WWE over the Limit 2012: Moving Closer to the Demise of the Brand Extension
It was almost a year ago that Triple H announced the "Raw Supershow" format for the WWE's flagship program. Many marked this as the end of the Brand Extension, which was implemented in 2002.
However, there remained some differentiation between the brands even after Raw's format change. Sure, stars moved freely between the two shows. The big thing was that championship matches were still only granted to members of the championship's designated brand.
This Sunday, the 2012 installment of Over the Limit will feature CM Punk defending his WWE Championship and Sheamus defending his World Heavyweight Championship. CM Punk will be challenged by Smackdown's Daniel Bryan. Sheamus will defend his title in a Fatal Fourway match against Randy Orton, Alberto del Rio, and Raw's Chris Jericho.
The only other time that wrestlers have challenged for a championship on a different brand in recent memory has been through the use of the Money in the Bank title shot. Other than that, no one has challenged for an opposing brand's championships, let alone its world championship.
But at Over the Limit, that very thing will take place. Daniel Bryan won the Beat the Clock challenge on Raw to earn a match against CM Punk. Chris Jericho, along with Orton and del Rio, has been named a contender for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The fact that these world title matches don't abide by the Brand Extension signifies that we are one step closer to the end of a definitive split between the shows. Based on the fact that members of either roster can challenge for either world title means that the WWE doesn't plan to keep their world titles separate.
The next step toward the end of the brand extension would be the world championships actually shifting brands on a regular basis. It is only once the two world titles are unified and one belt represents both brands that the split between Raw and Smackdown will be entirely gone. With this development, that day may come sooner rather than later.
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