Back in February, Shane McMahon returned to WWE after a seven-year absence to be fully accepted by the WWE Universe because he represented a change for WWE. It didn’t take long before the rumors of a brand split began to circle the product even while Shane O’Mac was feuding with The Undertaker en route to Wrestlemania 32. It wasn’t until May that WWE officially announced the brand extension for WWE programming that came to fruition this week on SmackDown.
Recently, Stephanie McMahon appeared on The Wrestling Compadres Slamcast to promote WWE Battleground this Sunday as well as the WWE Draft. During the interview, Stephanie revealed just how long the brand split had been planned by the powers that be in WWE. She said the following about how long they’ve been planning the brand split:
“It’s something that Vince had planned on for quite some time, but we hadn’t fully developed it until it got closer to SmackDown going live. It has been in the works for a little while now, but the Shane storyline certainly gives us a great storyline platform to promote it.”
According to a report from Pro Wrestling Sheet, the original plans for WWE’s brand extension and WWE Draft were going to be much different than what the WWE Universe saw on SmackDown this week. Originally, Vince McMahon was going to be more involved, but it will be interesting to know that Daniel Bryan was always a part of the plan for SmackDown.
Vince McMahon was planning to make the announcement for the brand extension and the WWE Draft the night after Money in the Bank last month. WWE ended up making the announcement in late May on WWE.com, so Vince wanted even less time for the WWE Universe to speculate and wonder about all the change the WWE product would be going through this week.
Apparently, Daniel Bryan was not only part of the plan, but he agreed to become the General Manager of SmackDown way back in May. However, SmackDown would have essentially been Bryan’s show because the deal between Shane and Stephanie to run Raw together was meant to last through the brand extension, and Bryan was meant to oppose them.
Daniel Bryan’s SmackDown versus Shane and Stephanie McMahon’s Raw would have been an interesting dynamic on WWE television. It could have worked, but the WWE Universe always assumed that the brand split was about Shane vs. Stephanie, which is what ended up happening. It’s curious that WWE was preparing for Daniel Bryan to steer SmackDown on his own.
There is no word on when WWE made the decision to bring Mick Foley into the mix and make WWE about McMahon versus McMahon. The original plan wouldn’t have left many opportunities for Triple H to return – unless Shane and Stephanie were slowly tearing Raw apart from within and a match of some kind decided the one McMahon to be in charge of Raw. The angle WWE was probably trying to go for was The Authority versus Daniel Bryan so that he could finally finish that storyline.
Regardless of what was originally planned before the WWE Draft this week, WWE was successful in splitting almost every member of the WWE roster into either the Raw and SmackDown brand. There are still some questions to answer about how WWE will be organizing some of their championships, and WWE apparently has no clue about how to structure them.
For better or worse, the WWE Draft is over. Now, it is time to let WWE figure it out and let their plans unfold. The powers that be got through the brand split, so there must be a long-term plan to ensure the brand extension doesn’t fail.
[Image via WWE.com]