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?
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:
|The Undertaker||The Rock|
|nWo (Keven Nash, Scot Hall, X-Pac)||Kurt Angle|
|Booker T||Billy and Chuck|
|The Big Show||Edge|
|Bubba ray Dudley||Rikishi|
|Brock Lesner||D-Von Dudley|
|William Regal||Mark Henry|
|Matt Hardy||Chris Jericho|
|Jeff Hardy||The Hurrican|
|Big Boss Man||Test|
|Tommy Dreamer||Hardcore Holly|
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.
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.
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:
|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|
|Natayla||Prime Time Players|
|Kaitlyn||Epico and Primo|
|Layla||The Real Americans|
|Big E Langston||Tonnes of Funk|
|Dolph Ziggler||Damien Sandow|
|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:
|July||Money in the Bank||Both|
|September||Night of Champions||Both|
|Late October||Hell in a Cell||Both|
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.
Hooroo and see you next week.
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