By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
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WWE announced earlier this week they’re getting ready to party like it’s 2002 and separate RAW and SmackDown into two brands, with SmackDown going live on Tuesdays starting July 19. There will be a draft to stack the rosters for each show. At this time there are still some uncertainties as to how the brand split will be arranged so instead of writing about specifics, I’m going to throw my 1-2-3 cents around with how I think the WWE should move forward with their plans.
First off, in order for the brand split to be more successful than the last time they attempted to create their own competition, WWE has to be committed to the idea. There should be a five-year plan in place with specifics of what should be accomplished with the split.
Making SmackDown live is a positive start as one of the criticisms from 2002 was SmackDown was still seen as the “B” show due to being taped since any shocking events which happened were known days prior to the show airing.
One of the biggest factors in the split being successful is making RAW and SmackDown into two completely different shows. They should have different looks, and no, Red and Blue color schemes don’t count. Different entranceways, different presentations and different focuses are needed so the shows have their own identity. To a long-term viewer, this will require Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn to not be the Show Runners for both shows. If RAW and SmackDown look the same fans will see them as one product instead of two.
Each show should have its own champions. There are conflicting reports going around as to if there will be a champion on each show or if the WWE Champion will float between the two as he did at the start of the original brand extension. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of one champion. I’d rather see each show have it’s own champion so feuds over the title can be more focused. Plus, right now I’d rather only have to endure Roman Reigns promos on one show.
If WWE asked me, I would split the brands in this manner: RAW; WWE Champion, I-C Title, Women’s division and Tag-Team division. SmackDown would then have the World Champion (bring back Big Goldie), US Title and the new Cruiserweight title after the Cruiserweight Challenge ends in the fall.
Some may argue that both shows should have a tag-team division with there being two sets of titles similar to how it was previously. Given the lack of focus on the tag-team division over the past ten years, I think having only one division for the time being is the best route to go. I loaded up the RAW brand due to RAW having an extra hour to fill each week. Also, during the draft, tag-teams should be counted as one person. Hopefully WWE doesn’t split up teams like they’ve done in the past. The exceptions would be the Social Outcasts and the Wyatt Family. I’m not sure if they should be kept together or split up.
Based on the current roster, keeping the Social Outcasts and all four Wyatts together, there are 25 male singles wrestlers, 12 active/uninjured female wrestlers and 12 tag-teams. Splitting the male wrestlers into two groups would give 12 wrestlers on each roster. Raw having the Women’s and Tag-Team divisions would give them enough talent for weekly shows. SmackDown would need the influx of either NXT talent and/or the Cruiserweight division to give the show enough bodies to strengthen the show.
I think the biggest downfall is already one of WWE’s weaknesses, properly utilizing talent. Once the brand split happens, WWE is going to have to use talent that hasn’t had anything meaningful to do in some time. They’ll have to develop feuds for the Women’s and Tag-Team divisions that don’t revolve around the champions. I’m curious if they’ll be able to do this.
I don’t want to sound too negative because I think the brand split is a good decision and WWE has the roster to make it work. I am hesitant to be too optimistic due to seeing how WWE botched the original brand split and knowing the wind could change direction next week and Vince McMahon may decide to bring back Sgt. Slaughter as the face of the company.
I’m curious to see how WWE handles the brand split. Hopefully they have given this serious thought and it’s not something they decided to do on Tuesday and announced on Wednesday. If WWE is dedicated to making it work, creating in brand competition could be the catalyst needed to breathe new life into a currently stale product. Time will tell.