Styles returned to the show last week when he was unveiled as a participant in the Intercontinental Championship tournament, but he’ll be there full-time moving forward, at least as his designated show. However, the decision does raise a few questions about the current rules of the brand split.
According to Cole, the trade will see some blue brand superstars moving to Monday Night Raw at a later date as well. At the time of this writing, no superstars have been confirmed. This marks a change from last week’s show, where it was revealed Styles was competing on Friday Night SmackDown as a result of the “Brand to Brand Invitational,” which gives superstars the right to compete on other shows.
As long as the invitational is in effect, Styles can still technically appear on Monday Night Raw. However, perhaps WWE is trying to re-establish separate brands again and is using this as an opportunity to update the roster for each eligible show.
The “Brand to Brand Invitational” was implemented when WWE’s ratings started dipping, presumably as a result of the pandemic. Given that all three main brands have depleted rosters due to some superstars choosing to social distance, the company has been stretching its star power across the board in an effort to boost the ratings everywhere.
While Styles may have been moved to the blue brand in a bid to boost ratings, Sportskeeda‘s Tom Colohue revealed that the company included him in the tournament for storyline reasons involving a former rival.
“AJ Styles is there to make sure every first-round match has some heat, has some intensity, and has some history to it. They have done that with Sheamus and Jeff Hardy. They have done that with Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak. They have done that with Baron Corbin and Elias and they need an opponent for Nakamura who would really help that.”
The move is also a perfect chance for WWE to rejuvenate Styles’ career. Since he lost the Boneyard Match at WrestleMania 36, his stablemates Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have been released and Styles hasn’t been given a substantial storyline. Perhaps this will result in Styles being put back into the main event title scene again, especially considering that top stars such as Roman Reigns will be absent for the foreseeable future.