In 2002 WWE halved its roster between RAW and Smackdown and created the original brand split. Smackdown became the wrestling-heavy show and built its brand around six centerpieces. Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and Chavo Guerrero became the top stars on Thursday nights and stole the show with their matches. The "Smackdown Six" was the brainchild of Paul Heyman.
Paul Heyman took over creative of Smackdown in 2002 and at the time the show was facing cancellation. Monday Night RAW was low in the ratings and Vince McMahon was focusing everything he could to keep the red brand afloat. Vince wanted the top stars on RAW and drafted Chris Jericho from Smackdown. In return Paul Heyman asked for Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. Heyman saw massive potential in the two. The approach was simple, create three tag teams and let them produce incredible in-ring work night after night. This catapulted all six men into the main event scene and made the careers of Edge, Rey, Eddie and Benoit. Smackdown also grew in ratings and was able to compete with RAW for the "A" show spot.
I think that WWE need a new "Smackdown Six" now more than ever. The WWE have a huge roster with some of the best wrestlers in the world among the ranks. Since the growth of independent wrestling and NJPW there is a huge audience for actual wrestling and not just "sports entertainment". Fans want the product to resemble a competitive match and the shows to be more focused on the action and not the promos.
With the upcoming move to FOX in 2019, I think WWE should have Smackdown become a wrestling-heavy show again. They should draft some of the most talented in-ring performers to the blue brand and move the more "sports entertainment" style performers to the red brand. Guys like Finn Balor, Andrade Almas, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, A.J Styles and Samoa Joe would tear it up if given the chance. They could also import the stars of NXT like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Undisputed Era and Velveteen Dream.
Let RAW focus more on the promos and over the top storytelling and have Smackdown focus on stellar in-ring performances and simple storytelling. This would appeal to the casual fan while also catering to the die-hard ones. The same goes for the Women's divisions, have the likes of Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair also produce great matches and further the women's evolution in WWE.
The creation of a new "Smackdown Six" could only be a good thing for WWE's business. It would give fans the best of both worlds and attract new fans to the product with the move to FOX in 2019. After all, at its best wrestling is the most unique form of entertainment in the world.
We just asked The Shockmaster about Vince McMahon's retirement here