The Brand Split: We'll Do it Live!!!
Like most wrestling fans, I awoke to the somewhat surprising news that WWE not only intends to split the roster but will be broadcasting WWE Smackdown live on Tuesday nights starting in mid-July. This news comes completely out of left field, especially considering I certainly didn't predict this very thing a few months ago.
Now that the news has soaked in a bit throughout the day, I can say that I'm not as immediately angry I was when initially waking up to the news. I realized that my attachment to disliking the brand split lie in memories of the past. In a vacuum, the brand split may have been a “success” and somewhat necessary at the time, but there is a reason that WWE reverted to a singular roster.
If you were like me and didn't get the prestigious network, UPN (or as it was more commonly referred to BET 2) you were unable to enjoy the work of your favorite wrestler as he was banished to broadcast television. Combine that with the limits of the FTC, weak storylines and sub-par wrestling and you can see why people like me are a bit skeptical of the upcoming brand split.
Of course, we live in the shadow of a much different WWE and if their actions as of late are any indication, it appears that things are indeed changing. However, looking forward, it's possible that the brand split could indeed live up to this new buzz word we've heard so much about, this “New Era.”
If you haven't started my award winning series, “Let's Fantasy Book,” please open a new tab and read each and every edition. After that, come back and be amazed at the giant list of people who are currently injured. Footballers don't work five days a week with travel, nor do boxers, MMA fighters or even baseball players. Why should WWE wrestlers?
John Cena essentially had back to back shoulder injuries, and Seth Rollins suffered from a buckled knee last year. Giving performers two fewer nights a week to work protects WWE's investment and product in a critical way. Sure, we don't get to take in Chris Jericho twice a week, but I enjoy the work more knowing that the talent is protected in a way better than some arbitrary wellness policy ever could.
We Get a Break
While I'd personally like to see the WWE World Heavyweight Champion float across both shows, it seems most likely that the IC belt is going to be the “Big Belt” of SmackDown. Assuming that to be the case and the WHC stays put on Raw, we finally get a break from the distractions of getting Roman Reigns over drafting into other storylines on Raw.
The Undercard Matters Again
With several main event level talent returning in a short time, the likelihood of your favorite wrestler getting taken off television because creative “doesn't have anything” for them will happen less frequently. Guys like Goldust, Kalisto and Rusev, will have their chance to shine and get some real time to work themselves up to the main event level.
Smackdown Matters Again
When was the last time you watched Smackdown on the night it aired? Yeah, it's been a while for me too, and this is my job! Smackdown has been Raw light for far too long and seemed to serve as a glorified live event more than an actual program with story progression. A separate creative team and going to a live broadcast will give this show a much-needed shot in the arm.
We Have Some Power Back
We vote with our remote controls these days. If people gravitate towards a certain show over another, our collective viewership may be able to change the discourse of a program, and it's direction. Furthermore, if Raw does indeed become the “Sports Entertainment” brand and Smackdown the “Wrestling” show, that in itself is a huge win.
This is a Lot of Wrestling
With a 40 hour work week, time spent with friends and my fiance, tournament Magic the Gathering practice and the incredible amount of pornography I view and I don't have time for eight hours of wrestling in a three day period. If I'm going to be invested in each show and their storylines, something in my life is going to have to sit on the bench for a while. And let me just say: it's not going to be a porno or Magic.
Fans Might Feel Forced to Choose
If, as mentioned above that you don't have the time to take in so much wrestling, you may feel driven to one show or another. Historically, when the word “brand” comes into play, the word “Loyalty” isn't too far behind. If ratings are low now, imagine what they're going to be when half of the viewers are watching one show over the other.
Even though we just came off of month in which The Club wrestled The Bloodline seventy times, cutting a roster in half guarantees us month after month of Wrestler X vs. Wrestler Y. Hope you're in the mood for leftovers folks.
Thank God They Fired All Those People
I'll be frank and blunt: the way in which they've treated Damian Sandow, Stardust and Adam Rose is goddamned disgraceful. It's scary to think when Wal-Mart treats someone like shit and forces them to quit or fires them in a very public way, they're vilified among your circle of friends. A split roster would mean more opportunities unless you got popular in a manner outside of their design. I speak for the entire Kulture Shocked Wrestling commentary team when I type these words: they should be ashamed of themselves and in some ways so should we.