The WWE kicked off their latest brand split last July, with Shane McMahon taking over SmackDown Live and Stephanie McMahon taking over Monday Night Raw. Since the WWE brand split, the two brands have lived pretty much separately from each other outside of SummerSlam and the Survivor Series.
While the two brands continue to poke fun at each other and claim dominance over the other, at least one person doesn’t believe the WWE brand split is working at all. On the most recent episode of Bischoff on Wrestling (transcript by Rajah.com), Eric Bischoff said that the WWE brand split has not worked as it should have.
Eric Bischoff was at the head of the Monday Night Wars between the WWE and WCW when Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro were competing in the ratings every week. When the WWE bought WCW, they killed the biggest competition in professional wrestling.
The WWE tried to remake the competition when they had their original WWE brand split, but instead of having WWE vs. WCW all over again, they just made SmackDown and Monday Night Raw different brands. The original brand split failed over time and soon the wrestlers all combined on one roster once again.
Eric Bischoff said that this WWE brand split feels just like the last one. He said that the WWE is just going through the motions with a basic story of “whose got the best roster” and “who puts on the best show.” Those stories, as Bischoff points out, are not something fans can really get behind when it comes to the brand split.
“The competition between WCW and WWE was so intense. You’re never going to be able to recreate that in today’s world. I would love to see elements of that competitiveness between the two… the drama that goes along with that. It was that drama of, ‘Who’s going to jump next?’ Or, ‘Who’s going to make the transition?’ It was the story of that that really elevated wrestling to the point that it was in the late-90’s.”
The WWE has tried to pull this off. Cesaro immediately complained after the WWE brand split that he wanted to wrestle for SmackDown Live and was disappointed to be on Monday Night Raw. The Miz has threatened to take his services to Raw if they offered him a better deal. The entire cruiserweight division was on the line at Survivor Series.
However, as Bischoff said, the fans know the WWE brand split is not a real split, and all wrestlers are working for the WWE. That causes these imagined defections to mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.
A perfect example is the cruiserweight division, which Eric Bischoff also says is not working. After the WWE brand split, Monday Night Raw announced that they would be the home to the cruiserweight division. The cruiserweight wrestlers became a part of that show.
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However, the cruiserweights now have their own show in 205 Live. That show airs immediately after SmackDown Live and is a live show that airs on the WWE Network. The fact that 205 Live tapes during a SmackDown Live television show kind of eliminates the idea of the WWE brand split because they are Raw exclusive and the live fans at the show are attending a SmackDown Live show and not a Monday Night Raw show.
During the podcast, Eric Bischoff said that the WWE has not really put a lot of work into the idea of the cruiserweight division or the WWE brand split.
“I will say what I hope is objective. It doesn’t quite feel as significant because they don’t make it feel quite as significant. They’re not quite disciplined enough yet in the way they present it.”
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