Brand Split Decision
By Anthony Zevoteck
Randomly, one Wednesday this past May, WWE shook the wrestling community when Shane and Stephanie McMahon both announced via social media there’d be a roster split to create two completely different shows with Raw and SmackDown.
The news was coupled with another announcement that SmackDown would be moved to Tuesdays and to air live, which would start Jul. 19.
Expectedly, the double bombshell was met with equal cheers and jeers from WWE fans alike. For longtime fans, this wasn’t new territory, as WWE had once split the roster before in 2002 upon a sudden influx of talent from the defunct World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling promotions. It was also due to the fact that at the time, four hours of weekly television time was too little to establish new talent and called for a difference between shows.
The initial 2002 draft had Vince McMahon in control of SmackDown and Ric Flair in control of Raw. Being only 12 years old at the time, the night of the roster split was exciting. I was anxious to see which of my favorite wrestlers would end up on what show.
Of course, while the original split contained things people enjoyed, others absolutely hated it. It remains one of WWE’s most polarizing topics.
Personally, I loved the split. It provided a showcase for a lot of mid-to-lower card performers and brought about more diverse storylines. You could even argue that Edge’s Hall Of Fame career propelled from the opportunities to get over as a top heel on SmackDown, pushed as the brand’s World Champion and in feuds with The Undertaker that lit up the show.
That’s not to say the brand split didn’t have its negatives. Everything has a downside if you think about it. Many still proclaim the Attitude Era as the greatest pro wrestling period, but it gave us a lot of trash storylines (Meat, Brawl For All, anyone?) and don’t get me started on Beaver Cleavage.
It’s easy to stay optimistic as the draft gets closer. Today’s WWE is too big to have everyone considered a whole roster. Many NXT talents are main roster ready and this will allow for a new wave of great new faces to keep us entertained.
Just because there’s a brand split does not mean we need to see an overload of inter-promotional bouts with the exception of WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series, but the latter which could give the classic five-on-five a new twist.
As for what happens with the Championships, time will tell. It currently appears that there’ll be two Heavyweight Champions to represent each respective brand. There has been no speculation as to what’ll happen with the Women’s or World Tag Team Championships. Logically, it’d make sense to have two Tag Team Championships. A Women’s Tag Team division (like I wrote about a while back) could finally be born.
More Titles should be added. If they reinstate Titles like the Cruiserweight, European or even create a Television Title, it benefits everyone as it gives fans something new to care about and Titles to diversify each brand from one another.
Since WWE’s Pay-Per-View schedule boldly lives on the WWE Network, news came out that Raw and SmackDown will both have monthly PPV’s with the exception of the “big four.” WWE will have to try and space them out so they don’t oversaturate our own schedules.
On this past Raw, it was revealed that Shane would serve as SmackDown’s “Commissioner” while Stephanie would be “Commissioner” of Raw, as both would name their own General Managers. Too many authority figures if you ask me, but it could provide some good things with the right people.
This could be a renaissance of sorts for modern-day WWE in a time where there are countless questions and vast possibilities. Then again, this could monumentally fail and leave everybody scratching their hands. Let’s stay optimistic.
As far as what I think WWE should do, I laid out my own brand split without the inclusion of Championships.
Raw(Commentary Team – Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton)
Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn, Neville, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Chris Jericho, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Primo, Epico, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Tyler Breeze, Charlotte, Paige, Becky Lynch, Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Mojo Rawley, Hideo Itami, Elias Samson, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Bayley, Carmella, Nia Jax
SmackDown (Commentary Team – Mauro Ranallo, Renee Young, Corey Graves)
John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Big E, Xavier Woods, Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Rusev, The Miz, Apollo Crews, The Big Show, Aiden English, Simon Gotch, Kalisto, Sin Cara, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Bo Dallas, Darren Young, Fandango, Goldust, Konnor, Viktor, Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder, Sasha Banks, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Dana Brooke, Eva Marie, Summer Rae, Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Tye Dillinger, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder, Alexa Bliss, Asuka
Undoubtedly, the 2016 brand split’s the moment where WWE can step back into the spotlight and reestablish itself creatively. Here’s hoping for the best.
Posted on July 16, 2016, in Misc, WWE and tagged Anthony Zevoteck, Beaver Cleavage, Brawl For All, ECW, Edge, Meat, Opinions, Pro Wrestling, Raw, Ric Flair, Shane McMahon, Smackdown, Stephanie McMahon, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, WCW, WWE Brand Split. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.