Is WWE‘s brand split dead? That’s the big question that seems to be on fans’ minds in the weeks following WrestleMania 38. That event closed with Roman Reigns unifying the WWE and Universal Championships and “The Tribal Chief” has only popped up on Raw once since then — leaving the Red Brand without a top prize. Meanwhile, The Usos and RK-Bro (who have crossed over onto each other’s shows over the past two weeks) are set to unify their tag titles at WrestleMania Backlash next month.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer stated that despite the signs of the two brands merging, WWE has no definitive plan to end the brand split. He wrote in a daily update this week, “Roman Reigns is scheduled to headline WrestleMania Backlash even though they don’t seem to have started a program for him. Also, regarding rumors of brand mergers because of the singles title merger and the tag title merger, right now they are not merging rosters. Of course Vince could decide something different five minutes from now but as of right now nobody has heard anything discussed in that direction.”
The brand split was fully reintroduced back in 2016 with Raw receiving the majority of the company’s top stars. However, SmackDown has been positioned as the company’s “A-show” ever since WWE struck up a deal with FOX to get the Blue Brand on network television on Friday nights starting in late 2019.
One person who is a strong supporter of the brand split sticking around is Paul Heyman, Reigns’ “special counsel.” He explained his thought process in an interview with Ariel Helwani last November.
“There’s not enough space for new talent to rise if you’re going to have both shows dominated by the same personalities,” Heyman said. “It’s a matter of the amount of time it takes for a talent to resonate with an audience and how much you have to define that persona and learn about who this person is, why I should care about them and why I should pay to see them. And if you have both television shows dominated by Roman Reigns, The Usos, The Bloodline, Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Big E, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, we now have both shows booked.
“Okay, so when do the young stars emerge? How do you get Humberto Carrillo in a decent spot? How do you get Angel Garza in a decent spot? Where does Hit Raw make their debut and against whom and for how long? How long will they have to rise to the top? You need to have these separate and distinct entities so that there are three hours to fill up on Monday, so that there’s two hours to fill on a Friday,” he continued. “And if Roman Reigns just dominates both shows then you have to keep the storylines cohesive, so whomever Roman is working with on Raw, the story continues on SmackDown. Top spot is locked up. Top spot on SmackDown is not the same as the top spot on Raw. Big E has his thing going with Kevin Owens. …Once you take that main event position and you give it to the same two, three people on both shows, your main event position is now locked up. So how do you rise?”