It’s not often a WWE Championship on RAW takes a backseat, but with the WWE Draft set to reintroduce the brand split Tuesday night, that might just be the case. Dean Ambrose’s title reign seems to have an expiration date on it already, and his time could be up as soon as Monday night. But then things will really be thrown for a creative loop when Smackdown hosts the much-anticipated draft.
Everyone has been fantasy booking the brand split in regards to who should go to what show, how many championships there should be, and who might be named General Manager of the respective brands. Many of those questions will be answered in the next 48 hours, but there are still many fundamental issues that will need to be resolved so the WWE doesn’t repeat it’s failures from past brand splits.
Jim Ross, Edge, and Christian are three of the brightest minds in wrestling with one a former Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and the other two former World Champions turned WWE Network show hosts. Wrestling fans listen when they offer their opinion, and this upcoming brand split should be no different. Edge and Christian were recent guests on 120 Sports(transcribed by WrestleZone) where they tried to emphasize that different is better this time around. The first quote is from Edge, followed by Christian.
“I would like them to be two entirely separate shows. Open up a Cruiserweight Division. You’ve done the CWC with NXT and on the WWE Network. Have a Cruiserweight Division. Put the women on one brand. The tag division… have that be a focus. Then put your bigger stars on RAW. Filter in a few big stars on Smackdown just to make sure people tune in and watch but… give people an opportunity. I think people want to see something different. Make them two different shows. RAW is three hours. That’s a long time to sit down and watch wrestling. Make them different.”
“Give them fresh matches that they haven’t seen. A lot of times with WWE being live every single week a lot of the times you get the same matchups and that sort of thing. I just want new, fresh matchups that we haven’t seen. I think the brand split will help that a little bit. It will also give guys that need a little bit of extra air time. Maybe they were not being utilized up to their full capabilities. It will give them a chance to step up and to prove themselves.”
Meanwhile, J.R. wants to make sure that the brand split means exactly that, a split. Two distinct rosters with two distinct feels. In past iterations, the differences between each brand were negligible, making it difficult to differentiate the two. Ross laid out his idea on The Ross Report, as transcribed by Wrestling Inc.
“If you are going to have true brand separation, then one brand doesn’t exist to the other except in a very structured and promoted manner. I’d like to see the brands separated and stay clean, stay pure. And I really think that’s important… I’m really thinking that that’s how I’d like to see it structured, absolutely pure as snow and no crossover. And that way, if you could be disciplined enough in your booking and your creative, then when you finally integrate, it’s a big thing, it’s really a big thing. And slow the process down for God’s sakes.”
The WWE Universe will have a clearer understanding of the distribution of the championship belts after the draft concludes. But J.R. added that in addition to eliminating any crossover between brands, the split should include the usage of the titles.
“I’m not one to urinate on others’ ideas, but if that idea was being pitched to Vince, I’m guessing, strictly guessing, that he would say, ‘you can’t be half pregnant’, so it’s all brand split or no brand split. I think Vince would do the old half pregnant thing on the US and IC title. There [are] a lot of ways to do it. No doubt. Personally, I would just keep them clean. The US title to one brand [and] Intercontinental title on the other and call it a day.”
Seems easy enough, but we’ve seen how the company diluted past versions of the brand extension before. Having gone through this before, Ross believes that a free agent element should be added to the mix, as well as experienced superstars becoming eligible to compete on NXT. But perhaps his most interesting idea of them all is creating some form of internal competition due to the fact that externally, it doesn’t exist.
“I really like the mindset, whether it ever happens or not, to where the writing groups are competitive enough. I would set up a thing where I would look at the ratings and whatever writing team was adding the most audience, some fair way of measuring growth – keyword growth – and the team that could incur the most growth on their particular show would win some cash incentives. All legal and above board, obviously, but bonuses and the more cheese they get on their Whopper, the better their show does. I would create some competition and if it creates some better ratings, then, it’s a good idea and also put some cash in some deserving people’s pockets, so that’s one idea.”
It has already been determined that there will be two unique sets of writing staffs, dedicated solely to their brand. Vince McMahon needs better ratings on Smackdown to please USA Network execs, and he delegated that to Stephanie and Shane last week on RAW. But adding actual incentives backstage might make things that much more interesting.
[Image via WWE]