The Raw/SmackDown Brand Extension is back!
The last time the WWE’s brand expansion was in full effect was in 2011, when we witnessed John Cena drafted not once, but twice in the same night from Raw to SmackDown and back to Raw during the 2011 WWE Draft on April 25th. Shortly afterwards in August, WWE did away with the brand extension, with the intention of ever flowing continuity between Raw and SmackDown.
That all comes to an end on July 19th, when WWE SmackDown moves to Tuesday Nights on the USA Network. That isn’t the only surprise, however. Shane and Stephanie McMahon took to YouTube today to announce that SmackDown will have its own distinct roster once the move to Tuesday nights begins in July:
This move comes off the heels of the returns of Cesaro, Seth Rollins and 15-time world champion John Cena, and according to the WWE, this couldn’t come at a better time. With the announcement of the blue brand’s move to Tuesdays came the announcement that the WWE Draft would be returning, and both male and female superstars will be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown.
In a statement to WWE.com, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon had the following to say about the blue brand’s move to Tuesdays:
WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV…This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.
Chris McCumber, President of Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal chimed in with the following:
The fan base for our WWE shows is one of the most passionate and engaged audiences in all of entertainment…There is a huge appetite among our viewers for live programming, and the ability to move SmackDown to a live format brings a new level of excitement and helps truly eventize this every week.
SmackDown is currently behind WWE’s own Monday Night Raw in terms of being the longest episodic television show, with 874 episodes, behind Raw’s 1200 episodes. WWE SmackDown debuted in the Summer of 1999 on the United Paramount Network, and has been the No.1 weekly television programme on each of the 3 networks (UPN, CW and SyFy) it has been on before moving to USA Network in January of 2015.
Source: WWE Corporate