For those of you who do not know, WWE today announced that SmackDown would be going to be aired live on Tuesday nights beginning July 19. They also stated that there would be an “imminent Superstar draft” on its way to determine who will be on either Raw or SmackDown. It seems to me that they will be giving either Shane or Stephanie McMahon control of Raw, and the other one will be given control of SmackDown, almost in a war for popularity.
A few younger people asked me on Twitter earlier what the brand split actually was, so here’s my best explanation of it. When WWE purchased WCW back in 2001, they were left with an overwhelming pool of talent, which was certainly too big to be showcased on one roster. They decided to make Raw and SmackDown different brands, with different rosters, titles, and even PPVs for a few years. This lasted until the amount of Superstars at their disposable shrunk in 2011, reverting back to having wrestlers appear on both shows. Draft shows were introduced in 2004 to shake things up between the rosters. These would be some of the best Raw shows we’d see, pitting SmackDown superstars against Raw Superstars (and occasionally ECW) to gain a draft pick. The selection was first hand picked, but later became randomised.
So what are my thoughts on this announcement? It’s awesome, and 86% of you would agree. Having separate rosters brings a whole host of advantages to WWE, most notably being able to showcase their talents on the same level. We cannot deny that we all believe AJ Styles should still be in the main event scene, but he’s not. He’s been ‘pushed down the card’ by losing in a Money in the Bank qualifier. With a brand split, they will be able to have two massive rivalries on top of each match card. This way, we can still see Reigns vs Rollins, but we can also get AJ Styles vs The Club getting the same exposure on SmackDown let’s say.
It also means better use of the undercard talent that they have. Cody Rhodes recently left WWE because he felt he wasn’t being used to the best of his abilities, and boy was he right. Having two separate brands allows the currently under utilized talent to be shown more on TV. It allows more screen time for guys like Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder who are struggling to have much of an impact on their current status on the roster.
I’d personally love to see them bring back the World Heavyweight Championship – it’s the best looking title belt to me. Giving the younger guys the opportunity to claim themselves as former World Champions has the potential to do wonders for them. I’d have Dolph Ziggler reclaim the World Heavyweight Championship in a boost to make him a huge star over on SmackDown. Allowing Ziggler to have a little more freedom at the top of the card could really boost him in his last few years with the company. This will enable him to go up against guys like AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn for the world title, producing some of the best matches we would see this year. Having him on top of SmackDown helps both parties. The Show Off is one of the most popular guys on the roster right now, so it could boost the ratings of SmackDown, along with bringing Dolph the glory I feel he deserves.
What will be interesting to see is how WWE transitions back to two rosters. We know little about how the draft will be decided and when it will take place. The premier live SmackDown takes place 5 days before the Battleground PPV in July. Many people have been speculating that we will see Shane McMahon vs Triple H at SummerSlam for ultimate control of the weekly shows, but I’m not sure they will be going with that come this announcement. It’s too soon before SummerSlam to start this. This should be an organic feud that takes a while to build real momentum.
One thing that is for sure is we will see a lot better quality matches and feuds that are given a lot of time, and hopefully a lot of thought. This really can be the start of the new era they are pushing at us. There is so much potential that they can do now, they just need to try and use all the talent they have possible. It’ll be interesting to see what Championships they bring back, how they schedule their PPV calendar from now on and who they will be calling up from NXT. There is not doubt that this announcement has me mega excited for the summer ahead of us in the world of wrestling! Let me know your thoughts on the brand split over at twitter!