Did Battleground really take place just earlier this week? Because after the first Raw post-WWE’s latest brand split, it feels like it was from a different era. An “Old Era” of WWE, when jobbers didn’t have mic time and the championship belts were regulated within our planet. I think I’m going to like the new era.

Battleground Prediction Results: 5 out of 8 right
While that doesn’t seem all that special when looking at “facts” and “numbers”, I got the big one right! I successfully predicted that Ambrose would retain his WWE Championship, while my twitter feed was full of Eeyores moaning all Sunday night about Roman Reigns obviously winning. I took a misguided chance on the US Title and Intercontinental Championship switching brands, but I don’t mind getting that one wrong. It would’ve been pointless shock value, which I guess is more in tune with the “Old Era” now.

While not every match on the show was a classic, Zayn vs. Kevin Owens was a match of the year contender and moments like Bayley’s “surprise” reveal and Ambrose beating Seth and Roman will live on in video packages for years to come.

Looking at my prediction from May, I'd say we landed somewhere between the two.

Looking at my prediction from May, I’d say we landed somewhere between these two.

The Raw Brand Split
I may have not always been optimistic about the brand split, but I feel good about it now. While the roster may be thinned out, it allowed for Raw to have lengthier matches that mattered and even fit in two squash matches that helped get over Nia Jax and the newly single Braun Strowman. I also loved the opening segment being shorter, despite both authority figures being out there talking to all the wrestlers. Sure, Steph belittled a wrestler, but it was just Roman! He’s been built up enough so he can take being called a loser once or twice.

All of the little touches were great too, like pre and post match interviews, and the announce team politely standing for us as they came back from commercial, like a Southern gentleman waiting on his belle. I was glad that Stephanie quickly answered all our title questions by revealing her plans for the “Universal Championship”, which sounds about as cool as a “universal travel adapter”. The real star was, of course, Finn Balor, who made his Raw debut by earning a match against Seth for the new belt at Summerslam. While he didn’t get the huge pop I was hoping for, I don’t doubt that he’ll win the Raw crowd over in time (he might need face paint).

So I don’t sound like a WWE shill, I will point out how lame the Pokemon Go reference was, mostly because R-Truth and Goldust clearly had no idea how to play it and because Cole insisted on pronouncing it Po-kee-mon instead of Po-kay-mon. It’s been around twenty years, Cole. TWENTY. YEARS. Also, all the cool people made their references to it ages (two weeks) ago.

And I thought I was behind the times when I posted this a week after the game came out.

And I thought I was behind the times when I posted this a week after the game came out.

The Smackdown Brand Split
On the other side of the coin, we have Smackdown. I had high hopes for the blue brand, but their first episode fell way behind Raw. First, the roster is tiny. Maybe it won’t seem so bad once they get a few more superstars in there, but seeing the roster barely fit around the ring was ridiculous.

And can Bryan and Shane let us know what they’re doing with the women’s championship and tag team division? Will the champions Sasha and New Day travel between brands, will Smackdown make their own titles, or will all of the wrestlers just work towards number one contender status for when the brands merge back together in six or so years? I know this will be answered eventually, but I think it should have been addressed right off the bat like Raw’s Universal Remote Championship.

And look, I like Ziggler. He’s always been good in the ring and entertaining on the mic, but he’s been pre-show fodder all year, and I’m just not excited about seeing him face Ambrose for the title unless he drastically changes his “down on his luck” character. Ambrose defending his title against Dolph reminds me of CM Punk’s WWE Championship reign, where he held the title for a long time but most of his defenses were against Miz, Ryback, Del Rio, Ziggler, Bryan… wrestlers who were no bigger of a name than he was at the time.

Smackdown had its positives, like Eva Marie’s ridiculous entrance and Randy Orton’s new jovial attitude (I never thought I’d mention Eva Marie and Randy Orton as positives), but overall I think it’s the weaker brand by far. We’ll see if American Alpha and Shelton Benjamin can turn things around, but will enough viewers stick around to give them that chance?

In summary...

In summary…