On Wednesday morning, WWE announced the return of the brand split. In an official press release, the company detailed how, beginning July 19, SmackDown will air live every Tuesday with a unique roster and storylines.
Longtime WWE fans have seen a brand split in action before. In 2002, the company was flush with talent from WCW and ECW, so Vince McMahon decided to split the roster between Raw and SmackDown. The experiment lasted for nine years and had more than its share of ups and downs. Shortly after the split, SmackDown was considered the superior show, while Raw was simply Triple H's playground. A few years later, JBL was champion on Smackdown and Raw was the preferred show.
At times, it seemed like the split wasn't taken seriously, and at other times, it felt like it would be best to end the whole thing. That's what eventually happened in 2011, though it fizzled out more than it received a proper finish. Stars has already been crossing over brands for several months, and the whole thing was anticlimactic.
There are many lessons WWE's decision-makers could have learned from the original brand split, but odds are that they didn't; some of those same problems will pop up again, along with several new ones.
Here are 10 mistakes WWE will probably make with the brand split:
10. Not Increasing The Number Of PPV Events
When WWE initially started the brand split back in 2002, they had matches from both shows on all their Pay-Per-View events. The next year, however, the company decided to split the minor shows up between brands. That allowed them to add more Pay-Per-View events to the calendar without compromising storylines. The number of events peaked in 2006 with 16 - five Raw, five Smackdown, two ECW, and four joint shows.
That setup ultimately proved untenable, as asking fans to spend that much money in a year wasn't realistic. The PPV count fell back down, hitting 12 in 2012, the year after the split ended.
Nowadays, though, the system is different - Pay-Per-View is almost obsolete, with most fans who follow WWE's product having access to the company's streaming network. That means WWE can put on as many live events as they want without having to worry about fans picking their favorites with their wallets.
WWE has a golden opportunity to make the most of the Network's capabilities with 20 "PPV" shows a year - eight Raw, eight Smackdown, and four joint events. If they pass this one up, they're missing out on a way to keep storylines flowing on both brands and make the Network even more enticing.