During July it was already reported that the Wild Card rule would die a quiet death after the SummerSlam, yet fans are still waiting in anticipation for the law to end. Now once again it has been reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, that after the first week of SmackDown, the brand split will be in full force once again. This will mean that fans can finally say goodbye to the Wild Card rule.
The Wild Card Rule
During April both FOX and NBCUniversal were unhappy about a drop in the ratings in WWE and the Wild Card rule was implemented shortly after WrestleMania 35. The effect of this rule did, however, have the opposite effect than the desired outcome and was considered to influence the quality of programming of WWE negatively. The rule’s original intent was to give four stars a weekly opportunity to crossover between SmackDown and Raw and vice versa. This was done to ensure that both of these rosters are jam-packed with star punching power to provide more substantial audiences. Even though this was the plan, it didn’t work out that way, and continuously the statistics reflected a decrease in the ratings for both SmackDown and Raw. This decrease in numbers also spilt over to the WWE Network subscriber group.
The Effect of the Wild Card Rule
The intention was to create more exciting rivalry within the promo, creating more desired matches and even more excellent storytelling. Most perceived it as a hidden excuse for WWE to decrease their focus on the top of the ranks, with fewer stars at the top. Only a few benefitted from this rule, and it was widely perceived that those who did benefit from it didn’t need the boost. It resulted in loads of talent ending up on the sidelines instead of delivering on great matches. Some of the superstars of the industry lost a lot of time, due to the rule and that resulted in less interested in watching.
The Change Everyone Were Waiting For
On the 4th of October, SmackDown is moving to FOX, and this move is forcing WWE to move back to the brand split once again. NBCUniversal will continue for now to air NXT and Monday Night Raw, and SmackDown will be broadcast on FOX and treated as an entity on its own. Due to the competition between NBCUniversal and FOX, they will also want to claim the best talent for themselves and therefore, to share the stars is not a foreseeable occurrence.
Currently, it seems that the SmackDown roster is filled with the most prominent names within WWE and therefore FOX will surely capitalize on this move. SmackDown will also be under pressure to up the ratings at its new location at FOX, which also promises improved viewing quality for fans. The lines between Raw and SmackDown became fuzzy over recent times and moving the one to FOX is precisely what WWE had to do to create variety and some distinct differences between these brands, to increase viewer numbers once again.