When WWE announced that the brand split would be returning back in May, fans were hopeful that they would actually do it right this time around, and now that we’re a couple of weeks into the split, it’s pretty safe to say that they’ve already botched it.
WWE decided to bring back the brand split after the USA Network expressed their displeasure with the weekly SmackDown rating. Of course, when the show was move from the SyFy Network to USA, WWE was hoping that the weekly rating for it would, at the very least, be a little bit better. But, due to them treating it like a B-show, fans never felt the need to watch two more hours of wrestling on Thursday nights.
If you look at the first couple of picks for each brand, it’s clear that WWE did their best to make the rosters even in terms of star power. But it was also clear that their priority was to make Raw the A-show, while SmackDown remained the B-show.
In a recent interview on the WWE website, John Cena, who is one of SmackDown‘s top stars, said that he’ll feel proud of WWE’s blue brand when the company starts moving some of the show’s top stars to Raw, because when that happens, that’ll be a clear sign of victory for WWE’s Tuesday night show.
“I remember back in 2002, [SmackDown] got dealt a rag-tag bunch of dudes, and we went toe-to-toe with Raw, and nobody talks about that. But that was very real. It was so flattering when WWE started to take SmackDown talent over to Raw to kinda save Raw. To me, that’ll be the ultimate moment of success for SmackDown Live – if they start stealing from our bucket, and switching the rosters, that’ll show that we’re making more noise than they appreciate.”
So, what he’s basically saying is that WWE doesn’t want SmackDown to have more viewers than Raw, and if they eventually do beat Raw in the ratings every single week, WWE will send some of the show’s top stars to Raw, because they don’t want their flagship program to come off as a B-show, which is exactly what killed the original brand split back in 2002.
The question is, why would WWE care if SmackDown beat Raw every week? It’s not like they only own one of the brands; they own both.
Knowing that WWE wants Raw to be the A-show is already a big sign that the split has already failed. There are also a few other reasons why the split has been a disaster thus far, and that’s what we’re here to talk about!
- Cruiserweights on Raw
This is something that hasn’t happened yet, as WWE won’t be bringing the cruiserweights to Raw until the Cruiserweight Classic comes to an end next month.
WWE has pretty much always botched the cruiserweight division, and you shouldn’t expect anything different this time around. Sure, the idea of having a cruiserweight division is a good one, and they do have plenty of talented guys who will be in the division, but it just doesn’t make any sense for the division to be on Raw.
SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan has been heavily involved in the Cruiserweight Classic, so it would make more sense for the division to be exclusive to SmackDown. Furthermore, Daniel Bryan is technically a cruiserweight himself, so why give the division to a show which is run by two people who have had nothing to do with the Cruiserweight Classic?
Sure, the cruiserweights will probably have fantastic matches when they finally arrive on Raw. Also, WWE probably decided to have the division be exclusive to Monday nights because Raw is three hours long, which means that they need as many wrestlers as they can get. But it would make far more sense to have the cruiserweights on Daniel Bryan’s brand, as opposed to Mick Foley’s brand.
- Women’s Division
When the women’s revolution first began in NXT, it looked like WWE would have four women who would battle over the Women’s Title for the next five to 10 years. Instead, they split them up, putting Charlotte and Sasha Banks on Raw, while Becky Lynch was sent to SmackDown, and at some point — probably after SummerSlam –– Bayley will be added to the main roster, and she’ll probably be sent to SmackDown as well.
The brand extension has split up the four most talented women that WWE has seen in a very long time, which isn’t going to be good for the division in the long run. In fact, the women’s division on SmackDown is already struggling, and the division on Raw will begin to struggle once the Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks program comes to an end.
Sure, Raw is building up Nia Jax, but she is far less talented than most of the women who are already on the main roster.
Mick Foley has been a huge fan of women’s wrestling for quite some time now, so it would’ve made more sense to have the women be exclusive to Raw, and the cruiserweights be exclusive to SmackDown.
- Tag Team Division
Much like the women’s division, the tag team division is going to suffer in the long run because there aren’t enough teams to have two separate divisions.
If you look at the SmackDown brand, they have American Alpha, The Usos, and then it really falls off from there with teams like The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, and Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze).
Raw‘s tag team division isn’t much better, as their top teams are The New Day, Enzo and Cass, and The Club. Then, much like the SmackDown division, it really goes downhill, as teams like The Golden Truth, The Dudley Boyz, and The Shining Stars round out the red brand’s tag team division.
There have been rumors that WWE is looking at bringing back Cryme Tyme, which is a move that would really help the tag team division. There have also been rumors that WWE is going to bring in Carlito, and pair him with the struggling Shining Stars. So all hope may not be lost, but for now, both brand’s tag team divisions are extremely thin.
- NXT Call Ups
There was a huge amount of excitement surrounding the possible six NXT picks in the WWE draft, but that excitement quickly turned to disappointment the night of the draft, as only two major NXT picks — Finn Balor and American Alpha — were made, and the rest turned out to be people that no one wanted to see on the main roster.
The fact that NXT stars such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Bayley, Samoa Joe, and Austin Aries weren’t picked really made the GMs look incompetent. Of course, the four aforementioned names weren’t ever going to be part of the draft, but WWE never even offered an explanation as to why some of NXT’s biggest stars weren’t drafted.
So, how could WWE have explained not picking some of NXT’s biggest stars? Simple. They should have said that, in order for a NXT star to be selected, they had to make themselves eligible for the draft by declaring for it, much like athletes have to do in every other sport. Then, they could’ve said that Nakamura, Aries, Bayley, and Joe weren’t drafted because they didn’t declare. But instead, they just ignored NXT’s top stars, and brought up people who are far less talented.
- Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
While the Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton stuff has been good, the fact that they’ve both shown up on each other’s brands kills the entire idea of the brand split. It shows that there’s no such thing as exclusivity, and wrestlers can just show up on the opposing brand any time they want.
Prior to the draft, it was assumed that Lesnar and Orton would be drafted to the same show because everyone knew that they were wrestling each other at SummerSlam. But WWE decided to put them on separate brands, and go with an inter-promotional feud coming out of the WWE draft.
To make things even worse, SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan appeared on Raw this past Monday, and according to the Wrestling Observer, we’ll probably see a lot more wrestlers appear on the opposing brand because WWE is afraid that they’ll lose viewers if they don’t have the strongest roster possible for each shows, which begs the question, why even do a brand split?
[Image via WWE]