WWE: Did The Automatic Rematch Clause Really Need To Go?

Its a season of change for WWE as the McMahon family has vowed to “shake things up.” Part of those changes included ending the long-standing automatic rematch clause. Was that the right call for WWE, or will they soon regret it?

The new “fresh start” in WWE is now officially in full swing. We’ve seen new stars announced, underutilized competitors get a chance to shine, and a renewed commitment to listen to the fans.

On top of that, we have seen a rejection of of what WWE would likely now call “the old way” of conducting business. That includes ridding the shows of official general managers, no matter their popularity, and even getting rid of one of the longest standing rules in WWE: the automatic rematch clause.

Shane McMahon has largely been the primary on-screen executor of this new change, with commentary at times referring to it as “Shane McMahon’s edict.” Essentially, at first, that means we have seen this new rule heavily in effect on SmackDown before Raw

So far, it has primarily meant that Becky Lynch no longer has a claim to the SmackDown Women’s Championship, despite losing that title under rather auspicious circumstances considering Ronda Rousey’s interference in ‘The Man’s’ TLC match.

Considering how popular Lynch is, and how great a one-on-one title match between her and Asuka would be, it begs the question of whether this was the right kind of change for WWE to make.

The automatic rematch clause has been a long-standing fixture of WWE television. The champion, whether heel or face, has always received the right to claim a title shot in the future. That claim has been one of the key plot devices for continuing rivalries in WWE for years.

Now, that plot device is seemingly gone for good. In lieu of a rematch for the champion, it seems new competitors will receive title shots if they are deemed worthy of such an opportunity.

There’s both some good and some bad that comes from this new policy. For starters, it’s easy to see how new opportunities for other superstars could be a major positive factor going forward.

On SmackDown, we saw Naomi receive a Women’s Championship match against Asuka due to this new rule. The two subsequently put on a thrilling bout that felt both new and exciting:

It was great to see a talented competitor like Naomi get a well-deserved chance to show her abilities once again on such a grand stage. It’s easy to see how this change could go on to benefit any number of underutilized stars as well, simply because their would be no need for an “open challenge” angle to put them in a title match anymore.

On the other side of this equation however, Naomi’s title shot came at the expense of Becky Lynch’s rematch. Lynch was informed by Vince McMahon himself that her “excuses” were not valid enough to put her into consideration for a title match.

Additionally, despite her recent extremely impressive run as champion, she had apparently also not done enough to deserve a rematch at all. It seems the mere fact that she lost the title put her in the back of the line. This, of course, is all despite the fact we know Lynch is basically the most popular star in WWE today as well.

That’s where this new rule about automatic rematches may fail in its execution. It prevents an easily told, and likely much desired, story from being told.

I have no doubt that WWE fans would be more than eager to see Becky Lynch face Asuka one-on-one for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. While its entirely possible that may still happen, it feels like we’re going to have to jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops to get there now.

At the end of the day, I think that means WWE would be best to implement this new change in a more gradual fashion. Perhaps instead of doing away with the rematch clause all together, the rematch for the former champion is guaranteed at a predetermined future date, not just whenever the champion decides to exercise the clause in the storyline.

With that slightly tweaked variation of the new policy, Lynch would still get her rematch at a later date, probably at the Royal Rumble for example, while Naomi could still have received her title shot on SmackDown.

While it seems like WWE may have freed up their ability to book feuds with this new change, it ultimately is in their best interest to keep the rematch clause in effect in some way. If they don’t, then they are just putting themselves back in a corner when they find that fans are eager to actually see a rematch between two competitors.

Hopefully, WWE realizes the tried and true life lesson that everything is best when done in moderation, and applies that same logic to their new rule on automatic rematches.