As of now, do you have more hope for Mick Foley and Raw or Daniel Bryan and SmackDown?
Jason Hall: Daniel Bryan and SmackDown. Let’s also add Shane’s part in the show’s success as well. Whether Kayfabe or not, Shane has catered to hardcore fans while in his position of power and Bryan will do the same. Not that Mick Foley won’t considering his shtick is getting cheap pops from fans. But I just have more faith in Shane and Bryan.
Riley Kontek: I will say it’s a draw, and here’s why: Foley will be great on Raw because you know he is going to have conflict with Stephanie McMahon, a nice contrast that will cause conflict on the show and split the roster. Bryan will be great because he will attract viewers to SmackDown, something that is desperately needed in this brand split, seeing as most fans will still always tune into Raw. They will both be big helps.
Joseph Nardone: Daniel Bryan. The Foley thing has already been done (16 years ago). He’s great and all that jazz, but it already feels too predictable. That, at some point, Stephanie McMahon will be unhappy with him — because, you know, he’s a face — and Triple H will come back to punch him multiple times with a hammer, which would be a felony in any other walk of life.
The Bryan thing has endless scenarios. My favorite of which, simply to make the Internet Wrestling Community mad, would be to turn him heel almost instantly.
Daniel DeMarco: Daniel Bryan and SmackDown. That’s not to say I think SmackDown will start beating Raw on ratings or anything, but I think Bryan’s fingerprints on SmackDown will be more impactful than Foley’s on Raw. If anything, the atmosphere of SmackDown will be more impressive due to the overwhelming love fans have for Bryan. You would be hard-pressed to find a wrestler more beloved than Foley, but Bryan is in that select group. My only worry is Bryan will not have enough say for the brand. It is my highest hope he is not there just as a character, but as someone actively contributing to the program. Because Bryan genuinely cares about wrestling, and not in a business sense like the McMahons do, but as a fan himself. Even more so than Foley, in my opinion.
Is there anything not to love about WWE bringing the cruiserweight division to Raw?
JH: No, although I don’t see many of the younger CWC participants who aren’t already signed receiving contracts other than Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr., and — hopefully — Cedric Alexander. It’s likely Tajiri and Brian Kendrick have received Legends Contracts, but I doubt much will change otherwise.
RK: No. It’s long overdue. I’ve been calling for a return of the cruiserweight division and hardcore division for a long time. Clearly, I get at least one of those things that I wanted. I think the Cruiserweight Classic’s popularity and overall hype given by the fans forced the WWE to bring it back full-time. There is a ton of great talent inhabiting the tournament that can carry over to the main roster. NXT also has a ton of great cruiserweights. The main roster has some as well. It’s going to be awesome.
JN: It is all love. Three hours of programming is A LOT. Adding an entire division to the fold should alleviate some of the pressure. Honestly, that’s an hour-ish of programming into itself, which would make it kinda/sorta like a two-hour Raw again. At least as far as the rest of the card is booked.
I don’t love the timing of it all. With the CWC still happening, and nine weeks away from ending. I do wish the WWE would speed that up, then have the finals of it be for the cruiserweight time.
DD: There certainly is. The cruiserweights should be going to SmackDown. What sense is there in putting them on Raw? SmackDown is supposed to be the innovative program, the fresh show that is being rebuilt in a sense. So, new elements of WWE should be shown on that brand. I’d be willing to bet the choice to bring the cruiserweights to Raw is a relatively new decision. I’m almost positive my assertion was the original plan, but due to the unanimous high praise the CWC has been getting, as the powers that be in WWE quite often do, minds were changed. Not to mention, I thought the whole point of this brand split was to bring SmackDown to a closer level to Raw, correct? So why has everything to this point still put forth the concept that SmackDown is the B show? How hard is it to give SmackDown something special about it?
The ending to Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins was ________.
JH: Meh. The fact that WWE didn’t acknowledge that it was a draw and waited until its post-Raw network broadcast to do so was pointless. The only purpose it served was justifying Stephanie picking Rollins first over the champion Ambrose. Hopefully it will give whoever loses on Sunday an automatic title on their respective brand, assuming Roman Reigns doesn’t beat both of them… Who am I kidding? Of course that’s a possibility.
RK: Overbooked. The match was phenomenal, one of the better offerings Seth and Dean have given us in their rivalry. Then, they had to overbook the ending. I’m not surprised, though. WWE does this too often. I would like them to bring back time limits on Raw and SmackDown. They don’t have to have time limit draws all the time, but it would give them a legit draw finish once in a while without overbooking.
JN: Er. The WWE touted a title match to end the show to the point of nausea, then give us a no-finish finish? I call hogwash and pebble stones.
It is likely being done to create the second title, but with SmackDown going live and Battleground this Sunday, I’m not entirely too sure how that plays out.
As far as the ending, it was garbage. Don’t promote something to death, then leave the WWE Universe sad in the eyeballs. And, right now, I am sad in the eyeballs.
DD: It was fine in the moment, but the aftermath has made that ending so utterly moronic. Had WWE just ended Raw and been done with it, great. It would have been a nice cliffhanger to bring added curiosity into watching SmackDown the next night, if the draft for whatever reason was not enough to convince. But that’s not what happened. Apparently, WWE somehow communicated with fans to tune in to the WWE Network immediately following Raw’s broadcast. Did WWE do this on live television? No. It seems Facebook and Twitter were the mediums. Now, this means it may have been communicated to the dedicated fans. But so what? The whole idea should have been to attract casuals to the Network. And as a result of WWE’s plan, hardly anyone tuned into the Network afterward, and most people who even cared just found out online somewhere else that Dean Ambrose retained the title due to it being ruled a draw. Way to go, WWE. Way to go.