WWE officially confirmed the return of the WWE Draft on Sunday via a press release. As previously reported, the draft will take place on the Oct. 11 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, then continue the following week on the Oct. 14 episode of Monday Night Raw.
"On both nights of the draft, Superstars from Raw and SmackDown will appear along with personalities from FOX and NBCUniversal programming who will announce select picks from each brand," the announcement on WWE.com read. "The draft will determine the Superstars that compete for Raw and SmackDown, which feature distinct casts, unique storylines and dedicated writing teams."
Back on Sept. 7 photos from a recent photo shoot made their way online, seemingly spoiling WWE's decision to move Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Rey Mysterio and The Miz from Raw over to SmackDown. Lynch has been heavily featured in SmackDown's advertising for its move to FOX despite being on the Red Brand, something she's used as ammunition to taunt Bayley on Twitter.
There's no mention of NXT in the announcement, even though the Yellow Brand will have been on the USA Network for nearly a full month by the time of the Draft. In recent years groups of NXT wrestlers have been called up via the Draft (renamed the Superstar Shake-up for the past few iterations), though whether or not that's changing remains to be seen.
WWE reintroduced a strict brand split between Raw and SmackDown back in 2016, though it was all but eliminated earlier this year when Vince McMahon introduced the Wild Card Rule that allowed four wrestlers from one brand to appear on the other on any given week. That rule was broken almost every week, to the point where commentators stopped mentioning it.
Weeks before that rule was introduced, WWE made a number of big moves in their latest shake-up including Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Andrade and Aleister Black moving to SmackDown while AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, The Miz, Ricochet and Samoa Joe all moved over to Raw.
The very first WWE Draft took place in 2002 when Vince McMahon and Ric Flair divided up the roster to wrestle exclusively on either SmackDown or Raw. The first two picks were The Rock and The Undertaker, respectively. The Draft was removed from the yearly schedule following 2011 when the two rosters were turned back into one, turning Raw into Raw Super Show.
SmackDown officially makes the jump from USA to FOX on Oct. 4.