And here we are at the end of Wrestlemania season! We’ve had six straight nights of content from WWE alone with the Hall of Fame, TakeOver: Orlando, Wrestlemania 33, Raw, SmackDown and NXT. It almost feels strange not having more wrestling to look forward to tonight. BUT, we can look back at all the awesome stuff that’s happened in the last week, and look ahead by asking the question “where do we go from here?”
We saw Kurt Angle return to the company, first as a Hall of Famer then as the Raw General Manager. We saw what looks like a full on heel turn from Asuka. We saw Matt and Jeff Hardy return to the WWE and become the Raw Tag Team Champions. We saw the career of The Undertaker likely come to a close. We saw The Revival debut on the main roster on Monday night, and Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger get the call up on Tuesday night. And crucially, we also saw Vince McMahon announce that next week we would shake up the rosters.
And that’s what I want to focus on here. Who is most likely to switch brands, or maybe rather who needs to switch brands the most? Here I lay out six picks, three from each show, who could really benefit from a shake up of their surroundings.
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
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? Continue reading
So here we are with Part 2 of my retrospective look at Smackdown. Part 1 focused on some of the greatest matches and rivalries to take place on the blue brand, and this one moves on to look at some of the more standalone moments or characters we have seen on Thursday and Friday nights. Let’s get right into it!
It’s been a big year for Smackdown. It celebrated its 15th Anniversary in October, and it has fairly recently been announced that Smackdown will be moving back to Thursdays next year, which should give it some impetus that it’s currently lacking. But when you think about it, some of the more iconic moments in WWE history happened on the blue brand. Then they went through the brand extension, where Smackdown was consistently the better wrestling show. It has been under the leadership of Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman (all on and off screen), as well as the likes of Vickie Guerrero, Teddy Long, Kurt Angle, John Laurinaitis and even Zack Ryder. It has gone from The Rock’s show, to the better brand, only to fall into irrelevancy in recent years. I’m going to take a look back at some of the best moments over the last 15 years, and then look at why nobody cares about it anymore.
This article is part 1/3. Here I’m going to look at some of the best matches and rivalries to race the blue brand. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the most iconic and memorable things we have seen on Smackdown. Continue reading
Back on the 25th March 2002, on Raw, the landscape of the WWE changed completely. That was the date of the inaugural WWE Draft – and the beginning of the Brand Extension.
In June 2006 the Brand Extension changed again with the revival of ECW as the third brand in the company. As I’m sure we all remember, it started out as a tribute to the extreme style of the original ECW with the return of various ECW alumni, but it quickly developed into a watered down, generic WWE TV show. It still served a purpose though as an enhancement show. It was eventually replaced in February 2010 by a purpose built development show known as NXT.
And the final nail was hammered into the coffin of the Brand Extension in August last year, as Supershows became the norm, allowing superstars from both brands to appear on both shows. The concept of each show having exclusive rosters was just quietly dropped, but the absence of the annual draft from 2012 was the final confirmation – if it was needed – that it was no more.
The very existence of the Brand Extension has been a contentious point since then, with some arguing that it is needed for the good of WWE television, while others argue that it was never necessary in the first place. Here I try to look at both sides, and weigh up both arguments. Continue reading