WWE Draft Review
It’s been a few days since the WWE Draft and subsequent brand split/extension. The draft contained some obvious choices as well as some serious head scratchers, so let’s dive in and try and figure out where the WWE is headed.
To me it was a no brainer that Raw took Rollins first and Smackdown took Ambrose. It casts doubt on Ambrose’s ability to retain the WWE Championship but also shows that Raw is the same Authority driven type show, despite ‘The Authority’ no longer being an on screen thing, and that Smackdown is taking the anti-establishment guy as their franchise pick. I wouldn’t have done these first two picks any differently.
The fact that Charlotte was drafted second by Raw and third overall is a big statement about how the WWE values the future of the Women’s Division. I really like this pick, a lot. It sends a clear message to the roster and the WWE Universe that the Women’s Division is viewed as on par with the Men’s Division. Now, this is of course, in theory. The Women’s division is still subject to WWE Creative’s booking, which is hit or miss. This coupled with the split of the Women’s Division across the two shows does not instill hope for the future I want to see in the Women’s Division.
I think the WWE should have kept the Women’s Division on one show...please, hear me out. The Women’s Division is good, in fact, these ladies are incredible wrestlers but the division as a whole is not deep enough to stretch across both brands…yet. I believe it would have been wiser in the long run to keep the Women’s Division on one show for the time being. Let these ladies continue to build the momentum that has been building the past few years, and then, in due time split the division across shows. Unfortunately, the WWE did not do this and I’m afraid the momentum the Women’s Division has been building may suffer because of it. But I digress, back to the draft.
AJ Styles to Smackdown was predictable and gives that show a lovable ‘bad guy’, though I’m not sure he will remain a heel, it depends on how the WWE handles The Club moving forward…spoiler alert: Gallows and Anderson were drafted to Raw, which leads to the final pick of Round 1…FINN FREAKING BALOR!
Yes, yes, a million time yes, it’s about time WWE, thank you for putting one of your best performers on the Main Roster. Finn Balor is a beast, or rather, a demon. He’s been running NXT for a while but before that he was the leader of The Bullet Club in Japan. After leaving for NXT, AJ Styles took over the leadership role of The Bullet Club, so it will be interesting to see how WWE plays The Club angle moving forward. Gallows and Anderson sang the divide and conquer song during their back-stage interview but I’m not so sure this is what will happen. Me thinks The Club, which will expand after Balor reassumes his leadership role, will face off against a Cena-Styles led team at Survivor Series…that would be so awesome. Please WWE, make this happen.
Roman Reigns comes off the board here at pick number 6. This, again, makes sense to me. It’s clear that the WWE hasn’t given up on Reigns after his Wellness violation but needed to ‘punish’ him by dropping him to the second round, or at least communicating to the WWE Universe that Reigns is a ‘bad guy’. My guess is that he or Rollins wins the Triple Threat at Battleground and they feud all month leading to a Main Event at Summerslam…poor Ambrose.
Moving on, John Cena. I was a bit surprised that he ‘fell’ this far, but in hindsight, I understand. Everyone drafted before Cena is clearly the future of the company. By drafting Cena here WWE are saying, “Cena is still important to our future plans, but he isn’t ‘the face that runs the place’ anymore…he’s just a top-card guy, what a shame.
Next up Raw took Brock Lesnar, despite the doping accusations after his UFC victory over Mark Hunt. Raw has an extra draft pick every round so why not draft The Beast? Especially considering that the Wellness policy, as far as I’m aware, only covers full-time Superstars. So Roman Reigns, shame on you, Brock Lesnar…meh, whatevs.
Smackdown followed Lesnar with Randy Orton. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this pick because I’m not sure what WWE has in mind for Orton moving forward. The only obvious angle here is that Lesnar and Orton will face off at Summerslam, representing their respective shows. I’ll have more thoughts on Orton after he returns and I get an idea of what WWE is going to do with him. Regardless, anytime you can get someone of Randy’s skill and experience, you take it.
The last pick of Round 2, and the first tag team taken, was The New Day. These guys are pure gold, which is one of the many reasons they are about to break the longest title reign of ANY tag team in WWE history. They’re funny, creative, original, great on the mic, and great in the ring. Booty O’s for life.
This is where the wheels came off for me. I take no issues with anything in the first 2 rounds, but from here on out I have a lot of problems with the draft order.
I really like Sami Zayn, he’s a great worker and good on the mic but this was too early in my opinion, considering that he’s been on par with Jericho, The Miz, Cesaro, Owens, etc in previous weeks and they were all drafted after him (significantly so, Jericho not withstanding).
The pick after Sami Zayn was Bray Wyatt to Smackdown, which makes complete sense because Wyatt has a bright future in my opinion, but makes absolutely no sense because why the crap did they break up the Wyatt Family????? I don’t understand! You just spent the last month building up The New Day vs. The Wyatts and the week before their matchup at Battleground you break one of the teams up FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER?!?!?! I don’t..I can’t…what…tears.
