Business of Wrestling: Why the WWE's Brand Split Will Not End Anytime Soon
The 2012 WWE draft is expected to take place on the April 23rd edition of Monday Night Raw, but most wrestling fans don’t seem to care about it too much.
With Raw’s new SuperShow format and the continuous crossover between the brands, the thought is that neither the WWE draft nor the brand split matter anymore.
Although I’m in favor of the brand split, I admit it—the brand extension just doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
That being said, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and it has nothing to do with the creative team or the booking of storylines. It has everything to do with business.
The WWE doesn’t just have a brand split for the sake of having a brand split or because of the effect it has on storylines. The company has a brand split because of one big reason—house shows.
People always ask me why the WWE doesn’t simply end the brand split and stop having the draft. What they don’t realize is that you have to have a brand split if you want your live events to be successful.
Consolidating the SmackDown and Raw rosters into one means that every superstar would have to appear on every house show, which, in turn, means that you can’t hold a Raw house show on the same night as a SmackDown one and you can’t have the WWE in two cities at a time.
That’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t.
The WWE has to have a SmackDown roster, and it has to have a Raw roster that remains completely separate from it on the house show circuit. Has to.
The company needs to be able to market two different house show experiences—a Raw one and a SmackDown one—to its fans and let them choose which one they want to go to.
That’s the main reason why there are two separate brands.
If your favorite wrestlers are Randy Orton, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, then you go to SmackDown. If your favorite stars are John Cena, CM Punk and Zack Ryder, then you go to Raw.
Idiots don’t run the WWE. Vince McMahon runs it, and Vince knows that having two balanced rosters is an absolute necessity—and it’s not because of creative plans, it’s because of house shows.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is starting to focus on what the WWE landscape will be after WrestleMania, and he's got his thought process on the annual draft, WrestleZone has learned exclusively.
"Vince knows he can keep Raw and SmackDown talent on both shows, since Raw is a Super Show now," a key WWE insider told us, "so in order to bring up the SmackDown house shows, how could it hurt to have (John) Cena or (Chris) Jericho on SmackDown, and have them appear on Raw and shoot the major angles there?"
As you can see, this isn’t about who Jericho or Cena can feud with. Mark Henry’s a SmackDown superstar, and he’s gotten two WWE Championship matches against Raw star CM Punk in the last two weeks, for crying out loud.
What is the primary reason behind the brand split?
Even if Cena and/or Jericho move to SmackDown in the 2012 WWE draft, it means diddly squat in terms of who they can or cannot feud with.
It does, however, directly affect the house show business.
Move Cena to SmackDown, and it gives Cena fans a reason to watch Raw, watch SmackDown and go to SmackDown house shows.
This draft/brand extension is not an overly complicated situation that should need a lot of explaining. It’s something that essentially speaks for itself.
You need two separate rosters for two separate house show circuits in order for fans to know whom they’re paying to see, and that is probably always going to be the case, so you can end the debate now.
Case closed: The brand split ain’t going anywhere.
Note: As part of the new WWE blog, I'll be asking all of the B/R wrestling readers for questions for a new mailbag that I will post on Fridays. It will be a slideshow featuring 10-20 questions and answers on a wide range of topics. You can submit questions either through Formspring or Twitter, and the best ones will be answered in the B/R mailbag.
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