Relationship and Ratings Post Brand Split

Hi, Scott. Two questions about the upcoming brand split:




1- What should the relationship between Raw and Smackdown be in terms of trying to generate show loyalty and rivalry? For example, where would you fall between the extremes of (a) multiple promos – including by Shane and Stephanie – running down the other show each week and its talent with frequent interpromotional tag matches between lower card wrestlers (to give them something to do rather than for great matches), with Raw’s stated overall goal to be a better show than Smackdown (and vice versa) OR (b) for each show to pretty much ignore the other show, focus on the talent it does have and simply try to put on a great show? I know Vince reportedly likes real-life conflict between shows behind the scenes and that competition might lead to better shows, but shouldn’t WWE want its fans to watch both shows?


2- How do you think the ratings for Raw and Smackdown will be after the brand split? What do you think is the number in terms of ratings/viewers that WWE wants to hit in order for the decision to be considered successful? There are other numbers that will matter (e.g. house show business), but I assume TV is a fairly significant factor.

​I think the draft show will do a big number, but the problem overall is that they’re launching this new initiative right before football season starts, so it’s gonna be hard to get traction. Smackdown is already considered a bit of a disappointment by USA and this is their attempt to pay off their investment into the show. ​People say that ratings aren’t an immediate concern for WWE, but they’re definitely a concern for USA given the network’s current freefall overall.

As for the shows, they’ve already made Smackdown completely skippable again after only 5 months on USA with a supposed re-dedication to turning it back into the #2 wrestling show. That’s a tough hurdle to climb over. The other problem is that while making Reigns and Cena into the faces of the shows is a logical move from a drawing standpoint, it’s a TERRIBLE move for differentiating the products. Now we’ve got Homer and Homer Jr (they can call him Ho Ju!) and there’s no real alternative for fans to get away from having a top guy they hate. Competition is great, but if Smackdown is gonna be the same shit on a different night with the same distraction finishes and 50/50 booking, this is only gonna water down the product even further. If they’re like "Hey, we’re the brand with Nakamura and Styles and Balor and Owens and Mauro on commentary and we don’t care that we’re ripping off New Japan because it’s awesome" then they might be something I’d watch. Two hours is at least better than three.