After the collapse of WCW, Vince McMahon was left with a choice on what to do with Smackdown!. At first, he considered building separate brands with RAW & Smackdown. Eventually, this was executed for several years.
This got me thinking: how often did we see the same talent wrestling on concurrent episodes of RAW and Smackdown!?
So, using my database of RAW & Smackdown! results, here's what I found:
You can see there was remarkable independence from April 2002 to October 2007 where rarely the same people were appearing on RAW and Smackdown!. Some of the peaks came from when the annual drafts where talent was switching brands.
The 9/27/01 Smackdown! was particularly unique in that it reached 100% - that is, all the wrestlers on that show (The Big Show, Booker T, Bradshaw, Bubba Ray Dudley, Chris Jericho, Chris Kanyon, Christian, D-Von Dudley, Ivory, Jeff Hardy, Kane, Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy, Molly Holly, Rhyno, Rob Van Dam, Rock, Test, Undertaker, X-Pac) also appeared on RAW earlier that same week.
Who leads the pack on appearing on both shows? Depends on the era!
In the pre-brand split 1999-2002 years, it was most of the stars that you would expect who were working heavily during that period: 100+ times for Chris Jericho, Rock, Kurt Angle, Kane, Jeff Hardy, Edge, Matt Hardy, Christian, Chris Benoit, Big Show, Test, Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley, X-Pac and more than 50+ times for Triple H, Rikishi, Undertaker, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Eddie Guerrero, Crash Holly, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly, Albert.
Next, from 2003-2007, it became quite the novelty to be on both RAW & Smackdown! in consecutive shows with most people being able to count their dual appearances on their hands: Matt Hardy (17 times), Batista (11 times), Rey Mysterio Jr (10 times), Edge (8 times), John Cena (8 times), Jeff Hardy (7 times), Finlay (7 times), Randy Orton (6 times), Chris Benoit (5 times), Undertaker (5 times), Great Khali (5 times) and MVP (5 times).
Then, things changed again. We saw women appearing more often on both shows. Also, certain top people - particularly good workers, started showing up including Chris Jericho (43x), Big Show (37x), Sheamus (32x), Cody Rhodes (31x) along with Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Mike Mizanin, Christian, Layla, Alberto Del Rio, Michelle McCool, Wade Barrett, John Morrison, Kane, CM Punk all with 15+ "double shots". This isn't including NXT/ECW programs in the mix, but that certainly played into the evolution as well as some superstars "graduated" to the bigger shows.
Then came the "Supershow" where brand loyalties be damned - we've got talent weaknesses to fill! In the last 16 months, we've already seen Sheamus (85x), Daniel Bryan (69x), Dolph Ziggler (57x), Alberto Del Rio (57x), Randy Orton (56x) and Kane (51x) along with Big Show, Mike Mizanin, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Santino Marella, Mark Henry, Brodus Clay, Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, Sin Cara at more than 20x.
One of my favorite double shots was in 2005 with RAW's Rockers' surprise Reunion on 3/14/05 over La Resitance and Marty Jannetty then challenging Kurt Angle in a hell of a match on Smackdown! (3/17/05).
NOTE: This calculation counts wrestlers who WRESTLED on both RAW then SMACKDOWN! (same week) and SMACKDOWN! (week 1) then following week RAW (week 2) so technically some of these appearances are "within a week of each other" but aren't actually in the same week. Just doing an interview or other appearance isn't counted.
- Chris Harrington