WWE News: Bruce Prichard on the original brand split idea and how talent felt about it
What’s the story?
With the WWE Superstar Shakeup happening once again, industry veteran Bruce Prichard recently spoke on the original WWE brand extension back in 2002 on a recent edition of his podcast, Something To Wrestle With.
In case you didn’t know...
Vince McMahon originally came up with the brand extension idea back in 2001. However, the idea at the time was not Raw and SmackDown, but WWE and WCW. Before the Alliance angle came into play, Vince had heavily considered keeping WCW as its own separate show, where it would be 'competing' with WWE.
But with WWE only being able to secure under a dozen WCW Superstars, and only two of them being top stars (Booker T & DDP), plans for WCW as its own show were canned and the company eventually went with SmackDown in 2002.
The heart of the matter
While speaking on the original brand extension, Bruce went into great detail on what was originally planned, how the idea was formed and the backstage reaction to it, among more. Bruce commented on the original idea, saying (H/T WrestlingInc.):
"It was around the Royal Rumble time. The WCW brand was dead. Nobody cared, so rather than try to revive a dead brand, you had two strong brands in Raw and SmackDown so let's just really put the gas on both of those and do something from within. So, it was probably around the Royal Rumble time because we are thinking, holy s*it, now what? How do we split them? Who gets who?
Vince McMahon presented the idea of creating our own competition and separating the brands. In Vince's head, Vince saw it as Raw was one brand, SmackDown was the other brand and never shall the two cross, that if you are SmackDown you have got 3-4 years on SmackDown before you could ever be seen on Raw again and vice versa.''
He went onto say that Vince remained adament that at all shows, even co-branded shows, RAW stars would only face RAW stars, and SmackDown, only SmackDown stars. Bruce also commented on how the Superstars reacted backstage when the news of the split was first revealed. He said:
"I think everybody was excited about it. To my recollection, everybody was happy as they were saying thank God that we don't have to have everybody on both shows anymore and excited about the possibilities of giving new guys opportunity because a lot of those guys who were stuck in the middle have the opportunity to step up and have new opportunities on a new show."
Bruce Prichard's 'Something To Wrestle With' Podcast will debut on the WWE Network this coming Wednesday. Several episodes are expected to air in a weekly series-like format, for the time being.
Fan reaction to all WWE drafts and brand splits has been very mixed over the years. But agreeing with the wrestlers' reactions, it was for the best, as it presented a lot of opportunity in an overcrowded company.