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The W - Pro Wrestling - Why Do We Need Smackdown and RAW Anymore?
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John Orquiola
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Since: 28.2.02
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.48
I'm moving this over from the RAW thread to start a discussion as its own topic.

    Originally posted by It's False
    I haven't even heard the term "brand" mentioned on TV in over a year, so what's stopping them from unifying the titles at this point?


Inertia, probably. I was discussing this earlier this week with a friend. WWE's two branded business model is a relic of a scenario from over ten years ago when they bought their main competition, WCW, and decided to create the illusion of competition within WWE, or WWE being its own competition.

No Draft Lottery in 2012 and the advent of Supershows, i.e. wrestlers appearing on both shows, pretty much indicates interest in moving away from that model (or at least a disinterest in maintaining the integrity of that model), but so much of the internal workings of the company is still stuck in the RAW-Smackdown dual brand way of thinking.

Apparently, no one has simply looked at how the company is structured and asked, "Do we need to keep pretending we have separate but equal (ha!) brands within WWE? If so, why?"

There's a logical business reason to keep RAW and Smackdown as separate touring brands so it's easy to decide where to send talent for house shows, and if they keep two brands, it makes sense to have two World Champions so that there's a World Title main event on each tour's show. To unify the World Titles would bring it back to the 1980s, when there'd be a clearly delineated A show (whichever show Hulk Hogan was on as WWF Champion, usually) and B show, often headlined by upper midcard acts in smaller venues. Having the World Heavyweight Champion main eventing Smackdown shows at least maintains the illusion both brands are equal, even if everyone really knows RAW is A show and Smackdown is B show.

To unify the World Championships means the WWE Champion (and we all know a unification would preserve the WWE Championship) would end up working almost every show. Doesn't he anyway, you ask? Well, yes and no. But not really. CM Punk doesn't appear on every Smackdown even if Sheamus does appear on every RAW.

Point is, do they need the RAW and Smackdown brands at all anymore? Can't RAW just be a show and Smackdown just be a show and WWE be the brand? It kind of is sort of like that now anyway, but isn't. But moving the product forward into this decade should really start with Vince, Stephanie, Triple H, etc. taking a hard look at how WWE is structured and asking, "Why do we still operate like the Monday Night Wars just ended last year instead of over 10 years ago?"



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StaggerLee
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Since: 3.10.02
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.63
The simple reason, I would think, is to have enough mid carders to fill the show during the build to the main events on each show. If you eliminate a world title here, and a secondary title, all you have is 40 guys trying to win two belts. That just won't work, and they'd either fire a BUNCH of guys, or run a lot of them off to TNA, Japan, etc. Other than that I cant think of a reason at all.


(edited by StaggerLee on 10.10.12 1913)


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Papadoc
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Since: 14.1.04
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.31
I think they need it to keep Smackdown somewhat legitimate. If they unite belts, and all become one brand; why watch the b show? You know the best stuff is going to happen on Monday night. When Smackdown first came out, legitimate things happened on the show to further storylines, good matches, etc. After a good Raw you wanted to check out Smackdown to see what happened next. If they could do that, yes, bring everything together. But otherwise, keep things the same and just strengthen the two brands
Dr Unlikely
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.30
You've already hit upon the reason why they won't do it as a business (two touring rosters) and the problem they'd have if they did (two champions). The solution, of course, is the same one they had years ago before brands, which is to have only one World Champion and support him with a properly booked Intercontinental Champion with enough attention paid to his feuds that the IC champ can also headline shows in touring markets.

It can still be done, but the obvious issue is how poorly they've treated the Intercontinental title. The current landscape gives them very little room to fix that, as the IC title is at best the #3 singles title, and you could argue (I would) that right now it's astonishingly sixth or seventh on the list of company priorities (the tag titles are #3 on the depth chart at the moment, the Divas Title scene is terrible - sorry, John! - but at least does have a champion with a gimmick, two challengers and a whodunnit angle* and the US title has a champion with a gimmick that fits his title and a notable win over somebody, which is more than the IC title can seemingly say).

What really burns is that they had, in my mind, a golden opportunity to take care of all of this just last year. When Punk left with the WWE Title, I said at the time here that I wanted to see a power void play out on Raw with US Champ Ziggler declaring himself the de facto "Raw Champion" as the #1 title holder on the brand. It could have been a way to plant the seeds in establishing one of the secondary titles as being on equal footing as the World Heavyweight Title while Punk was on self-imposed exile with WWE Title. At that point, they already knew Wrestlemania would be headlined by two guys without any titles, so there's no reason they couldn't have had had Punk return with the belt to build to a WWE/World Heavyweight Title Unification Match at WM, especially since the World Heavyweight Title match ended up only being 18 seconds long.

