The WWE Brand Split: What Brand Split?
Myss Fortune has arrived and this week I have my gaze on the topic of the WWE’s brand split or as by the title . . . what brand split?
Taking into account that fans have yet to experience a full year of the split, and that many Superstars are still adapting to their different pushes – with variying degrees of success . . . (for example Braun Strowman’s 2016 push has not only given us a ‘new’ potentially unstoppable monster, he’s also plugging some of the ‘holes’ in the lacking WWE monster ‘class’ . . . but I digress . . .) the brand split . . . is also finding its feet and these are my top three reasons why
1. Not enough variation – overall
While the draft has created a wider opportunity pool for all, and such we’re starting to see a more diverse range of match-ups (beyond the main 4 facing each other ad nauseam – you all know who *they* are), I fail to note any ‘real’ difference in RAW and Smackdown’s ‘flavour’ – aside from that dedicated roster, that is.
Smackdown has felt like a ‘continuation’ of RAW and despite WWE calling Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryant to arms with promises that they’ll take on the oppressive RAW Authority, Smackdown still feels like a continuation. Why?
Because everyone is so ‘nice’!
It’s credible that Mick Foley is ‘nice’, after all, he’s reputed to be one the ultimate ‘nice guys’, but Stephanie McMahon . . . really? Where’s the Heel gone? Where’s her fire? Honestly, Ms. Stephanie, hurry up and turn – you’re too awesomely wicked to be this . . . good!
Likewise, on Smackdown, it’s acceptable that Daniel Bryant is the ‘nice guy’ . . . but Shane McMahon’s back stories show to have more grit than to just sit comfortably in this role of being so ‘reasonable’ – especially when faced with the challenge of taking on RAW (and therefore Stephanie McMahon). Where’s his blood lust – sibling or otherwise?
Let’s face it, he should be boiling, reading to go – his mega-bad Sis and her deplorable Authority have had most of the cards for the longest of time and now, suddenly, Vince McMahon throws in a new deck into the mix . . . and BOOM! What’s happened? Everyone’s playing NICE!. Bah! If Mr. Shane really wants to ‘change the landscape’ and restore sports entertainment to its former ratings success, then surely taking on the ruination of ‘fair play’ would be first on the hit list?
But, alas . . . No. This lack of intense competition between to the shows means I there’s really no brand split at all – we’re just given different options. This is kind of like your local fast food restaurant adds a drive through section – you know from previous that you’re likely to the same staff, just ‘somewhere else’. You also know that they’re all making the same menu, ‘competing’ for the same overall company and everyone plays minds their manners and no one ever tells Stephanie McMahon, I’m coming for you . . . Double bah!
Now to really heat things up, if that drive through section were to create its *own* culture and competition within its ranks while simultaneously threatening to overshadow or ‘steal’ members from other team – then we’d get some real competition, wouldn’t we? Imagine the possibilities!
But alas, for now, it seems RAW and Smackdown remain fairly interchangeable with each other . . . which bring me to reason two – there’s no clearly defined competitor levels either.
2. No clearly defined ‘competition’ levels under each brand
What you say? Sure there is! We have our A carders, our mids, our jobbers . . .etc., so what are you on about, Myss Fortune, no levels? Let me enlighten you . . . while we do see standout Superstars in both brands, there is little differentiation on who’s where and who’s earnt their spot on the card – especially with all the backstage talk of paying ones dues.
By the WWE pushing ‘unknowns’ like James Ellsworth (whose current ‘worth’ is meant to be comedic) and having him match up with and beat reputation-built stars like AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose over the substance of say NXT’s Shinsuke Nakamura, then Myss Fortune is left wondering . . . what the proverbial? Am I seriously meant to see Ellsworth as any threat – at all? Really?
And that’s the problem with the fast push of gimmicks such as James Ellsworth – it aggravates more than entertains. After all, he literally ‘came out of nowhere’, and fans have been given little time to invest in the performer himself – instead we’ve been ‘forced’ to accept Ellsworth as an A card comedic prop and card place stealer. It’s no wonder the whole idea of James Ellsworth makes me just want to see him gone, squashed, another forgotten ‘superstar’ in the abyss of Myss Fortune’s memory. Besides his lack of substance, I find the excitement of his matches the equivalence of watching a marshmallow fight an anaconda – I know who’s (or what’s) going to win and I just want to move on to the next ‘clip’! Not to mention, it also devalues any and *all* of the belts – the only prize/s RAW and Smackdown are ‘offering’ at present; which brings me to my third reason – where’s the gauntlet gone?
3. After all, I see no pinnacle of ultimate achievement!
Indeed, the biggest underlining ‘problem’ with the split is there’s no pinnacle of ultimate achievement to strive for; no mighty feat to conquer to become *the* face of *the* brand, with *the* belt to peacock around with!
Currently, due to the youth of the brand split, Superstars, fans, networks, social media platforms – in fact the entire wrestling world has no ‘ultimate’ goal to hold high with the equivalency and esteem of say the Holy Grail. Both RAW and Smackdown appear to be plodding along, trying to capture ratings, but so far, doing so without any major shift. And, sadly, because of so, much of the drama is absent. There’s no . . . whoa, I wonder who’s going to try to take over next? Who’s going to going to betray their brand? Who’s the woman to beat? Likewise, there’s no . . . ohhhh naughty, you’re demoted; back to jobbing for you! All of these ‘little things’ work to create an atmosphere of competitive drive and subsequently, fan excitement (and ratings) rise – we tune in more, get enraptured more often and ultimately, we spend more money . . . and isn’t that the point? The WWE needs to profit – without which we wouldn’t even be able to watch; little less comment and interact tin ways we do. So, yes . . . where’s the drama of the quest for a Holy Grail?
And while I have seen many an exciting shift in both shows since the draft, and do foresee the promise of so much more, Myss Fortune sincerely hopes that 2017 does bring the drama and manifests that ultimate goal (although, I do see whispers of this in RAW of late, with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s building rivalry with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman’s ‘hatred’ of everyone) . . . so let the true games begin!
– I have seen the future . . . and this is how it begins . . .
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