Hello everyone, and welcome to the first edition of “Viewing Wrestling Through an Analytical Eye”, or “Viewing Wrestling” for short. This is the replacement series for the recently ended “So, You Think You Know Diabetes”.
Now, this is going to be a different sort of series. I’ve watched a lot of professional wrestling, especially WWE, and I’ve learned to analyze everything through both the good and the bad. So, we’re going to take specific decisions, usually when it comes to booking, and determine if it was a good or bad decision. So, we’re gonna start it off with…
The second edition of the WWE Brand Extension.
Let me back up and give you some history. After the Invasion angle in 2001, Ric Flair had come out and stated that he was now 50% owner of the WW(F)E. On March 25, 2002, just 8 days removed from WrestleMania X8, WWE held their first draft to determine which superstars would go to which brand. For the next 9 years, male and female Superstars would generally compete on their own show, and once a year, they would become eligible to get traded over to the other show. In 2006, WWE reintroduced “ECW” as a brand, which was thrown into the mix for the subsequent drafts until ECW was disbanded in 2010. And a year later, the brands meshed together in a quiet end to the brand extension. For almost five years, WWE, with their ever-growing roster, struggled to feature all of their talent on TV. So, in July of 2016, coinciding with Smackdown’s move to be Tuesday nights (and being a live program), we now have a new Brand Extension.
Now, there are a lot of similarities between the two brand extensions. First off, the announce table positions for both shows are the exact same. RAW’s announce table moved up to a spot by the entrance ramp, while Smackdown’s stayed ringside. Each show has four major titles; the “Heavyweight”, the mid-card, Tag Titles and a Women’s Title. From 2oo2-2007, the WWE had different divisions on different brands. The Women’s Title was on RAW, while the Cruiserweight Division was on Smackdown. After WWE dropped the Cruiserweight Division, they implemented the Divas Championship on Smackdown to balance out the shows. Now, the revived Cruiserweight division is on RAW, with it’s own title, and it’s own show, 205 live, which airs on Tuesday nights.
The one major difference between the two shows is the camera angles. RAW keeps up the normal camera angles that we have been used to for years, with the standard hard camera on the bottom of the ring (most of the time, the arena setup has the entrance ramp appearing off on the left hand side of the frame of the hard camera). Smackdown has a different camera set up, with one of the main camera angles coming off of the bottom right corner (again, using RAW’s main hard camera look). This is good because it does give the show a different feel.
However, the thing that bugs me THE MOST about the entire brand extension this time around, are the titles. Seriously.
ANYONE else see a pattern here? Instead of the two brand getting their own identity and branding with the championships, instead, we’ve just re-colored schemes for three of the four titles. Yes, the I-C and US titles are the same as they were, but don’t put it past WWE to change up those titles in the future. Because they totally would do that too. Just watch them. But, seriously. Can we get some more variety here. I KNOW that they are supposed to represent the same divisions across the two shows, but…c’mon. The first brand split had FAR more uniqueness when it comes to the design of the titles.
Anyway, my point is. WWE, get your act together. If you want your brand to be completely separate, then don’t try to make them the exact same. You started out right with the camera angles, but there needs to be more identity division.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Next week, we’re going to start looking at the Royal Rumble winners since the the debut of RAW, and see just how good/bad they ended up getting booked (spoilers, there are some that really get the shaft). Until then, I am the Baumeister, and I have been, obediently yours.