When I started watching WWE the only show I watched was SmackDown, because I didn't have any way of watching Raw on cable.
Those first few years of watching SmackDown exclusively really made me appreciate the positives of the brand.
When I finally got the chance to start watching Raw, it was just not the same. The wrestlers on Raw always talked, they never seemed to spend as much time in the ring.
Sure, SmackDown had promos—JBL was the champion at the time, and he lit up the crowd almost every week through his heel mannerisms and charisma on the mic. The thing was he still wrestled long and exciting matches.
His matches through the years, with stars such as Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, still stick in my mind. Raw just seemed to lack the wrestling I loved to watch.
That was 2005. Now, it is 2011, and there is no comparison—Monday Night Raw is the premiere show, and SmackDown lags behind as an entertainment outlet. They still value good wrestling slightly more than Raw by allowing longer matches, especially from younger talent such as Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel—who might not have been given almost any chance on Raw.
The problem with SmackDown today is that it just does not have the feeling of being a unique or star studded show anymore. They promote Randy Orton to no end, and seem to lack anyone else.
The problem isn't they the WWE lacks star—SmackDown has some great superstars, from Christian to Sheamus, and some developing stars in Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan and even Sin Cara—the problem is that they simply do not feel substantial.
At Night of Champions, Monday Night Raw has four matches scheduled: Cena vs. Del Rio, HHH vs. CM Punk, "Air Boom" vs. The Miz and R-Truth and Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix. Friday Night SmackDown has one finally confirmed match: Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry.
On Friday Night SmackDown tonight, that made everything less important.
Mark Henry was certainly the star of the show, and everyone knew it. Even the SmackDown production team knew it, as they began the show with a great promo video showing Mark Henry's path of destruction.
From an intense display on the mic at the beginning of the night, to his final moments sitting atop a steel chair looming over Randy Orton, Henry continued his role as the dominant monster of SmackDown. Everything Henry did was well structured and made him look even stronger—if that is possible.
Outside of his performance, we saw the birth of some potentially great feuds. Christian and Sheamus could be setting up some great work for the future, as one falls from the World Title picture, and one seems poised to take his spot. These two were great last night.
At the same time, Daniel Bryan and Sin Cara began something that should be fun to watch. Sin Cara reveals himself more and more to be different from the old Sin Cara, probably leading to the return of Mistico in the near future. Before that, the new Cara has to get through "Mr. Money in the Bank" Daniel Bryan. This should lead to at least some great matches and build up both stars for the future.
These angles were great, but where do they lead? Nowhere, for now. Night of Champions already has its card almost set, all of these stars will probably miss the cut.
This just shows that WWE is missing their chance. Are Mark Henry and Randy Orton really going to be given more than 10-15 minutes? Both men are good workers, but Henry is not built to be involved in a regular match for a lengthy time, which does not translate well for the two's main event match.
With Henry on such a tear, and complaints about Christian's feud with Orton lasting too long, what could the WWE do but give us Orton vs. Henry?
They could have given us something better!
How about a fatal four way between Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Christian and Sheamus? That would have put four men on the card that are currently at the top of their game, and made for a much more exciting and unpredictable match. Looking back at previous Night of Champions events, the WWE always featured multiple man matches on the card.
SmackDown has one slot to fill: the Intercontinental title match. While Rhodes has shown great promise as champion, he has no direction. There are two more WWE shows left before the pay-per-view, and the only thing likely is Ted Dibiase vs. Cody Rhodes—which is still heel vs. heel, as Dibiase has done nothing to reciprocate Rhodes' attack on him.
Even if Dibiase become a face, is the match believable? Would anyone see Dibiase as a threat to Rhodes? This feud needs time, and there is too many talent wasted if Smackdown has Rhodes vs. Dibiase.
WWE should have already booked the match by now, and it should allow a showcase of stars, especially with the singles match between Orton and Henry being the only other SmackDown match.
Possibly a six-pack challenge involving Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara, Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson and Ted Dibiase (or Justin Gabriel if they want to wait on Dibiase's return).
With the direction WWE is headed, Raw will feature at least 12 stars (because US Champion Ziggler must defend his title against someone), while SmackDown will feature four.
What about Sheamus, Christian, Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara and Wade Barrett? They will be left out to dry, no matter how well they have worked as of late.
It just makes SmackDown feel a bit pointless in the short term.