The return of the Brand Extension was announced on May 25th, 2016 and generated excitement with many fans. We were predicting what titles would come back, what Superstars would be eligible for the draft, and whether Raw would revert back to being a two-hour show. The many rumors and reports helped to create a nice little buzz for the WWE. After weeks and weeks of anticipation, the Brand Extension has occurred and with it has come the reveal of several General Managers and the rest of the perspective rosters, as well as some other big news that would change up the WWE. And after the dust has settled, it doesn’t seem to have come across as many fans would’ve liked.
Monday Night Raw remained a three-hour show, got the first pick and got three picks for every two that SmackDown got; not the greatest of news. This clearly set the stage for Raw to take a great bulk of the talent from the main roster and NXT, but the revelation of a certain division coming back to the WWE made it even worse for SmackDown. With the actual results of the draft occurring this past Tuesday, the show revealed anything but balanced rosters as well as one big unfortunate truth about SmackDown.
And to sum it all up, this article will be looking at the 15 Things We’ve Learned from the WWE this week; both from Raw and SmackDown Live.
15 The Cruiserweight Division Is Back
When the WWE announced the Cruiserweight Classic was taking place, many wrestling fans were hoping that this would lead to the return of the Cruiserweight division within the WWE. And this past Monday, the WWE made the shocking announcement that the Cruiserweight division would return to the WWE as an exclusive part of the Monday Night Raw brand.
This news, coupled with the ongoing Cruiserweight Classic, indicates that the wrestlers participating in this classic may be signed by the WWE to compete in their revived division. And considering that there has been no formal prize announced for the winner of the Cruiserweight Classic, it’s safe to assume that the winner of the tournament may be signed to main roster and crowned the new Cruiserweight Champion. The decision to remain three-hours meant that Raw would have a lot of time to fill with half of their current roster, but this news could be a great way to justify that decision. And as long as it’s handled well, this could make for some great matches on Monday Night Raw.
14 The New Day Are Here To Stay
As stated in a previous article, the rules of the brand extension made it abundantly clear that a tag team could be kept together or separated at the whim of the GMs and Commissioners. There was speculation before the draft that The New Day would possibly be split up, but the second round of the draft revealed the trio would remain a cohesive unit.
Considering the massive amount of time Raw has to fill, it makes sense that the WWE would keep the group together until their popularity and merchandise sales begin to decline. But by remaining as a group, the question now becomes: what will become of The New Day? Will they continue their reign as the Tag Team Champions until SummerSlam or is the WWE gonna ride this train all the way until WrestleMania? Whatever the plan is, New Day will rock each and every night on Monday Night Raw... for the time being.
13 Daniel Bryan Is SmackDown's General Manager
The rumors surrounding the GMs of Raw and SmackDown were swirling for the past couple of weeks as the draft drew closer. And on Monday Night Raw, Shane McMahon countered the announcement of Mick Foley as Raw’s GM by announcing that the SmackDown GM would be Daniel Bryan.
This was accidentally spoiled on the WWE app, but the reaction of the fans in Providence, Rhode Island this past Monday made it sound like the spoiled surprise didn’t bother them at all. The decision makes all the sense in the world, as with Shane’s persona as the New Era enthusiast, having a wrestler cut from a very similar cloth would definitely help the image of the newfound SmackDown Live. Bryan made mention of how he and Shane will put the Superstars first on their show, rather than the managers, so this could mean that his appearances will resemble those of William Regal’s from NXT. More importantly, the news of world’s toughest vegan returning to the WWE for both the Cruiserweight Classic commentary and as SmackDown GM is good news for his fans.
12 WWE Is Committed To Darren Young
For the past few months, the WWE has been doing vignettes for Darren Young with Hall of Famer Bob Backlund as his life coach. The segments were widely disliked by the fans and it got the point where some probably would’ve been fine had the WWE dropped the idea altogether. But as usual, the company ignored the backlash from the fans and pressed on with the push of Young.
Last week on Raw, Young managed to win a battle royal to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Then on SmackDown, Young and Backland had a pretty good exchange with The Miz and Maryse on MizTV. This week, Young scored a major win over former World Champion Alberto Del Rio and it seems abundantly clear that the WWE is committed to this push. The vignettes definitely rubbed fans the wrong way, but if WWE continues to build upon this, then this may pay off for all parties involved.
11 There Will Be NO Heel GMs
On this past edition of Monday Night Raw, both Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon revealed their GMs for their perspective brands. Many fans were expecting a babyface pick for SmackDown and a heel pick for Raw, so that the shows could truly feel like polar opposites.
However, this doesn’t seem to be the case for the most part, as Mick Foley was chosen to be Raw’s GM while Daniel Bryan will be SmackDown’s. Based on Foley’s interactions this past week, there is no indication of him joining up with Stephanie as a heel, nor does there seem to be any of those indications with Bryan. This could be viewed as a good thing as The Authority doesn’t seem to be coming back any time soon, but the fact that two babyfaces are in control makes it an odd choice. Only time will tell if this decision will pay off for the viewers.
10 The Usos And Reigns Will Be On Separate Shows
Following the feud with The Club after WrestleMania, Roman Reigns and The Usos seemed like a team that was going to last through the Brand extension. With the emphasis of family in the WWE for Reigns, separating the Samoan bloodline in WWE sounded like a move that wouldn’t make much sense. And in typical WWE fashion, the choice they probably shouldn’t make was the one they made as Reigns was drafted to Raw while Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso were drafted to SmackDown.
This indicates the WWE wanted to get The Usos away from Roman Reigns, but the reason for this is currently unknown. If the belief is that Reigns’ heat was rubbing off on them, then they shouldn’t have involved The Usos in the Reigns-Styles feud to begin with. To do so now, when another Samoan has been drafted to Raw, seems like an odd choice that has killed any possibility of a Samoan stable being formed.
9 The Wyatt Family Is Done With Strowman
The WWE draft saw many strange choices, decisions, and separations made in the name of causing controversy and shaking things up, but one of the more notable decisions was the separation of The Wyatt Family. While Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan will more than likely continue their cult-like stable on SmackDown, Braun Strowman will now be an exclusive member of the Raw roster. This probably come as a surprise to many seeing how Strowman made his debut as a member of the Wyatt's about a year ago, so to separate him from them so soon seems strange.
Though he has been booked relatively well, Strowman has yet to accomplish anything in the WWE, so to break him up from a stable that gave him character is an odd choice. Now this could all be a ruse to throw us off the fact that The Wyatt Family will be winning the Tag Team Titles, but it could also mean the WWE plans to start pushing him as a singles competitor.
8 The Zayn-Owens Feud Is Far From Over
The feud between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens has been going on for years on the independent circuit, but it began in the WWE two years ago near the end of 2014 on NXT. Fast forward to the present and both Superstars are on the main roster and have been attacking each other and interfering in each other’s matches nonstop. The story for their match at Battleground was that the draft would more than likely see both men on separate brands, so they should settle their affairs once and for all before that time comes.
However, both Zayn and Owens will be a part of the Monday Night Raw. On one hand, this means the feud between Zayn and Owens will have a chance to develop and grow, but at the same time this means that their constant interference routine is far from over. With them on separate shows, both men could’ve done things independently and made their feud more meaningful when they crossed paths again. But for now, it seems like the Zayn and Owens will truly be “fighting forever” on Monday Night Raw; for better or worse.
7 Ambrose Is Headed To SmackDown
Since the breakup of The Shield, the WWE has been behind Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins way more than they have been behind Dean Ambrose. While Reigns and Rollins have been the WWE Champion at least twice in the last two years, Ambrose just won the title back at Money in the Bank. And with the news of the brand extension, it has become abundantly clear that the WWE was going to put the former members of The Shield on separate shows.
This past Tuesday, the WWE Draft made this a fact as Rollins and Reigns were drafted to Raw while Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown. And not only does this indicate that there will be no more Shield triple threat matches, it could signify the end of Ambrose’s title reign. Dean has been treated almost as an afterthought since winning the title and with Reigns coming back at the PPV and rumors of a major title change looming, Ambrose’s time as champion may be over sooner than later.
6 The Club Is No More...With AJ Styles
As discussed earlier, the WWE Draft Rules clearly indicated that teams could be split at the whim of the GMs and Commissioners. And while many people expected The New Day to split, the teams that would actually be breaking up would be The Wyatt Family and The Club. AJ Styles was drafted to SmackDown while Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were drafted to Monday Night Raw. And while this would probably mean the end of The Club under normal circumstances, a certain first round draft pick may help The Club stay alive.
It goes without saying that Anderson and Gallows haven’t really been received well or given a chance to shine since their lackluster debut. Their booking and limited mic time has indicated that they are a team that works best while under someone’s leadership. And with Styles headed to SmackDown, The Club’s only chance at survival will probably be under the leadership of Finn Bálor. As the newest WWE Superstar, Bálor will need to make an immediate impact and making himself the new leader of The Club will help to keep all members of NJPW’s Bullet Club relevant in the WWE.
5 Raw Has Huge Star Power
The rules of the WWE draft clearly indicated that Raw was going to have the advantage in this brand extension, but the way it occurred on SmackDown was way more one sided than any of the fans wanted. Looking at nothing more than the star power of Monday Night Raw, the rosters are so outclassed that it’s almost embarrassing. SmackDown has some really good picks in Randy Orton, John Cena, AJ Styles and the current WWE champion Dean Ambrose, but Raw will have Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho and the former NXT Champion Finn Bálor. From the women’s division, Raw will have Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Paige, and Summer Rae while SmackDown will get Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Eva Marie. Even the prominent midcarders like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Cesaro will be on Raw while Bray Wyatt, The Miz, and Kane will be on SmackDown.
4 No Superstars Returned
As the brand extension drew closer, rumors has started to emerge regarding the return of former WWE superstars. With a roster in need of added star power, the WWE was rumored to be seeking some of their past employees to help bolster the roster and make these splits brands matter more.
Many fans were anticipating the return of guys like Shelton Benjamin, Kurt Angle, Carlito, and many other wrestlers that the fans grew to love over the years. However, the draft revealed none of these former Superstars were returning, as of now. While there was a small chance that the WWE was saving this announcement for the actual brand extension, the fact remains that seeing some old faces would’ve been great for the fans and great for TV. But as of now, there will be no former WWE Superstars returning for these split brands.
Hopefully, this new brand extension will help to make some new stars like it did for WWE in the past, so all the former wrestlers are wanted by fans rather than needed by the company.
3 Nakamura, Joe, And Bayley Aren't Going Anywhere
With the Brand extension drawing closer and closer, many fans were predicting that the WWE would call up NXT’s best and brightest stars to join the main roster and help make the shows matter. If most fans were asked, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Finn Bálor, Bayley, and American Alpha were all undeniable draft picks to be revealed on Tuesday Night SmackDown. And when the draft came to an end, it was revealed that only Bálor and American Alpha were the big NXT standouts to get the call.
This is sad news for the NXT fans who wanted to see their favorite stars get a bigger payday and a bigger audience to showcase their skill, but it is good news for the NXT fans who wish to see that brand grow and continue to garner its following. Nakamura, Joe, and Bayley will all be called up to the roster when the time comes, but for now, they can continue to make NXT the best that it can be and that’s something that all of their fans can appreciate.
2 Triple H Has Not Returned
After the GM for Monday Night Raw was revealed to be Mick Foley on Monday Night Raw, people were speculating what that would mean for the fate of Triple H. He tweeted about the NXT roster picks, but not much of Triple H has been seen since his defeat against Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Since Triple H won’t be the draft pick for Monday Night Raw, this could possibly be seen as an indicator that a storyline involving Stephanie, Shane and Triple H is coming sooner rather than later.
However, the fact that he didn’t appear at all on WWE television during any of the brand extension shows is a huge thing for the WWE to miss. We could see Triple H return this Sunday at Battleground to interfere in the title match, in the buildup to SmackDown, or much, much later, but whenever he returns, he’ll surely remind everyone why he is known as The Cerebral Assassin.
1 SmackDown Is Still The B Show
The Brand Extension has revealed many things about the WWE and what some of the creative minds are thinking. It shows that they never had any intention to reduce Monday Night Raw, that NXT will retain a great bulk of its star power, and many other things of this nature. But the biggest thing the draft revealed about the WWE was that SmackDown will remain the B Show for the rest of its existence.
When fans heard the brand extension was coming back, many of them predicted an ideal scenario where Raw and SmackDown would both be two-hour shows, the World Heavyweight Championship would return, and the roster would have separate rosters, but unique traits that would’ve made the shows better. Instead, the WWE’s actual plans would reveal a Raw that still remains three hours, a roster that completely dwarfs the other in sheer star power, and an exciting cruiserweight division that will be exclusive to Raw. All of this does nothing but stack the deck in the favor of Raw while making SmackDown the same underdog it was before. Now maybe the WWE can get really creative, have some great storylines, and great wrestling to make SmackDown matter again, but if it hasn’t happened till this point, there’s no reason to believe it will happen now.
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