Earlier this week, WWE removed Paul Heyman from his role as Monday Night Raw executive director, replacing him with another industry veteran, Bruce Prichard. This move means that Prichard is now technically in charge of both main roster brands’ creative teams, given how he has been serving in a similar capacity on Friday Night SmackDown since late last year. As the latest report suggests, the consolidation of both creative teams could also lead to the dissolution of the current brand split.
On Saturday’s episode of Wrestling Observer Radio (via 411 Mania), Dave Meltzer talked about Heyman’s dismissal as Raw executive director, pointing out that it wasn’t surprising that the onscreen manager of Brock Lesnar was fired from his offscreen role. However, he said that the big surprise came in WWE’s decision to have Prichard handle creative duties on both Raw and SmackDown. He then noted that a consolidation of the two shows’ rosters has also been discussed in the light of the recent changes.
“I thought that maybe if they replaced Heyman, it would be with somebody else just because I just can’t imagine the workload involved, you know, at all. It makes no sense, unless the idea is to consolidate it into one troupe, you know what I mean? Where all the stars are on both shows, and that’s their idea of bolstering their ratings is all the stars on both shows.”
WWE announces Raw and SmackDown creative teams will be combined into one group led by Bruce Prichard. Paul Heyman will focus on his role as on-screen talent. pic.twitter.com/P4hipilzN9
— B/R Wrestling (@BRWrestling) June 11, 2020
Elaborating on the driving factors behind the potential end of the brand split, Meltzer explained that the USA Network is “very unhappy” with the roster exclusivity that has mostly been in place since the October 2019 superstar draft. The network has also reportedly been concerned with Monday Night Raw‘s ratings, which were already on a downward trajectory at that time but had declined even further since the coronavirus pandemic forced WWE to hold shows without fans at its Performance Center.
If WWE chooses to combine the Raw and SmackDown rosters and end the brand split, this will mark the first time since 2016 that all of the promotion’s wrestlers will be able to compete on either show without restrictions. In May 2019, however, the lines between both brands were seen by many as significantly blurred due to the Wild Card Rule, which was supposed to allow a maximum of four Raw or SmackDown superstars per week to appear on the other brand’s show. This rule was quickly disregarded, however, as it wasn’t uncommon for well over four performers to cross brand lines on any given week.