Thursday, 8 September 2011

Why ending the Brand Extension is a mistake for WWE

Why ending the Brand Extension 
is a mistake for WWE

On the August 29th edition of Raw, Chief Operating Officer, Triple H announced that from this point forward, WWE’s predominant televised brands, Raw and Smackdown will both feature talent from both shows. A bold move made by new management, was this as productive as intended?

A dip in ratings suggest the main reason for this choice to be made. Featuring certain stars on both shows is somewhat, frustrating, however, taking John Cena for example, WWE probably feel this will boost ratings. It wont.

Keeping stars that the audience wish to part money with to see perform live will be something that ensures them coming time and again – if the correct one's are utilised. (Cena, merchandise seller or not, is the reason many choose not to attend), as well as WWE's lack of direction towards its booking of talent.

Storyline’s fit the PG tone. This makes it incredibly testing for any newcomer to break the glass ceiling, or even the first tier of noticability.

Is he Left Wing or Right Wing? He doesn't care...

One positive may be certain feuds occurring from Raw V Smackdown stars, and vice versa. This is a mistake. Feuds in this process should not be rushed. One week, CM Punk V an opposing brand superstar, next week CM Punk V someone else, this is a pointless practise as nothing will be gained through the process. Plus, rushing rivalries means that the shelf life of characters becomes limited and will eventually run out of steam twice as quickly.

As we saw from last week’s first live Smackdown show on Tuesday night, John Cena, whom was in the previous nights main event structure followed onto the next show 1 day later as the opening match, to which he didn’t lose, gained nothing from and created no rivalry for his opponent of the night. The loser’s credibility was broken ever more than it already has been, while the victor’s outcome had no change whatsoever.

Isn't working, is it?
Ending the brand extension now means characters wont evolve as mainstream stars WWE desperately needs. The same people will appear on the shows consecutively, and deliver nothing new or different to the masses watching. It is not increasing the viewer-ship. With no new stars or opinion on the same old structure of standard stars, there is no emotional investment from those hoping to give their support to.

Favourites will often be left off the shows because WWE views them as lesser men. Why? These lesser men are the one’s WWE failed to push forward with. WWE’s ego in producing top line stars has cost them dearly.

Eventually these practises will lead to unrest and distress. Viewers will not stick around. There is no reason to keep watching. Without room to grow, booking decisions and integrity behind them become questionable. How long will it take before breaking point occurs and viewers leave?

The solution? Those stars that are used on Raw should not be used on Smackdown. For example, a S/D star can be on Raw one week, and Raw on S/D. Orton on Raw means a non appearance on Smackdown, and therefore causes a ‘swap’ for the current week. This way, stars have air time appealing to different audiences. All are used in different standing and not booked as ‘surplus’. How they are given direction is another matter the creative team will have to address (I can’t give you all the answers, unless you employ me).

So why is it a mistake ending it? Should all stars keep the WWE walls up? My answer is: Yes.

More than capable, and VERY f*ckable!

All of Raw’s featured stars have been either dropped, booked to Superstars (the show) or lost their spot to a Smackdown star. Those two hours are key for someone being given the position on the show to get over in say, 3 minutes or more/less. Both shows should remain segregated, hence allowing them to become the stars WWE needs for its future. The only stars WWE are pushing right now, bar Orton, Punk, Cena and Triple H, are Christian (whom is being dropped for..) Mark Henry, as well as Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. That’s it. 3-4 stars, 1 the company doesn’t believe in, 1 outdated and 2 failed Heavyweights used as filler space. The Dolph Ziggler run isn’t working. It can’t work because this company are not building foundations on which it’s new stars can sand upon. (Del Rio & Miz are stars that are set, thankfully).

Time to send her flying into the women's division
as healthy competition
Jack Swagger, Alex Riley, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Ted DiBiase, Michael McGuillicutty, Zack Ryder, Tamina, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim (you can get her back, if you can be bothered) and Natalya are just some of the names WWE has to excel with, however are not throwing them a lifeline. Told they “don’t know how to work” or are missing slight parts of the process means they're being held back. You need to give someone the spotlight to see how they can handle it. It wont happen overnight. And if it fails in the ring, then you can realise the problems and either a) identify with those to rectify into positives, or b) consider changing the situation of placement for those ‘breakout’ stars. It cannot be any worse than Kelly Kelly being ill prepared and acting as supposed ‘champion’, in which she has failed to do anything wrestling, entertaining, or verbally gaining any interest. She was ‘given’ the highest accolade for doing absolutely nothing. How did she ‘win’ the title? It was GIVEN to her. Others are busting their backsides struggling to breakout, where-in areas they can make money for the company and keep interesting flourishing.

Rules of fifth's :)

What’s the alternative? Keep it as it is and fail to impress anyone with anything? The audience is wavering, slowly but surely. It is not just how, but who you put forward.  This also ends the annual draft then, no doubt. The draft, as pointless as it has become, is a big event that draws much speculation, allows the network a 3 hour show and boosts ratings as well as rivalries creating, and given stars chances to reignite their possibly lukewarm careers as fresh. Fans, also lap it up, regardless.

This is a title 'belt' bludgeon-er 
Many believe WWE do not have the capabilities to provide for a future in key players for the company. Once this faith is lost, its extremely difficult to regain. Removing all bases from the separated shows, narrows the prospects of the locker-room. The foundation on which WWE was built, seems to be quietly crumbling beneath it. Eventually, it will collapse and thus, fade away in its strength leaving a gaping hole in the bridge, unable to be crossed. WWE will be stuck on one side, the other, unable to be reached, with the trolls residing underneath.

@MaxWaltham (Twitter), comment, subscribe, vote in polls, or provide feedback where possible if you wish.

© Max Waltham  08th September 2011

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