How I would Book the WWE Brand Extension
Today I take a look at the upcoming WWE brand split, where the roster will be drafted to appear exclusively on RAW or Smackdown shows each week. I think this is a great idea in theory, but I have my reservations on whether this company and more importantly, Vince McMahon, will utilize good judgement to make this live up to the potential it has. We have seen them botch this before and I hope they won't again.
Now before you pick me apart too bad, I must first say that I will be booking this not exactly how I would if I were completely in control, but i will booking as realistic as possible given what we know is the current direction for the company as well as what we have heard will be some of the plans for the split so far. If you want further information into what the current strategy is, please read the news article I posted last week here.
Please remember, while I will book this my way, I won't go crazy with off the wall fantasy booking. I have followed this company my entire life and I know how Vince operates. I will tap into his mindset and try to book to serve all the correct masters.
The Build Up
For my entire year of booking to work, it all begins at WWE Money in the Bank on June 19th. At this PPV, I am sure that Roman Reigns will be defeating Seth Rollins to retain the championship. But that is not what is important to me. My focus is who wins the Money In the Bank Brief case, and the guaranteed shot at the World title whenever and wherever they feel like it.
But for me, there is only one person who should win and that is Kevin Owens. I will explain later.
What we Know:
That's right, there will be two separate World champions once again. One on RAW and one on Smackdown. I really don't like this, and if it were up to me, I would have one champion who would travel back and forth challenging the number one contender from each brand every other month or so. But, that is not what they have decided to do. They decided that each brand must have a world champion exclusive to each RAW and Smackdown. So all my booking must work within those boundaries. Fine.
But to me what is most important is that the Draft should not be a shoot!!! You should not be pulling random names out of a tumbler and leaving things up to chance. Each person should be strategically drafted to a show with an idea and direction in mind.
So lets get to it.
On the night of the Draft I would set up a War room for both Shane and Stephanie McMahon. There they should be analyzing the roster and drafting guys one by one, stacking the roster to their liking. Shane would get control of Monday Nights and Stephanie would run Smackdown on Tuesdays. I know many are saying the opposite and that is probably the direction, but I think Shane should run Monday, as its a 3 hour show and more wrestling and less talking would be so much better to watch. So for my booking, Shane gets Monday!!
The draft would not just include male performers, but also women and tag teams form the main roster and NXT. That's right, everyone is up for grabs. But in no circumstance should established tag teams be separated. They should be drafted as a unit.
Since they are set on having a world champion on each show, we all know that they love the Shield and Rollins and Reigns would be the perfect guys to be champions on each brand. The previous plan was Reigns vs Lesnar for Summerslam, but I feel that has changed for some reason., but i would roll with it and have Brock and Roman feud for a few months with Reigns ultimately coming out on top. But the wear and tear would weaken him for his next rival..
Since Stephanie would be in charge of Smackdown, it makes sense for Rollins to be reunited with the Authority on Smackdown as the champion. But the real twist would come in the build to Summerslam.
In my booking, Stephanie would be booking Rollins into a corner so much that it would turn him into a baby face, as that is what he should be. And ultimately, the Smackdown world title match for Summerslam would be Rollins vs Kevin Owens, who would be the guy HHH and Stephanie are now getting behind. And I would have Owens win the title. The key is, the Smackdown world champion would also be the holder of the Money in the Bank Briefcase, which means he can cash in an opportunity against the RAW WWE champion whenever he feels like it.
That is the key. There has to be a hint of possibility that at any moment the two titles could be unified, and one man could be champion of both brands over the course of the next year. That would be theme throughout my booking year. And eventually, I would have Owens cash in and win the WWE title later in the year from Reigns, and retreat back to Smackdown. This would make the winner of the Royal Rumble that more important as they would earn a match with the unified champ at Mania. Not a bad Idea right?
Yea, I know, it won't happen but I hate having a champion on each show. That means you no real champion because both become less important. And it weakens your secondary titles. Smh.
According to what we have been told so far, the mandate is for John Cena to be the key star of Smackdown, since he is the companies biggest star. And the whole point of the brand split is because USA is not happy with Smackdown's ratings and they want the show to be more important. So Cena will be key in pulling viewers. That does not mean he needs to be the world champion.
I would have him feud with and defeat Rusev for the United States Championship at Battleground. Then I would move Cena into a feud with Samoa Joe at Summerslam. This would be similar to the feud he had with Kevin Owens last year, but I would have Joe come out on top.
The eventual feud with Shinsuke Nakamura will be epic.
The Intercontinental title, which is currently held by The Miz, needs to get around the waist of AJ Styles ASAP. This will instantly elevate that title and sets up a prize for the inevitable feud between Finn Balor and AJ Styles, which will also involve The Club. This has to happen. At all cost, they should keep certain feuds on one show for the better of the product. Don't split up certain rivals just to split them up. These four men need to be on RAW together and the intrigue will instantly be there.
A great heated feud will instantly heat up the IC title. And I would have Gallows and Anderson win the Tag team titles from the New Day and feud as well.
Ultimately, there are a lot of ways they could go with the rosters between now and next year, but building to key matches for Wrestlemania is most important to me. If I were in charge, this would be my card, almost every match would be inter-promotional matches. Much like with any sport, East vs West, the best from the AFC faces the Best from the NFC, American League vs National League. So given that, here are a few of the matches that believe should be lock for the Mania Card.
Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles - WWE World Heavyweight Championship match
Roman Reigns vs John Cena - RAW vs Smackdown
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Cesaro - United States Championship match
Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar - RAW vs Smackdown
Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor - Intercontinental Championship match
American Alpha vs The Young Bucks - World Tag Team Championships
The key to all this is, they must split the rosters in a way that will leave great workers on both shows, and enough established and rising stars. And my last worry would be NXT keeping big stars. I'm sorry, NXT is supposed to be developmental and in my world, that is what it would be. Guys who have established themselves elsewhere and who can work should be on RAW and Smackdown, not NXT. Guys like Nakamura, Joe, Booby Rood, Eric Young, etc, do not belong down there.
I think NXT should return to its roots of being for guys to learn and perform in front of the small crowds in Florida and work their way up. No more keeping established stars in NXT just so they can tour. Smackdown will have its own tor now so there is no need. I want the best to be on the main roster and those who need more fine tuning can go down to NXT. Simple.
All in all, the WWE should be even more focused on signing and pushing the best talent in the world. They have to do this right this time, and there is no excuse. They know what they did wrong in the past, and hopefully they learn from it. Either way, it will be a hell of a roller coaster for the fans.