WWE Brand Extension Two Years Later - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

WWE Brand Extension Two Years Later - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Thursday, August 2, 2018
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Ben Guest, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their feelings on the effectiveness of the brand extension after two years!

The brand split has been in effect for two years now. Has it worked? Has it failed? If you could, would you end it right now? Let’s discuss…

Question 1: Be it a specific Superstar or even the fans, who do you think has benefited the most during this most recent brand split?

MALDONADO: Without a doubt, Daniel Bryan. The most recent brand split afforded Bryan the opportunity to return to WWE television as SmackDown Live General Manager and remain a relevant personality following his initial retirement. While his tenure had its ups and downs, it kept the “YES!” chants flowing and produced many memorable moments, including the infamous Smack Talk confrontation with The Miz. SmackDown Live benefited from having such a strong babyface as its official leader and much of SDL’s initial success can be attributed to Bryan’s involvement as a character. This leads directly to Bryan’s return to the ring, which has been a very solid run so far. While his short-lived feud with Big Cass left much to be desired, he’s mixed it up with AJ Styles and put on an incredible performance at the Greatest Royal Rumble. He’s now in the earliest stages of his long-awaited in-ring feud with The Miz, and the only direction is up from here for both men. As the strongest babyface on the roster outside of Seth Rollins and Styles, Bryan is sure to leave that feud on top with more championship glory in the future for the American Dragon.

DEFELICE: The first two names that immediately pop out to me are Alexa Bliss and Carmella. These are two girls that never cracked the upper echelon of NXT. Hell, both girls were seen as sidekicks to their now irrelevant tag teams. Both girls were picked pretty much dead last in the 2016 draft and both have ruled the women’s division ever since. They are a great story of what can happen when you need to fill two sets of rosters and potential can truly be realized. The cream always rises to the top and these girls are prime examples of just that.

GUEST: Everything Rob said about Bliss and Carmella, but also Elias. Elias had an act that couldn’t get over in NXT, where Tyler Breeze somehow got selfies over, and took it to the main roster, almost entirely unchanged and now he has an album on Spotify. Does he get this time if the brands are together? Probably not. Does he deserve the time he’s getting? With crowd reactions like those, sure. I also think there’s no way AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura are anywhere near the title picture as much as they have been as of recently without a brand split, but that’s much less of a clear-cut case and they would certainly be in the mid-card either way.

Question 2: What is your opinion on separated championships? Do they create more stars or would you rather see one Undisputed Champion of every division travel between the brands and be the ultimate competitor, the final boss, for Superstars to be chasing?

DeFELICE: I definitely think that separated championships are better but the amount of championships certainly dilutes the importance of being champion. As great as it is that they have created so many stars because of the much-needed brand split, there would be such a great prestige to there being one Undisputed Champion in every division and it would make that position so valuable because those superstars would be on every show and would, therefore, be seen as such sought-after commodities.

GUEST: I’ve always thought that all promotions should have 3 championships. Men’s, Women’s Tag Teams. I’m okay with weight division titles, such as Cruiserweight, but outside of that, what is the Intercontinental Champion? What does that belt actually mean? Surely the Intercontinental Champion should be the second best guy and should therefore just fight the World Champion and decide who’s the best?

As for the brand-split, I think it’s very clustered having this many belts, but you try and divide one belt between AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens… you get my point. I’m okay with both brands having belts, but they should’ve got rid of the midcard titles, or at least made the Intercontinental Championship the new Universal Championship.

MALDONADO: The only pro for having separated championships is the increased opportunity for the very large roster of WWE superstars. The absence of a runaway top superstar or two in any division means we have a rather large group of stars who are equally deserving of a shot at a title, and the split championships give them that opportunity.

The cons are plenty. Each title loses a bit of significance when there is technically another title that is of equal value on an equally impressive show featuring an equally impressive roster. Then there’s the issue of which title gets the main event, more match time, etc. The Universal Championship has barely been on television yet the WWE Champion still can’t score the main event of the newly dual-branded PPVs. It’s a bit of a mess.

Question 3: If you were on the creative team and you had the final vote on a democracy, would you vote to kill or extend and expand the brand split?

MALDONADO: Keep it going. Even though the title picture is a mess with so many, that’s not a problem without a solution. There are a ton of creative ways around this issue while keeping the roster split between Raw and SmackDown. The roster is far too big to keep them all together and you risk SmackDown Live reverting back to a Raw recap with nothing significant going on. Now that FOX has SmackDown Live starting next year, there’s no way WWE lets that happen. If anything, this means SmackDown is under pressure to produce an even better product than it has been, and that means keeping the stakes high with its own titles and roster.

GUEST: I’ve enjoyed the brand-split overall. We got a year of TV that almost everyone enjoyed, RIP good SmackDown, and it’s given people who may never have got the spotlight a chance to shine. Joint PPV’s make it easier to consume everything (assuming they keep brands separate for everything except the big four and Money in the Bank matches). Ultimately, I think more relevant TV is always a good thing, we bemoaned SmackDown being a waste of time for all those years, and now it’s slightly less of a waste. So sure, keep it, why not.

DeFELICE: I’m going to look at this from the completely objective point of view of where they are now, and say that I would ultimately vote to end the brand split. They have already begun doing this by unifying every single major event and unfortunately, this null-and-voids any real positives that come from creating two separate rosters. In addition to that, I simply feel that there are too many championships and the allure of being a champion isn’t as prestigious as it should be. Also, if you unify the brands, you have one hell of a main event picture that would negate any need for part-time Superstars such as Brock Lesnar.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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THIS POST WRITTEN BY: ROBERT DEFELICE

Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.

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