WWE: Is the Brand Split Between WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown Officially Dead?

The brand split between Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown was re-established back in 2016, setting a clear dividing line between the rosters of the Red and Blue Brand. Over the years, WWE has flirted with weakening or effectively killing the split, whether it be the Wild Card Rule and the Brand-to-Brand invitational. But lately, WWE has seemingly ignored it entirely, allowing wrestlers to cross brands to challenge for championships or continue storylines (See Sami Zayn's involvement in a six-man tag match to open this week's Raw). This was pushed even further by unifying the WWE and Universal Championship as well as the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships, all of which now belong to The Bloodline

Multiple reports have since dropped about the state of the brand split (which FOX and NBCUniversal apparently still want). According to Bryan Alvarez via Wrestling Observer Live (h/t Cultaholic), "I mean they haven't officially said anything, but the brand extension is essentially done. Half of the Raw crew is going to be on SmackDown Friday. Cody's going to be there, I think Seth is going to be there. They're just going to do whatever."

Andrew Zarian of The Mat Men Podcast tweeted out something similar on Wednesday afternoon, saying that while the brand split isn't "dead" it won't be enforced. 

Despite playing a heavy role in The Bloodline, one person who openly supports the brand split is Paul Heyman. He explained why in an interview with Ariel Helwani last year

"There's not enough space for new talent to rise if you're going to have both shows dominated by the same personalities," Heyman said. "It's a matter of the amount of time it takes for a talent to resonate with an audience and how much you have to define that persona and learn about who this person is, why I should care about them and why I should pay to see them. And if you have both television shows dominated by Roman Reigns, The Usos, The Bloodline, Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Big E, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, we now have both shows booked.

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"Okay, so when do the young stars emerge? How do you get Humberto Carrillo in a decent spot? How do you get Angel Garza in a decent spot? Where does Hit Raw make their debut and against whom and for how long? How long will they have to rise to the top? You need to have these separate and distinct entities so that there are three hours to fill up on Monday, so that there's two hours to fill on a Friday," he continued. "And if Roman Reigns just dominates both shows then you have to keep the storylines cohesive, so whomever Roman is working with on Raw, the story continues on SmackDown. Top spot is locked up. Top spot on SmackDown is not the same as the top spot on Raw. Big E has his thing going with Kevin Owens. ...Once you take that main event position and you give it to the same two, three people on both shows, your main event position is now locked up. So how do you rise?"