Back in May, Vince McMahon declared that 2016 would eventually boast the biggest roster in the history of the WWE. Issues of quality vs. quantity have arisen in the aftermath, but the need for such a distinction was never more apparent than the past week of WWE programming. Both RAW and SmackDown kicked off the reincarnation of the brand extension with their full compliment of talent awaiting word from on-screen management, whether on the stage or on the ring apron.
Before the WWE initiated the brand split, the most recent versions of these town hall-style segments featured the entire roster gathered together in what came across as an adequately-sized group. But divided into two separate brands, quantity is not a strong suit.
The WWE knew this going in, but the company wanted to put the focus on the current superstars before shining the spotlight elsewhere when other bodies were brought in to help bolster the roster. We did see Rhyno make a surprise appearance on last Tuesday’s SmackDown, but we were also treated to vignettes and promos advertising the likes of Shelton Benjamin and an entire Cruiserweight Division being brought back to help increase numbers, not to mention a swirling rumor mill regarding more reinforcements on their way.
In Vince’s most recent conference call with shareholders, he credited NXT for being the catalyst behind WWE’s decision to move forward with the brand split. The developmental brand saw seven of their stars promoted to the main roster and top-level talent like Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bayley, and Austin Aries won’t be far behind them. But the WWE was also looking for experienced wrestlers to come in to help balance out all the younger talent and help get them over as well.
Rhyno and Benjamin are the first two to either appear live or be advertised directly on WWE programming. And according to PWInsider, the next two names to join that list should be Jinder Mahal and Curt Hawkins. We’ve reported on several occasions in the past that both Mahal and Hawkins were either already signed to a WWE contract or, at least, were close to it.
In Mahal’s case, he is actually in Atlanta and will be backstage for RAW. No word yet on if he will be actually used, but being there at least is a good sign. Whenever Hawkins is slated to make his re-debut, he will do so for the SmackDown brand on Tuesday nights. It would stand to reason that the blue brand will be in more need of reinforcements as things continue to play out. If you recall, RAW drafted three superstars for every two that SmackDown drafted, but that was in large part due to the fact that the flagship is three hours, while SmackDown has remained two.
Also, it’s worth noting that Rosa Mendes has reported to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando this week. Mendes, who made her WWE debut in 2008 after signing a developmental contract two years earlier, has returned to in-ring training after giving birth to her first child. Rosa would join Nikki Bella and Natalya as the veterans trying to make their mark on the new era and a division that has gone through a major makeover in the past year. We should soon be adding Melina to that department as well. It is not yet known what brand Rosa would report to whenever she makes her return to WWE’s main roster.
With Jinder Mahal and Curt Hawkins apparently in tow, that still leaves Carlito, MVP, and John Morrison as the biggest names rumored to make WWE returns. Tajiri and Brian Kendrick are expected back on the main roster when the Cruiserweight Division is re-launched, presumably in September.
[Image via WWE]