The day has finally come! After two months of waiting and speculating, we find out exactly where the WWE Superstars will be ending up. There’s definitely an aura of excitement in the air so because this is a very different episode, I’ll be crafting this article a little differently. Instead of recapping the show itself, I’ll be going through every Draft pick made on the show, including the post show too. I say that, but now I have no idea how long this will be. Wish me luck.
Just quickly, here were the rules for the Draft.
Raw has the first overall pick
Since SmackDown Live is a two-hour show and Raw is three hours, for every two picks SmackDown Live receives, Raw will receive three picks
Tag Teams count as one pick unless a Commissioner/General Manager specifically only wants one member of the team
Six draft picks will be made off the NXT roster
So without further ado, let’s get to the the first WWE Draft since 2011.
Round 1 Draft Picks:
Raw: Seth Rollins, Charlotte & Finn Balor
Smackdown: Dean Ambrose & AJ Styles
I don’t think there was any doubt, regardless on whether he is champion or not, that Seth Rollins would be the first overall draft pick and it’s the right decision. Seth is unquestionably the top guy in WWE, his promos have never been better, his ring work is undeniable, he’s just the total package. Dean Ambrose, the current WWE Champion, was selected as Smackdown’s first pick which makes sense. Obviously if Ambrose were not WWE Champion, he probably wouldn’t have been picked until several more people down the line.
The current WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte is picked second by Raw. Thus the Women’s Championship makes it’s home on Monday nights. This now begs the question of what will the women on Smackdown be doing seeing as there’s no championship for them? AJ Styles becomes the second pick for Smackdown and is Smackdown’s number one heel. I can already see a tonne of matches between Ambrose and Styles once AJ is finished with John Cena.
Which leads to the first shocker of the night, Finn Balor is the third pick for Raw. We’ve been waiting on the former NXT Champion’s call-up for months now and he’ll be making is main roster debut on Raw. The possibilities of what Balor will do when he gets here are endless, I can’t wait.
Round 2 Draft Picks:
Raw: Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar & The New Day
Smackdown: John Cena & Randy Orton
The recently suspended Roman Reigns is picked third by Raw and I can’t help but feel that Roman would’ve been picked first overall if he hadn’t been suspended. Reigns will return at Battleground this weekend and I can’t imagine that the fans in Washington DC will be welcoming him back with open arms. The proverbial face of WWE, John Cena is the third pick for Smackdown and he joins his current arch rival, AJ Styles on Tuesday nights. I was genuinely quite surprised that Cena wasn’t picked sooner. That’s not to say that he should have been selected sooner, but I’m just surprised that they didn’t. Good work, WWE.
Brock Lesnar is picked fifth by Raw and he might acctually show up occasionally, that is of course, if he’s not busy failing multiple drug tests. News broke shortly before Smackdown went to air tonight that Brock Lesnar also failed a drug test prior to UFC 200. Lesnar faces a possible two year ban from UFC, while WWE are just sort of, ignoring it. His opponent (as of now) at SummerSlam, Randy Orton is the fourth pick for Smackdown. Which is okay, I just don’t think WWE realises how much the fans don’t really care about Randy Orton anymore.
Final pick of the round is the current WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day. All three members will be sticking together and making a permanent home on Raw with the championships. After two rounds of Draft picks, both shows have established their top guys moving forward.
Round 3 Draft Picks
Raw: Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks & Chris Jericho
Smackdown: Bray Wyatt & Becky Lynch
With the top of the card sorted, we move on to filling out the mid-card and starting off this round of draft picks for Raw is Sami Zayn. Sami may be the best pure male babyface in all of WWE, I hope we see him rise through the ranks on Monday nights. Bray Wyatt is picked up by Smackdown which means it will bring The Wyatt Family’s feud with The New Day to a close following their encounter at Battleground.
