Yesterday was a big news day in the world of pro-wrestling, specifically World Wrestling Entertainment, as WWE announced that Smackdown will be airing live on Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm EST on the USA Network. In addition to this, they also announced that the roster’s will once again be splitting as they did from 2002 – 2011. This means that Raw will have its own roster and Smackdown will have its own separate roster.
Since this forces such a big change in WWE’s current landscape, there has been plenty of talk and speculation among fans alike about how exactly WWE is going to do it this time, and if they’ll do it right. The previous brand split died a slow, painful death and if changes were made this time around then maybe it can be stronger than it ever was before.
With that being said, Dave Meltzer revealed some interesting backstage notes and tidbits in his most recent Wrestling Observer Newsletter that will give us a little more insight into how this brand split may shape itself. One of those nuggets of information is that one of the key reasons WWE is bringing back this brand split is in order to revitalize the ratings. The idea is that more people will watch Smackdown if it’s live than if it’s taped and aired a few days later. More and more shows on television are becoming live, or are creating more live content, to try and become “DVR proof” in a way.
In regards to WWE creative, one large writing team has been under one roof since the brand split officially came to a close in August 2011. However (as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter mentions), since Raw and Smackdown will be split once again, this means the writing teams will also split and there will be more internal competition among the two brands. Although Vince McMahon and Triple H are still ultimately under control of creative, this news essentially means that WWE’s head writers Ed Koskey (Raw) and Ryan Ward (Smackdown) will have more power with creative than they’ve been having. Meltzer notes that behind the scenes, Vince will very much be pushing competition on both brands and the two separate writing teams.
As assumed by many wrestling pundits and fans, the belief is that Stephanie and Shane McMahon will each run their own brand with one of them taking Smackdown and the other taking Raw. Meltzer also notes that it appears Stephanie and Shane will both start off as the babyface authority figures with competition brewing between them.
The other belief backstage that the Wrestling Observer Newsletter mentions is that John Cena will be WWE’s main star of one show while Roman Reigns will be the main star of the other. Also, in regards to Lesnar’s status, his dates are worked out so far in advance that he’s scheduled to be on Raw. However, it is not yet certain as to which brand Lesnar will be put on.
The WWE Draft between Raw and Smackdown is believed to take place on the July 11 edition of Raw in Detroit, one week before the live edition of Smackdown on the USA Network takes place on July 19. However, this date is not a lock yet. The talent, aside from a few of the bigger stars, will reportedly not have any idea as to what show they will be drafted to. Meltzer notes that as of right now, the wrestlers are, similar to all of us, completely in the dark as to what’s going to happen.
As far as the championships are concerned, a lot of it is currently in the air and still being discussed. WWE is looking at doing two World Titles again, but it is in no way a lock.
The Tag Titles are up in the air too as to whether they should go back to having two separate titles or keep it as one. Meltzer is reporting that the tentative plan is to have the women’s division to be on both brands. However, there is also talk about splitting the women up and just having the Women’s Champion as the only person allowed to appear on both shows. If there is any certainty with the titles, it’s that it seems like the United States Title will definitely be on one show while the Intercontinental Title will definitely be on the other.
Finally, in regard to WWE’s live events, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting that Raw will be doing their live events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while Smackdown will be doing theirs on Saturday and Sunday. There are also talks that it is possible Smackdown will have live events on Mondays like they have in the past.
That’s all for right now. As mentioned above, we’re all pretty much in the dark on the specifics of this news so nothing is really too certain. WWE’s trying to figure this all out too and come up with the best plan of action for both raw and Smackdown. We’ll make sure we continue to provide you with what we know as we learn more information. Let us know any of your thoughts on this news or the brand split in the comment section below.