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Brand Split II: one year on


HarmonicGenerator
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Next week (I think) marks a year since Raw and SmackDown became separate entities again. How's the second brand split gone for you? Who have been the winners and the losers of it? Is WWE better for having done it, or has it been a waste of time?

 

The big winner for me is Braun Strowman. Without having to appear on two shows every week they've been able to steadily push him more and more and let him become a highlight of the shows. 

In the initial months, it looked like it'd be a good thing for lower-card guys and new arrivals from NXT who had less chance to be lost in the shuffle - Heath Slater and American Alpha come to mind. But as the split has become more of the norm, Slater's settled back into his usual role and Alpha have become effectively non-entities. And there's others who they seemed to want to do something with that have done nothing at all in the last year - is Kalisto even still around? However, I can't imagine Jinder Mahal would have become Champion without the split so he's probably a winner - especially as they only brought him back to hell fill up the newly split rosters. Ditto Goldberg and the title, to be honest - but I like one of those more than the other.

Finn Balor looked like he'd be the big winner of the split - that first month where they pushed him to the Universal Title was great - but since his injury and comeback, all that draft buzz has fizzled, which is a great shame. More the injury's fault than the brand split but you'd think they would have something more for him in a split world than an all-in-one WWE.

The big loser is probably the idea of PPVs. There are so many now that none feel special - even if none have been as actively bad as some single brand shows last time round. Though it does mean you can just watch those shows on the Network, not bother with Raw or SmackDown, and not miss much.

That's enough of me anyway - what do you think?

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I think it's hard to judge the success of PPVs now we don't get an idea of how many people are watching them. After a tricky spell last year, I do think the recent ones have all had their place.

Initially the big winner was the Smackdown brand but I think they've definitely lost some momentum in recent months and it's not been a patch on Raw for ages. It was refreshing to see everyone being used up and down the card but I think it's felt formulaic since the re-draft.

Big winners have been the guys and feuds that have had time to breathe with the split roster. Fashion Police, Goldust & Truth, Enzo vs. Cass, etc. Agree completely on Strowman, he's been a great example of booking 101 and Roman has helped massively.

I would say that WWE is better for it. Thinks were shite before it happened and haven't deteriorated. the benefits, keeping something back in terms of fresh matches, being able to add more shows and PPVs and giving time to talented guys who might get lost in the shuffle outweighs any negatives.

WWE has plenty of flaws but none of them are down to split brands. They were there for all to see before and they're still there now.

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I think it's just that the brand split has allowed chance for a few more guys to shine as there's some time for them all now. AJ Styles's run as champion from last Summer was a notable highlight. I think the Miz did well out of it as well. He got chance to shine with his Miz TV segments. Jeri-KO was some great television, although Owens's matches as champion left a lot to be desired. Some of the NXT call-ups left a bit to be desired, though. Bayley's run was horrible, and that they threw Charlotte's unbeaten PPV record away during it was pretty shoddy.

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1 hour ago, tiger_rick said:

Initially the big winner was the Smackdown brand but I think they've definitely lost some momentum in recent months and it's not been a patch on Raw for ages.

I'd agree with this. I thought the shake-up had a big negative effect on Smackdown as well when you look at both rosters now. At Great Balls of Fire, even Finn Balor didn't get a spot on an absolutely stacked card. The last Smackdown card however featured the Poundshoppers of Pain getting a tag match and a match between Lana VS Naomi that we could've done without.

Their next PPV will obviously be better/bigger on paper, with Cena & Rusev back, but Cena is no longer a Smackdown exclusive. It's starting to reek a bit of Raw Supershow. I think Smackdown has suffered a bit with not having Daniel Bryan around so much, as having Shane - who is boring as fuck - chatting in the ring or backstage is a waste of time.

Of course, the personnel is only half of it- Smackdown had the weaker roster overall from the get-go but still managed to produce a better show. The writing has tailed off. I don't think they've booked Nakamura as well as they could have.

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Overall, they've had a shocker. Initially, Smackdown was doing a really good job with it - elevating some and giving some others some much needed spotlight. Ever since they took the belt off AJ, it's suffered, no surprise seeing as the main programmes have been built around a combination of Orton, Wyatt and bloody Jinder.
It's becoming quite clear that Vince just doesn't get Nakamura. I'm sure if a writer suggested an animal nickname that would change, though.

On the Raw side, it was quite clear early on, for a 3 hour show, they lacked star power - the midcard show. Sadly, despite robbing Smackdown, it's done nowt to save the show and only made both shows worse off.

