Future WWE house shows will not be branded as Raw or SmackDown anymore, according to an Internet article.
PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson reports that WWE is polling fans on its mailing list for their thoughts about removing the brands and giving all the tours a new name:
Moving away from branded tours would allow the company more freedom to split the house show lineups between the Raw and Smackdown rosters, as opposed to having everyone from one TV show on one specific loop.
WWE also is soliciting input from its fans on what the new name of the tour should be. LordsOfPain.net reports that the choices are WWE The Tour, WWE Live, WWE Live in Action!, WWE World Tour, WWE Live Tour, WWE Presents, WWE Universe Live! and WWE Superstars Live!
The Raw and SmackDown brand extension, which has been in place for more than 10 years, started as a result of WWE’s purchase of WCW and ECW assets, including their roster talent. Its idea was to give more television exposure to the increased number of stars on the WWE roster.
Wrestlers were annually “drafted” to either the Raw or SmackDown show, and for the following year, they exclusively appeared on that show unless they were “traded” to the other brand.
WWE then began branding house shows and even pay-per-view events as either Raw or SmackDown.
In August 2011, WWE began moving toward unifying the brands into one when it announced it was removing the exclusivity stipulation and would allow stars to appear on both shows. Raw, which always has been considered the company’s “A” show, began airing “Raw Super Shows” featuring Raw and SmackDown talent.
Now, most of the WWE roster appears on both shows.
But the house shows still remained fairly brand-exclusive. Raw events normally feature stars closely associated with the Raw TV show, such as John Cena and CM Punk. SmackDown shows followed suit and usually feature Sheamus and Randy Orton.
Lately, with WWE’s expansion into more television programming—WWE Main Event on Wednesday nights and the kid-friendly Saturday Morning Slam—and its increased reliance on social media, the company concluded that brand extension was no longer necessary.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.