HUGE WWE STRUCTURAL CHANGES ANNOUNCED; SHANE AND STEPHANIE TO MAINTAIN EQUAL POWER
BY WRESTLING OBSERVER STAFF | @WONF4W | NOV 23, 2008 10:05 AM
For days (or what at this point seems like months) the discussions have raged over what would become of the WWE in the wake of it’s astronomical sale, and up until this point we have been given no answers; well that all changed today, and in a huge way.
Earlier on today, as the WWE prepares itself for it’s annual Survivor Series pay per view, the chances of anything official being announced seemed slim to none, what with the WWE’s hectic schedule ahead of the big event. Thankfully, we couldn’t have been more wrong, and this morning the WWE released an official press release regarding the future of the company’s structure and whom would be named president of the WWE. Would it be Shane or Stephanie? Well, in fact, it will be both of them. But not quite how you’d imagine. CEO Ari Emmanuel and Chairman Patrick Whitesell have come to the decision to split the WWE in two; quite literally. Whilst the WWE has technically been split into two different entities since the introduction of the brand extension in 2002, what Emmanuel and Whitesell have planned is a much more literal separation of the two brands. Over the past few years the distinction between Raw and SmackDown has become a lot less prominent and the brand extension has become a lot less prominent, what with co-branded pay per views, wrestlers appearing on other brands freely, yearly drafts, etc. Beginning after WrestleMania XXV in April, Raw and SmackDown will be regarded as two distinctly different companies; one headed up by Shane McMahon, the other Stephanie. This isn’t a case of the two siblings being made on screen general managers or anything of that kind, but an actual legitimate separation of the two brands, with the WWE serving as the governing body.
Whilst this may confuse many, it’s really not as baffling as it initially seems. As would be explained in the press release, both Raw and SmackDown will, of course, remain under the WWE banner, but they will have completely different personnel, as chosen by their respective presidents Shane and Stephanie, entirely unique rosters, single branded pay per views; nothing, outside of the big two pay per views, will be shared. Yes, you heard that right, the big two. One of the biggest revelations from the press release is that following WrestleMania XXV, the only two pay per views which will be co-branded will be the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Both SummerSlam and Survivor Series will become single branded pay per views, exclusive to either Raw or SmackDown, and will become the “granddaddy of them all” for their specific brand (outside of ‘Mania, of course). There will be no yearly draft; each wrestler will be signed exclusively to Raw or SmackDown and the only way any brand swapping can occur is when a wrestler’s contract expires on their specific brand, allowing them the opportunity to discuss a deal with the opposing brand if they see fit, or if Shane and Stephanie come to terms on a deal between themselves.
After tonight’s Survivor Series pay per view the brand extension will temporarily come to an end. This is being done to allow Shane and Stephanie the time to discuss between themselves who they want for their respective brands and to give them the time to build up characters and storylines for their brands, as well as end withstanding ones before the huge premiere’s of the “new” Raw and SmackDown following ‘Mania. On screen this brand new separation will be addressed, however rather than going the usual route of having a draft to split the two rosters, the Shane versus Stephanie drama will play out as a storyline, with each sibling signing different talent exclusively to their brand as the week’s go by, adding to the drama of the situation with Shane and Stephanie lobbying to talent to get them to sign to their brand, contract negotiations, live announcements (think Hulk Hogan’s WCW signing being announced on a banner across the bottom of the screen during a match in ’94), etc. Supposedly wrestlers contracts will play quite a big role in this new era (albeit kayfabe), with wrestlers contracts being included in their profiles on WWE.com, likely to add to the drama of expiring contracts, negotiations and the potential for a wrestler to jump ship to the opposing brand.
All in all, these are some pretty huge changes to the structure of the WWE and could change the face of the business forever. Is it for the better or for the worse? Should they perhaps have gone with Shane and Stephanie running the company together as a cohesive unit? Or would that only have resulted in backstage fireworks? One thing we can guarantee is that this should hugely benefit the WWE’s product as the sense of competition will be rife like never before as the siblings battle it out on a weekly basis, quite literally, for brand supremacy.