WWE SmackDown Fallout: The Brand Extension Is Dead and More from June 18
The brand extension is over, no matter how tricky WWE tries to be with its Wild Card nonsense, as we found out Tuesday night on SmackDown Live.
No fewer than eight Superstars from Raw crossed brand lines and appeared on Tuesday's broadcast as the company's creative team utilized as many stars as possible to put the finishing touches on its hype for Stomping Grounds, a pay-per-view that feels more and more like an In Your House circa 1995 than a meaningful event.
For all it did wrong in regards to the roster split, though, the show did feature two promo segments that created genuine intrigue and hype for the Superstars involved or the match they were promoting.
Dive deeper into those segments, and the demise of the brand extension, with these takeaways from the June 18 episode.
R.I.P., Brand Extension
Sami Zayn. Akam. Rezar. Alexa Bliss. Drake Maverick. Seth Rollins. Drew McIntyre. The Miz.
All Raw Superstars who appeared Tuesday night on SmackDown.
Ladies and gentlemen, this incarnation of WWE's brand extension is dead and gone. The Wild Card rule, once a not-so-clever loophole to have talent cross over between Raw and SmackDown is now a tired, laughable stipulation that carries absolutely no weight and adheres to absolutely no rules.
Tuesday's broadcast brought with it double the amount of allowed Wild Cards and the result was a show that looked less and less like the SmackDown Live crafted by April's Superstar Shakeup and more like a show destined to combine all of the Superstars of WWE into one giant melting pot.
The problem? The absurd amount of competitors on the roster as it is will now find it even harder to get airtime due to the company's desire to present as many of its stars as possible across both shows.
Originally conceived in 2002 as a means to create internal competition and give a platform to some of the company's more underutilized talents, and trotted back out in 2016 for the same reason, the brand extension again finds itself at the mercy of a creative process so flawed it has failed miserably to create stars and must now reblend the rosters so the writing team has the full roster of talent at its disposal.
It is a disappointing end to a concept that once had so much promise. Even if it is not the official end of the split, the constant blurring of brand lines diminished the effect it once had and essentially kills it dead. What that means for the young talent who saw the split as an opportunity for screen time they otherwise may not have had remains to be seen as airtime will be tougher and tougher to attain...especially with Shane McMahon taking up 40 minutes every week.
Now, it is up to WWE to publicly address the brand extension's fate and stop insulting fans' intelligence with the Wild Card nonsense.
Bayley and Alexa Bliss Bring Fire to Personal Final Promo Before Title Clash
On the surface, Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss was a Stomping Grounds match that lacked an emotional punch.
During Tuesday's A Moment of Bliss, the women drew on real-life experience to deliver a hell of a promo that instantly added heat to their feud. Two Superstars previously victim of such creative disasters as This is Your Life, Bayley and Bliss kept it simple and the result was a heated back-and-forth that added just enough of an edge to their program that suddenly, their title match feels like one of the more interesting bouts on the card.
Throw in Nikki Cross, whose character has been one of the best on the show, and you have an equation rife with opportunities for a really fun pay-per-view clash.
By using past issues between them, steeped in very real emotion, what probably should have been just another television promo segment made fans sit up, pay attention to the bomb Bayley and Bliss were throwing at each other, and become genuinely excited by the prospect of the PPV bout.
If only every promo could create that outcome.
Aleister Black's Latest Promo Hints at Darker Version of Character Than Before
The latest promo from Aleister Black depicted a more menacing and foreboding former NXT champion than we have seen to date.
A week ago, he screamed in anger for someone to come knocking at his door; to pick a fight with him.
This week, almost reserved to the idea that someone eventually will, Black was intense serious as he stared into the camera and spoke of changing the essence of that opponent.
Black has been one of the more interesting personas on WWE television post-WrestleMania. He has not been utilized between the ropes, but he has not had to be. The engaging manner in which he speaks to the audience through the camera, the facial expressions and the tone he takes all add up to compelling package fans are not getting elsewhere on the show.
Black will eventually find himself in the ring, hero or villain, and will commence kicking people's heads off sooner or later. The only variable to his success? Timing, as WWE Creative must ensure the promos do not overstay their welcome.