From an attendance perspective, last night's Smackdown TV taping was a complete embarrassment. Pictures have surfaced online that show half the arena tarped off, as people trundled in to sit on the side of the arena opposite the hard camera. This continues the trend of dwindling attendance that has plagued the Smackdown brand for the last few months. Here's a rundown, courtesy of recent editions of Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, of North American Smackdown arena business over the last few weeks:
August 27th in Cape Girardeau, MO - 2,300;
August 28th in Springfield, MO - 2,500;
August 30th in Wichita live TV tapings - 3,540;
September 6th in Toledo TV tapings - 3,200 / 1,600 paid;
September 10th in Halifax - 3,000;
September 11th in Moncton - 2,300;
September 13th TV tapings in Toronto - 8,500 (helped by the gimmick of Edge Appreciation Night, but still disappointing for such a major market).
Keep in mind that unless otherwise specified, these are the total number of fans in attendance and usually a few hundred freebies are given out at most events, so the paid numbers will be even worse.
These pictures and most recent numbers prove that WWE management's idea to have Smackdown's top stars appear on Raw hasn't had an immediate positive impact on that brand's live attendance, nor has it noticeably improved Raw's ratings. Business should pick up again when The Rock returns in November to build up his Survivor Series appearance, but in the long term they can't rely on Dwayne to always save the day for them. They need to realise there are no quick fixes or easy solutions and they need to work hard on getting the next generation of Smackdown superstars like Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase more over to the general public. I'd propose moving over a couple of mid-level guys like John Morrison and Jack Swagger, who are currently lost in the shuffle and treading water on Raw, to Smackdown where they could shine more and give that brand's roster a little more depth, but tinkering with the chess pieces like that will only be of marginal benefit unless they are treated better on their new brand and with WWE there are no guarantees that would happen.