Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Craig Wilson
In a little over two weeks WWE will execute its second ever brand extension – or split, depending on who you speak to. The division of talent will be conducted during a draft at the inaugural Live Tuesday night Smackdown! on July 19th. In a previous Sermon we discussed the general benefits and drawbacks to such an exercise. However, with the draft fast approaching, today the team will discuss the possible ramifications and outcomes of the brand extension in more specific terms. Will there be a second World Title and who will hold it? Who will be the number one draft pick? What tag teams will be split up? What superstars from WWE’s past might return? What NXT performers might be called up? All this and more in today’s Sunday Sermon.
Jamie: First thing’s first, who will be the number one draft pick? Actually, that’s not the first thing. Who will be picking the draft picks?! I assume Shane and Stephanie? More details here WWE, who’s in charge of Raw and who’s in charge of Smackdown… or will that be the first thing decided at the draft? Anyway, assuming that is a formality, who will receive the title of number one draft pick? Dean Ambrose is surely out by default, he’s the champion. John Cena would be a wasted opportunity, plus he has been top pick in previous drafts. Stephanie could lean towards Seth Rollins, possibly. My hunch is that it will be Roman Reigns, purely for the sake of being controversial. He’ll get even more heat and the fact that he won’t even be there due his suspension – he’ll be a few days shy of completing his 30 day lay off at this point – would surely position him as a full blown heel when he returns? Right?
Brian: I honestly never liked these draft shows because it kills so much valable in ring time. Much like the Slammy episodes, I find them a bit tedious. I honestly do not care who is drafted where, I just hope they can keep just one WWE champion that will defend on both brands. Two world champions starts to become a bit convoluted in my opinion.
As for NXT stars that might make the jump….I see Finn Balor as a definite, maybe Bayley, Nia Jax and American Alpha.
Craig: whilst I have some sympathy for Brian’s thoughts on draft shows, it is a bit of a spectacle and with the hype that surrounds it, should pull in decent viewers.
I’m genuinely curious how they book the titles. Michael Cole referred, perhaps accidentally, to the WWE title being the Raw title recently. Wonder if we should read anything into that?
What does it mean for ppvs? Will we now get a monthly Raw and SmackDown ppv as well as the occasional NXT special? That’s certainly overkill.
Good segue into NXT there, I suspect we’ll see Finn sooner rather than later. Who else? Bayley has to be a shout too. The WWE bringing back Kane this week shows that they are bringing back talent for split. Wonder who else we might see. Austin Aries? Shinsuke Nakamura?
Jamie: Regarding PPVs I saw a ‘leaked’ schedule the other day. Obviously unconfirmed, but it seemed to suggest the same number of PPVs (+ a couple of Network specials) shared between the two brands. Summerslam and Survivor Series were shown as shared events, but I think all others were either Raw or Smackdown. Sounds good, but with Network specials thrown in it could easily be overkill. For example, the document I read had two PPVs/Network specials in December, just a couple of weeks apart. Different brands, but still…
As for NXT, I’m actually a little worried that it will be ransacked. Obviously they have a very good record of replenishing talent, but in the short term they could be down to the bare bones for a while. I too expect Bayley and Nia Jax to move up, as well as Finn Balor. Austin Aries is worth a shout too. Nakamura’s recent promos suggest his eyes are on the NXT Title, so hopefully he hangs around at least. American Alpha aren’t too far away, and would keep momentum up in the tag team ranks. How about Tye Dillinger? I can actually see him doing better on the main roster, and he looks ready to go.
In terms of titles, are we going to see two tag and two women’s titles again? They just got rid of the Divas belt! Either that or all women and tag teams will have to be exclusive to a certain brand, which would create a massive lack of diversity on each show. The more I think about it the more this ‘Brand Extension’ feels like Brexit. Have WWE actually thought this through?!
Craig: Indeed. We’re heading for such uncertainty…
I saw talk online that Finn Balor and American Alpha are expected to join the main roster. Consideration had been given to Bayley but she’s set for a programme with Asuka, so will stay in NXT.
It’s interesting how it will work with the titles. The point you made about the titles being exclusive and creating a lack of diversity is spot on. We also can’t really have all the champions floating between shows, can we? And I don’t know if there really are enough teams for both shows to have a set of tag titles or enough female wrestlers for both shows to have a women’s title. It’s fairly easy with the mid-card titles: one show gets the US title and the other gets the IC belt. It’s complicated with the other ones, though. My preference would be to add no more titles to the WWE but how can you really get round that.
Think differently? Leave your thoughts below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.