The women’s division gets some attention now as Sasha Banks is selected for Raw while Becky Lynch is heading to Smackdown. With Smackdown with no championship for the women, I do worry for all the women who are drafted to Smackdown. Unfortunately this will probably result in another championship being created, unless it’s decided later that the Women’s Champion can float between shows.
Chris Jericho is the final draft pick for round three and this is fine. Jericho is the most entertaining he’s been in at least six years, with his ridiculous caricature of himself making me laugh every time he’s on camera. I do hope we see a lot more of Jericho going forward on Raw.
Round 4 Draft Picks:
Raw: Rusev (w/ Lana), Kevin Owens, Enzo & Cass
Smackdown: The Miz (w/ Maryse) & Baron Corbin
Round four now and it’s all about the titles to start it off as the United States Champion, Rusev is selected for Raw. While the Intercontinental Champion, The Miz is chosen by Smackdown and they both will have Lana and Maryse automatically joining them respectively. Pretty standard picks here as both shows need a mid-card title and you knew one was going to be chosen right after the other.
The Kevin Owens Show has now found a home on Raw, which is quite a surprising outcome considering Sami Zayn is also on Raw. Most expected these two to be separated, but I guess WWE had other ideas. I’d like to think that as soon as they found out that they’d be on the same show, they ran up and did that rapid fire punching thing on each other that they do. Baron Corbin is selected for Smackdown and I mean, sure why not. All I ask is that they please stop forcing the “he’s going to be a future WWE Champion someday” tag line? It worked out so well for Kenny Dykstra didn’t it?
Enzo & Cass are still together and they will be on Raw. The first tag team since The New Day to be drafted and they’re still eligible to go for the tag titles.
Round 5 Draft Picks:
Raw: Gallows & Anderson, Big Show & Nia Jax
Smackdown: American Alpha & Dolph Ziggler
Another tag team selection, but it’s also our first break up of the night. Gallows & Anderson have been drafted to Raw, leaving AJ Styles alone on Smackdown. But with Finn Balor now on Raw too and the history Gallows & Anderson have with Balor from their days in Japan, could we see a new club? Ooh, intrigue! Smackdown make their first selection from the allowed NXT picks and they choose American Alpha. The crowd goes absolutely berserk for Jason Jordan and Chad Gable and I’ll be honest, so did I.
WWE do love to kill peoples buzz, so Raw selects Big Show to an audible groan from the audience. Big Show has what, 12 months left, tops? Any excitement left over from the American Alpha pick is definitely gone when Smackdown chooses Dolph Ziggler. Poor Ziggler, it’s not really his fault he hasn’t been relevant in over two years.
The final pick for round five is another from NXT. Raw selects Nia Jax to join their women’s division. I do like Nia Jax, she’s obviously very different to all the other women in the company and she absolutely should have been drafted at some stage. Whether she should have been a selection before Bayley is a whole other can of worms. Still though, happy to see Nia on Raw. She’s also The Rock’s cousin (but then again, who isn’t).
Round 6 Draft Picks:
Raw: Neville, Cesaro & Sheamus
Smackdown: Natalya & Alberto Del Rio
The final televised round of draft picks starts with Neville being drafted to Raw. Neville has been out of action since March with an ankle injury and is set to return any day now. Plus, Raw will now be starting a cruiserweight division which I would imagine is being centered around Neville. Smackdown meanwhile gives Becky Lynch someone to play with as they choose Natalya. Looks like this rivalry will be continuing on well past Battleground.
Finally, somebody selects Cesaro. Cesaro is heading to Raw and was selected 27th overall, which is all kinds of wrong. The fact that Big Show was chosen before Cesaro is probably the most baffling decision of the entire show thus far. What on earth were they thinking? Okay, I should move on but I’m still not happy about it. Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus are drafted to Smackdown and Raw respectively to the excitement of no-one. Because this isn’t 2011 anymore and no-one cares of either of these men.
That’s it for the televised picks. The rest of the draft was revealed on the WWE Network, following Smackdown.
