WWE had to introduce a new rule to the programming starting from this week’s episodes of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live. Vince McMahon came up with the idea of a new Wild Card Rule on WWE TV which came as a response to the rating pressure from NBC Universal (USA Network) and Fox Sports.
The latter network will host Smackdown from 2019 fall and so they have the rights to worry about the TV ratings of current WWE. In fact, this is the sole reason why Vince McMahon imported Roman Reigns into Smackdown during this year’s Superstar Shakeup. He must be the one to be the show-runner for the blue brand while Smackdown moves to FOX later this year.
The future hosts of WWE shows may be happy with this move where the USA Network is not happy since the Big Dog will not be present on the flagship show. As reported by Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, USA Network officials are not happy at all with the news that Roman Reigns has now officially become a Smackdown Live superstar.
In a report carried by wrestlingINC.com, they are not happy that the marquee will not appear on Monday Nights any more,
“It was also noted that Fox wants RAW and SmackDown storylines on the blue brand show when it goes to their network on Friday nights in October. NBCU was reportedly upset about the recent drop in ratings, especially for the third hour, and they were asking questions about the decline, specifically why they would give away a top star like Roman Reigns to SmackDown. There has been pressure from NBCU and Fox to have the top WWE Superstars work both shows.”
WWE could not displease the broadcasting platforms, at all. This is why the wild card rule came into full effect from this week onwards ensuring superstars crossing brands, quite often. The first man to take the advantage was none other than Roman Reigns, himself who made his way back into Monday Night Raw.
The source also included that Vince McMahon was in immense headache due to the low ratings in WWE programming. WWE has been facing outside pressure from NBCU and Fox officials who urged to bring the ratings up. So making Roman Reigns the headliner of this week’s Raw and introducing the wild card rule was an emergency planning out of the creative team.