Following Vince McMahon's acquisition of World Championship Wrestling in 2001,the World Wrestling Entertainment got stuck in a dry spell as they seemed to have lost an edge when they eliminated their main competitors and monopolised the business.
That is why in 2002, the decision was made to create some in house competition by turning RAW and SmackDown into individual brands.
On March 25 2002, the superstars were drafted into their respective brands with Ric Flair who had acquired 50 percent of the company in a recent storyline, representing RAW while Vince McMahon who owned the other 50 percent represented SmackDown.
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The brands individuality was initially maintained by having certain titles defended exclusively on one brand.
The Intercontinental and European Championships were exclusive to RAW while the Tag team and the Cruiserweight Championships would only be defended on SmackDown.
However, the brands would still remain interconnected by having the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion and the Women's Champion present on both shows and with the titles defended against superstars from both brands.
The brands became independent officially in September 2002 when Stephanie McMahon announced that the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar had signed a deal to appear and defend his title exclusively on SmackDown.
Eric Bischoff the Raw general manager at the time, would later respond by presenting Triple H with the World Heavyweight Championship, which became exclusive to Raw.
In the following years, both shows grew thanks to the competition. SmackDown would even go on to beat Raw in the ratings under the creative direction of Paul Heyamn.
The brand split also gave a huge incentive to the superstars as it gave them a chance for more exposure. This exposure allowed guys like John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Edge to break through the proverbial glass ceiling.
Pushing Raw, hurting SmackDown and losing superstars
The brand split's success was mainly attributed to fact that both shows were perceived as equal.
However, in the following years it was clear that keeping Raw strong was the main priority. Top superstars such as John Cena, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle and Edge were drafted to RAW, while in return SmackDown would only receive mid card performers such as the Dudley Boys, Christian and MVP.
There was of course the occasional exception such as when Batista and Triple H were drafted to the blue brand but in the long run, it was always Raw that seemed to benefit the most.
This was not the only problem that the WWE were facing. In the space of a few years, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris Jericho, Goldberg and Rob van Dam, amongst others all left the company for various reasons while Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit tragically passed away.
When you read those names, you realise that the company lost an entire generation of potential Hall of Fame inductees in a short amount of time.
While superstars such as CM Punk and Sheamus were coming in, there clearly wasn't a talent pool large enough to properly maintain two competitive shows. That is why in 2011 the plug was officially pulled on the brand split.
The time is right
The situation has clearly changed with the current roster. The championship scene is filled with talented superstars such as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan once he returns from injury.
Slightly lower in the card you have guys like Cesaro, Rusev, Neville and Kevin Owens who have the ability to steal the show on any given night.
Also, for the first time in years, we actually have a Diva's and a Tag Team division worth mentioning.There is so much talent in the current roster that talented superstars such as Sandow and Bo Dallas that can't get any exposure which is a shame considering how talented both men are.
The roster will get a further influx of talent in a few months time we will have guys like Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Colin Cassidy and Enzo Amore come up to the main roster.
In the present situation, the risk of these superstars getting lost in the shuffle or being misused is a real one and having two equal and competitive brands can reduce that risk.
Raw vs SmackDown
There is nothing the fans love more than dream matches. During the initial split fans would dream of matches such as Brock Lesnar vs Triple H, Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels, Edge and Rey Mysterio vs the Dudley Boyz.
When a SmackDown superstar would go up against a Raw superstar, you knew it was special and it added to the match. That is why Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania 21 was so special.
This kind of anticipation disappeared when the brand split ended as the matches started to feel less special and the feuds became more repetitive.
By reintroducing the brand split, we could start having those dream matches and those special moments again. Imagine how special it would be if Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were kept apart for a year due to them being on different brands, and finally coming face to face during the Royal Rumble match.
The WWE have everything they need to successfully implement another brand split and hopefully we will see it happen in the near future because it truly is what's best for business.
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