May 2016. After years clamoring for a necessary division of brands, fans of WWE received with great enthusiasm the news that the company had finally chosen to separate the SmackDown and Raw rosters, with all that this entailed: Drafts, exclusive titles of each brand, greater exposure of the women’s and team divisions, presence of managers general etc
This was 6 years ago. How time flies, huh? I still remember that SmackDown led by AJ Styles and a Dean Ambrose that, against all odds, managed to bring the WWE Championship to its mark, forcing Raw to present a new maximum title. And how can we forget that duo formed by Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan running “WWE’s Land of Opportunity”? Or the coronation of Becky Lynch as the first SmackDown Women’s Champion…
So many good memories. And all thanks to a decision that WWE took too long. Filling three hours of Raw was much easier with the entire roster at your disposal, there is no doubt. But in return you put all the meat on the grill in a single program. Consequence? Your second mark was relegated to a simple procedure, segments and matches that barely influenced WWE show A. Anyone who only watched Raw could understand all the story lines without any problem. A pity for SmackDown, which had lost the greatness of its beginnings.
I think my passion for the blue WWE brand is obvious. It is my A show, regardless of how things go, because thanks to SmackDown I became a fan of this sport/show. And because I firmly believe that the division between brands makes them bigger, gives them a distinctive touch and makes any sporadic appearance by a superstar from the other show feel really interesting. “Compete with each other,” said Vince McMahon. And we all believed it.
Because yes, the division was effective and showed that, separately, great returns can be obtained. Also, With the purchase of the television rights of SmackDown by Fox, everything seemed to indicate that the brand division would be reinforced. At least that’s what they made us believe during the first draft in which “representatives” of USA Network and Fox worked tirelessly behind the scenes to carefully choose the superstars that would be part of their brand’s roster.
The Wild Card Rule
In 2019 Vince McMahon took the so-called “Wild Card Rule” out of his hat, or what is the same, a rule that allowed any superstar to appear in the brand in which he was not a member, although it was limited to a single appearance per program. And, not to break the tradition of ideas that change in a matter of days, in just a few weeks that was already a lack of controlwith entire teams jumping brand just because.
An idea that neither Fox nor USA Network liked, which is why WWE would end up eliminating it. However, as we would see later, McMahon did not need rules and much less reasons, so the appearances or crosses between brands continued to take place, something that became more evident when The Bloodline monopolized the two maximum championships and the two titles in pairs of the company.
Now we find ourselves in a peculiar situation, with superstars jumping from one brand to another with no rhyme or reason. It can be understood that Roman Reigns or the Usos are at ease on Raw and SmackDown, since they own the titles of both brands. But what about the rest? To give an example, Braun Strowman recently returned to WWE and, honestly, I don’t know what roster he has been on, because I have seen him jump from one brand to another since he returned.
However, it seems that we will have to get used to this reality, because the new administration of the company, with Triple H at the creative command, not going to change strategy. At least this is what some media say, which affirm that we will continue to see this crossing of brands by talent. Even when? That’s the million dollar question. Maybe we have to wait until Roman Reigns loses the Unified Universal Championship. Because yes, sooner or later you will have to say goodbye to the titles. Everything has a beginning and an inevitable end, even for the samonao.
The case of NXT
Special mention deserves the strategy used in the company’s third brand. I think the idea of bringing talent from the main roster to NXT is very successful. First, because you help promote the brand’s talent in front of its audience. Second, because you generate interest so that the potential viewer who does not follow NXT decides to give it a try thanks to the presence of x superstar, also contributing to the freshness of a program full of “unknowns” for the general public.
In this case we are talking about a very successful strategy in terms of superstar appearances. We can take Dolph Ziggler as an example, who even managed to conquer the NXT Championship, boosting Bron Breakker in the process. Or Ricochet, whose short but well-conducted rivalry with Carmelo Hayes strengthened the North American title. Or the case of Apollo Crews, who continues to work with Grayson Waller, one of the heels most hateful and hated of NXT.
In the same way, the appearance of talent from the development brand in the main shows also seems very appropriate to me, since they bring that freshness that we would not have with the jump of superstars between the main rosters. Although, in any case, as long as they are sporadic appearances. Because it is already known, “the little you like, the much you tire”. And that is a problem that WWE has dragged on since time immemorial.
We need a new brand division. A real and effective one, that makes each of the company’s shows special again. We need champions who defend their titles on their respective shows. We need exclusive stories from each brand. We need freshness. Make the draft relevant again. That superstars “burned out” in their show can be revitalized just by changing the scene.
We can blame the previous regime and its idea of unifying titles in the hands of the Samoan empire. We can blame Vince and the creative team for him. After all, blame is free, right? But it is not a question of pointing the finger at the person responsible or raising one’s hands to one’s head for this creative “lack of control”. Instead of that, we have to look to the future with optimism. Triple H is pushing some changes, which is already something. His reincorporation policy would give for another article, but this is not the subject.
Hunter has given us great joy, such as the spectacular return of Bray Wyatt, and I am not saying this because of his return in itself, but because of the way in which it has been carried out, tremendously cared for and worked on. And seen what was seen, I want to believe that the new WWE Content Director will do what he considers most appropriate to offer fans the best possible product.. And that, for a server, happens, among things, through a division of brands.
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Claim for a new brand division in WWE