Re: What Was SmackDown's Most Successful Reign Ever?
Well we can talk financial success all day, but from an artistic & creative standpoint is where I'll take a look and give my two cents.
The ones that come to mind for me are JBL's in 04-05 and Punk's during the summer of 09.
Before JBL, Brock Lesnar was obviously the big one (and no, I am not going to count any Undisputed Title reigns since those champions appeared on both shows and weren't brand exclusive), but I never bought into the hype with him. I HATED him as a babyface and as a heel, he was only passable because he had Heyman to back him up (why they ever took Heyman away from him I'll never know). Eddie's run was a solid feel good run, but not much else besides that. The win itself was the best part. I guess Angle was fine too as one of those reliable types to put the belt on and push as a pure wrestling champion, but it wasn't truly stand out or anything.
JBL's was just wrestling 101 booking when it comes to a long term heel. The only things they fucked up were the start & the finish. They didn't build JBL up enough to get the title and the execution of him losing it was lackluster. Everything in between was gold. He basically carried the show on his back. His promos were awesome and he was a great slippery weasel bully heel.
The reigns that came in between JBL & Punk weren't very memorable. I guess Batista's run in 2005 was good, but his later ones never lived up. Taker got a few more nostalgia runs where he dropped it fairly quick, mostly due to injury if I recall. Edge was a reliable standby to give the belt to whenever there was no other option, but I never felt like he had that great of a reign. Rey's runs were awful. Khali was a joke, mainly because they put the title on him AFTER they had Cena beat him like 2 or 3 times. Yeah, real monster you got there. King Booker only got it because he was literally the ONLY guy that they had that could even remotely fit into that spot, and I thought he was kind of goofy. Triple H and Hardy had a coupel face runs as well which were OK I guess, but again, nothing to write home about.
CM Punk's reign got cut short because for some ungodly reason, Undertaker needed to get the belt for the 80th time. But man, they did a great job with the turn with Punk and really established him as the top heel to perfection with his promos and his overall antics. Technically it was two reigns, but he pretty much dominated that period for Smackdown and the 1 month Hardy reign was just a break to finalize the heel turn and then give Punk the perfect platform to win it back. It is a shame they didn't run with him the same way they did JBL because they would have had a hot one to run with.
Pretty much every reign that came Punk was either pointless (Swagger, Kane, Jericho, etc.) or was part of the Supershow era where the brand split pretty much died and in my mind, there is no Smackdown champion, or Raw Champion for that matter.