PWP Nation’s Zak Fellows takes a special look at the upcoming WWE Brand Extension and the speculation on two WWE World Champions.
Ever since the announcement of the return of the Brand Split back in May, I have been stalling writing about my thoughts on it. After all, with a move such as this one and a controversial return to the structure of a previous era, there are so many factors to take into consideration that goes into one’s overall thoughts. With that said…
THE BRAND SPLIT IS UNNECESSARY
While I can totally understand the appeal that instinctively resonates from the concept of a split roster, in my opinion it is an illusion and an outdated concept. To use more specific examples, it has been four years since the brand split ended and look at the people who have come up and gotten over to such great degrees despite the, on paper, less spots: All three members of the Shield, Daniel Bryan, The New Day, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Rusev, AJ Styles, Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn just to name a few.
Yes, there is always room to get people more over and NXT has certainly helped develop guys and allow them to gain exposure early but that is proof that the structure WWE is currently using is working. Splitting the roster just comes across as redundant.
In defiance of that, a major change that factors into the brand split is the status of the current championships. As of now, WWE has five titles: One World Title, One Women’s Title, Two Mid Card Titles and One Tag Team Title. And, if you believe news stories especially ones on PWP Nation, there is a strong likelihood that WWE will be introducing a second World Championship for Smackdown…another return to the previous structure.
As much as I find the Brand Split unnecessary, it is something that can be overlooked. Bringing back a second world title? I’m afraid that is where I have to say it’s an outright bad idea.
To put it rather bluntly: Champions need to look and feel important. That’s what the purpose of a title ultimately comes down to as an accolade and, thus, rare and treasured, exclusive and sought after. If, for example, Dean Ambrose is currently holding the WWE World Championship than he should be treated as the top guy across two brands, the champion of the whole company as opposed to half of it. Not only does that do wonders for the championships credibility and presentation as an accolade it also makes Ambrose, and anybody else who holds it after, appear more important.
This is how the brand split originally treated the then Undisputed WWE Championship back in 2002, along with the WWE Women’s Championship. While the other titles were separated, the World and Women’s champion’s would appear on both shows, resulting in instances where Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and The Rock would be viewed as the top guys in the company across two shows with often one feud for each show. This ultimately led to Undertaker feuding with Kurt Angle on Smackdown while at the same time wrestling Jeff Hardy on Raw in some great matches. If the brand split were to return, WWE could get away with having the United States and Intercontinental championships exclusive to one show, since they are on the same level hierarchy wise, while the World, Women’s and Tag championships are shared between shows.
So, at time of writing, Dean Ambrose, Charlotte and the New Day would have two different pools of challengers for their titles as opposed to being held back to just one.
However, a big reason as to why, in my opinion, WWE should steer clear from incorporating another World title is for something that would ultimately surface from the inclusion of two world titles: The usage of Championships as a crutch. The ultimate goal of any promoter when it comes to wrestlers is to get them over: This can be achieved through storylines, the matches, presentation; the list goes on and on. For instance, Dean Malenko got over because of his ability in the ring as a technician while Brodus Clay got over because of his dancing…two different reasons but still with the same general result: A reaction.
When it comes to World Championships, and you notice this a lot because of hindsight and the level of fandom, there is often talk about how so and so should have won the title (like Ted DiBiase beating Hulk Hogan for the championship). On paper, that seems nice but it also serves as counterproductive to what actually happened during that time frame because that particular champion was so over and the person who ‘should have’ won ended up becoming over and remembered without needing that title. Jake “The Snake” Roberts is a legend and he never won a championship, Paul Orndorff is well remembered and no titles in WWE and, even more recently, Bray Wyatt has become one of the most over acts in WWE right now and he has no titles to his name at all.
During the period, when WWE did have two world titles, you notice a developing dependency that really started in 2008 with CM Punk’s first cash in of Money in the Bank, which accelerated the problem in my opinion. All of a sudden, you see Sheamus as WWE Champion despite no real build up, Jack Swagger won the World Title, lost it in 2 months and was back to where he started, Dolph Ziggler… need I say more?
All of this was achieved because WWE had two World titles, and on paper, another big name spot to fill and build someone towards when the other World title was being held by someone of much higher prominence. So how’s that working out when Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio are all former world champions and you barely remember it?
I don’t want to return to that era where a World title is viewed upon as the only means to get people over: Something we have been away from since the unification in 2013. We’ve seen Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose be built up and made into strong and over characters without them being thrown belts to accomplish that…them holding the World title serves as VALIDATION of their “overness” as opposed to HOW they got over.
In conclusion, I want to stress a contributing factor to my uneasiness surrounding the idea of two world titles is based on past history: If you see the dependence of having one other belt to play around with and slack of on actually developing guys proper, you will naturally not want to see it again. Two world titles can work, how to do it is very much up in the air.
I am interested to see how this brand split plays out even when you hear that WWE is looking to bring back past names to fill those spots is kind of counterproductive to what the supposed goal of the brand split is wouldn’t you say?
[Zak Fellows fills the spot of balloon popper with PWP Nation.]
The Smackdown World Champion just sounds like an extra reason to get stopped at airports.
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