On May 25th, 2016, the WWE announced that SmackDown will become a live show on Tuesday nights and will feature its own distinctive roster starting on July 19th, 2016. A few months have passed since that announcement and the speculation and anticipation for its execution has only increased as the time drew near. There were a multitude of rumors, reports, and even mock drafts circulating in anticipation for the return of the WWE Draft and by default, the Brand Extension. Some rumors were saying the Big Gold Belt was making a comeback, others were saying that former WWE superstars were coming back, and there was even a rumor that the Women’s Division would be unique to one show. Regardless of what fans thought of these rumors, they were all waiting for the WWE to reveal the rules of the brand split and the rosters they would feature. And while we still have some time before the rosters are revealed, the WWE has released a few rules in regards to how the Brand Split will operate.
There are only four current rules as well as an eligibility list, but all of it reveals some major implications based on what they state as well as what they do not state. Some of these facts are major news that will greatly benefit some of the talent currently on the WWE roster while others are somewhat unfortunate to hear.
So, to break it all down, this article will look at the 15 biggest takeaways form the WWE Draft Rules.
For anyone hoping that the WWE would reveal that Raw would revert back to two hours, those hopes have now been crushed by the WWE officially. Though most fans assumed Raw would remain the three-hour show it has been since 2012, some fans were genuinely hoping that the WWE would go back to being two hours so that the show would be easier to watch.
As stated earlier, Raw will remain a three-hour program once the draft is over. Now many fans have speculated that SmackDown would be the better brand due to the show being live and the show being shorter than Raw, but the rules of the draft picks will ultimately favor Raw more than SmackDown.
Though most of the rules for the draft focused on Raw and SmackDown, the developmental brand, NXT, will also be eligible in the upcoming draft. Per the draft rules, both Raw and SmackDown’s General Managers/Commissioners will collectively make only six picks off the NXT roster. And since gender was not specified amongst the draft rules, it can be safely assumed that the women of NXT will be amongst the picks made this Tuesday.
One of the rules of the draft detailed that a tag team will count as one pick unless the authority figure wishes to only take one member of the team. This news means that some teams will be preserved after the draft has taken place, but this also means that the WWE can, and more than likely will, break up a tag team this Tuesday. And while teams like Gallows and Anderson, Enzo and Cass, and The Vaudevillians will more than likely not be affected, this will more than likely spell the end of The New Day.
It’s widely known by now that former WWE Champion Roman Reigns was suspended by the WWE for violating the wellness policy. This suspension will end before his title match at the Battleground PPV, but not before the draft takes place. These facts made it a slim possibility that Reigns may not get drafted until after the Battleground PPV and find himself in a similar role to Stone Cold Steve Austin in the initial brand split as a free agent.
For those of you wondering if the lack of Big Show and Mark Henry on WWE TV was an indicator that both wrestlers were slowly, but surely walking towards the doors of retirement, the WWE eligibility list has cleared all of that up. And while some will think this is beneficial, most fans will probably agree that this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
In the case of Mark Henry, the WWE has a former World Champion whose stock has fallen tremendously since the Hall of Pain storyline as well as being plagued with constant injuries. And in Big Show’s case, the WWE has a decorated champion and talent of both WCW and WWE who the fans have grown tired of to the point where audible “Please Retire” chants have been heard. Now if the WWE manages to somehow use these two individuals as a means of improving the WWE, then these two as draft picks could be a good thing.
As the WWE came closer and closer to the brand split, there was a rumor that the Women’s Division of the WWE could all become an exclusive part of either brand. If this were to be true and the women’s division were to remain on Raw, then the WWE would have much more time to develop the Women’s Division and develop the characters and storylines necessary to make the women matter to the show.
Reports and rumors have been circulating amongst wrestling fans that past WWE Superstars were being contacted to be a part of the company once again and go to a particular brand. This news meant that talents like Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, MVP, Kurt Angle, and others could potentially make returns to the WWE. And while this may be the case, no news on this was revealed following the posting of the draft rules by WWE.
One of the most well-known facts about the brand split is where the separate titles for each show will be on. From World Championships to even the Tag Team Championships, the WWE tried to have both shows have some degree of equality. The New Day are the current Tag Team Champions and are rumored to be split up in the near future. Still, the fact that no news whatsoever has been revealed about the Tag Team Championships could indicate a potential storyline for the New Day and their future challengers.
In the 2008 version of the WWE draft, the highly praised announce teams of Jerry “The King” Lawler & Good Ol' J.R . as well as Michael Cole and Taz were changed as both Cole and J.R were drafted to opposing shows. Doing so now would allow for some major changes in the WWE, as it would add some much needed change to the stale commentary of Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton. Well...
As the biggest star the WWE has under contract currently, many fans were wondering what show, if any, would Brock Lesnar be drafted or if he would just go between shows due to his status. And according to the WWE draft rules, Lesnar is an eligible wrestler for the draft and can be potentially made to stay on to Raw or SmackDown.
Perhaps the most notorious aspect of the WWE brand split was the two World Titles the WWE had until their unification in 2013. Raw became the home of the World Heavyweight Championship while SmackDown became the home of the WWE Championship for the first couple of years. And if the graphic change from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to WWE Championship was any indicator, then the World Heavyweight Championship will be returning in some way, shape, or form.
Over the past few years, the NXT Developmental Brand seemed like it had the potential to become a separate brand for the WWE as well as their version of an independent promotion. Many wrestlers known for their time in the independent circuit like Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Finn Bálor, Asuka, and others began to come into the promotion and made it bigger than it was ever supposed to be.
Per the rules of the WWE Draft, Raw will remain three hours, get three picks for every two that SmackDown makes, and pick first. This makes it abundantly clear that the roster for Raw will have an unquestionable advantage in their roster size. It makes sense so long as Raw remains a three-hour show, but it may also help to benefit Monday Night Raw as well.
Everyone was wondering how the WWE would manage when it came to splitting their roster with little to no legitimate stars, but these draft rules will make it so that the flagship show doesn’t lose too many stars. If the WWE is attempting to cater to two different audiences with these shows, then it would make sense to keep more wrestlers on Raw than SmackDown.
If this were a legit brand war, then it would go without saying that SmackDown has little to no chance of competing with Monday Night Raw, so long as one show is clearly longer than the other. And since no one wants to see them lengthen SmackDown, nor does the WWE wish to cut back on Monday Night Raw, these shows might be better in their current format for different ways.
As stated earlier, Raw will have a much steeper roster as they try to fill a three-hour void, but SmackDown will have the advantage of convenience by being only two-hours. If the WWE want to cater to two audiences, then having two hours and a smaller roster could work for them even better. With a smaller roster, the development of characters and intriguing storylines would be easier and would need to be more focused so that no time is wasted on the show. And as most fans would agree, two hours is much easier to get through than three. The SmackDown roster may not be as big, but if the right names are drafted and the creative team is focused, then this brand split may have a chance after all.
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