The Good, Bad and (Very) Ugly of WWE 'Brand Extension'
When the WWE announced a few months back it was going to bring back the "Brand Extension" by making Raw and Smackdown separate programs, this was met by a good deal of excitement from fans that were wanting something "different" from what was quickly becoming a bit of a stale product.
While on paper the brand extension seemed like a good idea, the reality has quickly proven the old adage "be careful what you wish for."
Today, I'll give what I feel are the "Good, Bad and the Ugly" of the present brand extension.
Good: Women's Division
Even before the brand extension the WWE Women's Division was one of the hottest commodities in all of sports entertainment.
Starting with the Divas Revolution, the women of the WWE upped their game to the point where fans WANTED to watch the women compete on a weekly basis.
This was highlighted when the Divas Championship was retired and rebranded the WWE Women's Championship.
After the brand extension, the Women's Division continued strong after adding new faces to the roster such as Bayley, Alexa Bliss and Dana Brooke.
Another major positive about the brand extension for the Women's Division is that it gives more talent a chance to shine, including Smackdown Women's Champion Becky Lynch.
Last week, the Raw Main Event saw Charlotte lose her Raw Women's Championship to Sasha Banks and the two are going to become the first women ever to compete in a traditional Hell in a Cell match.
Years ago, TNA proved that their Knockouts Division could put on high-caliber matches and the WWE finally gave the women the chance to do so and they haven't disappointed.
Bad: Story Line Quality Suffering
Wrestling story lines can often be hit or miss depending on the wrestlers and the attitudes of the fans at the time of the storyline.
Take the return of Batista for example. They decided to push him at the wrong time over Daniel Bryan and it resulted in the fans giving him X-Pac heat and him later leaving the company, never to return.
The brand extension has diluted the overall quality of story lines for a couple of reasons. First, you have to write scripts for more talents than before because you just can't bring over wrestlers from the other brand to boost your product whenever you want.
(Ok, I know they actually CAN do that but they are choosing not to in order to ensure the "quality" of both products.)
Some of the wrestlers on both shows are suffering from a lack of charisma or are just failing to get over with the fans. In addition, with both rosters expanded, there's just not enough top story lines for all the top stars.
That's why we have Cesaro and Sheamus together as a tag-team. I love Cesaro as a wrestler but his personality at times can be as stiff as a Goldberg kick to Bret Hart's head.
As my dad has put it, much of wrestling has become boring - and I won't even go into the Cruiserweight Division.
However, if I were to comment on the division, the fact that they just added Sin Cara to the division does nothing to help a sub-section of a product that many fans aren't really caring about.
The Ugly: Too Many Champions
When the brand extension was announced, we expected a second World Title to be added but most didn't expect a second Women's title or a second Tag Team Championship added.
Then there's the Cruiserweight Title. Can you name the Cruiserweight Champion? Here is the current list of championships presently available in the WWE:
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship
- WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship
- Raw Women's Championship
- Smackdown Women's Championship
- Raw Tag Team Championships
- Smackdown Tag Team Championships
- United States Championship
- Intercontinental Championship
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Holy Crap. That's a lot of championships. Oh, and unless they decide to quietly bury it, don't forget that the next King of the Ring winner will be wearing a crown for several months afterwards.
The last time they did a brand extension, having two sets of Tag Team titles really didn't work and that's why you ended up seeing more than one team becoming the "Unified Tag Team Champions."
Granted, we weren't dealing with expanded rosters back then as we are now but there still seems to be way too many titles. Some of these titles we barely care about anymore. For example, does anyone really care about the Cruiserweight title?
I had to look up on WWE.com to see that T.J. Perkins was the champion. The same could be asked for the U.S. Title.
John Cena and Rusev made the title relevant again in the last year because so much focus was put on them but now that Roman Reigns has it, does anyone care?
And how about Rhyno and Heath Slater as your Smackdown Tag Team Champions? Talk about going out of your way to buy Zach Ryder.
We've gotten to the point where it has become too difficult to track the various champions and after a time, viewers are going to become completely disinterested.
Next Few Months Will Shape Next Few Years
Unless things begin to change in the next few months, I could see the WWE radically changing the structure of its brand extension.
It happened before when superstars began jumping back and forth to each brand and we started seeing more "unified champions." Ultimately, the extension was abandoned completely and they focused on ratings.
I'm not saying we need to go back to that but I do believe that a better job needs to be done in writing and putting the right wrestlers in place that fans want to watch. Also, maybe phase out a couple of titles to make it a bit simpler.
With the right care, the brand extension can take the WWE to new heights. Otherwise, it could make the product even more of a mess than it already is.