An Unpopular Opinion But... #4 Submitted by Tom O'Hare on 10/13/2018 at 10:46 AM
The brand extension is flailing.
In this week’s column where I look at what I believe to be unpopular opinions among wrestling fans, I am going to dissect why I believe the brand extension is currently floundering & potentially doing more harm than good to the WWE weekly television shows.
On the face of it, the brand extension should work wonders for World Wrestling Entertainment & all of its employees. A lighter schedule, television time for those who wouldn’t otherwise receive it & talent being less over saturated to the point of boredom for fans. The points mentioned above are the positives of the brand extension (or so I believe) however they are outweighed by the negatives which in turn is having a detrimental effect on the WWE product.
WWE would like you to believe that Raw & Smackdown are on a level playing field & are equal in terms of their presentation, story telling, talents & overall viewing experience.
While there is no doubt Smackdown has very often been a better show as far as entertainment is concerned, it’s abundantly clear the WWE still perceives it as the so called lesser show.
The obvious starting point here is the small matter of Smackdown having 60 minute less running time to it on a weekly basis. Fans are therefore conditioned to believe that Raw is more integral given the fact it appears on television for a longer period of time. I am in no way suggesting Smackdown should be 3 hours long by the way, more so that Raw & Smackdown should be equals in how they are presented to us as viewers.
The second point, most things of significance happen on Raw without any real story line explanation given as to why not Smackdown. Let me elaborate; When Goldberg made his long awaited return to the ring after 12 years away from active completion which brand was it he would go to? Sure, he was feuding with Brock Lesnar ( a Raw superstar) but the WWE were again guilty of conditioning fans to believe Raw was the A-Show & a Goldberg like superstar was only worthy of appearing on said show. Ronda Rousey is another example as well as the recently returned Shawn Michaels. John Cena too; an initial Smackdown superstar before the WWE, without explanation, decided he was going to be a free agent & could appear on both programmes. By making Raw appear a higher priority it diminishes the efforts of those on Smackdown.
The third point & perhaps most pertinent one is the lack of pay-per-view main events given to Smackdown talents, most notably WWE Champion A.J Styles. This I believe is not something that is going to change any time soon & thus reaffirming my stance that Raw is a bigger priority to the WWE higher ups than Smackdown. Even the Royal Rumble, as historic as the inaugural woman's bout was, concluded with the lasting image of Asuka’s victory & Ronda Rousey’s debut. Both of whom of course were Raw superstars at the time. Shinsuke Nakamura, a Smackdown star, had to settle for his victory being fourth to last on the card.
The fourth & final point I’m going to write about is the constant presence of one Corey Graves on both shows week in & week out. Earlier in the article I spoke about over saturation of talent & how this can lead fans to feeling that the individual in question has gotten stale. Corey Graves, talented as he is, does not need to appear on both programmes on consecutive nights in consecutive weeks. The brand extension, as WWE would have you believe, offer talent who are exclusive to their brand meaning you as a viewer have to watch whichever show they are on if you are a fan of their’s. With Graves constantly appearing on both Raw & Smackdown it becomes incredibly difficult for us as fans not to get complacement with him as well as being able to identify with his character as “The Raw Guy” or “The Smackdown Guy”. Instead he’s “The guy who appears on both shows & sometimes like heels & sometimes likes faces”. A mistake easily solved in my opinion but one which WWE persists in making.
In closing, I DON’T believe WWE ARE making an error in their idea of the brand extension BUT rather their presentation of it.
My name is Tom O’Hare & this has been my unpopular opinion. Thank you for reading.
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