Recently, WWE made a bit of an unexpected announcement; they are installing two names wrestling fans should be familiar with as Executive Directors for RAW and SmackDown, respectively. Paul Heyman was assigned to the red brand, and Eric Bischoff assumes the same role and responsibilities for the blue brand.
With WWE worried about weaker than desired television ratings and knowing what is coming for the latter part of 2019—AEW's television deal plus the SmackDown move to Fox—WWE felt the shows needed more oversight. What we do know is the positions are not storyline figures specifically. What we do not know is how each individual will make his mark on the brands. Here are five ideas for each, on what fans might get to expect.
10 RAW: Take It To The Extreme
There are several bigger names fans probably recognize from the glory days of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and each could play a big role on Heyman's RAW should he go that route. Guys like Tommy Dreamer and Bubba Ray Dudley were instrumental in making ECW tick back in the day, and, while each man is off doing his own thing, one would think they might consider a return to WWE if the offer is right.
Another shakeup could happen on the commentary side of things. Heyman has a relationship with Taz, and bringing such a qualified personality as Taz could really shake up the commentary in a good way. Plus, someone as experienced as Taz could be invaluable for the roster to lean on.
9 SmackDown: Get The Band Back Together
Same thinking with what Paul Heyman could do. I expect there's at least a chance that one of the first things Eric Bischoff will want to do is to surround himself with people he trusts. He will want to have sound decision makers too, but mostly people he's comfortable with.
This could very well bring some familiar names and faces back into the company to work with. Could this be Hulk Hogan's path back to a more involved role? Perhaps, though it does not seem like using Hogan backstage makes a ton of sense. Then again, considering how WCW flamed out, and depending on how much of that blame one decides to place on Bischoff and his inner circle, would that move be a good shake up or a bad one?
8 RAW: Change Promotional Dynamics
If you caught the first RAW on Paul Heyman's watch, you might have felt there were some promos that felt more in line with what Heyman would put out when he ran Extreme Championship Wrestling. For many fans, that would be a welcomed change. ECW may be a distant memory for many, while others only know it from WWE Network footage.
Regardless, what that company did during it's run? It pushed the envelope, and it drove the Big Two to get better, edgier, and more in tune with fans. The promos wrestlers would rattle off felt a lot less rehearsed and a lot more natural. Things sounded like what a normal person would say. Considering some of the promos lately have been bland, boring or seemed to be way too scripted and rehearsed. If this is one thing Heyman's leadership can bring, it will be a welcomed adjustment.
7 SmackDown: Maximize The Two Hour Show
This one seems kind of obvious. At times, SmackDown feels like a better show because it only has to fill two hours. Still, at other times, we end up getting a bunch of shorter matches that really seem like more of a waste than anything else. The reality is, the show has been continuing with its two hours run time for quite a while. As Executive Director, Eric Bischoff could actually shake things up by embracing this and establishing a better formula for assembling each weekly show.
This doesn't mean we have to have the same exact formula each and every week—that would get stale fast. What it does mean, however, is that we should be able to get better than some three-minute matches each week. If anything, take a page out of NXT shows-the weekly (recorded) effort gives fans decent-to-good matches every hour-long episode, and it's PPV efforts are succinct. Bischoff can make a two-hour SmackDown much less of a hit-or-miss affair, and that would be a hugely positive move.
6 RAW: Differentiate the Brand
It wasn't all that long ago that the brands got very blurred very fast. WWE gave fans it's annual Superstar Shakeup earlier this year. That was followed up by the introduction of the Wildcard Rules, which have been interesting. On top of that, WWE added a brand-new, if hideous, 24/7 Championship, which sees the champion show up on both brands since the nature of the title is that it can be constantly up for grabs.
The efforts made sense, but they didn't all help. WWE needs to have distinct brands with things clearly split-or they should consider abandoning the split entirely. With new direction coming from Paul Heyman, RAW should get shaken up by running away from any blurring of the brand lines, albeit with the possible exception of the 24/7 Championship.
