Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley hit a grand slam with their first Monday Night Raw of the WWE’s New Era, and there’s now a ton of pressure on Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan to deliver something on the same level. With fewer titles and stars to work with, it’s incredibly hard to see how the SmackDown Live can match Raw - but we’ve come up with a few strategies that could help SmackDown win the ratings war.
AJ Styles beats up John Cena for a title shot
#BeatUpJohnCena is the best hashtag in the WWE, and the two biggest stars without a belt on the show should probably have some sort of No. 1 contender match for the right to face Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam.
Cesaro was openly frustrated after being drafted to Raw, where he lost his first match Monday night. Have the Swiss superman show up Tuesday in the middle of a match and destroy everyone in the ring, then grab a microphone and demand he be traded to SmackDown.
Let American Alpha steal the show
Give these guys 20 minutes against The Usos or somebody - and if they deliver a similar performance to the one they had at TakeOver: The End, they’ll become must-watch weekly TV in the way that Enzo and Cass have become on Raw.
Introduce a new title…
Raw got the new Universal Championship and will soon have four titles on the show - five if the new Cruiserweight division gets its own belt - to SmackDown’s two. We could see a second set of tag titles, but there are no obvious choices to win. (The Usos? The Vaudevillains? Fans love American Alpha, but they just arrived.) Another women’s title is a possibility, but the same problem exists with roster depth.
… Or bring back an old one
Nostalgia time! Bringing back an old title clashes with the New Era-theme, but the old Hardcore Championship could potentially be dusted off to give SmackDown a different genre of matches from Raw, and it seems like it could be a good fit for Baron Corbin, who needs something.
A surprise debut from NXT
Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe both went undrafted and are likely going to face each other at NXT TakeOver next month, but either could set the table for their eventual call-up by starting a feud with someone on the main roster that’s drawn out over the coming months. Nakamura and AJ Styles had one of the matches of the year in the Tokyo Dome in January, and a potential rematch at Survivor Series or Royal Rumble 2017 would be a huge hit with fans.
The mind-boggling return of a beloved star
Creating a new title and thrusting former NXT stars into the spotlight has already done by Raw, and it’ll be less impactful when you see it the second night in a row. SmackDown needs to do something shocking to top Raw. It’s true, it’s true.