Back in 2016 WWE reintroduced the official brand extension (better known as the brand split), putting a strict dividing line between the Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live rosters with only minor exceptions. But earlier in the year the split started to deteriorate, mostly when Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair began popping up on both shows to build towards their WrestleMania 35 match. Shortly after the Superstar Shakeup in late April Vince McMahon announced a new rule, the Wild Card Rule, would allow up to four wrestlers to jump from one show to the next on any given week.
However that rule wound up getting broken almost every week, leaving the brand split all but dead. But with SmackDown's move to FOX on the horizon it appears the brand split is making a comeback as Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Melzer reported this week.
Meltzer stated that part of the reason for the Wild Card Rule's elimination is to help each show establish it's own unique identity. The company has already moved forward in that attempt by hiring Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff to be the executive directors of Raw and SmackDown, respectively.
"In their executive roles, Heyman and Bischoff will oversee the creative development of WWE's flagship programming and ensure integration across all platforms and lines of business," WWE stated in a press release when the hirings were announced. "The creation of these roles further establishes WWE's ability to continuously reinvent its global brand while providing two distinct creative processes for its flagship shows."
While Heyman had been working with various wrestlers on their storylines months before the announcement, the news marked the official return of Bischoff to the company's creative team for the first time since the early 2000s.
Based on his previous comments in an interview with Inside the Ropes, Bischoff seems to be a big fan of a strict brand split between the two rosters.
"I think after going through my own experience and having been apart of the WWE's experience, the advice that I have would be to be as disciplined as you can possibly be at keeping the brands distinct," Bischoff said. "If you don't make them feel completely different, it won't work. And part of that is creating stakes, part of that is it's got to feel real, it's got to believable or nobody is going to buy into it.