Everything written in this article is my opinion. There is no concrete news, but looking at a number of factors, I have come to the conclusion that WrestleMania, or immediately after, could be the time that WWE decides to merge its Raw and Smackdown brands, nine years on from the original brand extension.
In April 2002, Vince McMahon and WWE took the decision to split its roster between the Monday Night Raw show, and the then Thursday Night Smackdown. This decision was made to give more superstars on the roster the chance of TV airtime.
Originally, the Undisputed World Championship ruled over both brands, but a few months later a new World Championship was given to Triple H on Raw to ensure wrestlers remained on their own, respective brands.
Since 2002, many wrestling fans have called for the merger of the brands once again, but until recently there were no signs of this happening.
But in August 2010, The Hart Dynasty's Unified Tag Team Championship was modified to become just the WWE Tag Team Championship, with a new belt design to go with it. For me, this was a sign of things to come.
Also, in recent months, the diva division has seen the retirement of the Women's Championship, in favour of keeping a single women's title, the Diva's Championship. This means the divas will be wrestling cross-brand (as well as the few tag-teams remaining in WWE) if they are to have a chance of fighting for the title.
Would you like to see Raw and Smackdown merge?
Today's news of the WWE's drop in profits has prompted speculation of a major cutback in staff, primarily the WWE superstars. A number of lower and mid-card wrestlers will be fearing for their WWE futures as a result of the news.
If WWE does cut back on its roster size, this will give better reason to have wrestlers crossing brands more frequently if they are to fill out their broadcasts with quality matches (if some of the matches currently can be described as "quality"!).
This situation would render the separate brands unnecessary, as the original reason for the brand extension, as a way of giving exposure to the lesser known superstars, would no longer be the case.
The final reason that has led me to believe WWE's brands may re-merge (and this reason is a little less prominent than the others) comes from watching the WWE's output in the UK.
WWE has been advertising its next UK tour (set for April) during most commercial breaks. This is not unusual. What I find unusual, and I could be wrong, is the naming of the tour.
In past years, following WrestleMania, the WWE's tour of Europe has been split under the Raw WrestleMania Revenge Tour, and the Smackdown WrestleMania Revenge Tour, though this year the tour is simply named the WWE WrestleMania Revenge Tour.
The dropping of the brands in the tour title could be an indication of things to come within the company, but hey, I'm only speculating here!
- Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my first Wrestling article here on The Bleacher Report. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the article and join in the discussion -