Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live will feature a Superstar Draft in October to cement the two brands’ rosters.
Despite numerous Superstar Shake-Ups, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live haven’t really been separate WWE brands for some time. First there was the Wild Card rule, allowing a certain number of Superstars to float between the two brands every week. That was mostly scrapped over the spring and summer, however, and the red and blue rosters have thus been blended at-will; for example, SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley has been seen frequently on Raw.
But the brand split is coming back after SmackDown moves to FOX in early October. WWE announced on Sunday that Raw and SmackDown will once again be their own, self-contained brands following the WWE Draft.
Per WWE’s announcement on WWE.com:
The destinies of WWE Superstars will be determined during a two-night WWE Draft taking place live on Friday Night SmackDown on Oct. 11 on FOX and Raw on Oct. 14 on USA Network.
On both nights of the Draft, Superstars from Raw and SmackDown will appear along with personalities from FOX and NBCUniversal programming to announce select picks that will determine the rosters of each distinct brand.
It’s worth noting that WWE will have “personalities” from both of the parent networks for Raw and SmackDown announcing picks, making it more like a traditional sports draft than how things have been done in the past. There has been no mention, however, if all WWE Superstars from both brands will be moving from red to blue (or blue to red). It also does not seem to include NXT or NXT Superstars — or at least no mention was made of whether NXT will ultimately be part of the event.
It is expected that this brand split will stick for some time, with Survivor Series ahead in November and the team versus team matchups recently pitting Raw against SmackDown (recall last year this resulted in the famous “facebreaker” incident in which Nia Jax punched Becky Lynch). But there’s no telling how long after that it will be enforced.
With a few weeks to go before the Draft (and until SmackDown moves to FOX), expect WWE to release more details soon.