Too much content and not enough stars, or good writing. Kurt Angle can't even elevate their auto pilot scripts.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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4 minutes ago, ColinBollocks said:

On the Raw side, it was quite clear early on, for a 3 hour show, they lacked star power - the midcard show. Sadly, despite robbing Smackdown, it's done nowt to save the show and only made both shows worse off.

There hasn't been a bad Raw for weeks.

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Fair enough. I'm a YouTube man, these days, so only watch the interesting stuff. That's mostly to do with it being week after week of nothing, for the most part, since the brand split (and a year before, tbf).

I agree the Joe/Lesnar stuff is very good and Braun is maybe the best thing they've pushed in years. Seth Rollins is still there, though.

Edited by ColinBollocks
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13 minutes ago, ColinBollocks said:

It's becoming quite clear that Vince just doesn't get Nakamura. I'm sure if a writer suggested an animal nickname that would change, though.

Calling him 'Smackdown's rock star' is proper shit.

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Would echo that Smackdown was the hotter show early on and even won a few ratings, but that's petered off since the build to Mania.

Raw has done brilliantly with Strowman since the first brand split episode and Joe is marvellous to watch, plus we can complain about a part time champion all we want, I'll take that a thousand times over this drab patriotic Jinder shite. Orton just needs to fuck off too. 

Raw has hit a nice rhythm lately and nearly everyone has a purpose, aside from like, Mark Henry and a couple of the women. Whereas on Smackdown there's a fair few people gone AWOL like Alpha and Dillinger, although Gable is getting more TV time, and they've at least got more going on in the tag scene now with the Fashion Police push

Smackdown have probably been superior on the women's front, considering everyone gets used most weeks and Raw's terrible mishandling of Bayley, but I'm starting to tire of seeing everyone every week tbh. A stray pube has more charisma than Tamina

I'd say the split was a positive thing though, both shows have a distinct feel and the increase in match quality and lack of general poor taste means the PPVs generally beat a lot of those from the 03 onwards period. We're blessed having the network and close to a guarantee of at least one cracking match, rather than shelling out about 35+ quid to sky box office for the pissing Great American Bash. We're spoiled now.

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I'd agree with what most have said

The 1st 7-8 months of the split Smackdown was the far superior show IMO.

However since the "Superstar Shakeup" that has changed, I still enjoyable Smackdown for the most part but it's certainly lost steam and Raw the past 8 weeks or so has been very good

I'd say this has been the best 2 Month period of Raw outside the Road to Wrestlemania seasons for a good few years (heck it's even been better then some years of the Rumble-Mania stretch) 

On the whole I'd say the Split has been a net positive for the Company and a lot of the wrestlers.

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On the whole, it's been a change for better I feel. That's not saying a fat lot when you look at just how stagnant things had become just before the split happened though, something really had to happen. SmackDown had become a total waste of time. At least now I feel there are reasons to watch both shows each week (or at least keep up with what's going on). The roster shake-up this year ruined things a fair bit for me, it just seems a lazy quick fix in lieu of actual creativity. Part of the appeal of the roster split is keeping major players apart for a long enough period of time for an eventual meeting to feel fresh again. They only lasted 10 months before switching up half the rosters again.

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I thought it was a mistake at first but SmackDown benefitted greatly from the split up until the re-draft. The show was booked logically and flew by. It's lost it's way a bit recently though.

Business wise it definitely hasn't helped Network numbers, and has added costs of extra PPV production. However it also means they can run extra events, so sell more merch, advertising, tickets etc than they did before. As well as that, by having two PPV's a month, they have the benefit of the hugely increased cost of ticket prices for PPV shows as compared to even a couple of years ago, as well as being able to run money generating house shows on the same night as PPV's, when before that it was all hands on deck for the PPV. 

I watch via mediums these days that are no benefit to WWE, but I still watch every week, and view SmackDown as relevant, whereas I had quit watching Smackdown altogether for a number of years prior to the latest brand split. It seems that it has made a similar impression on other people, so that's a definite benefit, as would I say is the brand extension as a whole again, even if there are things about it that I would change. 

Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Miz, Sheamus and Cesaro, Jinder, Titus O'Neil, Corbin, AJ, Dolph, Kevin Owens, The Uso's, Fashion Police, among others have all gained from the extension. And there are others who may not have gained but would be in a worse position on a combined show (Ambrose, Nakamura, Wyatt, Rusev, Mojo, Chad Gable, Finn Balor, The Drifter, among others).

The Universal title has turned the corner eventually as well, but I still think they would have been better sticking to one World champ, one set of Tag champs, one Women's champion, and binning this god awful Cruiserweight division. 

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