John Cena is coming back to the WWE, and the announcement that revealed this also called him a “free agent.” Why Cena is a free agent less than a year after the brand split is strange when no one else seems to be one right now. John will appear on SmackDown Live on July 4, and then rumors indicate he can also show up on Monday Night Raw as well.
This could be to battle the sagging ratings, but former WWE talent Eric Bischoff said on his Bischoff on Wrestling podcast that John Cena as a free agent is a really bad idea.
According to Bischoff, if the WWE is serious about the brand split, then they need to keep SmackDown Live and Monday Night Raw separate brands and stop letting them overlap. It isn’t just the John Cena free agent news that Bischoff feels is a problem either.
“If all you’re going to do is paint one red and paint one blue and talent is going to transition back and forth on a regular basis you’re calling it a brand split but it’s not. It’s just two different shows.”
This comment not only speaks to the John Cena free agent situation, but it also calls into account the recent WWE Superstar Shakeup where the general managers from SmackDown Live and Monday Night Raw got together and traded talent from one brand to the other. This is something the WWE did during the last brand split as well, although last time they used a new draft where wrestlers would switch brands.
The last brand split ended and the two titles were unified under one championship with John Cena and Randy Orton battling for them. If the WWE keeps moving talent back and forth on a regular basis through trades and allows John Cena to appear on both shows as a “free agent,” then it takes the idea of the brand split and waters it down.
Eric Bischoff said that the entire brand split would become a non-issue for the WWE if they don’t work hard to actually make each of the brands feel different. Sure, at the moment, SmackDown Live seems more about the wrestling and giving everyone a chance while Monday Night Raw still seems like a spectacle with over-the-top superstars.
But, at the end of the day, there is little difference between the two brands outside of that and the difference in the authority figures. Eric Bischoff said that the WWE needs to make it feel like they are two different, competing, companies and not just two shows that share John Cena.
Eric Bischoff knows a lot abut that since he ran WCW during the Monday Night Wars. That ended up as the most successful and profitable time for the professional wrestling industry and ended up kicking off the Attitude Era in the WWE. Since WCW died, names like John Cena have helped carry the load, but fewer viewers are watching now than before.
If the WWE is going to move John Cena between the two brands, it might help the ratings in the short-run, as John Cena and Brock Lesnar are reportedly the two biggest draws in the WWE. However, if the WWE wants to make the two brands seem special, John Cena needs to pick one, and the company needs to work to differentiate them, according to Eric Bischoff.
[Featured Image by WWE]