WWE has officially killed their own brand split. With the introduction of the wildcard rule, many fans are struggling to keep up with who belongs where. What originally started off as a bad idea to have a select few wrestlers swap shows has turned into a chaotic mess that nobody quite understands anymore. There has to be a better way to use talent than to turn SmackDown into a recap show for Monday’s events.
But how do you they fix something so broken at this point? Do you abandon the brand split
altogether for the first time since the birth of it back in 2002? The answer quite simply is a very obvious no. Even just the wildcard rule has completely ruined the brands, away the split entirely and things will only get worse. SmackDown will not have an individual identity and even more of the roster will go unused. So how do they right the ship and readjust for the damage they’ve done?
Well that answer is much less simple. We have seen a load of attempts at “Superstar
Shake-Ups” that have had varying levels of success. But I believe they need to delve back into this territory one more time, but it needs to be done right. And with the big Fox deal coming into effect in October, they have all the resources at their disposal. So I have put together a step-by-step plan for how WWE can pull off saving the brand split, and make this one of the biggest events in recent memory.
Step One: Kill the Wildcard Rule
This is a necessity if the brands are to stay separated. There is simply no reason to keep on
with the brand split otherwise. Remember this was originally supposed to be somewhere around 3 superstars per week who could be a part of the other weekly show. Now it has turned into a complete mystery of who will show up each week. What is the point of separate rosters if there is no enforcement? How can you expect fans to care about something that the company can’t even be bothered to keep up with?
The sooner they can do this the better. Doing this early will make everything feel back to normal again. And I can’t imagine that Fox will want their weekly program to look like Raw’s little brother, so by doing this now you can restore credibility (and viewership!) back to SmackDown in time for the big October debut. Whoever came up with this idea in the first place has really started a path of destruction. The sooner the WWE publicly abandons this and admits their failure the happier fans will be with them. You could even have some sort of storyline tying into Shane and Kevin Owens, and how Shane wants to “beef up security” to keep from getting stunnered every week. This way the WWE can get rid of it without owning up to it as well, which is much more their style. Which brings up the next step…
Step Two: Kill 205 Live
Does anybody know if 205 Live is still alive to kill? If it is we really need to do the right thing and put it down. Reports say that when 205 Live is taped (after SmackDown shows in the same venue), the crowd empties out, the wrestlers mostly funnel out, and even the operating staff mostly abandon it. Some have even referred to the backstage as a sort of ghost town once 205 Live begins. So why do they expect us to keep supporting a project they can’t even commit to?
It is just like the wildcard rule. You can’t decide not to bother with an aspect of your product and expect people to keep buying in. And the worst part of all of this is that there are extremely talented workers on that brand that are basically doing taped house shows that will never be seen. It all just seems like some sort of weird way to hold talent in contracts and pretend that they’re important. And maybe with AEW around the corner, that could be somewhat of a strategic move. But it is also wasting a ton of talent in the process. There has to be better ways.
As a matter of fact, with Heyman and Bischoff officially taking the reigns of Raw and
SmackDown respectively, now is the perfect time to incorporate new talent into each show.
Fresh new faces will allow Heyman and Bischoff to have some new ideas of their own instead of picking up where everybody else left off. And that is where the WWE draft comes in. It is time that WWE abandoned its failed project, and allowed these wrestlers to shine on a program people will watch. And not just on the “kickoff show” of a pay-per-view.
Step Three: WWE Draft
So how do you do this concept in a refreshing way? Well it just so happens that WWE has the perfect partner to execute this. With the help of Fox coming in and looking to establish a more “real sport” feel to the WWE, a draft a month or so before their October debut would be perfect.
You could then use the experience Fox has of covering the NBA and NFL drafts and give a
similar feel to the WWE version. Host a draft combine on FS1, have experts weighing in, pre-draft analysis, mock drafts and more. Go all in on the concept of hyping this event just as if an NFL team was about to get their franchise player.
This will all start with the huge announcement that 205 Live will be split among the brands when the draft occurs. This will drive more viewership to 205 Live as people want to see the fallout of what will happen in its final days. Then you can end 205 Live on a high note with a nice WWE Network special event to showcase the incoming “draft class”. This leaves the door open to explore 205 Live again in the future (when it can be done properly), perhaps even using it for a yearly “draft class” of superstars.
Of course, that will also bring the question about what happens to NXT? Well NXT will get
whomever doesn’t get drafted. This can lead to an easy way to downgrade some superstars
who need more development (Lacey Evans anyone?) and allow some of NXT’s biggest stars to get a proper exciting call up. Think of how much impact Matt Riddle getting drafted will be versus just a random introduction on SmackDown or Raw. It gives incoming superstars instant momentum and a launching point to a potential push.
Also paramount in this should be the inclusion of Bischoff and Heyman in the draft process.
Everybody knows they were hired as heads of the show in real life, so why not play on that
realism. Have them dismiss being “general managers” like the days of old but instead executive directors looking to make the best show possible. This will feel like breaking the fourth wall whilst not really having to.
This is the core game-plan of how to make a successful reinvention of the two brands. If
executed correctly with the help of Fox and even USA, this could feel like a real historic moment in the sport. And it will make people remember it is actually still considered a sport. And that is exactly the brand that Fox wants to create. And when your fans are happy and the executives are happy, the money that will bring will make Vince McMahon very happy.
At least until the XFL goes under again.