Updated: August 7, 2016 11:20:22 am
The eagerly-awaited WWE Brand split is 24 hours away. The wrestling fans across the globe are feeling the nerves, wondering in which brand their favourite superstars will land into.
For those who do not know what the ‘brand split’ is all about, here is a quick explanation: WWE’s two flagship shows, RAW and SMACKDOWN are going their separate ways, with two exclusive rosters, plotlines and general managers (and now ‘commissioners’ as well, as announced by Vince McMahon in last week’s RAW).
With WWE having to squeeze in 30-40 odd wrestlers in a 3-hour packed RAW, the brand split was imminent.
It is not the first time, it is happening, though. In 2001, after the dissolution of WCW, the already large roster of WWE became double its size. WWE decided to launch two separate shows to promote their business and provide ‘equal opportunities’.
With Vince as the ‘owner’ of RAW and Ric Flair as the ‘owner’ of Smackdown, WWE’s entry into the ‘new era’ created a huge buzz.
The rivalries between the Flair and the McMahon camp was carried forward by the two general managers Eric Bischoff and Stephanie Mcmahon, who led RAW and SMACKDOWN, respectively.
With exciting battles, upcoming superstars, great rivalries, and each brand trying to take one up on the other, RAW VS SMACKDOWN became a huge success.
The traditional 5-on- 5 matches between members from each roster at Survivor Series gave the fans some of the most memorable moments in World Wrestling Entertainment history.
But the excitement soon fizzled out, the buzz wiped away, the rivalries became stale, and SMACKDOWN became irrelevant (read boring).
Eventually, with the brand losing money, Triple H, in April 2011, announced the merger between the two brands.
WWE cannot afford to make similar mistakes this time around with the split. The stakes are too high. Vince McMahon in last week’s RAW announced, that his prodigal son Shane McMahon will be the ‘Commissioner’ for SmackDown while his sister, Stephanie McMahon will continue running the “3-hour long flagship show, RAW”. As the McMahon cheered “I want to see my kids slit each other’s throats”, the feud between the two McMahons siblings sounds exciting. But, WWE seems to be making the same mistake they made the last time around.
By announcing RAW as “3-hour flagship show”, McMahon has once again put the show on a higher pedestal than its counterpart.
This was exactly what happened all those years ago which made SMACKDOWN irrelevant.
Both the brands must be given ‘equal status’ or else the other brand will fail to acquire interest.
The decision to make SMACKDOWN go Live is certainly a step in the right direction to ensure that.
But, more needs to be done. WWE should harp in on McMahon siblings’ rivalry and really ensure that both of them keep pushing each other’s buttons, till it becomes a hot mess.
The traditional 5-on- 5 Elimination Tag Team match in Survivor Series must feature both the rosters battling it out in a high-stakes
Former special events like ‘Bragging Rights’ should be called back to pit the two rosters against each other.
SMACKDOWN must be filled with some popular superstars, rather than all mid-level wresters.
This brought the brand’s ultimate demise the last time. After years of seeing wrestlers such as The Undertake, Kane, Batista and Edge as champions, WWE tried to shove Big Show, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, in the fans’ throats on SMACKDOWN, which led many to lose their interest in the product.
The company must realize that there are some wrestlers who are not big level players and should remain as the mid-level guys.
With NXT superstars making their mark all around, WWE has enough talent to push to the top.
The big question that circulates every time one mentions ‘brand split’ is where the championship belts will go.
Both the brands should get their separate belts- and not just for the main titles- but for every category.
This will ensure that the wrestlers wish to associate with both the brands, rather than preferring to stay in on RAW for more championship opportunities.
Triple H cried his eyes out when he was surprisingly drafted to SMACKDOWN in 2004, which eventually led the writers to bring him back to RAW in the very next episode. No one wants to see history like this being repeated again.
The big distinction that will continue between the two brands is the air time allotted to each show. RAW is aired for 3 hours, while SMACKDOWN remains a 2-hour show.
This needs to change. Both the shows must be allotted equal air time, otherwise, one show continues to be the ‘flagship’ show and the other will lose its essence, eventually.
The revival of brand split is an exciting time for WWE fans. The draft takes place live on Wednesday morning, at 6:30 A.M. IST. In the immortal words of Triple H, the fans would be hoping that WWE does ‘what’s best for business’.
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