Rebranding Monday Night Raw and SmackDown


With each passing show, WWE’s rating continue to fall towards mediocrity. What’s one way that could help bring back high viewership numbers? Rebranding the Monday Night Raw and SmackDown brands into two separate shows again.

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The Smackdown! vs. Raw video game series from THQ may be defunct, but the separation of the Monday Night Raw and (once again Thursday Night) SmackDown brands is still technically a thing.

Bringing back the video games won’t exactly bring back better viewership numbers, but what about rebranding both shows to create more storylines, while being able to further use the talent that WWE possesses at the current time with the main roster and NXT?

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Back in 2002, when the SmackDown brand was created, it not only brought a brand new show to World Wrestling Entertainment, the new brand brought the WWE Undisputed title, a new WWE Tag Team Championship, the rebirth of the United States Championship, and SmackDown became the exclusive home of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

The fresh brand not only brought big names (The Rock, Kurt Angle, Edge) to Thursday nights, it brought back the “Big Gold Belt” from World Championship Wrestling, which was obviously known as the World Heavyweight Championship (until 2013 at the TLC pay-per-view).

Sure, WWE doesn’t have hall of fame talent all over the backstage area like the good ol’ days, but ratings have been atrocious for the main roster programming, and it’s not a shocking development. When your “minor league” system is ten times better than the “premier brands”, that’s a serious issue.

NXT may be considered the “third brand” by many, but the hardcore wrestling fans understand the importance of the brand as a whole.

Why is NXT such a good product? It comes down to three things:

  1. Time: It’s one hour-long. It’s fast-moving and action-packed. Ask football and soccer fans why they don’t like baseball.
  2. Focus: It’s pure wrestling. It’s not focused on filming a scene for Total Divas. It’s not only wrestling, it’s good wrestling.
  3. The performers actually have storylines that fans can invent in! (Yeah, it’s weird, I know. We’re not used to that  anymore.)

Back when SmackDown became a separate brand, it provided more viewership because there were new storylines (that differed from Raw) and new (and old) personnel could develop on another night. You had Eric Bischoff on Raw, while Teddy Long ran things on Thursdays (and Fridays for a time). While Triple H and Evolution dominated Raw, the late great Eddie Guerrero finally became WWE Champion (with a shocking assist from a Raw superstar).

The business clearly doesn’t have the plethora of talent it once did, but that’s what NXT is for; to bring new blood to the big roster. Could you imagine Sasha Banks winning a tournament to re-crown a WWE Women’s Champion on SmackDown? How about poorly used Cesaro winning a ladder match to capture the European title? (It would be difficult to do with the TV-PG rating, but I know many fans remember the Hardcore title, right?)

Along with the big features like commentary booths, championship titles, specific pay-per-views for each brand, and general managers for each show, how about bringing back the ol’ fist stage setup? Sure, you can offer a newer modern look for the revamped brand, but giving fans sense of a different look and show is what SmackDown stand out for the better part of a decade. What do you feel like as a fan watching SmackDown these days? You feel like you’re watching a knockoff version of Monday Night Raw, don’t you?

Times have certainly changed since a second brand was introduced into WWE 13 years ago. The Rock is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Kurt Angle’s career is close to coming to an end with a different company, and Edge was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame after due concerns over his neck. Triple H is 46 years old and has jolted a giant pulse into NXT programming. The Undertaker’s health history has been well-documented since WrestleMania XXX last April.

For WWE to go under a huge rebrand, it would take time, more talent, patience from fans, and some cash of course. The clock is ticking for Vince McMahon and WWE to find some answers towards bringing eyes back to the product. Taking a closer look at what made your entire brand unique in the last decade and a half would be a good start.

Next: Who was added to next week's Monday Night Raw card?

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