The WWE have made a major announcement! The company confirmed that they will separate their superstars and create two live television shows starting in July. RAW will continue airing at 8pm ET on the USA Network on Monday nights, but Smackdown will now become a live event airing at 8pm ET on Tuesday nights on USA, instead of a taped program airing on Thursday’s.
To create separate rosters and rivalries for the two programs, the WWE will conduct a superstar Draft prior to the launch date.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon says “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.”
The WWE has gone down this road before. They ran RAW and Smackdown as separate brands from 2002 to 2011. Smackdown though did not air live during those years.
The big questions going forward will be, who will make up the broadcast team for each show, which wrestlers will be featured on the two programs, and will tag teams and strong factions such as The Club, the New Day, and Wyatt Family be impacted? There’s also the challenge of figuring out how to run future pay per views, which titles will be exclusive to each show, and whether or not there will be more than one Heavyweight Champion.
One additional question is whether or not the split have any impact on NXT, the WWE’s developmental show which has been a great success airing exclusively on the WWE Network.
Although there will be many questions to answer, the split should lead to additional interest and excitement, and result in giving a large number of superstars a bigger opportunity to take part in stronger storylines. It should also lead to more viewers for Smackdown which had become stale over the past few years.
Here’s the official announcement from Shane and Stephanie McMahon.