The brand split in 2002 was a great idea of Vince McMahon’s in many ways. From a business and financial standpoint, it created more merchandise sales and would have caused more people to watch both programs to see what happened. The brand split also allowed more superstars to be put in the spotlight, Brock Lesnar being an example before he moved to SmackDown. I have thought about this subject a lot, about whether RAW and SmackDown should once again be separate entities rather than sharing rosters.
Having the brand split would arguably be the more entertaining option due to the increased number of storylines and each General Manager (GM) or creative team would want to one up each other, probably leading to more compelling television. Paul Heyman as SmackDown comes to mind when the blue brand was arguably challenging RAW, if not beating it. SmackDown nowadays is always seen as the secondary show. A pre-taped event that will always play second fiddle to the mega-power RAW. That could all change with a few great superstars and some good booking decisions. The superstars aren’t always there though, not all the top stars compete on SmackDown. A few weeks ago, WWE advertised a “star-studded SmackDown” which featured Randy Orton, John Cena and Roman Reigns. You shouldn’t have to advertise your best stars as a special event for one of your two main shows.
As I mentioned earlier, the brand split would provide more opportunities for superstars and divas lower down the card. Currently, men like Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose and Stardust are left with no particular direction as well as women like Emma and Layla who have been relegated to Main Event. Less people means more chances for the superstars and divas remaining. That will create feuds with more attention drawn on them which will also mean more excitement for the match when it rolls around. Putting competitors in the spotlight will also give them vital experience for the time when the brands merge together again. Knowing whether somebody can handle a title or the main event is a crucial part of giving the push the go-ahead.
In the last paragraph, I mentioned Emma and Layla being relegated to Main Event, which is often considered a “jobber” show. This obviously wasn’t the original concept of Main Event but WWE’s failure to utilize the show for useful purposes has led to that conception. This week’s Main Event featured Layla vs Emma, Xavier Woods vs Jimmy Uso and, a match that goes against my earlier point, Dolph Ziggler vs Rusev. That is an unappetizing clash of two tag team members that don’t currently have a storyline, two divas with no direction and a pretty stellar main event. With more matches like the previous main event, Main Event could turn into a show worthwhile watching.
Maybe in the future but can the current WWE roster handle a brand split? The roster has talent, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t think that there is enough there. There are currently 48 superstars (give or take a few) under contract with the WWE (not including divas). That would mean 24 superstars per brand which probably isn’t enough to fill in 2 hours of TV a week whilst still maintaining great quality and variety in matches. Repeated contests results in a lack of audience interest which can eventually lead to less merchandise sales and less money. We know Vince McMahon doesn’t like less money, don’t we?
Although this point may not be as important as the other one, no “fantasy matches” could be created. This means that most superstars will face each other, no more what-ifs will be left. Many wrestling articles I read write about what would happen if two superstars from the same or different eras met in the ring. Many SmackDown vs RAW dream matches would be reserved for PPVs or never happen at all. It is just a little thing that the WWE Universe wouldn’t need to worry about.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.