As a long-time wrestling fan, it’s easy to understand some of the reasons for a brand split from the WWE’s perspective. Raw and SmackDown are two different shows with two different rosters. Just a few of the advantages are:
Having separate rosters makes it easy to market the house shows and the weekly TV shows to fans.
Fans who have their favorite wrestlers know exactly when and where to tune in or buy tickets.
Two groups of wrestlers traveling together allows for some advantages when it comes to logistics.
But as a fan, it’s a bit of mystery as to what is the “real” difference between the brands other than their names and “alleged” leadership personnel. And one occasionally wonders how and why wrestlers are on one brand versus the other. There are a couple of ways that I think it could be done better, if the WWE wants to keep the brands separate.
Option 1 – Only 1 Champion but with two Shows
Keep the Raw and SmackDown shows separate, but only have one WWE World Champion – that means 1 WWE World Champion (both men and women’s) and one WWE World Tag Team Champion. The champion(s) would float from show to show and their feuds could be balanced between the two shows based on upcoming pay-per-views. Thus, you might have the two individual champions in conflict with Raw wrestlers for a few months and the tag team champs might be engaged in feuds with a SmackDown team. To keep high profile matches on the pay-per-views, you could keep the InterContinental Title on Raw and the US Title on SmackDown. To make things more fun and titles more important, the Intercontinental and US title holders could be the next number one contender for the WWE Championship.
The WWE Champion could anchor two shows and be the “glue” like Ric Flair was as the old NWA Champion across the old territories.
The competition to be the holder of the US and Intercontinental title belt would be intense. Those two titles would be worth more than they have been for decades.
There would be a “mixing” of the best wrestlers from each show as the WWE champs moved from show to show. If he/she/tag team dropped a title to a Raw or SmackDown star, the previous title holder(s) would be assigned to that show automatically.
Any World Title would mean more as there would only be one.
The Money in the Bank “contracts” would be at a premium and could even be used for the US and Intercontinental titles as well. Everyone likes a run-in right after a champion has given his/her/their all to retain their title!
One tag team champion would ease the stress of a lower number of tag teams due to the lack of “tag team specialists” that were more numerous in the past.
Option 2 – Two Shows and Two “Federations”
Keep Raw and SmackDown separate, but instead of relying on a name and brand to keep the shows unique, do what Triple H has done with NxT on the WWE Network, make them separate “Federations”. With SmackDown being more “wrestling centric” and filming the show as if it takes place in a smaller more personal venue, make the SmackDown show the WCW federation show. This fits with the old WCW style of wrestling from back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s.
NxT has built a clear brand and while it’s been positioned as a “minor league”, the brand has a loyal following and has a defined itself as the home of the week-to-week most consistent quality wrestling show in the US. The WCW is synonymous with some of existing traits of the SmackDown show, so put that brand name into place. It’s recognizable, it’s a strong brand, and it makes more sense to have a WCW champion and a WWE champion as opposed to two WWE “world” champions.
Better yet, with this idea, the WWE could take a page out of pro sports and have “free agency” for some superstars and/or a trade deadline annually that would allow you a logical reason for stars to move between shows that doesn’t cause a wholesale restructuring (indicative of a failed roster) or simply makes no sense. With this alignment, the two shows would be much more logically aligned to compete against one another with more real differentiation – and over the long run - might actually develop another “real” brand to create a competitive environment that forces both shows to improve. In a perfect world, NxT might elevate itself to create a third brand to help keep the overall WWE product healthy and vibrant.
Easy to differentiate shows
Clear reason for each show to have champions
More “realistic” movement of wrestlers from one “federation” to the other
Long term creation of real competition between WWE’s Raw and WCW’s SmackDown (or what the heck call it Nitro).
Maybe if everything goes well, you could have a three way competition.
I think either option would help improve ratings, especially if a long-term commitment is made. Personally, I would resurrect the WCW name, but that’s just me…