So, we’re getting SmackDown live, and a brand split too. I want to be excited, I really do, because I’ve been saying a brand split would work out nicely for a while now, and it’s nice to see WWE doing something people have been asking for. The recapper in me says that now, if I’m the only one available that week, I might have to recap a PPV Sunday, Raw Monday and then SmackDown Tuesday – and these don’t start airing until 1am my time, so I’m going to struggle with that. But aside from selfish reasons, here’s a few good questions about the split.
What if the titles are made brand specific?
They’ve done this one before, and it had… well, let’s just say ‘varying degrees of success’ would be being generous, shall we? This would especially be a blow for the Women’s Championship, if we were forced to see a return of a lesser women’s title, or heaven forbid, someone wanted to bring back the Diva’s belt. This was the first thing Jordan from Predictions said to me, and I was like ‘nope nope nope this is not happening’. He literally suggested moving the ‘eye candy’ to one roster, and he’s pretty lucky he lives in Australia and I’m in the UK, or I’d have set him on fire by now. A guy at work said the same thing, and now I’m seriously considering getting all the men I know together and making a bonfire, because FUCK YOU.
Will this help with the health of the wrestlers?
Yes. Or at least, it should, because the superstars will be less overworked. The company won’t rely entirely on four or five big names to show up at every pay-per-view, and it means that if there is an injury, it won’t ruin a roster. The rosters should be more balanced, too, which will mean that someone with a nagging sprain or strain can lessen their work schedule around it. It should also mean that wrestlers get more time at home and with families, which will certainly be something those looking to start one, or with kids, should be interested in. It’s not for nothing that wrestlers are often involved with each other – with all that time on the road, keeping someone at home can often be a wrench for both parties, and adding children into it just makes it more complicated.
Does this mean the talent will be better utilised?
We can only fucking hope. We’ve lost too many good names recently; Barrett, Sandow, Cody Rhodes – the midcard isn’t supposed to be a punishment, nor is it supposed to be a graveyard. It would be wonderful to see people come up from NXT and not have to worry that they’ll be under-utilised or buried, to not have to be afraid that they’ll become a tiny cog in a wider machine and we’ll never get to see their true talent again. With the correct sort of brand split – and not one of pretty vs. useful, thank you Jordan – we could see people shine who we’ve never really seen at their best before, and I’m really looking forward to that.
Is this going to help with PPVs being more exciting?
It bloody well should, because this means you can have a feud that exists entirely as promos cut on each other until the next PPV. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens would be brilliantly prolonged by this, for a start, as we love to hear the men talk about each other, and they can put on brilliant matches – but if they do it every week, we’re going to find it stale. They could even use a kayfabe reason for it, that the two of them are fighting backstage and there’s collateral damage, so they’ll be pulled apart until they can be trusted to act sensibly around each other. Imagine if the only way you got to see Roman Reigns fight AJ Styles was at a PPV – although then Roman would have to talk, so maybe he should stick to feuds on his roster. Maybe Dean could finally get a damn title run that means more than the US or IC title, instead of being the bridesmaid. And imagine the WrestleMania!
Could this be an utter fucking mess?
Oh, absolutely. If they get the split wrong, they could ruin everything, and if they don’t balance their creative teams properly, you’re going to see a lot of very strange storytelling. Hopefully someone sensible is doing the planning for this, rather than Vince or someone else equally mad, so that well get some well-told stories, and each roster will have a mix of good mic guys, good technical guys, all-rounders and people who can carry a storyline well. Hopefully someone is advocating for the women to have stronger storylines and more space to tell them, too.