We’ve known all along that change is coming when Smackdown moves to the Fox network in less than a month, and as it gets closer, we have an ever-clearer image of what that change will look like. With Raw and Smackdown on separate channels owned by separate networks, a harder brand split seemed pretty inevitable, which means the end of the Wild Card Rule. Then of course there’s the more recent news that NXT is moving to USA in two weeks. We don’t know exactly what that means for the potential sharing of talent between NXT and Raw, but time will tell.
Yesterday, both Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and John Pollock of POST Wrestling reported that WWE is planning a new onscreen talent draft for the week after the Fox Smackdown premiere, to establish rosters for the shows going forward. The draft will star on the Friday, October 11 episode of SmackDown, and finish the following Monday on the October 14 episode of Raw. This will be the first actual draft, as opposed to just a “Superstar Shake-Up,” since the current Brand Split began in 2016.
While these things are subject to change as always, it’s interesting that NXT doesn’t have their own draft night. This would seem to imply that while talent from NXT might get drafted to Raw and Smackdown, NXT probably won’t be drafting Main Roster talent to their brand, thus keeping some part of the developmental aspect of that show that many speculated might largely end with the USA move.
As previously reported, boundaries between Raw and Smackdown are expected to be much more enforced, with talent keeping to one brand, although there’s talk of some top stars being on both shows. Ultimately, we’ll only know how that will work out when Vince McMahon tries to have Roman Reigns on the show he’s not drafted to, and the TV channel that expected him to be exclusive to them will either object to that or let it happen.