The WWE brand split has gone on for two weeks with Raw and SmackDown competing to see which is the superior brand. The first episode of Raw was outstanding, while the second one was just average. As for SmackDown, the second episode was clearly better than the first one, so it shows that both brands have work to do.
It’s time to take a look at some of the winners of losers from both shows. Obviously, it’s early in the brand split, but there’s still plenty to talk about.
Before I begin, note that the winners and losers is really based on WWE’s booking of these characters. It’s not a personal opinion on them as performers because there are some “losers” that I think are incredible performers. They just aren’t being utilized in a way that benefits them.
MONDAY NIGHT RAW
Winner: Finn Balor
Balor has been presented as a big deal on the Raw brand since he was drafted fifth overall on July 19 to his performance on July 25, when he won two matches to earn a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam in the first match where the new title is on the line.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Balor leave SummerSlam with the Universal Championship because if Raw really wants to get this “new era” over with the fans, they need a new face of their brand. The best way to create a star is present them as one. So far, Balor has won every match he’s had on Raw. If that continues with a title win at SummerSlam, a star is born.
Loser: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has been humbled in the last couple of months. He lost the WWE Title clean to Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank in June, then was suspended for 30 days for a Wellness Policy violation. He followed that up with another WWE Title match loss at Battleground and then the next night, lost clean to newcomer Balor on the first episode of the new-era Raw.
This past Monday, Reigns got in the face of United States Champion Rusev, which likely means the two men will feud over the US Title with a big match taking place at SummerSlam on Aug. 21. It can be seen as a positive for Rusev because Reigns is a former WWE Champion, but for Reigns, it’s definitely a step down. It means he goes from being the main event of multiple PPVs this year to being in the fifth or sixth biggest match at SummerSlam.
Winner: Sasha Banks
The Banks/Charlotte match that took place on the July 25 edition of Raw was one of the best women’s matches in WWE history. It was memorable due to some of the big spots they did in the match, like Banks hitting a suicide dive and Charlotte’s moonsault to the floor. It ended with Banks winning the Women’s Title. The fans love her and now she’s the queen of the women’s division.
What I didn’t like was that Banks was pinned by Charlotte last Monday on Raw. It’s too soon to have her getting pinned after the win. In the end. it won’t matter. But it’s one of those annoying booking things they do. Just let a wrestler look strong for more than a week. It would be a welcome change from the norm.
Loser: Kevin Owens
This one is painful to write, but I thought that Kevin Owens was drafted too low considering his talent and since they have started the “new era,” he’s barely done anything significant. In the first week, he lost a four-way match while the second week saw him sit on commentary while forming a tag team with Chris Jericho.
Owens should be doing more. He should be wrestling in main event level matches. Maybe he will do a lot more one day soon, which is a reminder that it’s early to be judging all this stuff. The point remains that WWE doesn’t seem to view Owens as a significant part of the Raw roster.
Winner: Seth Rollins
As the No. 1 pick in the WWE Draft on July 19, Rollins was immediately placed in the WWE Universal Title match at SummerSlam. Unlike Finn Balor and seven other men, he didn’t have to compete in any matches to earn a spot. This came after he lost a WWE Title match to Dean Ambrose a week earlier and also failed to win the WWE Title in a three-way match at Battleground. It shows that WWE clearly loves this guy, which isn’t a surprise because he’s arguably the best performer in the entire company.
Rollins had a great match with Zayn this past Monday. He didn’t even have to cheat to win, which is another example of management being strongly behind him. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he ends up becoming WWE’s first Universal Champion.
Loser: Sami Zayn
Just like with Owens, it’s painful to say that Zayn has been a loser so far because he’s a favorite of mine. However, that’s how it is based on the booking. He had the biggest win of his main roster career when he beat Owens in a great match at Battleground over two weeks ago. Then he failed to win a four-way match on the Monday night after that show and this past week, he lost clean to Rollins.
Why not book him stronger right out of the gate after the brand split? It just feels like he has already been lost in the shuffle. Looking ahead to SummerSlam, he has no current feud and may be completely off the card. If that happens, then that’s a huge mistake.
Winner: Mick Foley
He is one of my favorite people in the wrestling business, to see him back on WWE television in a regular role again brings a smile to my face. That’s a win to me because Foley is the kind of guy that should be on television a fair bit. It would be nice if he was also working for WWE in a creative capacity too, because he’s such an intelligent guy that knows what works in pro wrestling.
As for Stephanie McMahon, I’m really tired of her character because of how long she’s been doing the same thing. But Foley’s presence makes her easier to watch.
From WWE Champion last November to a guy that loses clean in five minutes to Cesaro following the draft. Prior to the draft, Sheamus wasn’t doing that much. He had that mini-feud with Apollo Crews that barely did anything to help Crews since he won in unspectacular fashion. WWE has to find a spark with Sheamus because he’s a valuable veteran performer that brings a lot to the table. They just don’t seem to know what to do with him right now.
I like Sheamus and want to see him succeed. It’s just too bad that right now, he’s not being treated like a bigger star.