WWE: 5 Reasons the Brand Split Has Failed
Around six months since the WWE Brand Split took place, we look at why it has failed so far.
Back in early July, the 2016 WWE Draft took place. It split the WWE roster into two, with superstars either assigned to Raw or SmackDown Live. Fans around the world hoped that the Brand Split would mark the dawn of a new era in WWE…..how wrong that would turn out to be.
It’s been around six months of the same old, same old from WWE. The same stars at the top, the same mistakes made in booking and angles, the same failure to use the talent at WWE’s disposal to the best of its abilities. All that, and more, has lead to some of the most predictable, and dare I say it, boring WWE tv in the last few years.
That’s not saying that there hasn’t been some good stuff happened since the Draft, it just seems that there has been a whole lot more bad than good. With a few small changes, WWE could have some of the most compelling wrestling television in the world. Right now that seems a long way off happening, though.
Follow along with us as we give you Five Reasons the WWE Brand Split has failed.
5. Wasted the Majority of the NXT Callups
When the draft was announced it was said that the best talents from NXT would be in with a chance of being drafted to Raw or SmackDown. In the end, we saw Finn Balor, American Alpha, Nia Jax, Mojo Rawley, Alexa Bliss and Carmella make the step up to the main roster. Since the Draft we’ve seen one of the biggest female stars that WWE has made the jump to Raw in Bayley, but she’s done little since.
Since then Draft, many of those talents have been left to languish on their respective shows, with little idea creatively of what to do with them.
On SmackDown we have one of the best tag teams in the business in 2016, American Alpha, who so far have been little more than filler in multi-tag team matches and on pay-per-view pre-shows. They are one of the most over teams in the company, but have seen teams like Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton become a regular tag team (and win the tag titles recently). Why could AA not have got that push and been deemed worthy of winning tag team gold?
Over on Raw, we’ve seen Bayley and Nia come up and be little more than filler at times. Nia is a pure monster in the women’s ranks, but her Raw career so far has been a handful of squash matches over “local competitors”. It’s been shown, both in NXT and on Raw, that Bayley truly is one of the hottest properties that WWE has. I’m lead to think now that she’d have been better off still battling Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Many others have floundered since the call up from NXT in recent times. The Vaudevillains, Tyler Breeze and Neville to name but a few. There are exceptions to this rule, namely Alexa Bliss and Finn Balor since the 2016 Draft, but the vast majority of the NXT call-ups in 2016 have been wasted so far.
4. Lack of Meaningful Storylines Outside the Main Titles
Outside of the main title feuds in WWE, what big storylines have their been in the last six months? I’ll give you a minute to think.
Well if you need an example lets look at the Raw Women’s Division. At the top, we’ve had Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks for what seems like forever. In fact, those two women are the only ones who have held the Women’s title since it was re-branded from the Divas Title back at WrestleMania. Sasha recently regained the gold from Charlotte, but where does she go from here? If the feud with Charlotte was to end right now, who has been built as a big challenger for the champion?
You have both Bayley and Nia Jax, along with women like Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke, that couldn’t be any farther from looking like realistic challengers for the title. Why does it seem impossible to have an underlying storyline, say between Bayley and Nia Jax, to ultimately determine who could become the next woman in waiting?
Kevin Owens holds the Universal Championship, whilst Roman Reigns holds the United States Championship. When you have the two main titles on Raw, being defended between the two champions in one match, then what is there for the mid card guys to aim for? When the U.S. Championship falls back into the mid card, who becomes a challenger for it? Shouldn’t there be standout guys, apart from someone like Rusev, ready to do battle with Reigns?
The use of meaningful storyline would be a good way to get fans behind one guy or another, so that when they actually go to challenge for a title the crowd actually cares about the challenger.
3. The Brand Split Has Not Been Used to Make New Stars
At the top of the card, on both brands, we still rely on the same faces to carry the show. On Raw, it’s Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. On SmackDown it’s Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. All these men seem to be pushed in front of anyone else, to the detriment of the future of the company.
On Raw, men like Sami Zayn and Neville have all the ability needed to be permanent main event stars. On SmackDown you have guys like Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin who could be massive if they were pushed into the main event. For some reason, WWE seems more than happy to stick with the same old names at the top of the card.
Earlier I mentioned the NXT call ups not getting a serious look in. There are a few people down there now who could make a massive impact on Raw or SmackDown, but if they were called up would more than likely just be wasted yet again. Someone like Samoa Joe could be a monster on the main roster. Or Shinsuke Nakamura could be a mega star on either show. Right now, though, I’d be worried about either man making the step up to the two main shows.
WWE has probably the most stacked roster that they’ve ever had. Prior to the Brand Split, you had all the big names fighting for the main event slot. You could have expected that that may have changed with the Brand Split, but if anything it seems like even more of a closed shop than before.
2. Failure to Utilize Cruiserweights
The Cruiserweight Classic was one of the best things that WWE has presented in the last few years. It took some of the hottest talents from around the world, threw them into a tournament, and gave you a ready made list of stars ready to break onto Raw. The theCruiserweightt Division became a thing and all the good from the CWC was wasted.
Wasted to such a bad degree that WWE hastily came up with the idea to give them their own weekly live show, 205 Live, on the WWE Network. In the first episode alone WWE did more to advance the characters of the Cruiserweight Division than they had in a dozen or more weeks on Raw.
On Raw we saw the inaugural Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins battling Brian Kendrick for the title. Underneath that we were presented a bunch of multi-man matches, a host of six man tags and very little else to advance anything in the Division.
Back in the mid to late 1990’s WCW used Cruiserweights to give the show something different. They were used to get Nitro off to a hot start, or to get a crowd back on side after some boring angle or another, or to steal the show on a pay-per-view. On Raw, aside from having purple ring ropes, they have been presented as just another group of guys.
Nothing special in particular, but they could have been if WWE had seen fit to book them like massive stars. The dozen or so men who fill out the Cruiserweight Division at present could be a massive weapon in WWE’s arsenal right now, just a shame that only the fans feel that way.
1. WWE is Still Run by the Same Old People
No matter what anyone may think, Vince McMahon is still in charge of the company. Despite the fact that Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley are “in charge” of Raw, and Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are top dogs on SmackDown, Vince still has the final say on everything. That’s right, a 71 year old man holds the keys to the destiny of the WWE roster.
Until the day that Vince steps down, and potentially puts Stephanie, Triple H or Shane in full charge (or any combination of the three) then can things ever be any different?
Until we don’t see men like Goldberg have to be dragged back into proceedings for a shot in the arm, is that going to stand in the way of the incredible talent at the WWE’s disposal? If WWE had built up another mega star to face Brock Lesnar, then the need for Goldberg to return to face the Beast Incarnate would have been zero. A legend coming back is all well and good but i’d much rather see them used to elevate a younger star, not to lord it over your entire product.
Back in the 1980’s, Vince had his finger on the pulse and made massive changes that made professional wrestling the juggernaut that it became in the 1990’s and beyond. Now it feels more like he doesn’t want to allow someone else to do what he managed to over thirty years ago.
If Vince was to step down from his head honcho role, and allow a man like Triple H take the reigns, then we could see another massive boom period for WWE going into the next decade. Whilst Vince is still the top dog, we may be in for a whole lot more of the same going forward.
More from Daily DDT