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The View From Down Under: Is It Time To Bring Back The WWE Draft?

by Craig Higham - August 29, 2013

There are many reports online saying that in the absence of John Cena, and to the lesser extent Sheamus, the WWE locker room has been put on notice to step up. While this is a nice little motivational speech, it is a bit hard to step up when there are 40+ superstars in the locker room, while maybe 10-15 get the exposure needed to step up. So is it now then time to revisit the WWE draft and brand split to allow those remaining 20-25 superstars a chance to shine?

draft split

Now I realise due to reasons such as low ratings and PPV buys that the WWE stopped the brand split between RAW and Smackdown. And you can understand with RAW having the more dominate and well known superstars, this was always going to happen. However the initial draft split had equal footing in terms of talent when first done in 2002, which at the time I thought was a great concept that allowed the WWE to showcase the middle card, Divas, Cruiserweights and tag team division, allowing those superstars to ‘step up’.

2002 Draft results:

Raw

Smackdown

The Undertaker The Rock
nWo (Keven Nash, Scot Hall, X-Pac) Kurt Angle
Kane Chris Beniot
RVD Hulk Hogan
Booker T Billy and Chuck
The Big Show Edge
Bubba ray Dudley Rikishi
Brock Lesner D-Von Dudley
William Regal Mark Henry
Lita Maven
JBL Billy Kidman
Matt Hardy Chris Jericho
Jeff Hardy The Hurrican
Goldust Christian
Big Boss Man Test
Tommy Dreamer Hardcore Holly
Crash Holly Tazz

The brand split had a major title on each side, a second tier title (Intercontinental title or US), and a brand specific title (Women’s or cruiserweight Championships). The first brand split had equal footing in the distribution of talent, which meant both shows (and therefore brand specific PPVs) felt equally important.

The brand split allowed feuds to develop and not feel rushed and be all over after 1 month or 1 PPV, as I would have loved to see the Mark Henry and John Cena feud go a little longer, than the 1 month it did. The brand split allowed superstars such as Edge, Jeff Hardy, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Beniot to “step up” and become main event superstars.

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Currently each brand has a high profile general manger in Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero who already have a history of not liking each other, this therefore is a great excuse to bring back the draft. You can then include battles between the general managers over NXT talent, a yearly brand vs. brand Survivor series match, where the winner gets the number 30 entry into the rumble etc. The general managers can always have deals to have major superstars appear on both shows if needed, especially leading up to the combined PPV’s which would assist in keeping rating up.

RAW_1050_Photo_120

Draft episodes of RAW and Smackdown are always exciting and could again be a yearly event after Wrestlemania, or any set time throughout the year, as these shows were always a must see for me to see who was moving brands. It allowed for tag teams to split up without having to have one typical 1 member turn on another, and allowed the WWE and World Heavyweight titles to swap shows, which allowed each title to be of equal footing within the WWE.

Looking at the current WWE roster, an equal split (taking into account current story lines) and keeping current tag teams together, might end up looking something like:

RAW Smackdown
Randy Orton (champion) Alberto Del Rio   (Champion)
Daniel Bryan CM Punk
John Cena (on return) Sheamus (on return)
The Shield The Wyatt Family
Mark Henry RVD (with Ricardo Rodrigez)
Big Show Curtis Axel
Rey Mysterio (on return) Sin Cara
AJ Lee Usos
Natayla Prime Time Players
Kaitlyn Epico and Primo
Layla The Real Americans
Kofi Kingston R-truth
Fandango 3MB
Big E Langston Tonnes of Funk
Christian Cody Rhodes
Dolph Ziggler Damien Sandow
Ryback The Miz
Wade Barret Zac Ryder
Brie and Nikkie Bella Tyson Kidd
Tamina Snuka Justin Gabriel
Eva Marie The Great Khali
Part time   performers
The Undertaker Chris Jericho
Triple H Paul Heyman
The McMahons The Rock
   

Each brand again would have 1 major title, which would straight away lift the profile and importance of the World Heavyweight title. 1 second tier title which all of a sudden becomes the stepping stone to each brands major title like it is meant to be. One brand specific title with RAW focusing on the Diva’s division, and Smackdown focusing on the Tag Team division, giving both divisions a stronger profile and importance.

To fix the poor PPV buy rates what if we have 8  PPVs throughout the year as combined brands, then 4 brand specific ones (2 for RAW, 2 for Smackdown) on PPV that are typically low buys anyway. The PPV breakdown could then look something like this:

Month

Event

Brand

January Royal   Rumble Both
February Elimination Chamber Both
April WrestleMania Both
May Extreme Rules RAW
June Payback SMDN
July Money in the Bank Both
August SummerSlam Both
September Night of Champions Both
Early October Battleground RAW
Late October Hell in a Cell Both
November Survivor   Series Both
December TLC SMDN

I would love to see the return the RAW and Smackdown brand split, for me there are so many positives that can come out of bringing back the draft and brand split, and then by the time of his return, John Cena will not need to be the WWE one and only face. It allows fans to have a favourite show depending who their favourite wrestler is and on what show they are on, (although I was always a Smackdown fan). At the bare minimum, the brand split can at least re-introduce the Generals manager mode on the WWE games.

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Hooroo and see you next week.

 

https://www.facebook.com/authorCraigHigham

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Telling-Its-Fake-Wrestling/dp/1489585508

 

 

 

  • ssadasd

    I haven’t bought any WWE game after my PS2 dies because instead of re-investing in another console, I simply began getting games on my PC instead, and WWE has pretty much nothing for PC, despite that PC users have Logitech and Xbox controllers to use. I loved GM mode, and will never own another wrestling game without GM mode.

    That said, I almost favor a brand split but some captain obvious errors with your idea which reduces your credibility.

    1. McMahons belong on BOTH shows, not just one. Triple H is a McMahon.

    2. Sending tag teams to smackdown and diva’s to raw? NO! NO! NO!
    3. The Undertaker and perhaps a few “Legend Status” members of “WWE Universe” should not be bound to Raw/Smackdown.

    I hoped you would include the idea of having a few matches here/there where the winner “gets to own their own contract” and be unbound from brand limitation; This would turn the superstar into a Free Agent which would make things fun.

    I also think you didn’t mention (because it’s obvious?) that the best thing about the brand-split was Belt Value.

    IC – US title = ticket to WHC.
    WHC = ticket to WWE Title.

    This system is okay but I like the idea of having the belts exclusive to their own shows. This allowed both top belts to feel “equal” and both mid-belts to feel equal, and it made the diva/tag titles “believable” rather than “just kinda there”.

    One show gets WWE / IC / Tag Team and the other gets WHC / US / Divas.

  • Omar

    It just creates lower ratings for each respective program. That is why brand split was quietly dissolved in the first place.

  • Iosos Rezorek

    I use to hate the brand slpits, and i am a WWE game buyer and i loved that general manager mode, easily the greatest part of the game… and i think your theory on this is absolutely correct, that brand split did let alo of mid-cards become superstars. my opinion is this would be a fantastic idea, with no draw backs, this way they can bring the original survivor series type matches back

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