Bray Wyatt is supposed to be a cult leader, he’s not scary no matter what they try and do, but the cult leader angle certainly is creepy and uncomfortable at times, which works. Bray Wyatt alone is a great performer in every way but what angle does he have without The Family? Please WWE, prove me wrong, and have something original and intelligent up your sleeve here.
Next two picks, Sasha Banks to Raw. Glad to see The Boss on the same show as Charlotte, they are going to have some classic matches in the future. Seriously, this is going to be fun to watch. And Becky Lynch to Smackdown, this could be fun. As I stated above, I don’t think splitting the Women’s Division at this point is wise in the long run, but if we get more Becky Lynch because of it, I suppose I’m ok with that. She’s been booked pretty poorly lately, a la Paige, but she’s awesome and I hope that WWE finally gets her into storylines that allow her to flourish.
Chris Jericho to Raw, I don’t care. He’s a great heel, maybe one of the best, but I don’t care anymore. That being said, ‘The Gift of Jericho’ is wonderful.
Rusev and The Miz to Raw and Smackdown, respectively. This is WWE’s attempt to make the titles equals, though drafting them this far down in the draft is confusing. They are, if WWE wants us to think so, the equal titles directly underneath the WWE title, so why are the holders of said titles drafted in the 4th round? And seriously, I’m sick of the whole Rusev vs. America angle for the US Title. Barf. Nothing against Rusev, I like him, but it’s not the Cold War anymore guys, come up with something better.
Third pick in Round 4 and 18th overall, Kevin Owens. How in the world does Owens fall this far down. He’s incredible. If there is a better overall heel in the company than Jericho it’s Owens. He’s funny, quick witted, shockingly athletic, fresh, hard-working, and just really freaking good. He sells moves so well that I genuinely thought he died twice when Sami suplexed him onto a ladder. How do you not draft him in round 2 and put the IC title on him, and let him feud with Cesaro…speaking of freakish athletes who were drafted WAY too late.
Corbin to Smackdown was next. I don’t care now but I could certainly care in the future. It really just depends on how they book him. He’s got skills and he’s easy to dislike, WWE Creative just has to use him correctly.
Last pick of Round 4 belongs to Enzo and Big Cass. I really like them but I’m cautious that WWE will either break them up too early or hang on to them way too long. It’s really easy to do either of those things, so I’m not trying to throw shade in this paragraph. It’s just rare that you get a combo of someone SOOOO good on the mic, though I think he’s been trying too hard to be clever lately, and someone so physically impressive that I would hate to see WWE botch this. That being said, good spot to be drafted, I’ve got high hopes.
Gallows and Anderson to Raw, see above concerning Finn Balor. Please WWE don’t screw this one up. Also, let Anderson on the mic more.
The gem of Round 5 is American Alpha. These guys are so much fun and so good. I was ecstatic when they got drafted. Great performers, great chemistry, serious talent. I am eager to see them succeed on the Main Roster, should be a lot of fun. So sick.
Big Show to Raw, don’t care.
Dolph Ziggler to Smackdown. I genuinely hope WWE gets Ziggler back on track. He’s got great skills and charisma. Please, please, please book him appropriately. He doesn’t have to be WWE champion but he needs to be relevant at the top of the card. Ziggler vs. Styles would be such a good match…seriously, this has to happen after Survivor Series, dear God, please.
The last pick of the round was Nia Jax to Raw. I’m not sure what to think about this one. Nia is clearly a force to be reckoned with but she doesn’t seem ready to me yet. Her mic skills are severely lacking but her ring performances have gotten better. I’m split on this one. I’m happy for her personally because I think she’s going to do some great stuff in the future, I’m just not sure she’s ready. But what better way to find out than trial-by-fire?
Neville is back! He flips like I eat chips, often and with great style. Happy that he’s healthy, happy that he’s back, should be fun to watch him lead the Cruiserweight division…oh yeah, I forgot to mention this, Raw has exclusive rights to the Cruiserweight division. This just so happens to coincide with the Cruiser Weight Classic on the WWE Network.
Natalya to Smackdown to continue her heel turn and feud with Becky. I don’t know, I’m sure she’s a lovely lady, I just don’t care for her on screen. I’d rather see some of the younger ladies get a shot, maybe, I don’t know, Bayley!? She better be Sasha’s mystery partner at Battleground or I’m going to have a conniption.
Pick 28, to Raw, was Cesaro. Are…you…serious…? I can’t even. His nickname is The Swiss Superman, not The Swiss 6th rounder. What the crap WWE. Cesaro is totally over with the fans, why do you insist on shoving him down into the mid-card. He deserves a shot at the top-card, let him prove me right, give him a shot.
The next two picks I don’t care about. Del Rio to Smackdown and Sheamus to Raw. The League of Nations was an awful idea. Both of these guys are solid performers, I like them both. I just don’t have any reason to care where they wind up because they have no storyline right now. Writers, please, use the talent right in front of you. These guys are both previous WWE Champions, not scrubs.
Golden Truth goes first to Raw. I don’t care.
The Usos go to Smackdown, again I don’t care.
Titus O’Neil to Raw, again, I don’t care…catching the theme here??
