WWE has been trending upward since Triple H took over as the new head of creative and executive vice president of talent relations. Sure, it has only been two weeks, but it’s hard to argue with the results.
There was so much positive buzz for the company after SummerSlam received glowing reviews. In addition, the most recent episode of WWE Raw saw its highest ratings spike in two years, drawing 2.3 million viewers.
Those numbers are impressive, but WWE also delivered an entertaining show on Monday. It was refreshing because the flagship had grown stagnant over the past few weeks without Cody Rhodes.
The red brand has been struggling to find its identity for some time, but Roman Reigns made SmackDown must-see television last year.
However, The Tribal Chief’s recent absence has exposed the blue brand’s flaws in 2022. What used to be WWE’s best weekly series became a bit of a chore to watch at times.
There are a few highlights like Gunther’s current run or Sheamus’ recent match with Drew McIntyre. Still, SmackDown could use some new storylines and stars to step up and become main eventers.
If Triple H can breathe new life into Raw, there’s no reason why he can't work some magic on Friday nights as well.
These are three ways The King of Kings can improve SmackDown.
Make Intercontinental Championship a Workhorse Title Again
WWE’s move to showcase the United States Championship on the latest edition of Raw was a welcome change. The company’s midcard titles haven’t felt important lately, so this is a step in the right direction.
Triple H should attempt to do the same with the Intercontinental Championship as it will help to fill the void when Reigns isn’t available. Seth Rollins’ run in 2018 is a great example of how the right workhorse can be a solid flagbearer for a brand when the world champion is absent.
Monday Night Rollins produced some excellent TV matches and propelled the 2019 men’s Royal Rumble winner to a showdown with Brock Lesnar. Similarly, this could help WWE establish the next contender for the Universal Championship.
Reigns has carried SmackDown on his back as the most dominant force in sports entertainment. As such, his absence creates a void that no one else has managed to fill. That’s a testament to how compelling he has become, but it’s also an indictment of WWE’s failure to build any credible challengers for him.
Developing Gunther or another up-and-comer as the second biggest star on SmackDown will effectively solve two problems at once.
Rejuvenate the Tag Team Division
If The Usos vs. The Street Profits proved anything, it’s that WWE desperately needs to reboot its tag team division. That’s not a knock on either team because they have produced some tremendous matches, notably at Money in the Bank on July 2.
However, The Bloodline could use some fresh matchups. Moreover, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins' inevitable split will diminish the company’s ranks of strong pairings. There aren’t that many tag teams as it is, but this will exacerbate both issues.
To that end, WWE needs to emphasize tag team wrestling and create new duos. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to elevate teams such as Los Lotharios and The Viking Raiders.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many NXT call-ups who could turn the tide at the moment. Pretty Deadly have potential, but there aren’t many other options that look ready for the main roster.
That’s another problem because the developmental brand used to be a breeding ground for phenomenal tag team wrestling.
At any rate, Triple H must find a way to rejuvenate the tag division. The Usos are great champions, but they could use some real competition.
Add Some Bigger Stars to the Women’s Division
You can track many of SmackDown’s problems back to the 2021 WWE draft. In retrospect, moving many of the company’s biggest names to Raw hurt the blue brand.
For example, Big E and Rollins were such a fixture on Friday nights, and no one replaced their major storylines. But the women’s division was also hit pretty hard because it lost many of its big names.
Then, there were unforeseen circumstances such as Toni Storm’s exit or the poor reception and booking around Ronda Rousey’s return. Charlotte Flair also took some time off following WrestleMania Backlash, and Sasha Banks and Naomi reportedly walked out in May.
So, there is a concerning lack of star power for the women’s division on the blue brand. Liv Morgan could blossom into a competent champion with more screen time and better matches. Still, Triple H will have to address this lack of big names soon.
If Banks and Naomi return soon, that will immediately fix this issue, but WWE should try to add someone new as soon as possible. SmackDown wouldn’t be a bad destination for Mandy Rose and Toxic Attraction.