Ending the Brand Split won't solve WWE's problems (Opinion)
- With WWE starting to bend their brand split rules to improve ratings, it should be stated what the real problem is.
- WWE's go-to method for boosting ratings and viewership always falls back to ending the brand split. That has to change.
WWE announced a Brand Split-breaking match for this week's edition of Monday Night RAW as we saw SmackDown Superstar King Corbin return to RAW and face WWE Champion Drew McIntyre.
The match was being promoted as a "Brand-To-Brand invitation" and is one of several instances where WWE bends the rules of their brand split to create a different matchup from the norm.
Corbin and McIntyre had never faced each other one-on-one, but to book the match this soon without any reason seemed like another attempt by WWE to improve ratings and viewership.
On the surface, this seems like a small change from the norm, but a tweet from Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful says the brand invitation will allow Superstars to go to other shows more often than what WWE is suggesting.
RAW has suffered a decline in viewership compared to 2019 with the first show in May 2020 setting a new all-time low record.
[This is largely due to every show emanating from the performance center in Orlando, Florida and the coronavirus pandemic preventing fans from attending.]
However, even before WWE moved all their events to the Performance Center, their shows had low viewership compared to the start of the brand split.
And when viewership declines during a brand split, the company backpedals and tweaks the rules they establish for themselves.
WWE attempted a soft break from the brand split in 2019 when Vince McMahon returned to the program to institute the infamous Wild Card Rule. The new rule allowed Superstars from RAW and SmackDown to appear on both shows despite the brand split.
Another instance of the company ending the brand split came in 2011 when the flagship show was re-branded as the RAW Supershow and featured Superstars from both shows.
[Mind you, at the time WWE re-branded the program as the RAW Supershow, Monday Night RAW averaged four to five million viewers throughout 2011.]
WWE's go-to method for boosting ratings and viewership is ending the brand split and that needs to stop for the company to fix the real issue.
WWE's biggest issue since the brand split started
The idea behind breaking the brand split is usually to improve star power, which will occasionally improve ratings.
However, WWE's lack of star power has been the result of fans ignoring the product and lacklustre storylines. There are several cases where Superstars are popular amongst fans and would only need the right story to make them a bigger star.
Unfortunately, their star power will often be diminished in favor of whoever WWE wants to push or from inconsistency. Using Monday Night RAWs roster as an example, there are several Superstars have fans would argue have not been handled properly since their arrival on the main roster.
Bobby Lashley, the MMA and pro wrestler fans wanted to see face Brock Lesnar, found himself in one of the worst received storylines in WWE with the divorce of Rusev and Lana. Even though he has now challenged Drew McIntyre on this week's RAW, many feel it came a bit too late.
Cedric Alexander, one of the top prospects from the Cruiserweight tournament of 2016, has been relegated to the tag team division alongside NXT and NJPW standout Ricochet. While the team did look promising at the start, their form has been dwindling off late.
All three men have appeared on television in recent weeks, but none have been showcased in a way that could capitalize on any buzz they had at the peaks of their popularity.
If WWE had consistently good storylines that helped showcase the best of the members of the roster, there would be no issue with star power. Superstars would be popular because the company was helping to shine in front of the fans.
Now, this isn't to say that the company doesn't know how to keep a Superstar in the spotlight, Drew McIntyre's WWE Championship reign has been a great example of this.
However, that concern for a Superstar looking strong shouldn't exist exclusively for those heading into world title matches.
Wins, losses and good storylines should matter in each division in WWE, not just for the World Champions and whoever their opponents are. Fans take notice when Superstars win one week and lose another for extended periods and most don't like to see it. The company tends to start feuds by having challengers pin champions in non-title matches to the dismay of the audience.
If WWE wants to crown a No.1 Contender, they should book the Superstar consistently and let them beat whoever the other potential challenger for every title the company has, not just the world champions.
Every Champion, aside from the holder of the 24/7 title, should be treated with similar importance. All it would take to fix their lack of star power would be to treat their current roster and stop relying on other star power to make up the difference.
Because as seen with Becky Lynch's departure, WWE won't know how long they'll have these Superstars for. So, they should make the most of the ones they have.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article belong to the writer and doesn't necessarily represent Sportskeeda's stand.