Welcome back to Hot Take Wrestling. Thank you for not giving up on me after my first hot take. Today I’m giving another hot take, but this one focuses on one period of time. WWE viewership has continued a downward trend over the last few years. The McMahons addressed the low numbers on the December 17, 2018 edition of Monday Night Raw, stating that Raw and Smackdown would be taken over by them as a unified front. The low viewership kept coming, however, forcing Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s hand once again. Thus, the “wildcard rule” was born on the May 6, 2019, episode of Monday Night Raw. The rules were simple: up to four wrestlers could appear on the opposing brand via invitation only (if someone showed up without invitation they would be penalized).
The wildcard rule would last the summer of 2019, with its demise coming shortly after Summerslam weekend. WWE faced massive criticism for the wildcard rule. The overexposure of stars like Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston, and Becky Lynch did not help viewership. This also led to dismay among the fans with certain superstars such as Seth Rollins. Rollins was coming off a Royal Rumble victory and conquering Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 35 when the wildcard rule went into place. The Beast-slayer paired with his fiance Becky Lynch in June, proving to be the turning point in his white-hot push. Brock Lesnar cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Rollins at Extreme Rules 2019, winning the title. Rollins lost all of his momentum. He did win the title back at Summerslam, however, but he was forever damned. Many believe that the wildcard rule might have been one of the worst ideas that creative ever thought of. I disagree.
Why? Here’s Why
The wildcard rule might have been one of the biggest mistakes creative has made, but that’s only because they screwed it up so badly. Vince also set in place another rule during that dreadful summer: no wrestling during commercials. This ended up being exactly as terrible as it sounds. Every match would last about 5 minutes, with tons of non-finishes, matches becoming multi-man tag matches, and ⅔ falls matches. This rule was in place at the same time as the wildcard rule, increasing the overexposure of the top superstars as every match had some sort of janky finish.
Vince’s new rule was not the only reason the wildcard rule failed in the long run. As stated earlier, the wildcard rule had certain rules. The creative team never followed those rules. I believe that if the rules had been followed, the era of the wildcard rule would not be nearly as bad as it was. Let’s be real for a second. It would be awesome to have crossover’s from time to time, especially with the shows being majority garbage as of late. I would much rather see the King’s ransom come to Raw one week than watch Miz and Morrison do voiceovers for Mandy’s hair. Instead, the same people used the rule every week, causing it to go stale. The idea was not the problem, it was the booking. Becky and Rollins tagging together, Kofi vs Dolph (ugh), the horrific tag division, and all those non finishes made the wildcard rule much worse.
I believe that WWE ratings would have increased if creative booked the wildcard rule correctly. Instead, we got the summer of hell in 2019. I would love to eventually see this concept done correctly. WWE dropped the brand to brand invitational, the closest thing to the wildcard rule, after only three weeks earlier this year. Don’t forget to let me know how you feel about this hot take!