There has been preliminary discussion as to who will lead the Raw and Smackdown brands after the upcoming brand split goes into effect, according to a featured write-up in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
While things are still very much up in the air, and plans can change at a moment’s notice in WWE, the Observer is reporting that current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns is the front-runner to captain Monday Night Raw, the company’s flagship broadcast, while John Cena may be moved to Smackdown to lead the brand once it goes live on Tuesday nights. Reigns, as a top babyface, would be opposite long-time rival Seth Rollins as Raw’s number one heel (although those roles could easily be reversed) while AJ Styles would be the expected top heel on Smackdown opposite Cena.
Smackdown is expected to be given a major push creatively once the jump to live TV is made, and will already have a major hill to climb as shows that change nights and/or timeslots generally lose a significant portion of their viewing audience initially. Given that WWE has treated their “blue brand” as secondary programming for years, the idea behind making John Cena an exclusive part of Smackdown is to actively fight against that stigma and bring eyes to Tuesday nights, as the USA Network has been less than pleased with the performance of both WWE brands in 2016.
The Observer also notes that a second world title is expected to be created for Smackdown (or for Raw, in the case that the current champion ends up moving to Smackdown), although there is no news on what WWE intends to do with the tag team or women’s divisions, as well as their secondary Intercontinental and United States titles.
Again, keep in mind that this is just the most recent report on WWE plans heading into the brand split, and until anything is officially announced, those plans can (and probably will) change. Repeatedly.