I just finished watching RAW on my DVR a little bit ago, and I have to say that for the umpteenth time, WWE dropped the ball. Sure, we don’t know where all the new storylines with all the post-Draft, post-tragic-accident jumble, but some really good ones just slipped through their fingers.
I’ll keep this short. I don’t want to bore you with tons of small details, so as of Night of Champions, Mr. McMahon is out, his family is busy with him, RAW has no GM and both main belts are on Smackdown.
WWE chose to have CM Punk use his Money in the Bank to bring a belt back to RAW after Edge was softened up by Batista. While this may be ‘poetic justice’ considering how Edge has won the belt in the past, it’s also not CM Punk’s character. Instead, it should have been drawn out over the summer or even longer to help bolster ratings in this traditionally slow time of year.
Here’s what I would have done.
The RAW superstars want one of the belts back to re-establish their legitimacy as the top brand. Smackdown has been reinforced based on the results of the Draft, and neither La Familia or HHH want to relinquish their belts. Vicky Guerrero gets her lawyers to muffle the interbrand talent contracts so the RAW superstars can’t get any titleshots.
After a few weeks of failed uncoordinated attempts at forcefully regaining the belts, the RAW superstars realize they need to band together if they want to be successful. Jericho gets an idea, remembering his past with WCW, and realizes they need someone experienced with leading a group in a takeover. The next week introduces their new leader and unofficial GM, Eric Bischoff.
Of course, not all of the RAW superstars buy into Bischoff being their leader, so each week Bischoff and Jericho need to try and build up their force of wrestlers while working on a plan to invade Smackdown and take the belts. Meanwhile, there is more showtime opened for some of the lower talent to step up and build their stock.
The invasion would involve the RAW stars forcing, sneaking and buying their way into the Smackdown arenas. At first they would try to goad HHH and Edge into giving them title shots, but then they’ll resort to raw force. They’ll interfere with matches, beat up wrestlers and bully people. Think of all the things that NWO, The Flock, DX, Nation of Domination, and all the other rogue factions have done to interfere with the running of a show and that’s the same here. Smackdown will begin to fight back and do some invading of RAW as well. The loopholes in the interbrand contract are found and title matches can happen. RAW throws superstar after superstar after each Smackdown champion, but just can’t seem to win.
The end of the angle is, of course, when RAW gets a belt back. It would have to be a big event, perhaps with every match on the PPV playing part in the decision. I imagine that WWE would love to have Cena be the hero, but CM Punk would make a good one. If the RAW group of wrestlers kept pushing him to the back of the line for the title shots (after he lost his Money in the Bank match, see below) he could eventually earn another shot and be a part of the big buildup required before the final blowoff. I think the eventual hero should have to be someone that we originally didn’t think was a top star who would then be cemented at main event status. An underdog the everyday fan could relate to who had to prove themself worth of carrying the brand’s flag.
The does a few things for the WWE. It gives them a storyline to build over the summer, or through the rest of the year. Smackdown will be seen as the show to watch, which can only help when it moves to My NetworkTV in October. Traditionally network switches are killer for television shows, but WWE has proven in the past that they can sustain the viewership in such a move, as they did with RAW twice. My NetworkTV is seen as a very important move for WWE and if it failed, it could spell the end of Smackdown and a huge dive in the stock price.
Something that has been missing for a few years now with the different brands is the intense loyalty they feel to their brands. This angle should create a lot of tension and animosity between them, enough that the heels and faces will be willing to put aside their differences, at least for a short while, while they prove their superiority. PPVs will be more interesting as both brands will be attendance. Start selling brand loyalty shirts and encourage fans to wear them at the shows to show their pride.
Here are some possible twists and shocker moments over the course of the story:
- One or two Smackdown stars ‘defect’ to RAW, but because of their contracts, can’t stop showing up at Smackdown. They’ll be outnumbered by Smackdown stars and have to come up with ways to avoid being beat up every week.
- CM Punk’s Money in the Bank contract is one of the loopholes that gets RAW a title match… except he loses.
- Bischoff’s onetime nemesis, Paul Heyman is brought in to help fight against RAW.
- The GMs attempt to have a truce at the PPVs, but it obviously ends up in turmoil when RAW interfers with the two championship matches anyway.
- RAW can steal other belts and use them on their shows to give their matches more meaning and something for the lower tier to shoot for.
- ECW could go ‘for-hire’ and side with the brand that pays them or gives them certain perks.
- Smackdown is beaten down for a few weeks in a row yet somehow manages to keep the belts from RAW. When it looks like RAW is going to finally win the battle once and for all, Vicky Guerrero is forced to call upon the aid of someone she hates to help her brand. He won’t do it without a contract so she is forced to rehire….the Undertaker.
- Since Bischoff was never really the true GM, his legitimacy is questioned by the Board of Directors and he has to prove himself.
- Newly hired wrestlers, from TNA or one of the WWE development territories is courted by the two (or three) brands looking to shift the balance in their favor.
- Sign on as a sponsor to a couple NASCAR teams for a weekend or two. Put each brand on a separate car and get those drivers to make appearances.
- Have former tag team partners fighting on separate sides, even though they have no bad blood between themselves, ala brothers fighting on different sides of the Civil War.
- Once RAW finally gets a belt back and shows up for the grand ceremonies, the Bischoff group realizes that control of RAW was nabbed away by someone else and now they have to fight to get their show back. Or, Bischoff keeps the belt for his own favorites and the rest of the wrestlers have an uphill climb for the title. Or, they get the belt back but without one particular wrestler being the determining factor and have to sort out who exactly is champion.
Ok, I lied, this entry isn’t short.
Some of the ideas above are obviously way too marky and maybe cheap ways for short-term ratings gains, but you get the idea. WWE needs to keep throwing things at us the same way that WCW did to win the ratings war 120 something weeks in a row. Instead, they go back to ‘status quo’ and do yet another championship swap less than one day into it. Sigh.