Vicious Cycle: Why Not Unify The Brands For a Change?
With the WCW invasion, the WWE had a glut of talent and no way to distribute it. There were a lot of huge names and filling them all on a single roster was a tough nut to crack, so the WWE decided to sell us the brand split. The WWE roster would be "drafted" to Smackdown or Raw and the performers would stick with that brand, and that brand only. Currently, the WWE seems in creative limbo, and the IWC is screaming to the hills that talent is being wasted and the credibility and prestige of its titles has been undermined. My modest proposal here is to end the brand separation and unify the company under one product and utilize the shows to their fullest potential.
As of late, I have not been gripped by WWE programming as much as I have in the past. I still watch both products, but I have to wonder why the WWE bothers to sell us Raw and Smackdown as being two separate promotions. While they have distinct identities, the wrestlers all work for WWE, so why try to sell us the imagined competition? Is this meant to sell us on the idea that we are watching two separate products altogether? Why bother? A brand unification could accomplish what Raw and Smackdown currently do, but without restricting the talent and opening it up maximize its full roster.
In the corporate vernacular, it's called streamlining. Sometimes a company is too large to be efficient and layoffs have to be made. The current WWE roster is very large (and with NXT, getting larger still) and could be cut by maybe half a dozen to a dozen performers. Is it fair? No. Will talented wrestlers get cut because of this? Without a doubt, yes. But the best talent may still be retained within the company. The unfortunate truth of the business is that jobbers will always be a necessary part of the business (and are probably the most technically proficient as well) so low-end talent will be needed.
But what is my coup-de-grace? Unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles. It would be a risky move and one which would certainly draw the ire of many in the IWC, but it would increase the title's prestige by making it the ultimate championship to attain. The US and Intercontinental Titles would both increase in importance and become a natural step to the company-wide title. Those titles could represent either show and would be defend on the shows accordingly. Superstars could host a revived Cruiserweight Title and the Divas Title would go straight into the trash where it belongs and the Women's Championship would be defended across all shows.
By having no brand separation, the performers can move more fluidly between shows without having to come up with ludicrous angles to justify the moves. The best matchups and feuds would be arranged without limitations. Need IC Champ Jack Swagger to defend his title against a worthy face? How about we have Randy Orton go against him? Is Sheamus becoming stale with the belt? Give him to the Deadman and liven up his program. Use your best mic workers on Raw to utilize the live setting to its fullest and focus Superstars and Smackdown on technical aspects of wrestling. The unfortunate truth we hate to admit is that Smackdown is a secondary show to Raw. It may have better matches and feuds seven times out of ten, but the ratings say otherwise. Use Smackdown as a supporting show and carry storylines over from Raw and you might see a significant increase in viewership. By that extent, you could make both show must see TV.
I know I may get blasted to the hills for this idea, but it's something to think about. I believe much of the criticism coming from the IWC is based in malaise and boredom. We aren't as gripped by the current product and hope for something to break us from our doldrums. It may be a drastic measure, but sometimes we need to see some change for change's sake.
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