PWInsider is reporting that ECW may not be long for this world. In 2010, the ECW brand may be eliminated and the Syfy show changed into something else entirely. There's also some vague talk about changes to the Smackdown brand.
If ECW goes, well, I don't think it will be terribly missed by those within and outside the WWE Universe. Christian, Shelton, Regal, etc. reintegrated to Smackdown and RAW will be great for them and for their shows.
I'll reserve any umbrage for changes to Smackdown for after anything more definitive is announced.
Smackdown's deal with MyNetworkTV is up in...September, I think? I haven't heard any indication that they're folding - the syndication stuff is apparently attracting advertisers and they're developing a poker series - but they may not be interested in continuing to pay...whatever they're paying for Smackdown.
I think a lot of stuff is frozen in uncertainty until the Comcast/NBCU deal happens (maybe THIS week?)
WWE programming as of late has been promoting ECW as 'future WWE superstar' -kind of stuff, like a developmental brand mostly. Everyone has now accepted that little if any of the orginal ECW properties still exist, so it wouldn't be that bad of thing it the show and/or roster is re-branded.
But I do think it's important to not try to cram all of the roster onto two shows, so hopefully the younger talent stays somehwhat segregated.
I'd be happy with zero changes to the Smackdown brand. The less like Raw, the better. And I'd like to see One Night Stand periodically as well.
If they dump ECW, make the ECW title the TV Title, put in a 10 minute time limit, and then allow the champion to appear on all 3 remaining shows (RAW, SD, Superstars). That would provide a uniqueness for the title. And, if they are going to use the ECW time slot on a 'new' style program, I'd like to cast a vote for TNT.
My crazy stupid idea no one will go for: Make SmackDown the nitty-gritty, angle-moving show and RAW the show where the PPV matches are established.
For instance, the contenders for a belt jockey for contention on SD in a series of matches and then go to RAW for a loose collection of quarterfinals and finals for each belt. The winner (and top contender for that belt) and the current champ take turns with promos and tune-up matches on both shows before their match at a monthly PPV. RAW retains its flagship status with high-profile matches each week regarding belt contention. SmackDown becomes the proving ground and the last word before each months's PPV. Both shows get main-eventers working with and around midcarders and rookies.
Title matches become less frequent (no longer a weekly event) and become that much more special when they occur on each show.
Then again, it might mean the end of two rosters and see the whittling of good talent.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
There is talk of dropping the ECW name for the Tuesday night show. The show itself may or may not change, but Syfy is apparently upset about the falling ratings. The show itself would remain in the time slot.
It doesn't sound like they're Dropping The Brand Split, just thinking about giving the show a facelift and maybe some changes to get people to take a fresh look at it. There's not enough driving new people to check it out right now, so maybe they do a Russo-rific reboot show.
If the NBC/Comcast deal goes down, and only after everything's legally settled and the keys are turned over, Versus seems a very logical candidate for WWE programming. Since it'd be under the same umbrella as USA and SyFy, WWE would have no restrictions moving there and they'd surely take it. But that's at least a year away.
"Show his product" sounds like a euphemism. I'll be sad if there's no more ECW. Gaining the extra talent might be good for RAW and SD, but it almost certainly won't be for people like Shelton and Zack Ryder (WWWYKI).
I am actually sad ECW is going based on that ECW helped Jack Swagger, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston and some others who have gotten the spotlight based on their developments on the show.
ECW may have been a glorified developmental area, but it has worked to help improve wrestlers who initially started out on the show and gain a bigger spotlight later on. I hope the WWE comes out with something or does something with its wrestlers that need more time before stepping up on Smackdown or Raw. Granted, it will be nice to see Christian go to Smackdown or Raw, but ECW had its purpose despite not being able to beat TNA on the ratings.
With Smackdown and Raw having a lot of people, ECW allowed its people to gain more spotlight compared to Raw or even Smackdown where they might get lost in the shuffle. Who knows if CM Punk, Swagger or a few others would have been as successful if they didn't start on the "third brand".
Hopefully some of the superstars won't get too lost on the more populated and popular brands.
I thought Michaels/Taker, Cena/Batista, Edge/Jericho, MITB, HHH/Sheamus, Rey/Punk, and Orton/DiBiase/Rhodes all had good matches and only Bret/Vince sucked. I think the "one classic match" critique would apply more to last year's Mania.