Simply put, Smackdown is struggling right now. Lack of star power and interest is running the program into the ground.
A lot of the IWC still praise Smackdown for its simple storylines and fast-paced matches. But the IWC is only a small fraction of the WWE viewership; the majority of the fanbase wants intense and dramatic programming—something that Smackdown is severely lacking.
Right now, there is no "major" feud that Smackdown is building its program around. Oh sure, there's Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show, but are those really on the same level as Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk, The Rock vs. John Cena and Triple H vs. The Undertaker?
A few years ago when Smackdown was arguably the No. 1 wrestling show in the world, you always had a compelling storyline to follow.
In 2007, you still had Batista, The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, JBL and Booker T wrecking havoc on Friday nights.
In 2008, you had the Edge/Vickie Guerrero story, where Edge was clearly using Vickie to get ahead in the business, but unlike Dolph Ziggler, he actually made it interesting and helped make it a major angle in the WWE.
Then in 2009, you had the intense buildup between CM Punk and Jeff Hardy, where CM Punk eventually retired Jeff Hardy and was getting the heat of his life.
Fast forward to 2011/2012 and a typical episode of Smackdown has generic feuds and generic superstars.
While the star power isn't tremendous, when Orton, Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry, Wade Barret, Christian, Daniel Bryan and Sin Cara are all healthy, they are capable of putting on an entertaining show.
The problem is the depth of these characters is so shallow that it's impossible to put them in a heated and meaningful feud without it looking corny.
The Daniel Bryan girlfriend angle with AJ is a classic move, but the way D-Bryan carries himself makes it so painfully generic, corny and unexciting.
While the Internet fans might like these attributes, wanting to focus more on D-Bryan's in-ring skills, it simply doesn't appeal to the majority of the fanbase.
If Smackdown wants to put on a wrestling show and an entertaining show, they need to dig deeper into these feuds.
Look at the major feud heading into WrestleMania between Bryan and Sheamus. Last night, Sheamus cut an extremely unoriginal and generic promo about how he was going to WrestleMania and win the World Heavyweight Championship!
Is that it?
Look at the Chris Jericho-CM Punk feud: They're fighting for the WWE Championship and there fighting to see who is the best in the world.
The Undertaker-Triple H feud: They're fighting for the streak and for "mortality."
The Rock vs. John Cena, icon vs. icon. Need I say more?
Maybe the creative team has simply given up on Smackdown and turned it into glorified PG ECW 2.0.
But if the creative team wants to make Smackdown on par with Raw, they're going to have to make these characters relevant and unique.