WWE's Brand Split Will Elevate Tuesday Night SmackDown
Monday Night Raw is WWE’s flagship program. This means every week, the company is expected to step up its game for fans that watch religiously, as well as for those that tune in occasionally. WWE cannot afford to take a Monday off; it’s too important to the overall success of the product.
Raw defines WWE and it has from day one. That will likely never change. But when SmackDown goes live in July, fans should expect the unexpected. This is the company’s chance to double its efforts and bring the B show up to par with its big brother.
For years, SmackDown has been considered the “other” WWE program. Even as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H wowed audiences on SmackDown, Raw was still seen as the number one night for WWE. All of the major angles seemed to play out on Monday nights. All of the major returns seemed to happen on Monday nights as well.
In fact, that is still the case today. There’s just something about the live format that fans can’t get enough of. Raw has electricity about it, electricity that can erupt any moment. Even on programs that drag from the first match on, fans sit back with anticipation because they know that anything can happen at any time.
It’s extremely hard to generate that excitement, and even harder to stack the card, on a program whose results hit online two days before it’s broadcast on TV. Once the results are known, why would anyone other than the diehard fans even bother watching?
But all of that changes when SmackDown goes live. Just like Raw, SmackDown will become a must-see program in terms of match results and continuing feuds. But it’s up to WWE to give fans more than that to tune in. Merely going live does not guarantee a successful show; the company must put some work into it.
This means that SmackDown must become a destination for fans, not an afterthought. Tuesday nights must be packed with action, tight promos, and expert storytelling. Of course, this formula should always apply to Raw as well, but the truth is that program can miss the mark and still bounce back. But one stumble from SmackDown would cause many to immediately question the effort on WWE’s part to get the brand over.
The only way WWE can remedy that possible outcome is to fill the roster with talent that keep fans tuning in. It may be somewhat of a scary prospect for Raw, but much of that program’s high profile talent must make the jump to Tuesday nights. But who is a good fit?
The first issue is the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Roman Reigns is the man with the gold of course, but that could change at Money in the Bank when he faces Seth Rollins. Either man would be a great headliner for SmackDown, but it’s hard to envision Roman not being utilized on WWE’s primary showcase.
Rollins is indeed a strong force, and a bankable WWE main event player. If he were to cross over, then he would be a great addition to SmackDown. Of course, his rivalry with Roman must be over if that happens. Rollins deserves to be in the limelight and if that means he’s better on Raw until his heat ends with Reigns, then so be it.
Rollins as SmackDown’s top heel is perfect, but what about its top babyface? This is where much of the speculation is happening among fans right now. Could WWE perhaps take its biggest gun in John Cena, and put him on the Tuesday night program? It may be hard to imagine Cena not performing on Mondays, but it would be a huge vote of confidence in the SmackDown brand.
The secondary championships will likely be separated, and barring potential title changes before the brand split, fans would be looking at either Rusev or The Miz. Rusev brings the United States Championship, but he perhaps would be a better fit for Raw, if Raw were to be used as the show time brand.
If SmackDown were used as the wrestling brand, then the Intercontinental Championship would definitely be the perfect title. It is highly sought after right now by some of the most skilled guys in the company, including Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Either man would be a great addition as IC champion on the new live SmackDown.
The fate of the tag team championships is unknown right now, mostly because it’s not been revealed if there will be a second set of titles. If that is the case, then perhaps Enzo Amore and Big Colin Cassady would be the best fit as SmackDown’s tag champs. The New Day could make the jump instead, and if so, then SmackDown would definitely gain some big entertainment value.
The Women’s Championship is a unique title, because WWE only recently reintroduced it. Bringing back the Divas Championship is not the right move here, as it would surely be seen as a step back. This means that Charlotte would become a traveling champion between both brands. But it also means that the door would be wide open for SmackDown to get perhaps the most popular woman in the industry right now in Sasha Banks.
Despite which titles land on Tuesday nights, the fact is WWE needs a good mix of veteran, and young, talents on the SmackDown brand. This should not be the New Era on Tuesdays versus the established era on Mondays. SmackDown needs a great representation for the future, but it also needs that all-important name recognition for the present.
SmackDown could quite possibly become as big as Raw, but that is in WWE’s hands. If the work is put in, and if the desire is there to get it right, then Tuesday nights could very well explode with action. It’s the only way that the B show can become the A show, or at least the absolute best B possible.
Tom Clark can regularly be found on Sportskeeda. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here