If WWE is serious about maximizing its audience and creating new stars then could it be time to renew the Brand Extension? I say "Yes, Yes, Yes."
In March 2002, with the then-WWF roster bloated by the acquisition of WCW and ECW, Vince McMahon made the decision to divide the roster between his two flagship shows, Raw and SmackDown. The former would remain the de facto 'A-Show' to eventually be carried by what is now the WWE Championship whilst the latter would be headlined by the World Heavyweight Championship brought over from WCW. Given the strict division of labour between the two shows, WWE was able to showcase more talent than ever before and give their cast the necessary television time to hone their craft in front of a national audience.
The brand extension was killed by the arguably necessary introduction of the Raw Supershow but the consequences for the championship which carried SmackDown were dire, as it slipped into near-irrelevance at times. Numerous performers drifted into obscurity and became little more than enhancement talent. Fast forward to 2013, though: The roster is as deep as it has ever been and WWE is crying out for new stars able to carry the promotion to the end of the decade.
I'll resist launching into a Bleacher Report-style tirade against the Supershow and refrain too from lionizing the glory days of the Brand Extension, preferring instead to kick-off a little discussion to liven up this Sunday morning. Here's a bit of food for thought:
- Pay-per-view (PPV) buys would surely benefit from the promotion of two separate, properly established World Champions representing the two shows. I'm literally salivating over the thought of Bully Ray being brought in to carry SmackDown into his retirement.
- Those guys we all feel are held back by the Supershow format (Cesaro, Ziggler, Ohno, etc.) might be given the necessary room to develop and fulfill their potential, thus providing a boost to WWE's revenue.
- TV ratings might improve and, if HHH is serious when he says the two shows act as WWE's "biweekly focus group", then at the very least be able to teach the powers-that-be even more about what is working and what isn't as the differences between the product are carefully monitored.
- The yearly draft would keep things fresh. We wouldn't have to see the same guys in the ring from one week to the next, year-in, year-out, as creative would be forced to craft more interesting stories and fans would be able to hope for that cross-promotional match-up they've been deprived of for so long.
What do you think Cagesiders?