This morning WWE announced that SmackDown will be going live every Tuesday on the USA Network starting July 19th, but that’s not all. The company also announced that the brand split is returning and that a draft is imminent.
Most wrestling fans consider this news to be very exciting and it’s going to create new opportunities for stars who may not have had the chance to step into the spotlight before. But if WWE is going to get the brand split right they need to learn from their past mistakes. Here are a few things WWE must avoid doing when the brand split returns.
#7 – Don’t Split Up The Tag Teams
WWE finally has a good thing going with the tag team division and it would be a terrible move to mess it all up when the brand split is implemented. WWE will likely be tempted to break up tag teams when the two separate rosters are introduced, but now is not the right time to do it.
Teams like Enzo and Big Cass, The Usos, The New Day and The Dudley Boyz need to stick together. The tag team division is stronger than it’s been in a long time, but that could all change if WWE starts splitting up the teams that are currently holding the division together.
#6 – Don’t Bring Back Bragging Rights
Bragging Rights was an interpromotional pay-per-view where stars from Raw and SmackDown would compete against each other for, you guessed it, bragging rights. Oh, and there was a trophy too. It was a decent concept but the execution wasn’t all that great because the Superstars were competing over a trophy and literal bragging rights, which isn’t that cool of a prize, which in turn made Bragging Rights one of the least exciting shows of the year.
An interpromotional pay-per-view where the two brands compete against each other is a great concept. But if WWE ends up bringing it back in some shape or form the concept is going to need an overhaul.
The brands are going to need a better reason to fight each other because a trophy just isn’t going to cut it. Since WWE is bringing back the draft they could always hold an annual pay-per-view which features stars from each brand competing in matches where draft picks are on the line. Something, anything is better than a trophy.
#5 – Don’t Let Superstars Cross Brands Too Often
By the time the brand split ended in 2011 it really didn’t matter anymore because Raw and SmackDown were overlapping anyway. But back in the day when the brand split was first introduced it was always a huge deal whenever a SmackDown Superstar made a surprise appearance on Raw and vice versa.
Letting certain stars jump back and forth too often cheapens the effect of the brand split. WWE needs to resist the urge to let the talent jump back and forth as much as possible so that way when crossovers do happen they will feel special.
Remember when Shawn Michaels dressed up as a cameraman so that he could attack Kurt Angle during the buildup to their match at WrestleMania 21? Michaels was a Raw Superstar and Angle was a SmackDown Superstar at the time and it felt like Shawn Michaels had crossed an invisible battle line.
Moments like that are shocking and they get people talking. When WWE brings back the brand split they would be wise to keep crossovers to minimum so that they can create more shocking moments when the time is right.
#4 – Don’t Forget That It’s A Competition
Raw and SmackDown are going to have separate rosters and it’s probably safe to assume that one show will be run by Shane McMahon while the other show will be run by Stephanie. With Shane and Stephanie on separate shows WWE needs to find a way to keep the competition alive between the McMahon siblings.
During the era of the brand split the Raw and SmackDown General Managers were always trying to one-up each other. Competition between the two General Managers is good and it makes for good TV.
Keeping with the theme of competition, each General Manager needs to introduce new ideas every once in a while such as new gimmick matches, new tournaments, etc. etc. The fans need to be offered something on SmackDown that they can’t see on Raw and something on Raw that they can’t see on SmackDown.
#3 – Don’t Treat SmackDown Like A Raw Recap Show
If you’re reading this it’s probably safe to assume that you’re a wrestling fan. It’s also probably safe to assume that you watch Raw. I’m a wrestling fan, I watch Raw, you’re a wrestling fan, you watch Raw. Wrestling fans watch Raw, therefore we get it, and we don’t need to hear all about what happened on Raw when we’re watching SmackDown.
For years fans have been complaining that SmackDown feels like a Raw recap show most weeks. With the brand split returning SmackDown is going to have its own unique roster and the show is going to be live every week. If SmackDown is going to stand on its own the focus needs to be on what’s happening on SmackDown, not what happened on Raw the night before. A few Raw highlights are fine, but WWE needs to avoid overdoing it.
#2 – Don’t Treat One World Title Like It’s Less Valuable Than The Other
WWE hasn’t announced any plans to bring back the World Heavyweight Championship as of this writing, but let’s be honest, it’s likely going to happen. If WWE is going to have two separate brands they’re going to need two World Titles. They tried to do the whole one champion for both shows thing when the brand split first started, and there’s a reason why it didn’t last very long.
When WWE first introduced a second World Championship belt it worked. The company managed to make both World Championships look like they were equally important. However, as time went on it became apparent that the belt that belonged to Raw was the first tier title, and the belt that belonged to SmackDown was the second tier title.
WWE needs to avoid making one World Title seem less important that the other if they do indeed introduce another World Championship. No more 18 second World Title matches and no more of the World Heavyweight Championship opening pay-per-views. If the company is going to have two World Titles they both need to be treated with the respect that they deserve.
#1 – Don’t Bring In Another Money In The Bank Briefcase
Let’s face it, two Money in the Bank briefcases is one too many and WWE needs to avoid bringing the other one back when the brand split returns. Having two briefcases really makes the whole concept of Money in the Bank feel less special. If WWE does indeed have a separate title for both Raw and SmackDown, one briefcase is enough.
Having only one briefcase makes every show much more suspenseful. A Raw star could cash in on SmackDown and a SmackDown star could cash in on and it could happen at any time. This would also encourage fans to tune into both shows because nobody wants to say that they missed a Money in the Bank cash-in.
How do you guys feel about the WWE brand split returning? Are you looking forward to it? What type of things do you think WWE should avoid doing this time around? Sound off in the comments below.