5 SmackDown: Be All Blue
Consider this a continuation of the shake-up that Heyman can bring to RAW. Eric Bischoff can follow suit (or he can lead the charge, either way is fine) and declare that SmackDown will be its own brand. No more Wildcards, no more Lars Sullivan showing up where he pleases—heck, let the two Executive Directors "bid" on "free agent" Lars. That could be fun.
Fans won't have to worry about who from RAW will show up and change things up, as the focus can be one hundred percent on the blue brand roster during each and every show. This lets Bischoff focus his creative energy on his specific roster without concern for how outside variables such as random RAW Superstars could change things up on a weekly basis.
The one unknown for both brands is whether or not a move back toward brand distinction would also bring about a move back toward brand-specific PPVs again. That might not be bad if WWE does this in alternating months as opposed to two per month as it was. More time to develop programs and feuds can actually be a good thing.
4 RAW: New Blood Shall Rise
Paul Heyman is not new blood, that much is obvious. Instead, Heyman is a new voice and a new perspective. Considering there has been a lot said about unhappy locker rooms and unhappy Superstars, Heyman will have his hands full right away. While he will be under pressure from his bosses to deliver an improved product quickly, he will have a lot of attention from the Superstars on his brand, too.
Now is as good a time as any to explore pushing underutilized talents, or perhaps talents not even on the main roster today. Heyman knows a thing or two about scouring the globe for talents that other people didn't know about yet and then using them to their full abilities (we can thank him for bringing guys like Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio to the mainstream audiences).
There are plenty of talented Superstars on the roster that, hopefully, will get new leases on life under Paul Heyman. We might even get some unexpected call-ups that have real direction upon making their debuts, too!
3 SmackDown: Everything Old Is New Again
OK, that's more of a shot at Bischoff being sort of a re-tread, but Daniel Bryan likes recycling, so why not? That being said, Bischoff's blue brand presence does indicate there is a chance for a new start for just about any Superstar currently on the roster. The top Superstars are pretty much established, but the fact remains that there are plenty of talents fans might consider buried at present.
Bischoff should bring a new creative vision, allowing flailing Superstars to be re-booted. He will hopefully be a breath of fresh air, and time will tell if that actually comes to fruition. With luck, fans can expect to see happier Superstars working harder than before, giving fans more exciting matches, and delivering an overall better product.
2 RAW: Provide Fans With A New Hook
Remember back when we used to get the occasional NXT showcase match on RAW? That was many fans first exposure to former WWE talent Neville, for example. Or, imagine when we used to see regular matches showing off the 205 Live roster? Those things don't happen much anymore.
In fairness, NXT doesn't need to be shown off much, as both rosters are filled with NXT graduates, so fans know what they are getting if they tune in to the black and yellow brand. Keeping in line with the idea of differentiating the brands and really sticking to a brand split, Paul Heyman needs to have something that is RAW's, and RAW's alone.
Could that be a return to featuring 205 Live matches? Does Heyman eschew the 24/7 Championship for his own, brand-specific "extreme" 'round-the-clock title? He is creative enough to have plenty of options, but he needs to give fans reasons to tune in specifically to Monday Night RAW each and every week.
1 SmackDown: Give Fans A Reason To Tune In
It's another idea that, if things will really be shaken up, both brands should consider. Eric Bischoff needs to give fans reasons to specifically tune in to SmackDown. One favorite and really quite logical option would be to make 205 Live exclusive to SmackDown.
The cruiserweight show airs immediately following SmackDown on Tuesday nights at present. It remains to be seen if the schedule will remain the same following the Fox move in a few months, but it would be logical to do that. 205 Live has some incredible talents that many casual fans do not get to see, but these talents also delivered arguably the best match from Stomping Grounds in June.
Whether it's a showcase division, a unique segment or a complete change to how his particular brand is presented, Bischoff could really shake things up by giving us a radically different product to consume each and every week.