First off, Battleground was a great show. We saw a match of the year candidate between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, another great match for the WWE Championship, what must be one of the best promos of Enzo Amore’s life, and the long awaited main roster debut of Bayley.
On top of that, The Wyatts and the New Day produced an entertaining battle that was all about the story of Xavier Woods, Natalya and Becky Lynch put on a solid showing in an unlucky spot, and Randy Orton might have produced the line of the night in a Highlight Reel that accomplished all it needed to.
That seems like a fairly stacked show, right?
I feel like last night was proof of what I’ve been saying for ages – this single roster is right up there with the best they’ve ever had. There was depth all the way through. Yes the midcard title matches were slightly disappointing, but consider that the show didn’t feature Cesaro, Neville, Luke Harper, Finn Balor, American Alpha, Baron Corbin or Sheamus. And the Usos were only on the preshow.
So then. With the potential for greatness together, why split everyone up into two rosters?
And here we come to the WWE Draft. I wrote a lot of articles in the build up to it, and in all honesty had anticipated writing more in the aftermath. Even yesterday in my PPV Spotlight, I didn’t delve into too much detail about it.
I, along with a lot of other people, was disappointed with the draft in the immediate aftermath. Annoyed. Angry even. It felt like people got slighted. The NXT picks in particular, made no sense in kayfabe (and to some extent, out of kayfabe). Mojo Rawley? Really? Over Shinsuke Nakamura? Over Samoa Joe? Really? Come on!
Once the dust had settled though, the results of the draft didn’t bother me nearly as much. Were there things I would have done differently? Of course, a lot. But what we have is by no means bad. I could name nine feuds on each brands that I’d class as either likely or possible, and that’s before you call more people up from NXT, the cruiserweight division returns on Raw and you bring back veterans to fill out the card.
Obviously we don’t know yet what the situation with championships are for each brand, though at the minute the midcard belts look set. That will have a big impact on the makeup of each show.
So the way I see it, if you have any doubts over the strength of the respective rosters, what the 2016 Brand Extension will do is exactly what Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan have been talking about doing on SmackDown: it will give superstars opportunity.
The way it looks at the minute it is very clearly the B show. It probably always will be. But what WWE are saying to SmackDown’s women – and with Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, Alexa Bliss and Carmella among others it is by no means a bare division – is who can step up and become a bona fide star? Beside Raw’s women, chances are few if any of them would get a spotlight. So who will grab the opportunity to shine and make themselves a name on the same level as Charlotte and Sasha Banks?
And it is exactly the same with the guys and the teams. You’ve got the Vaudevillains, The Ascension, Breezango, and after last night probably the Hype Bros behind American Alpha and The Usos. Who can put force themselves on to the platform that New Day, Enzo & Cass or Gallows & Anderson are on?
Remember that list of guys I said weren’t even involved at Battleground earlier? Did you even notice Alberto Del Rio, Apollo Crews and Dolph Ziggler weren’t on it? Ziggler in particular has been someone who has been on the cusp of greatness for years now, that the fans have always thought deserved better. Now he has the chance to prove it, and experience better. Just look at Cesaro. His shoot post-draft last week was brilliant, and if it continues as it looked like it might on the Battleground pre-show this could be something big for the Swiss Superman.
Roster depth isn’t the issue with the draft, far from it. Last night was proof of that. We might now see people who it’s been claimed have been misused get a chance to shine. That is I think what this brand extension is all about. Opportunity.
So as I look ahead to the copious amount of WWE-produced wrestling we have this week (I mean seriously, I make it 10 hours of WWE content in four days – what a time to be alive!), optimism has replaced the discontent I felt going to bed last Tuesday night. While certain things were definitely frustrating, looking at the rosters since reminded me why I believed in the brand extension so much beforehand.
We could once again be on to something special. And if we are, it starts tonight, with the new era of Monday Night Raw.