WWE Smackdown Makes Good Use of Timeslot

WWE Smackdown made its return to Thursday night without much change in the format, but it continues to highlight an inherent problem …

Smackdown’s return to Thursday night was a lot of fun, in part because it wasn’t overbearing and way too long. Two hours is really the sweet spot for a pro wrestling show. Impact does well with it, Smackdown shines with it, and Raw’s product was easier to watch when crunched in a two-hour format.

Major League Baseball is going to institute a pitch clock next season at the minor league level. The NBA and NFL are looking for ways to speed up their games. In an age where pro sports is looking to expedite its game, because attention spans are lessening, WWE chose to expand theirs.

There hasn’t been much reward, either.

But aside from that, Smackdown was very much the same show it had been on Friday nights. It was promoted well with the return of Daniel Bryan and they left a good cliffhanger for next week, announcing Bryan vs. Kane in a rematch would take place next Thursday night. Advertised booking like that helps link the shows together, and keep them less feeling like one-off events. I wish Raw did more of it.

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It also gives the program a more sports-like feel to it. I have trouble suspending my disbelief when a main event is thrown together in an opening promo segment. UFC fights are booked weeks, if not months, in advance. WWE doesn’t have to go that far, but announcing a main event with 24 hours notice on the website shouldn’t be that hard.

Let’s use Triple H as the example. He’s the COO of the company, and he’s running the show. If he goes into a nationally televised broadcast without booking a main event until the show starts, he should be fired. That unpreparedness is inexcusable. If you’re a sports fan, or a casual fan just checking out the show for the first time, that’s where your mind goes.

So long-range booking is good. It gives the audience something to look forward to throughout the week, links the programs together and keeps the storyline flowing. It helps keep the writing staff accountable.

Quick Strikes

1) It was an interesting way to handle Daniel Bryan’s first night back in the ring. He wrestled two matches, essentially, going to a disqualification with Kane in about nine minutes to open the show before then wrestling in the six-man tag match to close the show. That’s called jumping back in with both feet. Also, Triple H arranged a match for next Thursday, where Bryan will face Kane, with Bryan’s spot in the Royal Rumble at stake.

2) Natalya and Nikki Bella had a good back-and-forth divas match, with Natalya picking up a submission win over the Divas Champion. I’d expect this sets up a title shot in the near future. WWE seems to be heading down a road of Natalya & Paige vs. the Bella Twins as a feud for that division. In the past, there had been a policy of keeping the title belt off women who are prominently featured in Total Divas, for continuity sake, but that appears to have been abandoned. Quite frankly, if you watch Total Divas, it doesn’t matter. They don’t pay attention to the title on that program, and we all know it’s a work.

Match Results

1) Daniel Bryan def. Kane via disqualification

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2) Miz, Mizdow & Alicia Fox def. The Usos & Naomi

3) Natalya def. Nikki Bella via submission

4) Wade Barrett def. Sin Cara via pinfall to retain the WWE Intercontinenal Title

5) Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan def. Kane, Seth Rollins & The Big Show

The Finish

It was an entertaining show, and seemed to focus more on the upcoming Royal Rumble than Raw did. They didn’t focus much on the title match this show, and pushed focus to the Royal Rumble match itself, which was refreshing.

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