I had a twitter conversation about some things that the company could try this year to shake things up a it, and one idea stood out to me: bring back the brand extension. Now I missed most of the separate roster days but thanks to wikipedia and the WWE Network (still only $9.99!!) I’ve managed to get up to speed on how it all worked. And I think it could be successful again with a few tweaks. I don’t think you need 100 percent static split rosters; maybe 10 guys get drafted and everyone else floats. I wouldn’t have separate house show tours either; better to make sure you have guys that draw on each touring team if you just have a mix of good people regardless of roster spot. And I wouldn’t reinstate the World title as the Smackdown belt; instead I would move the US Title there and your two main programs for each show can be for the respective secondary titles and fighting for title shots at the WWE World Title.
The first time this was done was 2002; it was needed then because the WWE roster had become extremely bloated with guys who were already there, talent absorbed from WCW and ECW, and guys who were coming up the developmental pipeline like John Cena and Randy Orton. And once it ended in 2012 it wasn’t needed anymore; the total roster was smaller and NXT wasn’t flush with people either. But that’s no longer the case. Once everyone gets back from injury they’re going to have by my count almost 50 guys on the roster, 10 ladies, and then a whole other group of men and women in NXT, almost 30 in total. So that’s almost 100 people, and that’s not counting Triple H or guys who drop in for a show or two like Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer or anyone else who might get picked up. Even with five hours of live and live taped programming for the main roster and an hour every week for NXT that’s still not even time to properly showcase everyone. So splitting things up again could be a big help. Here’s how:
Vince wants Roman Reigns as his number one guy, Roman has fans that want or are good with that. But there’s still a very vocal contingent that doesn’t approve,and they threaten to hijack every RAW and pay per view to voice their dissent, and they’re not going away. I’m guessing most of those folks don’t mind Roman being a big player but for whatever reason they don’t like him as the main guy. (‘We don’t like the way he’s being booked’ is their normal refrain but shut up already with that, it’s beyond tired). Anyhow, moving Roman over to Smackdown and letting him run things over there can give Vince what he wants to a degree without putting him out there in front of the ‘get ourselves over by hijacking the show’ crowd on Monday nights. And then you can always put him in the title picture later without it feeling force fed every week.
You could also put guys over there who’ve gotten lost in the shuffle since moving up to the main roster from NXT; I’m mainly thinking of Neville and The Ascension. Neville is a perpetual midcard guy now and isn’t a threat to win any title when he gets a match for one, and The Ascension are glorified jobbers after ruling NXT while they were down there. A fresh start on a smaller roster would give all of them a chance to reestablish themselves in the ring and have good matches that mean something again. And then you have guys like Titus O’Neil (assuming his suspension thing ends without a hitch) who the higher ups clearly want to do something with; on a split roster he can finally get his break to do more than wrestle Stardust back and forth.
Time to shine
A guy like Kevin Owens is ready for extended mic time and a chance to claim a major piece of the spotlight but right now because of the time and roster constraints he often gets only enough time for a match and a backstage vignette. With Roman no longer on RAW some of that time can be given to Kevin to move up to the next level. A faction like the League of Nations can move to Smackdown and become a bigger deal than now when they’re one of many groups. Or imagine a series of acrobatic affairs between Neville and Kalisto over the US Title.
This can also help better facilitate callups from NXT to the main roster. Right now NXT is very top heavy with veterans. There’s no reason Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, and Sami Zayn should still be there. Baron Corbin should be ruling the roost now with Apollo Crews as his main challenger while he figures out how to get his mic skills up to his promising ring work. What’s the real point of NXT if so many people there are not youngsters? As much as I and so many others enjoy NXT it is fast becoming a place for veterans to work outside of the main roster as opposed to a developmental territory. I think the split roster approach would be a good way to alleviate that.
So some old ideas are worth making new again and rolling out for another turn. This is one of them. What do you think?