There was a new rule announced during last night’s edition of Monday Night Raw that will allow Smackdown superstars to appear on Raw and Raw superstars can be on Smackdown. It’s called the “Wild Card Rule” with Vince McMahon claiming that he came up with it and the Mr. McMahon character on Raw thought he was a genius for coming up with this rule. It was announced during the opening segment on Raw after Smackdown’s Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston showed on the show. There was a Smackdown live event originally scheduled on Monday night in Corbin, Kentucky, but that was cancelled and that’s why Smackdown wrestlers were available.
Anyway, here’s an explanation of this new Wild Card Rule courtesy of WWE.com this morning:
The latest wrinkle in the ongoing Superstar Shake-up emerged this Monday on Raw when Mr. McMahon announced a new “Wild Card Rule” in which a limited number of Superstars from Raw or SmackDown would be invited to cross brand lines for one-night-only appearances, with unauthorized jumps to be penalized by fines or even potential firing. The number of crossover Superstars was initially capped at three — WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns started things off by appearing on Raw this Monday — though Lars Sullivan evidently persuaded The Chairman to expand the limit to four.
Superstars crossing between Raw and SmackDown LIVE has, of course, occurred on rare occasion since the 2016 Brand Extension, but the “Wild Card Rule” is the first officially-sanctioned blurring of the lines between Team Red and Team Blue Superstars. (The exceptions before tonight had been Becky Lynch, who holds both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Titles, and The IIconics, who are eligible to appear on all brands as the free-floating WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions). And although this isn’t to say we’re about to go back to the days of Raw SuperShows or do away with the Brand Extension, there are some staggering implications to the rule depending on who decides to take advantage of it: The main event of the Wild Card’s maiden voyage was Raw’s first true WWE Championship Match since 2016, and AJ Styles has already openly speculated about getting some friends from SmackDown LIVE to back him up against Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
As always, it will take a while before the true impact of the “Wild Card Rule” is realized, but it’s sure to make things very, very interesting going forward. See which new matchups will be made possible by the “Wild Card Rule” by tuning in to Raw and SmackDown LIVE, Monday and Tuesday nights at 8/7 C on USA Network.
To summarize all of that, moving forward, there will be four superstars from Smackdown that are allowed to appear on Raw every week and four superstars can go from Raw to Smackdown as well.
On the Wrestling Observer Radio show after Raw, Dave Meltzer provided some backstage insight into WWE’s idea with the Wild Card Rule.
“Fox wanted more storylines that are going to be on both RAW and SmackDown. You know, NBC Universal was really upset about the ratings especially in the third hour and was asking questions about: ‘Our ratings are this, this, and this why’d we give away Roman Reigns?’ So the pressure’s on that the top stars work both shows. So it’ll be different guys. I guess it’ll be four guys on both shows in theory.”
It makes sense that USA Network would be upset about Reigns moving to Smackdown because that’s a Fox show in October and Reigns is the perceived top star in WWE right now.
It’s worth noting that Smackdown has live events on Mondays nearly every week, so if you go to those shows, you can expect four Smackdown stars to be on Raw instead of being at those Smackdown house shows.
TJR Thoughts: The question I have from all of this is why even stick with the brand extension at this point? I know the reason behind it in July 2016 was to strengthen Smackdown and it did make Smackdown feel like an important show, but three years later, it just doesn’t have the same effect that it used to have.
It feels disorganized and a bit messy, probably because it is. We’ll see what happens next with the Wild Card Rule on Smackdown this week.