We've been hearing recently that WWE has suffered a drop in profits and as a result, there may be a rationalisation of the roster, meaning that the RAW and Smackdown rosters and storylines — but not shows — may merge.
If anything, Raw & Smackdown need to pull apart even more to have different identities. Two shows doing the same type of thing is overkill on a weekly basis, it has become — quite frankly — bland, predictable and repetitive.
I'm not going to preach about the evils of 'PG', I understand the business decision behind going down that road and it has produced some memorable programming. But a lot of younger fans have grown up and want a little more 'edge' from their wrestling, others remember WWE in the late 1990s to early 2000s and how exciting that era was to watch.
I think Smackdown needs to get an 'Attitude'.
Why Smackdown? Well RAW has the more appropriate name, but is the more widely-known show and is associated with it's figurehead, John Cena, arguably 'Mr. PG' himself. It should be the 'family' show and appeal to a younger audience.
But Smackdown is on the SyFy network in the U.S.; a network with a lot of TV-14 programming, so therefore has a slightly more grown—up audience. So, why doesn't Smackdown reflect this? Wasn't that the original reason that ECW was shown on there? (as an aside, the original ECW was was shown on TNN, which morphed into Spike, which now has TNA, but I digress).
Two birds are killed with one stone then, as the 'PG' debate also goes away. You're also then potentially widening your fan base, as adults who grew up with WWWF/WWF/Attitude can have a more adult-themed show.
Taking the idea a stage further, RAW would be the 'face' show, Smackdown the 'heel' show; both of them with their own separate storylines as they are now. Cena is The face of the company, so The Undertaker (or Edge) would be the perfect Heel Numero Uno.
Each show could have their own PPVs and the occasional crossover back plot (like for example, Edge turning up on RAW unannounced and spearing Cena during a promo) which would lead into storylines leading into Wrestlemania being a RAW vs. Smackdown event. Except, instead of being a computer game, it would be (kayfabe) real-life. You could even (deep breath) bring back the hardcore belt.
Don't think for a moment that this precludes merchandising sales; WWE had action figures in the Attitude days and UFC has it's own line now, so it's hardly a sales opportunity restricted to little kids.
I'm a child of the Attitude era; TNA, for all of it's faults is the nearest thing we have right now to those halcyon days (yes ROH is good to watch, but doesn't have the production values yet).
The way things are shaping up this year, if TNA can get their act together, WWE may be in a slight decline and find 'the opposition' are nearer than they think.
Vince, you need to divide & conquer.