So. I woke up to the worst pro wrestling news imaginable today. WWE is splitting their roster between Raw and SmackDown (and allegedly NXT, but we’ll get to that later). This happened once before and it was an unmitigated disaster that led to some of the lowest ratings in the company’s history, watered down the talent pool, and made titles mean absolutely nothing. I was a die-hard WWE guy during the Monday Night Wars and stuck with them through the first six months of the first brand split. I then stopped watching WWE regularly until 2015. Yes, the concept made me care so little for pro wrestling that I abandoned the entire genre of entertainment for over a decade of my life.
While I get there is a segment of the IWC that just blindly puts over anything the WWE does these days as fantastic, I refuse to be this optimistic. WWE completely botched both WCW Invasion and later the brand split angles in the early 2000s. A time when wrestling was significantly more popular, the company had far more mainstream bankable names under contract, and yes, the writing was better. I am unable to look at this new development through the rose-colored glasses of “it’ll all work out okay” because, largely, the past year of programming that I’ve written about here has been a mess more than it has been good. Why would splitting the roster suddenly improve a product that couldn’t even handle producing a competent live show one day a week?
Most of the rumored ideas I’ve seen surrounding the split have been completely terrible. Having more than one world title is pointless and renders 2013’s unification angle irrelevant. Whomever wins the newly minted title has the lesser title and I don’t care who they give it to. I think the idea of only having the women’s division on one show and not both is idiotic. I like the women’s division more than the men’s division, so if the show that they’re not on is coming to town, guess who likely won’t be buying a ticket? This guy. We just finally stopped calling the women “divas” and are allegedly treating them like the men – but – wait, they only get to be on one show and not the other. Way to take a step backwards, WWE.
So, if you’ve been following the site’s Facebook and Twitter pages I mulled the idea of closing this site completely in July, but I’ve decided against that. There will be some changes that I will detail next before giving my fantasy booking of the brand split to close out this piece.
Turn Heel’s Future
First things first – the site will not be closing any time soon. I will still recap Raw and SmackDown but will no longer be giving the WWE the “benefit of the doubt” when it comes to poor writing and idiotic booking decisions. The tone of the recaps will be changing drastically starting with tomorrow’s SmackDown. If something is garbage it’s going to be raked over the coals. The days of trying to positive with this disaster of a company are over. I’m effectively “turning heel” on WWE and the snark will most likely be off the charts. I realize I may lose some readers over this but it will be the only way I can tolerate covering the WWE from here on out.
Next, the final NXT event we will be covering on the site will the “NXT TakeOver: The End” special event on June 8th. NXT is going to be gutted by the brand split and nothing of any note or interest is likely to happen there after “The End”. The glory days of the Four Horsewomen will never happen in that “brand” again and WWE is literally tanking NXT to do this brand split. It makes me sick to my stomach to see something I loved so much be utterly destroyed by the WWE. I’m sure WWE will be promoting some watered down program post June 8th with a bunch of green talent, but I won’t be watching and this site will not be covering it. NXT is dead to me on June 9th.
Starting not long after we stop covering NXT, I’ll begin covering Lucha Underground on Wednesdays. I’m currently looking into a way to acquire the show the day it airs as my current cable provider inexplicably does not have an option for the El Rey Network in HD. We may not be able to deliver the Lucha Underground recaps as quickly after the show airs as we do with WWE shows right now but we’ll eventually find a way to make that work. So, starting in mid-June, we’ll begin a backlog recap of the first season of Lucha Underground, in the hopes that by the time Season 3 starts, we’ll be current here on the site.
Lastly, I intend to put more effort into the Retro area of the site in the coming months and years. Not having to focus on NXT will free up more time to cover events from pro wrestling history.
Now, assuming I was going to book the WWE Brand Split, here’s how I’d go about it.
WWE Brand Split – How I’d Do It
Everyone is eligible for the draft, meaning we don’t just have the women talent on one show. I think that is a terrible idea and backwards step for women’s wrestling as a whole. Teams / factions are drafted as a unit – NO EXCEPTIONS. The one thing that made me not care about the original draft was WWE breaking up the Dudley Boyz, the Hardys, etc. for no reason. None of that garbage this time around. New Day goes as a unit, the Wyatts go as a unit, etc.
Next, I’d send Jerry Lawler to run his new restaurant and promote the deserving Corey Graves into the color commentary spot on SmackDown next to Mauro Ranallo. Two man booth on SmackDown and the standard three man booth with Cole, JBL and Saxton on Raw. As soon as it is contractually allowed by USA Network, Raw becomes a two-hour show and SmackDown remains a two-hour show. Equal time for both to work with. If it becomes an issue of fitting all of the talent in those two hours somehow… make both three hours, the first hour of both airing exclusively on the WWE Network as a “Kickoff” show. I don’t see why that’d be necessary though as during the “boom” period, WWE survived with a two hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown. There is absolutely no reason at all that either show needs to be three hours long.
Lastly, I like the ideas of each show having its own secondary exclusive title that is only defended on that show. So, the U.S. Title stays on one show, while the IC Title is exclusive to the other one. I think the major titles, Women’s, World Heavyweight, and Tag Team should be up for grabs for either show. The champ can be challenged by people on either show and will be expected to appear on both. Having two top titles is an idiotic idea – just like being a tag team on the show that doesn’t have the tag team belts would be pointless.
See, there are ways to have this brand split not completely destroy the WWE – I just have zero faith that the current state of the company will be capable of pulling this off. I hope I’m wrong for the sake of the talent, but I feel just like I did watching WCW Nitro crash and burn in 1999. Here’s hoping this move isn’t the final move that causes WWE programming to get cancelled by the USA Network – as I feel that is a very real possibility here.
Either way, I’ll be here to cover the death of pro wrestling and kick the dead horse when it’s all said and done. Enjoy the ride…