There is no doubt that RAW is the WWE's flagship television show and it has been since 1993, but the company has good thing going on Fridays as well with SmackDown. The fact that SmackDown is taped probably has a lot to do with why it doesn't pull in ratings like RAW, but if you're a fan of WWE, then you should be watching the blue brand every week.
You aren't often going to see guys like John Cena or CM Punk on SmackDown, but that can be refreshing at times. The company's top stars get shoved down our throats to some degree, but SmackDown focuses a lot on the midcard and the lesser feuds, so it has a very different feel than RAW.
SmackDown has much more of a niche audience than RAW, but if you're someone who regularly watches RAW, but passes on SmackDown, here are three reasons why you should make viewing SmackDown a part of your weekly wrestling routine.
More Wrestling, Less Talking
One of the major criticisms of RAW, especially since it switched to the three-hour format, is that there is entirely too much talking and social media promotion but not enough wrestling. It seems like the writers have tried to rectify that to some degree, but many of the RAW matches are short and disappointing. That isn't the case with SmackDown, however, as wrestling is the true staple of the show.
The WWE does have the annoying habit of recapping things that happened on RAW, but aside from that, there is plenty of in-ring action. You can usually expect to see at least two main-event-caliber matches and the main event is often a match that lasts 15 minutes or more. SmackDown simply has much more if an old-school feel than RAW does.
SmackDown doesn't have all the bells and whistles that RAW does, but it is still an entertaining show with good production values. The presence of SmackDown is actually one of the reasons why I don't have a big issue with the other ventures that take place on RAW. Rather than complaining about what happens on RAW, more people should definitely check out all the wrestling that takes place on SmackDown.
Development of Mid-Card Stars
Everyone realizes that RAW is the "A" show, and because of that most of the time is dedicated to the WWE Championship, John Cena and whoever else is in the main-event scene during that time. The extra hour has allowed for more midcard feuds and matches to take place on RAW, but they still seem secondary. That isn't the case on SmackDown, though.
Guys like Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow and Ryback get matches on a weekly basis and they get an opportunity to speak on the mic a bit as well. All of them have the potential to be in the main event one day, but without SmackDown, they wouldn't be receiving proper exposure. The elimination of the brand split allows them to appear on both RAW and SmackDown, but SmackDown is clearly where they truly shine.
The WWE as a whole still needs to invest more into the midcard, but if it weren't for SmackDown, then the situation would be even direr than it already is. I'm not a guy who clamors for the Attitude Era to return, but one thing that was done very well during that time period was the crafting of the midcard so that pay-per-views often went seven or eight quality matches deep. Because of SmackDown's commitment to that scene, I have some hope for the future.
Booker T Is General Manager
Booker T was entertaining if unintelligible at times on commentary, but he really seems to have hit his stride as general manager of SmackDown. It seemed like Booker was kind of thrown into the fire without much preparation with regards to the GM position, but he hasn't missed a beat so far and I feel like he was a great choice for the blue brand's authority figure.
Teddy Long may have been the worst general manager in professional wrestling history, but Booker has been great because he's a well-respected veteran of the business, and he's also physically imposing, so it's more believable that he can boss around heels without fear than it was when Teddy did it. There are always going to be some face-palm moments with Booker since he seems to enjoy freelancing, but at the same time, there's never a dull moment with him either.
There aren't a lot of things that are exclusive to RAW or SmackDown nowadays with the brand split being almost nonexistent, but Booker is very rarely seen on RAW, so you have to watch SmackDown in order to get your fill. I wouldn't say that Booker is going to make or break the show on most nights, but his move to general manager has been a success thus far and it's fair to say that he has added to my enjoyment of SmackDown.