The landscape of WWE is set for a monumental change in one month, and that is referring to more than just the SmackDown brand making the move to Friday nights in primetime on FOX this Oct 4. In conjunction with that move, the rosters will be shaken up yet again in the form of a WWE Draft, the company confirmed on Sunday.
The 2019 WWE Draft will take place over two nights starting with the second episode of SmackDown on FOX. (The first episode will be a 20th anniversary special and the go-home show to the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.) As such, the first night of the WWE Draft will be Friday, Oct. 11 on SmackDown with the second night occurring during the following episode of Raw on Monday, Oct. 14.
WWE previously shifted the rosters this past April post-WrestleMania 35 in the form of another "Superstar Shakeup," which has always been a confusing concept as it lacked rules or structure.
However, amid growing concerns about television ratings with a pair of new broadcast deals beginning with FOX and USA Network, WWE chairman Vince McMahon spontaneously instituted the "Wild Card Rule" which initially allowed four superstars from each brand to appear on the rival show. It didn't take long to realize, though, for the self-imposed limit to be removed and the rule to spiral out of control each week. Despite the Wild Card Rule going completely off the rails at first, it has calmed down over the last month as the brands began to slowly separate again.
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These upcoming draft moves in October should be perceived as more permanent. With Raw and SmackDown airing on opposite networks, you can expect both USA Network -- a product of NBCUniversal -- and FOX to require certain top stars to be made exclusive to their respective shows moving forward. Elaborating a bit on that point, it may also be safe to assume that SmackDown on FOX could be a little heavier in star power with the billion-dollar partnership still in its infancy, so anticipate prominent names the likes of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar or even a returning Ronda Rousey to become Friday night staples. That said, Raw is still a longer show at three hours and the long-term flagship show for WWE, so it will certainly not get raided in any major way.
With the NXT brand set to call the USA Network its home for the foreseeable future while further cementing itself as the third WWE brand, stars from the black and yellow show are expected to be eligible as well, though WWE has not confirmed that at this time.