and have some quality wrestling with the biggest stars. That’s not exactly what RAW is though. I can give you the basic outline of every Raw since Wrestlemania and probably going forward for a while.

Open: 15-20 minutes promo, probably by Roman Reigns or Kurt Angle/Stephanie McMahon about whatever the next pay per view is, possibly setting up the main event for that night involving Reigns or Braun.

Rest of hour 1: Long match between Seth Rollins and whoever they deem worthy of this match. Match is going to be quality because of Seth but will always be long. Possible replacement: rematch from last week followed by at least one backstage promo.

Hour 2: Jobber match, two promo segments, end of hour features some big star between Finn/Braun/Roman/Seth. Likely women’s match.

Hour 3: If women’s match is not in hour 2, it’s here. Likely underwhelming main event is here. Also insert contract signing/face to face promo here.

It’s painful to watch because it’s the same people over and over again. Raw has the larger roster to Smackdown with plenty of quality superstars that just need more TV time for them to be stars. This is especially true in the tag team division where The Revival, Breezango, Titus Worldwide, and Slater and Rhyno got jumped in line by The B-Team. The B-Team is proof of what can happen when you give two talented guys the time to develop characters on TV so people can attach themselves to them. They are the anomaly.

RAW is hard to watch. Tuesday, however, brings Smackdown.

The smaller roster guarantees you’re going to have the same people on TV over and over again and, yet, it doesn’t feel stale. It helps that Smackdown got the absolute steal in the shakeup because the top end of their roster: Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Charlotte, Asuka, Carmella. This past week when Ty Dillinger faced Shinsuke Nakamura, Shinsuke was obviously going to win because of the storyline (plus heel Nakamura is the best Nakamura there has been on WWE) but Ty didn’t feel completely out of his league.

It helps that all of these people are able to cut a promo. Even a thrown together match (of which there aren’t many) are given a depth of meaning. If you announced beforehand that Mandy Rose was going to wrestle Asuka, that’s not a match with any stakes or meaning which is what Raw would have done. The short exchange between Mandy, Sonya, and Paige at the opening of the show gave that match meaning it didn’t have otherwise and it was a very good match. To be honest, I would have skipped that match if not for that and I’m glad that I didn’t.

I can’t stand Big Cass but his insertion in the Money in the Bank match after the fire promo that was Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan made perfect sense. That’s the thing: things that happen on Smackdown, with the exception of the Bludgeon Brothers, make sense. The New Day is silly and the pancakes are ridiculous but they’ve established themselves like this so well that it still makes sense. We all just laugh. “Well, that’s the New Day.”

The wrestling is the best on normal WWE television. Seth Rollins is the only person regularly on RAW (in my opinion) who can put on a match anywhere to the caliber of anyone I mentioned above from Smackdown.

Wednesday brings us NXT. NXT is the place where those who love the indie wrestling style but wish it had the WWE polish find their nirvana. The Undisputed Era, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, Shayna Baszler, the list goes on. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than whatever is on RAW lately? Absolutely.

I can’t even watch RAW live any more. I did for the RAW after Mania and the one after that for the shakeup and that was exhausting. Smackdown, dance offs and all, has struck the correct balance of quality wrestling, promos, and professional wrestling silliness where it is the best show on WWE television in my opinion. NXT is a close second.

If you only have three hours to devote to WWE, the red brand isn’t the best use if you ask me. Smackdown and NXT are the three hours that you should watch.

Alex Mihailoff is a WWE fan who loves a good storyline and overanalyzing the WWE. He doesn’t know everything but will readily give his opinion on anything.

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