They could have gone a number of ways with that match: Punk vs. Sheamus, Punk vs. Bryan, Punk vs. Jericho. Ideally, I'd have had it be Punk vs. Bryan (since Rock/Cena already guaranteed buys and HHH/Undertaker III in the Cell was there to support it) to unify the title and give Punk true claim to his "Best In The World" spot, only to then do the feud with Jericho, since Jericho would be able to lay claim to starting the "best" gimmick and be the original Undisputed Champion, and Punk could have then sent Jericho on hiatus at SummerSlam. But again, there are plenty of ways they could have gotten to one WWE World Heavyweight Champion without fear of losing a big number for WM.

All during that time, of course, Ziggler was rolling off a nearly 200 day reign with the US title before losing to Ryder in a great moment, while Cody Rhodes ended up getting the IC title and starting up a 230+ reign, complete with a "bringing back the old strap to restore its glory" angle. All they needed to do was combine those two angles (not necessarily the belts) so you end up with a heel Intercontinental Champion making a run at that belt's record (which Cody seemed poised to do) before losing to beloved upstart face Zack Ryder at Wrestlemania in the ultimate feel-good show opener. That would have left them with an Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, a popular and properly pushed Intercontinental Champion and still a US title for guys like Sandow and the like to use to establish themselves.

The one positive is that Punk's current Best In the World/Quest For Respect angle still gives them logical reasons to do a unification match (especially since they've had Punk duck it once on Raw and do a non-title version on the new show) against Sheamus. And the hidden boon is that a restored Undisputed World Title finally gives John Cena (and Sheamus, who has already done everything else he could possibly do) a new goal to want to accomplish.

But that still leaves the problem of rehabbing either the IC or US title into something that people take seriously. They've already wasted the "underdog face achieves the impossible dream" angle with how terribly they treated Ryder and his win. And Punk's already doing the "assault on the (modern) record" angle, so they can't even go back to that after kind of wasting it with Cody's reign.

The only other thing I can see them doing to build up one of those two belts is to tie it to Ryback's "streak". If Ryback HAD beaten Miz for the belt, Punk vs. Ryback this past Monday would have had a Hogan/Warrior vibe, and even if the two of them never met title for title, the notion that the "Real" Champ sees the IC champ as a peer would be have been evident. And then you run with Ryback as unbeatable IC champ to rehab the belt and make the moment where he loses it a big deal by association.




*Completely unrelated note: I hope they eventually reveal it was Teddy Long in a Goldust wig who attacked Kaitlyn.
Dionysus
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Since: 10.7.11

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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.88
I recall that when "Smackdown!" was on UPN, studies showed that the audience it drew was nearly entirely different from the audience of "Raw is War". I imagine that was in part because not every household had a UPN affiliate in their area, and not every household had cable.

Now that both are on cable, do they share the same audience?

If they do share the same audience, that would be an arguement for continuing their move back to their 1999-2002 model where both shows forwarded the same storylines. If the shows have different audiences, then making a more rigid split between the storylines of both shows would be preferable to cut down on viewer confusion.
It's False
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.74
    Originally posted by StaggerLee
    The simple reason, I would think, is to have enough mid carders to fill the show during the build to the main events on each show. If you eliminate a world title here, and a secondary title, all you have is 40 guys trying to win two belts. That just won't work, and they'd either fire a BUNCH of guys, or run a lot of them off to TNA, Japan, etc. Other than that I cant think of a reason at all.

But the counterargument to this is that about 80% of the roster isn't doing anything meaningful anyway and are constantly trading wins in 50/50 fashion or losing outright. That includes the secondary champions. If they aren't going to do anything worthwhile with these guys, why not just let them go? I'm sure it'd save a lot of money on wasted payroll, travel expenses, etc. Running this many house shows can't be cheap and I can't imagine they bring in that much revenue, do they?

I've struggled with this thread question myself. Did anyone really think that Edge's retirement would just out-and-out kill the SmackDown brand and, by extension, the entire dual-brand idea? But that's what it feels like, because SD just hasn't been the same since he left.

The idea of headlining each house show with a title match doesn't really work, because The E has proven that there are very few stars in the company, regardless of who's champion. Were CM Punk and Daniel Bryan honestly considered "headliners" during their title reigns? Or were house show audiences there for John Cena or Sheamus? My point is that people go to house shows to see certain stars, not "champions". If they were there to see champions, would The E be refunding tickets for Friday's house show because John Cena isn't going to be there? So this argument of separate brands for house shows doesn't ring right with me.

