WWE saw the creation of a Wild Card Rule on last night's episode of Monday Night Raw. The change is a result of pressure from the networks to get WWE's ratings back up and speculation is, there are more changes to come.
Vince McMahon's new decision to allow four members of SmackDown on Raw and four members of Raw on SmackDown comes from pressure by both NBCUniversal (USA Network) and Fox, according to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio. This was the quickest and easiest way to impact ratings in the short-term. Speculation is, it's not, the long-term solution.
McMahon reportedly did not want to give up the idea of separate brands, but he may not have a choice. WWE has been facing outside pressure from both networks to get ratings back up as neither is happy with the prospect of how much money they sank into their new tv deals and the ratings taking a hit in recent weeks. There is a feeling that the brands don't have enough star power individually and that by allowing them to cross over, it puts a bandaid on the problem.
But, in the long-term, it also appears FOX wants RAW and SmackDown storylines on the blue brand show when it goes to their network on Friday nights in October. NBCU also reached out to WWE and asked why they would allow one of the company's big stars like Roman Reigns to move over to SmackDown. WWE didn't have an answer.
What This Means
This could be the beginning of the end of the brand split. WWE may be forced to make all of their major stars available for both shows since both networks will demand the top talent from the company be present in an effort to get the best ratings possible.
With the amount of money on the line with these new network deals, it was only a matter of time before WWE was going to be forced to cave to pressure and going back on the brand split may be one of the first things WWE is forced to do.