It was announced earlier today that the WWE will be airing Smackdown live on Tuesdays and in addition to that they will have a draft to officially re-instituting the brand split. What does that mean? It means there will be a specific roster for Raw and a specific roster for Smackdown. The WWE operated under these terms in the past, first instituting a brand extension (split)back in 2001. As with anything, there were positives and negatives. That said, let’s take a look a few things the WWE has to do to make sure this doesn’t end in failure like it did previously.
Smackdown has to be a top priority
Smackdown has a habit of getting lost in the shuffle. It has been known as the B show for almost its entire existence. The only time Smackdown thrived was during the period when Paul Heyman was in charge and there was a legitimate competition between Raw and Smackdown. Unless they plan on putting Heyman back in charge (not going to happen) Smackdown is already operating at a deficit. To counteract that, WWE should put the majority of its talent on Smackdown. Raw is and always will be a show that the average fan will watch no matter what. By putting the bigger stars on Smackdown the average fan will be more likely to tune in.
Do NOT create another world title
The last time there was a brand split the champion was initially on whatever show they were drafted to. The only way the world title would be featured on the opposing show was if the champion defected (Brock Lesnar was the first champion to do this). They eventually created the world heavyweight title. Depending on the period and who was holding either belt one title was always more important than the other. There is no way around that. No matter how much you say something is important it doesn’t mean the people will view it the same way. Having more than one world title in a wrestling promotion is never a good thing (see WCW in the early 90s). Up till this point, the WWE world heavyweight champion has pulled double duty on both shows. There is no reason that trend can’t continue.
One of the hallmarks of the old territory era was that the NWA champion only came to town a few nights a year. Being champion was an attraction and it meant something. More importantly than that, people would pay to see them. The world champ can be on both Raw and Smackdown each week but only wrestle on one or none of the shows. There is more than enough talent on the roster to put together five hours of TV without overworking your champion. Feature your world champion. Don’t cheapen the product by creating another paper champion.
Leave NXT out of it
This might be the most controversial item on this list but, hear me out. Having NXT become directly involved in this process would be a huge mistake. NXT works because it is its own thing. It’s not connected to Raw or Smackdown, which keeps it out of the prying eyes and meddling hands of the people who run Raw and Smackdown. NXT has managed to become the hottest of the three WWE brands, but it is still very much a developmental program. Let NXT stay what it is so the wrestlers there can continue to grow and hone their craft.