KELLER’S TAKE: While the empty-venue setting is primary reason viewers are abandoning Smackdown, the talent depth chart is too – a look at Smackdown’s current roster

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


As much as the empty-arena venue is a significant contributor to Smackdown’s alarming viewership slide since the week after WrestleMania, another factor is just the thin star power.

Roman Reigns is gone from the brand without explanation, and Reigns had been pushed for years as the top star in the company more often than not. WWE hasn’t offered even a smidgen of an acknowledgment that he isn’t there or why after pulling him without any fanfare from the WrestleMania main event against The Fiend.

Meanwhile, a brand that kicked off its run on Fox with Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar now is headlining with Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler and anchored by an ice-cold Braun Strowman, thrown into the top babyface spot with a Universal Title win after no build up and weak foll0w-up. Smackdown’s roster depth is weak due to post-WrestleMania absence of special attractions, but also wrestlers self-quarantining or opting out of participating for health reasons.

The top active male singles babyfaces are as follows:

  • Braun Strowman
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Jeff Hardy
  • Otis
  • Elias
  • Drew Gulak

The top active male singles heels are as follows:

  • “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
  • King Corbin
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Sheamus

The tag team depth chart looks like:

  • The New Day
  • Miz & John Morrison
  • The Usos
  • The Forgotten Sons
  • Heavy Machinery
  • Lucha House Party

The women’s depth chart is:

  • Bayley
  • Lacey Evans
  • Mandy Rose
  • Sasha Banks
  • Tamina
  • Carmella
  • Ruby Riott
  • Dana Brooke
  • Alexa Bliss
  • Nikki Cross

That’s a weak list of top tier stars and certainly factors into the viewership drop-off, especially if viewers were already predisposed to skip it until crowds return. The question is now whether fans will return once WWE returns to staging Smackdown in front crowds. Also, how quickly will WWE and Fox want to find a way to return fans to the stands, especially with Florida opening up live sporting events to crowds with certain restrictions later this month? Will WWE shake up the format or try to bring more big names onto the show to try to reverse the staggering decline in viewership the last four weeks?

I don’t expect WWE and Fox to continue on without some significant changes before the end of the month. It’s hard to imagine they’d resign themselves to several more weeks of sinking ratings without trying something new.

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7 Comments on KELLER’S TAKE: While the empty-venue setting is primary reason viewers are abandoning Smackdown, the talent depth chart is too – a look at Smackdown’s current roster

  1. the 50-50 booking style doesn’t help. the poor storylines don’t help. the entire wwe system of ‘sports entertainment’ is exposed as bland without that rabid fan base during the empty arena era. there’s a lot to no like with wwe these days.

  2. Commenting on your list: Elias is written off with an injury and Jeff Hardy have yet to make an in ring comeback what makes the roster even thinner. Hope they gain some momentum with the Sheamus/Hardy program and an inevitable blowoff between Miz and Morrison.

  3. When you look at the singles ranks for the mens side, that’s a huge part of the problem. Strowman, Corbin and Ziggler couldn’t be colder. Gulak and Elias have no momentum. Basically you’ve got 5 guys.

    The womens side isn’t bad. I think it’d get a boost though if they pushed Alexa as the top face. Lacey is miscast. You also forgot Sonya. Isn’t Ruby also on RAW?

    The tag scene isn’t bad, either.

  4. Are Zelina Vega and her crew going to be the top heels on RAW?? I hope not. Once a week with these three is bad enough, but two to three times a night is far too much!!!

  5. Cross the Usos off the list as it seems Jey has a serious injury. Also let’s not forget to mention the all poor publicity and optics around the releases and the political maneuvering in Florida?

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