A Brand Split Would Magnify WWE's Problems
The IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) are a fickle bunch. One day out the year they takeover the Raw after Wrestlemania and treat it like any messageboard they frequent on a daily basis. The demand the death of Vince, for Daniel Bryan to wrestle, John Cena and Roman Reigns to turn heel, a push for their guy, and a return of a brand split.
Between 2002 to 2011 the WWE began to operate as two separate brands. The Raw brand and the Smackdown brand named after their two major television shows. These brands had their own rosters, general managers, champions, and most importantly storylines. Ever since the brand split ended, fans clamored for its return. Even though towards its end it was merely a shadow of its former self. Shane McMahon’s return February 22 on Raw, once again gave fans hope that a brand split was possible. But a brand split would highlight WWE’s problems instead of rectify them..
The current size of the main roster just isn’t big enough. When the brand split happened the WWE just bought out their longtime rival WCW just a year prior, and signed a substantial amount of talent from WCW and ECW. Their roster was huge consisting of 57 full-time wrestlers in the draft alone. And there were heavy hitters such as The Rock, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, nWo, Stone Cold, Triple H, and Chris Jericho just to name a few. Heck The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold, Chris Jericho and Triple H all appeared at Wrestlemania with four of those guys having matches 14 years after the inaugural draft. No disrespect to the current roster but outside of Cena who else would the WWE bring back for Wrestlemania 46?
In 2006 four years into the Brand Split the roster was big enough to introduce a third ECW brand to the fold. With around 135 wrestlers and that doesn’t include women. The size of this roster pales in comparison. Not counting part-timers such as Triple H, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and The Rock, that leaves the WWE with a roster of about 60 wrestlers.
Splitting the roster in half each brand would have 30 wrestlers. Out of those 30 wrestlers, Mark Henry, Kane, Big Show, John Cena are all getting up there in age. While guys like Fandango, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Cesaro have been stuck in mid-carder hell for the better part of their careers. Main eventers carry a show, and the WWE doesn’t have enough of them at the moment.
What happens to the WWE Heavyweight title? During the Brand Split, Raw and Smackdown had titles exclusive to each brand. For instance at the start the United States, the Women’s Championship and the World Champion was exclusive to Raw while the Intercontinental Championship the Cruiserweight Championship and the WWE Championship were Smackdown exclusives. Each brand had its own tag team champions.
Using two main event titles was a luxury the WWE doesn’t have at the moment. In 2013 the WWE made a big deal out of unifying the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championships. Breaking the titles up probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
The Brand Split would still be hampered by poor writing. Fans shouldn’t have faith in a team that thought the Lana, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev, Summer Rae love storyline was a good idea, couldn’t come up with a compelling story for Goldust vs Stardust, The Diva’s Revolution, Bella’s being heel or face, Big Show being heel or face. Those were just 2015 storylines, but 2016 hasn’t fared any better.
Wrestlemania 32 for the most part was 411 minutes of results that didn't mean anything.
- Zack Ryder wins the Intercontinental Championship just to lose it the next night on Raw to the Miz
- Chris Jericho beat AJ Styles, kicking out of the Styles Clash, on Monday Jericho loses to the Styles Clash, and AJ is now the number one contender for the title.
- The New Day lose to The League of Nation only to defeat them the next day as well.
- Shane McMahon, whose sole purpose of returning was to control of Raw, lost to The Undertaker. On Monday night Vince gave Shane what he wanted and let him have control for one night, thus making a nearly two month storyline null and void.
When Smackdown was at its height (approximately July 8th 2002 and February 27th 2003) it Paul Heyman was the head writer. Heyman relied on logical storylines, building a cruiserweight division, pushing young stars (Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit), and making the Big Show look like a legitimate threat. Is there any writer on the staff that can mimic that.
Smackdown isn’t important. When Smackdown debuted on April 29, 1999 it was positioned as a show with just as much importance as Raw. Main eventers showed up, and storylines continued. Now, nothing that happens on Smackdown matters. Raw rarely if ever mentions what takes place on Smackdown. The last time anyone can remember the WWE promoting Smackdown was when it moved to USA and when Brock was scheduled to appear. For a Brand Split to have a chance this would have to change immediately.
Vince or anyone else within the company should embrace Smackdown if it starts to compete with Raw ratings wise. Competition as far as wrestling in America has been dead ever since WCW was bought it. When it began to rear its head again in the form of Smackdown, Heyman was removed as the head writer of Smackdown.
NXT is the brand split people have been clamoring for. Triple H’s “indy promotion”:NXT has emerged as one of the best wrestling promotions in the world. NXT feels like making the fans and not the stockholders happy is a priority. Thriving on one hour of television, NXT has been able to tell better wrestling stories while getting over young talent. A number of Superstars on the main roster got their start in NXT. The Shield, The Wyatts, Big E, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. Some say NXT started The Divas Revolution.
NXT feels like a different brand. From the weekly arenas, to the matches themselves. Fans are treated with respect and the wrestlers are allowed time to put on amazing matches. So much so that some wrestlers have stated that they don’t want to be called up to the main roster. Whereas Smackdown no matter the changes good or bad won't make people forget it's a WWE product.
What do you think, should the WWE split the brands again? Let me know in the comments below