I really believe there could be major fan interest in title unification. There's money to be had in a buildup, especially now that they aren't hotshotting the major titles anymore. And they might as well, now that Punk's even gone on-air acknowledging that the WHC makes that champion "at best, the SECOND Best in the World."



RYDER FAKIN
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Since: 21.2.02
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.84
Television Money

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John Orquiola
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Since: 28.2.02
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.48
One scenario, and I'll freely throw this in the It Will Never, Ever Happen file, is to drop the idea of separate brands, unify the World Titles into the undisputed WWE Championship, but then divide the roster (unofficially) into touring brands with slightly different booking philosophies.

What I mean by this: WWE is PG and that won't change any time soon. But WWE still attempts to placate the older, more hardcore fan with matches, angles and workers who appeal to older folk. (Because no one who works for WWE is 11 years old and they do also want to book shows and matches they themselves want to see.)

So what I would have happen would be to have the two different tours, while all still officially the PG WWE product you can bring your whole family to enjoy, have certain differences and tweaks in what you would see depending on who is headlining. Instead of RAW and Smackdown as brands, the headlining stars would be the indicators of the bend, if you will, of that show. Meaning, if John Cena or Sheamus, the more kid friendly superhero main eventers, are the top of the card, then their show is understood to be a little "safer". Their undercard could have guys like Kofi Kingston and The Miz and Santino Marella on it and the 11 year olds would have the WWE they like to see.

On the other hand, the other show might be headlined by CM Punk, or Randy Orton, or Daniel Bryan and Kane, for instance. By seeing their names, it is understood their show would bend a little more physical, a little more adult. You can still bring the family, it's still PG, but the action and the style of matches would be aimed a bit more towards the older fan. This show could have Dolph Ziggler and The Ryback and Team Rhodes Scholars on it, and well, I'm not 11 years old and I'd like to see that show.

This would of course mean the WWE Universe would have to be educated in the difference between the touring styles, and occasionally wrestlers would mix and match to work the different styles of the different shows, but it wouldn't matter who the WWE Champion is, you wouldn't need separate RAW and Smackdown brands or General Managers, and they can do away with the old paradigm of separate brands. It would all be WWE, but different shades of WWE.

Again, it would never happen. But my ultimate point is the same as in my original post, the very creative structure of WWE is inert and stale and needs to be overhauled top to bottom.

(edited by John Orquiola on 10.10.12 1802)

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BigDaddyLoco
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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.29
    Originally posted by It's False


    I've struggled with this thread question myself. Did anyone really think that Edge's retirement would just out-and-out kill the SmackDown brand and, by extension, the entire dual-brand idea? But that's what it feels like, because SD just hasn't been the same since he left.




You are probably right about Edge. They probably banked on Randy Orton filling that spot, but he constantly drifts between being Edge and being Mr Anderson.

That being said I think having Michael Cole do both shows was the first problem. Not because Cole isn't very good, but because Smackdown doesn't even have a "voice of Smackdown".

They shouldn't kill a brand, but they should use them to their advantage. I am no fan of three hour Raws and never watch a full episode anymore, but without three hour Raws would we have great tag and midcard matches?

I think they will eventually fix the IC belt, but fixing the tag division was something that needed to be done a long time ago so first thing is first.

The midcard is being repaired after years and years of neglect. The more important midcarders you have the more important the middle belts become, but until then it's tough to unify the top belts even if the Main Event talent pool is to dry to support two belts.

It is almost like we are watching a football team during a mild rebuilding year. What makes us nervous is the WWE not sticking with anything long enough during the tough stretches.

Tribal Prophet
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Since: 9.1.02
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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.72
The entire creation of the "brand split" was a crutch. The WWE's creative wasn't able to handle booking shows properly with a large roster, so they split the rosters up to give RAW creative and Smackdown creative teams each their own smaller groups.

The WWE claimed publicly it was too hard to make new stars with so many guys showing up on both shows, but they had just finished a period where they made more stars than ever before. Before that period, they made stars regularly in the 80's with barely any TV compared to 2 hours of prime time Monday nights. The only time they haven't been able to make new stars has been during the brand split that was supposedly done to give more guys time on tv.

After 10 years, the brand split has put off the problems with creative as long as it can. They even tried a third brand for a while to try to put off fixing the creative department.

They can put the rosters back together, or they can have 10 brands. At the end of the day, they have to realize that hiring Hollywood TV writers to put their shows together will not work. They need people at the top who understand they are doing wrestling, not entertainment, and know how to book wrestling. No one watching thinks they're watching "Sports Entertainment", they know it's wrestling. Until the WWE figures out that they are fighting an uphill battle by trying to change what has always worked with wrestling booking by forcing their 50/50 booking down our throats, the number of brands doesn't really matter.

