Since last week, all the fuss in the world of wrestling has been about the upcoming WWE Draft. As you are all aware of, Raw and Smackdown will have their own unique rosters starting in July. RAW will continue its live airing Monday; Smackdown gets the newly crowned live time slot on Tuesday. Back to back shows with different stars, different story lines, different writers, different, different, different! As always, fans have their own opinion on this situation even before it has transpired.
Over the next week or so, I will cover both sides of the coin - for the pessimistic and also for the optimistic. First up, let's take a look at five reasons why the 2016 version of the brand extension will NOT work!
5. First Impressions Are Huge - I tend to follow the belief that first impressions are important. Yeah, you can overcome a terrible first encounter with somebody and redeem yourself over time, but that moment sticks out. This past week on Raw, we got our first details of the upcoming WWE Draft from Shane and Stephanie McMahon.
The details were...a wonderful "I don't know" and "we will figure it out later." As someone who is tired of the McMahon drama on TV every week, that was a big eye roller.
Yep, even in kayfabe mode, that was an instant disappointment. Instead of big kick start to the month long build to next month, we got stalling and as The New Day pointed out - dodging the question. I am led to think one of two things. Either WWE is keeping everything a secret on purpose to drive up interest...or they truly have no idea what is going to happen.
Not exactly the best start.
4. Title Confusion? - Early reports are that WWE will re-introduce two World Championships. One for Raw and one for Smackdown. I suppose that is fine and all, but most have become accepting of one Undisputed WWE World Champion in the past few years. Going back (again) to a split system is just opening up that can of worms again. Then we move to the other title belts...
The Women's Revolution has unfortunately stalled since Wrestlemania 32, and that then becomes even more worrying if that division is cut in half. Or even stuck on just a sole show each week. Does that mean there would be zero women on Smackdown is they are all on Raw? If so, maybe some could still feud...but over what? That would mean legitimate non-title feuds would have to be written for the women, and that is a rarity these days, even in this "new era."
Same with the IC and United States Titles. Are they traveling from show to show? Or being elevated for their respective brand? Personally, I would prefer the old way of IC on Raw and US on Smackdown. Also, do not forget about the tag team titles. Are The New Day together as a unit? Will they be split up, if they are separate draft picks? Then that would place the tag straps...on both shows? Or are we then given a SECOND set of tag team titles to play around with? Everybody on the roster may as well get a belt then, geez.
3. Smackdown, Smackdown, Smackdown! - Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! At first, Smackdown will get a huge amount of hype and be given a bunch of top stars. With their live launch in July, it will almost certainly be a bigger show than Raw. For awhile. Maybe a week, maybe a month. Maybe longer. Eventually though, common sense takes over, and USA Network and WWE executives realize Raw is and always will be the flagship show. Sad to say, but it is the truth. Raw is their #1 television entity and as enticing as an 'equal' split roster is, that is fantasy booking. Not the real world. I know how this went the last time (2002-2011 was a slow fall from grace for the blue brand).
2. NXT's Status - Selfishly, I keep going back to NXT and how that brand will be tarnished. I definitely don't think it will be HELPED by the WWE Draft. That can only mean bad things for NXT, which is an amazing product. Whether it is a change in scheduling, talent leaving for RAW and Smackdown, or the overall feel of the live specials, I am not feeling easy about NXT after July. The brand split is going to need a whole bunch of stars...be it from outside companies or the top of the NXT card.
1. Lack Of Star Power - Stone Cold Steve Austin nailed it on the head. Just because WWE has 50-60 talented wrestlers on their roster, that does not mean they have a stacked card full of proven draws. Sorry folks, but all these 'internet darlings' are not exactly lighting the world on fire with ratings and business numbers currently. Now, the rosters are supposed to be divided by two and left to carry themselves? Seriously?
In 2002, you had The Rock, Stone Cold, nWo, The Undertaker, Ric Flair, Vince McMahon, Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Edge, Hardyz, Christian, Booker T, Lita, Trish Stratus, Kane, Brock Lesnar, and the list goes on. Then came John Cena, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Batista, World's Greatest Tag Team, etc.
Loaded roster with proven draws that (in the past and future) ended up making WWE a lot of money. Can the current stars get there at some point? Yes, absolutely they can. All of them have that potential. Are they there RIGHT NOW though? No, sorry. I suppose that is the entire point of the brand extension though - give newer and younger talent an opportunity.
However, that is part of why the brand extension WILL work, which will be discussed in the future!
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