World Heavyweight Champion: Sheamus
Top 6 Contenders: John Cena, Randy Orton, The Miz, Lord Tensai, The Big Show, Kane
USA Champion: Santino Marella
Top 7 Contenders: Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Ezekiel Jackson, Antonio Cesar, Brodus Clay
Divas Champion: Layla El
Top 5 Contenders: Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, AJ, Kaitlyn, Eve
World Tag Team Champions: R-Truth and partner
Top Contender: Darren Young and Titus O’Neil
Needs: Partner for R-Truth, Two-Three new tag teams
WWE Champion: CM Punk
Top 5 Contenders: Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, Chris Jericho, Christian, Jack Swagger
Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes
Top 5 Contenders: Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre, Ted Dibiase, Mike McGillicutty, Johnny Curtis
WWE Tag Team Champions: Kofi Kingston and partner
Top 3 Contenders: Epico/Primo, The Usos, Hawkins/Reks
NEW DIVISION: WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION
Top 6 Contenders: Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, Evan Bourne, JTG, Yoshi Tatsu, Rey Mysterio
Needs: Partner for Kofi Kingston, Cruiserweight Champion
NXT: The New Season
The Heavyweights: Alex Riley, Ryback, Jinder Mahal, Mason Ryan
The Cruiserweights: Trent Barretta, Sakamoto, Seth Rollins, Richie Steamboat,
The Divas: Alicia Fox, Maxine, Tamina Snuka, Rosa Mendes
The Tag Teams: Camacho/Hunico, The Rotundos, Maddox and Pierce, Cottonwood/O’Brien
After 18 weeks, eliminations will begin. After eight weeks of eliminations (two per division), the WWE NXT Draft will take place. If no picks were traded, Raw gets three and Smackdown gets three. Cruiserweights are exclusive to Smackdown and Divas are exclusive to Raw.
So… how does this improve things?
The improvement is in the structure. Raw now has an identity. This is the land of the giants and the power wrestlers. Brawling is king and being a technical wrestler makes you stand out (Dolph Ziggler and Heath Slater especially). The Divas can now be more focused to just one brand exclusively as women on Smackdown will only be managers or valets. John Cena is clearly still the “ace” but this gives him monsters to overcome like Tensai and Jackson, while also continuing vanity programs with the likes of Brock Lesnar or The Rock. This leaves room for Randy Orton to be the top babyface contender and develop new top babyfaces like Zack Ryder. Over on Smackdown it’ s a wrestling focused brand with a brand new Cruiserweight division to center around (a great place for Rey Mysterio to come back into before going back to the main event) where a big guy like Jack Swagger or Wade Barrett now stand out. The division is ripe for some fresh starts (Mike McGillicutty) and can focus on creating strong midcard programs.
NXT is where a big improvement comes in. By breaking it up into divisions, wrestlers can now focus on attracting a certain show. When Raw sends over its “Scouts” in the form of veterans, they can decide if they want a tag team like the Rotundos or see who comes out the stronger hoss in Ryback vs. Mason Ryan. When Smackdown sends a scout, they can keep their eye on the Crusierweights while seeing if a Jinder Mahal or Alex Riley fit into their plans.
By opening up contract lengths, you don’t have to wait for a lottery to create new storylines. Wade Barrett can threaten to jump to Raw with one week left in his contract so William Regal gives him a WWE Championship title shot in return for a contract extension. David Otunga and Heath Slater can have contracts expiring at the same time so now they jump to Smackdown as a newly formed tag team. Johnny Ace can tease a mystery opponent who ends up being Cody Rhodes, having taken two months off since becoming a free agent. Want to create an artificial night where five or six guys move at one time? Just plan the contract expirations at the same time.
Trades also create a massive effect. Now, if Sheamus is World Champion without a new heel to face while Alberto Del Rio is the new World Champion and you need a babyface for him to take on, you shake up the company by trading Jack Swagger for The Miz and turn Miz babyface on Smackdown. The possibilities are just as open ended as they are today but now they mean something.
By creating a contrast between Raw and Smackdown you create two different wrestling audiences who know what they will be getting when WWE rolls into town. By making trades, draft picks, prospects and free agents mean something you add a sports element missing from wrestling that allows the other pro sports to thrive.
Eventually, the WWE is going to run out of Brock Lesnar’s to screw up with and they need a real environment for new stars to explode and talent to emerge. A fresh draft could help create this. You can argue whether a brand split is a good idea or not, but don’t base it from what you have seen. Base it on what you can imagine.