At the end of the day though, regardless of how the company has fallen from it's position ten years ago, how do you fire your daughter?
jon jones
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Since: 25.2.11

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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.02
It's so that they can tell the guys on Smackdown! "You're doing great! Keep it up and we're going to move you to RAW!!!"

And they can tell the guys on RAW, "What the fuck are you doing?! Do you want to be moved to Smackdown!? You keep this up and I'll send you there NEXT WEEK!!!"
JustinShapiro
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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.73
    Originally posted by Tribal Prophet
    The entire creation of the "brand split" was a crutch. The WWE's creative wasn't able to handle booking shows properly with a large roster, so they split the rosters up to give RAW creative and Smackdown creative teams each their own smaller groups. The WWE claimed publicly it was too hard to make new stars with so many guys showing up on both shows


The brand split was the plan from the day they bought WCW and ended up with that large roster, but the reason Vince believed in it so much was less about opening up more spots as it was about not burning out his top stars by cutting their national television appearances and angles and matches in half. Unfortunately, that "preserving the acts' shelf life" thing is not something he seems to believe in at all anymore, 'cause that don't increase revenue for the fiscal quarter.
JayJayDean
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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.12
    Originally posted by Tribal Prophet
    At the end of the day, they have to realize that hiring Hollywood TV writers to put their shows together will not work. They need people at the top who understand they are doing wrestling, not entertainment, and know how to book wrestling. No one watching thinks they're watching "Sports Entertainment", they know it's wrestling.


Honestly, I think if they unified the titles and eliminated the brand split it would *have* to pave the way for MORE WRESTLING. "What do we do with only two titles?" How about continuing to focus on creating a viable tag team division? Why not make a TV title that would be the "it has to be defended on every show so it gets passed around the midcard"-title? Whatever it is...if it means more wrestling and less rehashing of angles and replaying of Stuff We Just Saw Two Segments Ago...I would be all for it.



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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.70
In addition to the aforementioned reasons, the RAW/Smackdown designation unofficially still exists for the house shows so fans attending the SD shows won't get upset when John Cena doesn't show up since he isn't a Smackdown guy. I'd say he's the main driver for house show business, so if you did away with the brands and just advertised it as 'WWE Is Coming To Town (Without John Cena)!,' not enough fans might catch the bracketed part and get upset, advertised card be damned.

Having the world champ, tag champs and diva's champ float between both shows makes sense, as does having the IC champ headline RAW and the US champ headline Smackdown. Both titles can be elevated as the 'main' belt for each show, so for house show purposes, you still have a draw even if the world champ isn't defending in your town.



"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." --- Bart Giamatti, on baseball
CHAPLOW
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.33
Well, what was it like back in the day when WWF would come to town and Hulk Hogan wasn't at that show? How did Vince handle that?
I'm curious, cause that kind of answers the John Cena house show question.

I most strongly agree with Tribal Prophet, the E just needs to stop screwing around and put people in charge of a wrestling show that know how to run a wrestling show.
Vince just removed the head of creative, but in the same breath he hired someone for the writing team whose experience is working on Lopez Tonight and The Ellen Degeneres Show.




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BigDaddyLoco
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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.29
    Originally posted by CHAPLOW
    Well, what was it like back in the day when WWF would come to town and Hulk Hogan wasn't at that show? How did Vince handle that?
    I'm curious, cause that kind of answers the John Cena house show question.





I went to four house shows in the 80's and only one featured Hulk Hogan. One was headlined by Funk/JYD two others were Macho Man vs Million Dollar Man. None of the cards were stacked top to bottom, but everyone seemed to know what they bought since there were no cameras there and Hulk Hogan merchandise still sold just fine.
lotjx
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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.35
No, they can shut down the brand split, but they still need both shows. The house show attendance isn't what it used to be either. If they did one touring group with a bunch of stars, they would probably lose money, but probably not a lot. They do need one world champ, Sheamus having the belt is not really doing anything for him.

I do think they need to go back to the 1999-2001 model of doing connecting storylines. To be fair, they are doing that now with Sheamus showing up on Raw to face Wade only to be interrupted by Show then continue it on Smackdown. What isn't happening is Punk and Cena doing Smackdown full time. I remember when Austin and Rock would be on both shows with zero problem as well whoever the undisputed champ was for a time. They need to go back to that type of booking where you have your number one guy on both shows or in Punk's case your world champ. If that person can't cut then they shouldn't be champ.

If anything, I feel they need to cut back on the schedule, they have been fairly lucky this year with injuries, but its usually around this time, someone big goes out for six months and Mania looks to be jeopardy. They need to scale it back to house shows on Saturday and Sunday.




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