Dolph Ziggler talks WWE brand split, expected battle between Raw & Smackdown, NXT call-ups, more

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Dolph Ziggler (photo credit Scott Lunn - @ScottLunn © PWTorch)


Dolph Ziggler made some interesting comments about how main roster WWE wrestlers like himself perceive the brand split before it happens in July.

Ziggler equated it to a ratings battle between the Raw and Smackdown rosters, mixed with NXT call-ups, making it more about the brands trying to out-do each other and less about individual feuds or issues that will make up the shows.

“I think it’s great. That brand extension is great for everyone. It will initiate more of a competition between the brands, which can only lead to good things. We’re going to have to be throwing more things against the wall trying to see what sticks and running with it and there’s going to be a ratings competition,” Ziggler told Brian Fritz of Sporting News in an interview promoting Season 2 of “Swerved” on WWE Network.

“There’s going to be competition for bragging rights. And the most important part of this entire thing as someone who studies the business and wrestling and sports entertainment, the most important part is that it’s an opportunity for several superstars and divas to go above and beyond and become much bigger and much more of an important part of their brand than they ever were before. That’s the part I like.”

Asked why this brand split will be different than the previous version, Ziggler said the key difference is the availability of NXT wrestlers.

“It already is different. There is an entire roster of NXT superstars who are drooling to get their hands on WWE superstars. There’s a fan base behind them. Once you do the extension and set up the two different brands, it is now two ‘A’ shows theoretically going head-to-head live one day after each other competing to be the best. That is a very cool part. That’s the difference,” Ziggler said.

“It wasn’t like that before. It used to be maybe half as much talent as there is now. There is three full rosters that are going to have to be broken up into two solid rosters and it’s going to be great for the fans no matter whose side you’re on.

Ziggler said he thinks the brand split is especially necessary because of the recent wave of post-WrestleMania NXT call-ups making for a crowded roster with one main show, Raw.

“I know there’s a bunch of superstars and divas that are ready to go but even with the expansion into the two shows, it’s two huge rosters. There already has been in the last couple of months several NXT superstars coming up and making a name for themselves. So to just water it down with talent, having them sit on the bench, I don’t think that’s a great idea,” Ziggler said.

“Slowly but surely, just like it has for the last 100 years. NXT will make their way up into the mix, some will make it and some won’t. But for now, when you break this brand into two, whether they come up right away or over the next year or two, is a chance, an opportunity, for so many superstars who never had a chance before.

“Now, anybody who went from maybe being on Superstars or Main Event now becomes a factor in how the ratings will do on a live television show. It’s amazing. It is such a huge opportunity for every superstar whether it be a backstage segment, a 30-second interview, anything. Everybody becomes an important factor for the brand succeeding. It’s a great time for the business.”

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