As noted, WWE has hired Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman to work as full-time Executive Directors. Heyman will work the RAW brand while Bischoff will head up SmackDown. Both will report to Vince McMahon and Bischoff will also work with Fox executives.
Seen above, Inside The Ropes just released video from their recent live show with Bischoff commenting on how he would handle the WWE brand extension. Bischoff’s advice is especially interesting now as he prepares to creatively lead the blue brand for their big premiere on Fox Friday nights in October, and could give some insight to where he might want to take the brand.
“First off all, this is the third attempt at a major promotion brand extension,” Bischoff said of WWE’s most-recent split. “The first one was mine [in WCW], it was kind of short lived and it really wasn’t a pretty sight. Thunder… the whole idea was to create a show for the nWo, which is why we grew nWo as much as we did, and as quickly as we did because we knew we couldn’t keep all of the talent on one show without diluting the product itself. So, the idea was to build up the nWo, so that nWo or WCW would have Nitro, then [the other] would be on Thursday. That was the whole reason, which is why we did the nWo pay-per-view, which was called Souled Out.
“And that was my attempt. The second attempt was WWE’s attempt, which I was a part of. My attempt failed for a number of reasons, I think WWE’s attempt… while it’s hard to classify it as a failure, it certainly didn’t reach their expectations or anybody else’s, and I was a part of that but I was kind of a bystander, I was a talent, I didn’t have anything to do with it internally. But I think after going through my own experience and having been a part of WWE’s experience, the advice that I have would be to be as disciplined as you can possibly be at keeping the brands distinct. If you don’t make them feel completely different, it won’t work. And part of that is creating stakes, part of that is, it’s got to feel real, it’s got to be believable or nobody’s going to buy into it. But don’t let the talent start transitioning back and forth because you dilute the concept. They won’t feel like two brands, they’ll just feel like two different shows, which is what they already feel like.”
Bischoff continued and then predicted that the WWE brand split wouldn’t last six months.
“Because the WWE does such a great job producing a phenomenal show, it doesn’t feel… it’s almost too perfect, there’s no grit,” Bischoff said. “It needs to feel a little gritty, at least one of them. They both don’t have to feel gritty but one of them has to feel a little edgy, a little dangerous, like something’s going to happen that you wouldn’t expect on one show, because it’s a little less sophisticated. That’s the magic and if they both start feeling very well produced, almost glossy in their presentation, and the talent is jumping back and forth, I won’t give it six months. You won’t hear the term brand extension six months from now. It’ll suffer the same fate that it suffered the last time they tried it because that’s what happened the last time they tried it.”
Bischoff’s comments on keeping the brands distinct are interesting as WWE’s press release from this morning mentioned “two distinct creative processes” for RAW and SmackDown. The press release said, “In their executive roles, Heyman and Bischoff will oversee the creative development of WWE’s flagship programming and ensure integration across all platforms and lines of business. The creation of these roles further establishes WWE’s ability to continuously reinvent its global brand while providing two distinct creative processes for its flagship shows.”
Stay tuned for more updates on the latest WWE creative shake-up.