WWE Draft 2021 may have seemed to bring a fresh start to the brands this year. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This lead many fans to speculate: Should WWE end the brand split for Raw & SmackDown?
Samantha Schipman and Mark Justice, two of Daily DDT’s beloved contributors, will tackle this question and pontificate their opposing viewpoints in a fruitful discord called “Debate The Mark.” This debate will be eminently dynamic.
Without further ado, here is their riveting debate on this issue, with Sam taking the side of why WWE should keep the brand split, and Mark taking the side of why WWE should merge the divisions.
Should WWE keep the brand split or merge the divisions? Here is a riveting debate on this hot topic between two Daily DDT legends.
Samantha Schipman: WWE Should Keep The Brand Split
Samantha Schipman: I think that RAW and SmackDown should stay separate brands. We’ve seen in the past that the biggest Superstars would end up on both brands. Do you really think they wouldn’t put the Bloodline storyline on both shows, week after week? They already rely on the same matches on a weekly basis. It’s been a huge turnoff for fans by seeing the same matches repeatedly.
Many superstars already fight for TV time, especially the women. By combining brands, it would ensure that it would be just as, if not more, hard to get on TV. Women (who aren’t the 4 Horsewomen or in a match with them) barely get more than a few minutes to wrestle. If the brands are combined, it’s very possible that one show won’t even have women’s matches. We’ve already seen that happen more than once, even with separate brands.
While both shows have their share of bad booking and stories, SmackDown is generally the stronger of the two brands. If they combine both shows, they’d both become watered down. More likely than not, it’ll be two shows with RAW booking and no one wants that.
RAW and SmackDown should keep as much as their own identity as possible.
Mark Justice: WWE Should Merge The Divisions
Mark Justice: Au contraire, the rosters have severely diminished due to the plethora of releases in the past year, and the separate brands have led to repetitive rematches on Raw and superfluous segments on SmackDown. Merging the divisions would hinder or at least mitigate repetitive rematches like RKBro vs. AJ & Omos on Raw and superfluous segments between Nakamura and Happy Corbin on SmackDown. In other words, it will prevent manufactured competition and weakened divisions that symbolize a pernicious future for both brands in the long run.
Now, it is understandable that merging the divisions would equate to merging the championships, and less championships would translate as less opportunities for the superstars in the division. However, there are way too many titles in the WWE that have less worth and value due to how infinitesimal the rosters are today. When there are not enough credible challengers to compete for a title and keep the scene fresh, the champion is the champion of almost nothing and not much impact is made. This problem is especially prevalent in the women’s and tag divisions.
It is also understandable that the WWE has a proclivity to hot shot book the same established stars, such as The Bloodline, on both shows whenever there is an opportunity to do so. You made a very strong point here, and it would be eminently difficult to counteract it. However, there is a way to avoid this booking flaw: roster rotation. Triple H’s 2-hour NXT implemented this very nicely, in which most superstars only competed every other week in order to collect their thoughts on their feuds, develop their characters, and thereby showcase their best selves when they perform.
This model needs to be implemented on the main roster because it will not only assure that other stars, such as Keith Lee, Cesaro, Mustafa Ali, Liv Morgan, Toni Storm, Shotzi Blackheart, etc. get TV time and the opportunity to shine but also mitigate the exposure of the established superstars, such as The Bloodline and the Four Horsewomen. Of course, it’s a good idea to have the draws on the shows due to ratings grabs, but those draws just need to be spaced out, cycled better, and booked in programs with other rising stars who need elevation rather than with each other.
Consequently, with efficient roster rotation, a plethora of fresh matchups, and more value applied to championships, the best solution would be to merge the divisions.
Samantha Schipman’s Rebuttal: Vince McMahon is The Problem
They’ve been releasing talent since April 2020 (I’d like to remind everyone that this has been during a global pandemic). They are still running the same repetitive matches. It’s not because there isn’t enough talent. It’s because they only push the same talent. Their creative is terrible and they can’t come up with interesting storylines for a majority of the talent that they do push. It was like this prior to all of the releases.
NXT could successfully rotate out its roster because Vince wasn’t directly involved. Everything on the main brand ends with him. He could easily rotate out rosters and he should, but he’s failed to do so. WWE has a hard time building new stars, in part because Vince uses the same formula & the same superstars. So much talent gets left in catering because he won’t rotate out Superstars. When Paul Heyman was on RAW creative, we started seeing the push of people like Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali.
The women’s tag team suffers because Vince does not care about the division. They regularly break up actual tag teams. They put a tag title on one of the 4 Horsewomen & the women’s champion because they’re lazy. There isn’t much effort in the women’s division as it is and there’s even less for the tag team division.
Your ideas would theoretically work. Until Vince changes, we’re going to continue to have more of the same.
Conclusion: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Although Samantha Schipman and Mark Justice have differing opinions on whether WWE should end the brand split, they did find common ground in this idea that the mismanagement of the rosters will create the same booking problems whether there’s a brand split or not.
What did you think of today’s “Debate the Mark,” and whose argument swayed you more? This series is brought to you by a shrewd mark who enjoys debating hot topics in professional wrestling, especially when pertaining to WWE.
It was a pleasure debating with my esteemed guest, freelance professional wrestling journalist, and fellow Daily DDT Contributor, Samantha Schipman, whom you can follow on Twitter @samantha_1713. If you enjoyed this debate, stick with Daily DDT for more of this content.