Triple H announced as part of this past week’s SmackDown Live that the iconic WWE Draft will be making its return sometime in the near future. It was suggested that this Draft will be like no other and will truly shake things up in the WWE’s landscape, but when you actually stop and think about it, is this really necessary?
Since 2016, WWE has been doing its best to keep up the brand extension, with slight cracks starting to show since the dominant return of one ‘Tribal Chief’ Roman Reigns. With both major and tag championships being unified and thus competed for across the two brands, it’s provided more opportunities for RAW and SmackDown talent to appear on both shows. It has been more prominent in some of the more established stars, such as Matt Riddle, Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes, but still some wrestlers remain tied to one of the two shows.
However, with this looming Draft, it seems that WWE are hoping to tighten up on their roster and try to give their respective television networks a more unique set of talent to showcase.
But what does this mean for the likes of Reigns, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who are currently holding on to two brands worth of championships? Does this mean that we’ll see the unified titles separated again? Could new championships be introduced to truly refresh the lineages? This wouldn’t of course mean that Roman’s incredible championship reign would be brought to an end, as his 900+ day run would carry on regardless of which iteration of a championship he is holding. After all, he did begin his run with only the single title.
Although, would this diminish the status of whoever then picks up the other brand’s title? Should WWE choose to go down this route and perhaps award someone like Cody Rhodes or another fledging babyface star a major championship, having not beaten Roman Reigns, then they would pale in comparison. Cody especially, who just suffered a devastating loss to Reigns at WrestleMania, arguably should have been the one to dethrone Roman and become one of the biggest babyface champions of this era, giving him a secondary ‘world’ championship as a reparation would be an insult to say the least.
Championship status aside, who else really needs to be drafted at this point? Since the aforementioned diminishment of the previous brand extension, there are no real wrestlers lacking the need to compete in a new environment. Perhaps the secondary title holders, Gunther and Austin Theory, may benefit from a change of scenery, but ultimately there isn’t any major stars that are in desperate need of a fresh start.
With so many wrestlers chopping and changing brands, it becomes difficult to truly associate any names with a single brand. Think back to the results of the very first WWE Draft in 2002. After the likes of Kurt Angle, The Rock, Edge and Eddie Guerrero were drafted to SmackDown, they started laying the foundations for the ‘SmackDown Six’ which would later evolve to include Chris Benoit and Rey Mysterio. RAW, on the other hand, had the World Heavyweight Championship division, with Triple H leading the charge along with Kane, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam. It felt like WWE had two separate entities on the go and helped give each brand their individual identity. Not that there was much difference between them.
In 2016, there was a similar outcome, with SmackDown Live becoming known for providing unlikely talent with more opportunities and RAW honing in on the more established stars. It gave WWE the fresh feel that it needed at the time, both in 2002 and 2016. If WWE can somehow achieve that again now in 2023, then they could be onto something, providing Vinnie Mac doesn’t sink his teeth back in.
But until the fans have a reason to care about both brands and the majority of their headlining attractions, then the Draft will remain meaningless. I truly hope that Triple H makes good on his promise to shake things up, but with so many ongoing storylines keeping wrestlers locked down in inter-promotional combat, the timing of this just seems wrong.
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