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WWE announced today in a press release that Paul Heyman will be the executive director of Raw and Eric Bischoff will be the executive director of Smackdown. Both will report directory to WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. The statement on WWE’s website says that the new positions were made to create two distinct brands between WWE Raw and Smackdown Live. “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.”
With the wildcard rule in effect since early May after the Superstar Shakeup took place in April, talent assigned to Raw and Smackdown have frequently been appearing on both shows with many storylines from Raw spilling into Smackdown. Bischoff, who is the executive director of Smackdown, will also work directly with executives from Fox when Smackdown moves there from USA in the fall. Sports Illustrated was the first to report the news that Heyman and Bischoff had been named executive directors.
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Radican’s Analysis: This brings about more questions than answers. WWE has been presenting Raw and Smackdown as almost one long singular show that runs five hours on Monday and Tuesday nights with the wildcard rule allowing wrestlers from both brands to crossover.
At first the number of wrestlers crossing over from both brands was supposed to be limited, but it has gotten to the point where it seems like any number of wrestlers from both brands can crossover and do whatever they want. If this move is going to mean anything, it would likely mean that the wildcard rule is going to have to go away or be severely modified.
For change to truly occur and for both brands to feel like separate entities, I think that Vince McMahon has to give up some creative control and allow Heyman and Bischoff to truly run the directions of their respective shows. Ratings for both shows have been declining and this move could be a reaction to the ratings pattern for both shows. It has been clear that WWE needs to make changes creatively and McMahon has now brought back several familiar faces to surround himself with Bruce Prichard being brought in several months ago and now Heyman and Bischoff being installed as creative directors that report to him.
Heyman has been working behind the scenes with various talent for a long period of time, so this should be a natural transition for him. Bischoff brings a lot of experience to the table given his tenure running WCW. It’s going to take a lot of effort to create two distinct brands going forward given how the show has been run since early May, but if WWE is committed to making Raw and Smackdown distinct, now is a good time to start.
You can read WWE’s press release on Heyman and Bischoff being named executive directors below:
Stamford, Conn., June 27, 2019 – WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced that it has named Paul Heyman as Executive Director of Monday Night Raw and Eric Bischoff as Executive Director of SmackDown Live, newly created positions reporting directly to WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon.
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.
With more than 30 years of experience in the sports entertainment industry, Heyman served as President of ECW from 1993-2001, securing pay-per-view distribution for the company as well as a national cable television deal with TNN. After his time with ECW, Heyman joined WWE’s Creative team and is widely credited with helping launch the careers of many current and former WWE Superstars.
Bischoff is a former WCW President and New York Times bestselling author. During his WCW career, Bischoff oversaw the signing of some of the biggest names in sports entertainment and helped create and develop the NWO storyline. He was also instrumental in securing a television deal for WCW Monday Nitro on TNT and WCW Thunder on TBS. After WCW, Bischoff co-founded Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment, a production company that launched TV reality shows and mobile games.