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In today’s WrestleTalk News, we cover everything that you need to know about the WWE brand split…
Smackdown Going Live
Our top story is so big, that today’s entire episode is devoted to it: the WWE brand split is returning.
We’ll start with Smackdown. For the first time in its almost 17 year history, the show will now air live every week. From the 19th July, it will air on Tuesdays on the USA Network.
This has been rumoured ever since the show moved to the USA Network – which is also home to WWE’s flagship show Raw – and the hiring of respected sports announcer Mauro Ranallo earlier this year.
In the press release announcing the move, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said:
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV. This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
This means WWE will air at least five hours of live programming a week – with that amount going up to around eight when there’s a pay per view. Or just short of a gazillion when it’s Wrestlemania weekend. Smackdown will also be aired live in the UK from the same date.
It’ll be interesting to see how this affects WWE’s audience. Many have been critical of Raw’s three-hour duration and commentary team. This might see viewers drop watching Raw and end up just following Smackdown instead. Which brings us onto the next part…
WWE Brand Split Returning
The announcement of Smackdown going live also included the huge news that the WWE brand split will be returning. That’s right, Raw and Smackdown will now have their own distinct rosters, unique storylines and separate writing teams.
The original brand split was instituted in 2002 as a way to showcase the enormous amount of talent that flooded WWE after the collapses of WCW and ECW. This saw everything from brand-specific pay per views, two world titles and arguably the best in ring era in the history of the company with the Smackdown Six. By 2011 though, when the brand split was abandoned, the gimmick was a mockery – with wrestlers frequently appearing on both shows for no reason.
One of the more exciting parts of the brand split, however, was the annual talent draft that decided which wrestlers would appear on which show. F4WOnline is reporting that the New Era’s draft is scheduled for the 11th July Raw, and that the majority of talent do not yet know where they’ll end up.
Interestingly, Brock Lesnar is also being advertised for the 11th July Raw.
To hear about the backstage workings of how the brand split will be implemented – including what will happen to the world titles – watch the WrestleTalk News below…
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And, before you go to read all the other great articles on Flickering Myth, you might as well watch the latest episode of British Wrestling Weekly: