The news of a brand split shook up the entire wrestling industry and we aren’t even sure how it’s going down yet. SmackDown going live is one of the facets we are aware of and with that comes a brand split. Both SmackDown and RAW will have exclusive rosters similar to the 2002 brand split. The two shows will see a draft in July that will change the structure of the WWE. They tried splitting the rosters in the past but ended up having to quit on the idea due to SmackDown being treated as completely inferior to RAW in just about every aspect.
WWE wants things to be different this time around by doing right by the creative idea of a brand split. The negative to this is we will only be able to see our favorite wrestlers on one show per week rather than both. The ability to see specific dream matches also won’t happen unless there’s a roster change, but that may add to the intrigue. One specific positive is it will give more wrestlers a chance to be utilized on television once again. The prior structure of the same stars appearing on both RAW and SmackDown only allowed so many wrestlers to get television time.
Many of the performers set to the side by WWE management and forgotten by fans will have a chance to become a relevant member of the company once again. The amount of talent needed on television each week will be doubled and that is going to give opportunity to many wrestlers in need of it. This could have a potential career changing impact to quite a few wrestlers in need of it. A good number of talents are celebrating the news in the WWE locker room and we’ll look at them here. These are the top fifteen wrestlers that can see their careers saved with the brand extension.
15 Zack Ryder
The fan response to Zack Ryder’s shocking Intercontinental Championship victory at WrestleMania 32 reminded us just how loved he once was. Ryder has a great deal of talent and the ability to portray the loveable underdog, but his lack of television time is his biggest issue. A brand split will give opportunities to many of the forgotten lower card performers. Ryder will never be the guy in the main event picture, though his skills are good enough. Ryder's career seemed lost but the brand split has to add optimism for anyone that has missed his work.
14 The Usos
Recent WWE booking has turned The Usos from a fun tag team of twin brothers flying around the ring into a boring duo most known as Roman Reigns’ annoying cousins. The potential of being on a different show from Reigns may stop the crowd from turning on the once popular tag team. Jimmy and Jey have also been lost in the tag team picture with New Day serving as the top tandem and new teams being called up from NXT. The benefit of having smaller rosters will make them a bigger value with the brand split.
13 Darren Young
Darren Young's recent character change working with Bob Backlund was surprising, considering the lack of television time available with the loaded roster. WWE’s announcement of the brand split later revealed why he was given another opportunity with the singles character revamp. The two shows will need as much talent as possible to thrive as competitive brands. Backlund’s hope to “make Darren Young great again” will have a better chance with the roster split actually allowing him time to develop on television. Young would have floundered in the current system, but the new mindset should give him a chance for success.
The women’s division is all over the place these days and we aren’t even sure how they will factor in the brand split. There could be two separate championships for the ladies to compete for on each roster or the champion may go back and forth on both shows. Hopefully, this split gives television time to more women trying to showcase their talent as many have been floundering as of late. Naomi is one of the most athletically gifted women in WWE but we never get to see it. Even with the positive step forward with women getting two storylines/matches per show, Naomi has not been a relevant member of the division but that will hopefully change with the brand split.
Kalisto had an interesting United States Championship reign that failed to make him a credible champion, but he was able to show glimpses of his talent. WWE has desperately been looking for a replacement to Rey Mysterio and Kalisto should be the next luchador to break out. His merchandising sale potential and ability to connect with the Latino fan base makes Kalisto a higher priority in the WWE. A brand split would finally allow him time to show us his character and allow him to connect with the audience a little bit more.
10 Apollo Crews
Despite just debuting on the main roster a little over a month ago, Apollo Crews is already struggling to develop an identity. Crews had a couple of television wins before being relegated to the forgotten Superstars and Main Event shows. The brand split is coming at the absolute perfect time for Crews, as he was on the verge of being viewed as a main roster bust. Crews’ call-up from NXT was relatively quick compared to his peers but WWE believes in his unlimited potential. A smaller roster and more time to grow as a performer on one of the shows is nothing but a positive for Crews.
9 Tyler Breeze
Another recent NXT call-up that has failed to gain any momentum is Tyler Breeze. As one of the most beloved NXT stars during its rise, Breeze waited years for his chance on the main roster, but was let down by poor booking. Breeze stopped being used randomly on RAW or SmackDown, but a brand split gives him a newfound hope to succeed. Prince Pretty delivers in the ring and his gimmick can be endearing if done correctly. Ryan Ward is currently the head writer of SmackDown and was formerly the top NXT writer during Breeze’s time there. A push on SmackDown could provide huge results for Breeze to turn his career around.
8 The Dudley Boyz
The return of The Dudleys has been a major disappointment with no apparent reason for having them on the roster until now. Bubba Ray and Devon saw a massive pop for their first show back, but instantly lost any luster. They have already become completely irrelevant but the smaller rosters should open up more important spots for the tag teams. The Dudleys still know how to get heel heat and WWE wanting to showcase them more would make a great deal of sense to help create a deep tag division on either of the shows. Both of The Dudleys have to be very happy about the news of a big roster split.
7 Titus O’Neil
WWE recently suspending Titus O’Neil for engaging in roughhousing with Vince McMahon was a huge story at the time. We all forgot about it as time went on and O’Neil is back with the company. You would assume the suspension hurt Titus’ standing in the WWE, but the company has always believed in him. His athletic ability in the ring and work with great causes in the name of WWE make him a respected employee. The company has likely forgiven O’Neil and will give him another opportunity in the singles division on one of the shows following the brand split. This could get Titus to his potential as a midcard champion if things work out for him.
Neville's high-flying acrobatics are among the greatest aerial displays you’ll ever find in a pro wrestling ring. Neville takes it to another level by debuting moves we have never seen before. A recent injury forced him to miss WrestleMania 32 and he has been out of action since then. His return will be much more important with the brand split coming. Neville will have the chance to actually move up the card and we could see him in the title picture in a perfect world on one of the two shows. While impressive, Neville was in the midcard purgatory of having no chance at progressing, but that might change with smaller rosters.
5 Bray Wyatt
It’s hard to say Bray Wyatt is in need of having his career saved, like many of the other wrestlers on this list. However, the brand split will give him a fair chance to become a World Champion. Wyatt was slotted to become a main event Superstar with his unique gimmick gaining traction from the fan base. The momentum was squandered and this could be the opportunity needed for him to emerge again, without having to worry about all of the stars above him in the pecking order. Wyatt is definitely going to be a huge factor in one of one of the two programs with an opportunity at becoming a top star in WWE.
Sheamus’ failed title reign last year likely prevented him from getting another main event push and he's back in a horrible spot on television. You likely forget he’s on the roster on a weekly basis until he actually appears and that’s the biggest insult one can say about a former World Champion. The brand split came at the perfect time for Sheamus as he will be guaranteed television time. WWE obviously loves Sheamus and the upper midcard/lower main event scene will be his tier on one of the shows. Considering fans do hate him, Sheamus will have a role on one of the brands as a top five heel in the pecking order. Don't be too surprised if Sheamus becomes an upper card heel with the SmackDown brand.
Paige's has gone downhill in the WWE over the past year. The Divas Revolution, causing Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch to get called up to the main roster, saw big changes for the women’s division. The new talent was featured more and the prior stars of the division were positioned further back in less relevant roles. Paige took the biggest hit going from the most beloved performer in the division to one no one remembers. The brand split will give her consistent television time once again and she’ll likely be a fixture in the title picture if both shows have their own unique title. If not, they can put her with The Wyatt Family. Wouldn't that be something?
2 Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose’s momentum has been slowing since WrestleMania 32. A match on the biggest wrestling show of all time against Brock Lesnar should have helped raise Ambrose’s stock but the lackluster outing saw his value diminish. Ambrose has since been in a long feud with Chris Jericho and has fallen from a potential World Title contender into just another good performer. The brand split may create world title opportunities for wrestlers that have never held them before and he would be at the top of that list. Ambrose clearly isn’t viewed in the upper tier with John Cena, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, but is popular enough to have a few title reigns if there were two belts.
1 Alberto Del Rio
WWE signed Alberto Del Rio to a high paying contract towards the end of 2015, but his impact on the roster has been non-existent. Del Rio is now the most forgettable former World Champion on WWE’s roster, apart from Jack Swagger. WWE does desperately need a big Latino star to appeal to the demographic and Del Rio was meant to do so with the signing. A big push could come Del Rio’s way with two rosters opening the doors for more talent getting pushes in the main event picture. Vince McMahon clearly believes in the ability of Del Rio as seen with his various title reigns through the years and the brand split can see him go from irrelevant to a main eventer. You have to believe this is the last opportunity to make Del Rio relevant again.
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