WWE recently made a huge announcement regarding its second regular weekly show, Smackdown.
The announcement was made on WWE.com and in a special video from Stephanie and Shane McMahon, declaring that Smackdown would not only now be broadcast live on Tuesdays, but it would also feature a distinct roster, confirming a return to the brand split era.
A return to the brand split has been debated for many years, Many have said the roster is too big and overcrowded to not be split, whilst others still remember the way in which the original brand split became complicated and cluttered.
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With the split still yet to come into existence, critics are still out on whether it will be a success or not, but this isn’t the only question that the most recent bombshell has created. Here are just a few things to ask regarding the new brand spit.
BRAND EXCLUSIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS AND EVENTS?
In the previous brand split, specific Pay-Per-Views and championships were only accessible to Superstars on a certain brand.
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The Intercontinental and United States Championship were only defended on Raw or Smackdown depending on the time, meaning only half the roster could compete for a certain belt at any given time.The same applied to the two tag team, women’s and world titles when they existed.
The same principal applied to certain Pay-Per-Views; one month the superstars of Raw would do battle, the next would feature Smackdown talent, with the big four Pay-Per-Views (SummerSlam, Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and WrestleMania) featuring the stars of both shows on the same card.
One question regarding this new brand split would be whether this format would return and how would WWE manage to integrate it? Would they alternate between each Pay-Per-View like before, or maybe double up with two Pay-Per-Views each month?
With the WWE Network, viewers wouldn’t be paying twice as much for two Pay-Per-Views like before, they’d still only be paying their subscription fee, so there’s really nothing stopping the company from putting out two big shows each month.
In the case of championships, WWE could easily start afresh with its feuds regarding the Intercontinental and United States titles and book new feuds between superstars on the same roster, rather than trying to mould the split around existing rivalries.
But what about the titles that would be defended on both shows? Would this be the case? And how easy would this be to pull off?
WWE would have to choose their world, tag and women’s champions more carefully if this were to happen, as they would need performers in whom they had total faith in to make it work on two live shows a week.
But there’s no reason this couldn’t be done; surely the top guy, team or woman should be this trusted anyway? When it comes to brand exclusive titles and Pay-Per-Views, WWE could definitely make a brand split work, perhaps even better than before, thanks to the advent of the WWE Network.
WOULD THE TWO BRANDS BE IN COMPETITION?
In the previous brand split, Raw and Smackdown were always in direct competition with one another.
The two had different general managers who were always at each other’s throats, Pay-Per-Views sometimes boasted brand vs brand matches and WWE even produced a series of video games entitled “Smackdown vs Raw”.
With Shane and Stephanie currently co-running Raw, it would make perfect sense for one to take the reins of the blue show, whilst the other remains in control of Raw.
If this did happen then surely the two siblings would have to abandon their current uneasy alliance and turn on one another; the very nature of WWE is to breed conflict and there is no way that these two can remain friends whilst both in charge of a show.
This could facilitate the Triple H vs Shane McMahon angle that has been rumoured for a while, with Triple H defending the honour of his wife against the brother who stole a show from under her nose.
WWE is built on conflict, so there can be no question that the two shows will be going head to head when Smackdown goes live, but, with the McMahon drama dominating WWE storylines for years and years, the real question is, will fans still care about it when it’s Shane vs Stephanie?
WILL WE SEE A SECOND WORLD TITLE RETURN?
One of the biggest features of the brand split was that each show had its own world championship.
There were several ups and downs to this strategy but WWE ultimately decided that there should be a single world title again, unifying the belts at TLC 2013, when WWE Champion Randy Orton defeated World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena, in a TLC match.
The question now is, will WWE split the world titles again and have them defended on each show?
Whilst it doesn’t really make sense for WWE to bring back the World Heavyweight Championship just a few years after such a big deal was made of the unification, WWE pulled a similar move in 2002, restoring the World Heavyweight Championship less than a year after it was unified with the WWE Championship at Vengeance 2001.
Bringing back a second world title would give those stars who have been overlooked in the past a chance to shine, but, equally, it would diminish the prestige of the current world title.
A second world title in the new brand split isn’t completely out of the question, but, to make it work, WWE would have to think very carefully about the effect it would have on their current roster and whether they want to make the drastic changes a new title would bring.
WILL IT WORK THIS TIME?
The biggest question on everyone’s mind has to be whether the brand split will work this time. WWE’s original brand split started off strong, but, as time went on, it became cluttered, confusing and eventually fell apart.
Will history begin to repeat itself on July 19th? Will the brand split start off strong, but eventually collapse? Only time will tell.
But, for now, the idea that WWE could have learned from its mistakes and build on what is an extremely exciting and unique idea is extremely positive, so, for now, this is how we should feel about the brand split 2.0.