Demon Kane to Smackdown. Really? Kane dual chokeslams Zayn and Owens like it’s 2002 again, and then Zayn is immediately drafted. So the guy who just dual chokeslammed two other grown men is drafted 23 and 16 places behind them??? Here is what I think: WWE is trying to re-establish Demon Kane as a freak, how else do you choke slam two grown men, one of them being Kevin Owens sized? Yet he’s drafted 34th overall? Does not compute.
Last pick of round 7 is Paige. What the heck happened here??? She was on the fast-track and now she’s scraping the bottom of the barrel. She’s great in the ring. I genuinely hope this brand split is regenitive for her.
Yes, there are still more people to draft.
Darren Young with Bob Backlund to Raw. These may be the worst promo’s ever. Darren Young is a very capable wrestler, he’s even a former Tag Champ. But this angle with Bob Backlund is just the worst. It’s awful. I don’t even want to write about it.
Kalisto, the quintessential Luchadore Cruiserweight, was drafted to Smackdown…the brand that doesn’t have the Cruiserweight division. My only thought here is that they are going to push him up towards the IC belt? I don't know, this is confusing.
Next up, Sin Cara. The ex-Lucha Dragon. That’s that.
Naomi to Smackdown…the Women’s division on Smackdown is weak. Please, please, please, add Bayley here.
Jack Swagger to Raw. He’s still on the roster?
The Ascension to Smackdown. I guess they need another tag team. I’m over them, especially after the Wellness violation.
The Dudley Boyz. Meh.
Zack Ryder to Smackdown. I actually like that he’s had a serious resurgence lately. He’s been a low-card guy lately, but his push to the mid-card is great. Definitely an ‘every-man’ type of guy.
Summer Rae to Raw…don’t care.
Apollo Crews to Smackdown. This makes sense to me. Another NXT alum that Smackdown snatches up. This guy has the in-ring skills to be an upper-mid-card guy. If he can work out the kinks while on-mic, he could become a main event guy, maybe. Great potential value this late in the draft.
Mark Henry to Raw…yawn.
Alexa Bliss to Smackdown. This was a surprise. I’m happy for her. Well done Miss Bliss.
We’re still here and this round absolutely blows. Quickly, here are the picks:
- Braun Strohmann to Raw
- Breezango to Smackdown
- Bo Dallas to Raw
- Eva Marie to Smackdown
- Shining Stars to Raw
- The Vaudevillians to Smackdown
This round didn’t suck nearly as much as Round 10, in fact there were 2 major surprises in my book.
Raw took Alicia Fox with the first pick, congrats Alicia.
Smackdown took Erick Rowan next. I'm assuming they are breaking the Wyatt Family up becuase they were drafted individually and Strowman wound up on Raw all by his lonesome. But what if WWE is being clever here and Luke Harper comes back from injury and lands on Smackdown? Then we'd have the original Wyatt Family trio back together. I'm not sure, we'll have to wait and see how this gets booked.
Dana Brooke to Raw next. You know, if I were the ‘apprentice’ to the champ, I would expect to get drafted a lot higher than pick 56…53 picks after my mentor. Ouch.
Pick 57 went to Mojo Rawley!!! I definitely did not see this coming, I was really hoping for Tye Dillinger but I’m also very happy for Mojo. WWE prepare to stay hyped.
Curtis Axel to Raw, I really don’t care…yet again.
Last pick of the draft…..Carmella! This was a surprise to me. Obviously, being drafted this late in the draft does not mean she will be competing for the title any time soon, but if you were to tell me that Carmella, Dana Brooke, Alexa Bliss, and Nia Jax would all have been called up before Bayley I would have laughed at you. Seriously, what does Bayley have to do to get the call up?!?!?
Heath Slater ended the show alone in the common room and it was rather fun. Clearly he’s injured, have you seen that eye? So the WWE is setting something up. i’m interested in seeing what that is, though I expect Slater to remain in the mid to lower card.
Also, where is Kurt Angle? He was so good. Please bring him back. It would be awesome…oh, it’s true!
Raw and Smackdown Rosters (in Draft order)
- Seth Rollins
- Finn Balor
- Roman Reigns
- Brock Lesnar
- The New Day
- Sami Zayn
- Sasha Banks
- Chris Jericho
- Rusev w/Lana
- Kevin Owens
- Enzo & Big Cass
- Gallows & Anderson
- Big Show
- Nia Jas
- Golden Truth
- Titus O’Neil
- Darren Young w/Bob Backlund
- Sin Cara
- Jack Swagger
- The Dudley Boyz
- Summer Rae
- Mark Henry
- Braun Strowman
- Bo Dallas
- Shining Stars
- Alicia Fox
- Dana Brooke
- Curtis Axel
- Dean Ambrose
- AJ Styles
- John Cena
- Randy Orton
- Bray Wyatt
- Becky Lynch
- The Miz w/Maryse
- Baron Corbin
- American Alpha
- Dolph Ziggler
- Alberto Del Rio
- The Usos
- Demon Kane
- The Ascension
- Zack Ryder
- Apollo Crews
- Alexa Bliss
- Eva Marie
- The Vaudevillians
- Erick Rowan
- Mojo Rawley
- Heath Slater
- Me…one day you guys, one day