WWE Raw vs. SmackDown: Which Brand Has the Better Roster Right Now?April 15, 2022
WWE Raw vs. SmackDown: Which Brand Has the Better Roster Right Now?
Coming out of WrestleMania 38, WWE has done a decent job of resetting the rosters for Raw and SmackDown by bringing in fresh and familiar faces, from Cody Rhodes and Lacey Evans to Tommaso Ciampa and Raquel Rodriguez.
Prior to The Show of Shows, it was apparent Raw was producing higher quality shows week to week whereas SmackDown struggled with the crop of talent it had available. Various departures and injuries caused the blue brand to lose some of its most promising prospects, but those who remained shined to the best of their ability.
Raw hasn't been without its flaws this year, either. Although it featured more engaging storylines leading into WrestleMania, certain divisions lacked focus and could have benefited from the new blood that debuted last year and was later released.
WWE could make more of an effort to improve both brands going forward while also continuing what has worked recently. That would give viewers a greater incentive to tune in on a regular basis and increase interest in the product overall.
Survivor Series has traditionally been when WWE pits the two shows against each other in a battle for brand supremacy, but now is as appropriate of a time as ever to do a complete breakdown in an attempt to determine who has the better all-around roster right now.
Tag Team Divisions
There's a reason why a unification of the Raw and SmackDown tag team titles is forthcoming: Each brand's tag team division isn't strong enough to stand on its own anymore.
Then again, WWE has always had a tough time maintaining deep tag divisions for Raw and SmackDown despite the wealth of talent available. While that's currently the case on both brands, Raw has had the more entertaining tag team scene for the better part of the year.
Raw titleholders RK-Bro have been among the best parts of the program since joining forces last summer. They've had quality matches with just about everyone they've shared the ring with and have helped elevate the division on Monday nights to heights it hadn't reached in years.
The Usos have been rather dominant champions as well, but the lack of credible competition on SmackDown is likely why they haven't lost the straps yet. Granted, they had an enjoyable string of matches with The New Day earlier in the year, but the well runs dry beyond those two teams.
That's why it isn't all that surprising that Jimmy and Jey Uso have journeyed over to the red brand to set their sights on Riddle and Randy Orton's gold.
Raw could use some more teams as well, but at least RK-Bro, Alpha Academy and The Street Profits have done a nice job of keeping the title mix engaging.
It felt like there was a lot less of a focus on women's wrestling in WWE following the departure of Ronda Rousey three years ago, and although that's still true to a degree (despite the former MMA fighter since returning), there's a lot of terrific female talent to go around on both Raw and SmackDown at the moment.
The Raw Women's Championship just changed hands in a remarkable match at WrestleMania 38 in which Bianca Belair bested Becky Lynch. Their feud had carried the red brand in recent months, and now that it's time to move on, it doesn't have many credible challengers waiting in the wings, forcing WWE to rely on Sonya Deville to slide into that spot instead.
The red brand does boast the likes of Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan and Alexa Bliss, but they are in need of character changes. Meanwhile, Dana Brooke, Tamina, Nikki A.S.H., Doudrop, Carmella and Queen Zelina are all booked like fodder for the aforementioned women.
The SmackDown women's division is just a bit deeper with those at its disposal following WrestleMania 38. In addition to Charlotte Flair and Rousey, the blue brand still has Sasha Banks and Naomi in its ranks along with Shayna Baszler, Shotzi, Raquel Rodriguez, Xia Li and the returning Lacey Evans.
Some of those women need to resurface soon, but on the whole, the SmackDown women's division has more to get excited about for the foreseeable future.
With the top titles now unified and the tag titles following suit, WWE may as well merge the midcard champions while it's at it if the titleholders are going to continue to be booked as meaningless props.
To the company's credit, Damian Priest was handled well as United States champion up until he lost the star-spangled prize to Finn Balor in early March. Then again, it wasn't as if he was defending against top-tier talent due to most of the other midcard competitors being involved in other angles.
Balor becoming U.S. champion should have been a nice boost to the belt. Sadly, he's shockingly never meant less than he does right now due to losing more often than not, and it might be better off in the hands of upcoming challenger Austin Theory, who has featured prominently on the program.
Intercontinental champion Ricochet is in a similar position in that he's held the title for over a month but hasn't been booked as anyone special. He has the potential to be a fun champ, but WWE has shown zero interest in making him or the belt a true focal point of the brand.
Neither show has a significant edge in this category, though it can be argued Raw has a deeper midcard scene because of who they have available on the roster compared to SmackDown.
Main Event Scenes
The unification of the WWE and Universal Championship at WrestleMania 38 by Roman Reigns threw the main event pictures on Raw and SmackDown into disarray.
The Tribal Chief is, and always has been, the top dog in WWE, but him essentially taking the titles to SmackDown has apparently left the Superstars of Raw nothing to fight for. It has yet to be confirmed if Reigns can float between brands, but if he remains exclusive to Friday nights, Raw will drop in quality until a world championship is restored to the show.
However, Reigns pulling double duty for now is needed seeing as how SmackDown doesn't have many viable main-eventers at the moment. Gunther could be one eventually, but with Big E out injured, The New Day and Sheamus being relegated to the tag team ranks and Ricochet being booked poorly, that leaves hardly anyone at the top of the card except for Drew McIntyre and possibly Shinsuke Nakamura.
Raw, on the other hand, has much more variety with its headliners. Bobby Lashley is considered the top babyface at the moment, Cody Rhodes is being built up, AJ Styles and Edge are available at any time, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens are excellent heels, and the likes of Riddle, Randy Orton, Finn Balor, Austin Theory and Damian Priest can always be elevated.
Even without a world title, Raw has a stronger main event scene, and adding Reigns to the mix (assuming he'll be able to appear while undisputed WWE universal champion) only makes it that much better.
For the first time in many years, Raw has a legitimate claim to being the superior show over SmackDown.
The tag team divisions are on the verge of being merged, but Raw has had the blue brand in that category for months. RK-Bro, Street Profits and Alpha Academy have been killing it for months, while The Usos haven't had any interesting opponents.
The midcard scenes on both brands are depleted, but the main event scene is where Raw really shines. It had a much more compelling Road to WrestleMania, even without any championships being defended, and that's a testament to how strong some of the storylines have been.
The SmackDown Women's Championship has been nothing to rave about this year up to this point, but the potential is there for it to be better than Raw's. The talent depth is there, but how the women are booked is imperative and recently it's been fairly even.
All in all, Raw has been a much better show in 2022 than fans have given it credit for, at least compared to SmackDown which was fallen far from where it was even a year ago. The red brand has filled out its three hours effectively and isn't running back the same matches as often as its opposition has been.
Competition within the company can be helpful in improving the overall state of the shows, which is why the brand split sticking around can only be seen as a positive.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.