Round 7 Draft Picks:
Raw: Golden Truth, Titus O’Neil & Paige
Smackdown: The Usos & Kane
Now it’s becoming painfully clear that following the televised draft picks, WWE just threw the rest of the names in a hat and drew them at random. However we’re meant to believe that the Commissioners and General Managers personally selected every one of these. This was a pretty nothing round. Only point of interest is that Paige is on Raw with the Women’s Championship, which is a positive thing.
Round 8 Draft Picks:
Raw: Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund), Sin Cara & Jack Swagger
Smackdown: Kalisto, Naomi & The Ascension
This round was perplexing, not just because Smackdown managed to get an extra pick for some reason. Raw is starting a cruiserweight division, so Kalisto goes to Smackdown. Uhh, okay. Sure, that makes total sense. Naomi has been out with a torn ligament in her ankle since April, but when she returns it’ll be on Smackdown. Still no clue what they’re going to be doing with the women on Smackdown with no championship. Finally, for some reason someone picked Jack Swagger. No-one picks Jack Swagger for anything.
Round 9 Draft Picks:
Raw: The Dudley Boyz, Summer Rae & Mark Henry
Smackdown: Zack Ryder, Apollo Crews & Alexa Bliss
We’re so far deep into the WWE Draft that no-one is paying attention, nor cares, about the rules that were stated at the top because Smackdown somehow scored themselves another extra pick this round. Another draft from NXT with Alexa Bliss heading to Smackdown. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Alexa Bliss being called up to the main roster. She debuted several years ago looking and acting like Tinkerbell, but she’s manage to transform into this horrible, evil woman who hates everyone who comes near her. A breath of fresh air in the women’s division. Outside of Bliss’ draft, not much to report on here. Mark Henry is still around believe it or not, so that sort of counts and news.
Round 10 Draft Picks:
Raw: Braun Strowman, Bo Dallas & The Shining Stars
Smackdown: Breezango, Eva Marie & The Vaudevillians
Okay fine, screw the rules, apparently Smackdown can now have equal picks as Raw. I hate being a stickler for the rules. The major story of this round is that Braun Strowman is drafted to Raw and now separated from Bray Wyatt. Braun’s on his own for the first time ever and I’m worried for him. Braun is absolute garbage in the ring, so I’m selfishly hoping that he gets put in the comedy role, becomes ‘Dancin’ Stowman’ and is quickly forgotten about.
Round 11 Draft Picks:
Raw: Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke & Curtis Axel
Smackdown: Erick Rowan, Mojo Rawley & Carmella
The final round of the draft and it’s surprisingly newsworthy. Erick Rowan will still be alongside Bray Wyatt on Smackdown and we got ourselves two picks from NXT. Bafflingly, of all the guys down in NXT, Mojo Rawley has been called up to the main roster. Mojo has been teaming with Zack Ryder in NXT as ‘The Hype Bros’ and now they’re both on the same brand. The team is NOT over with the crowd at all, this is a dumb move. In happier news though, ba-da-bing… Hottest chick in the ring, Carmella is now on Smackdown. Seeing as she’s still separated from her former teammates Enzo & Cass, this still allows Carmella the opportunity to stand out on her own.
Wow, this is a lot to process. A total of fifty nine draft picks have been selected and this hasn’t included all of those who are on the long term injured list. Let’s talk about the things that they did right. Mainstays like John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar were picked after the younger guys (and girls) like Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Charlotte. Five out of the six picks from NXT were nice surprises and I’m really struggling to think of any other positives here.
There’s just so many things that didn’t make sense. Why were Smackdown picking so many women when they know they don’t have a Women’s Championship? Why the hell was someone like Big Show picked BEFORE Cesaro? Did anyone really want The Shining Stars? Honestly Stephanie and Mick, look me in the eye and tell me that you really wanted The Shining Stars.
The rules behind the picks from the NXT roster just made both shows look stupid. You’re given the opportunity to pick any six people from NXT to put in your roster of around thirty, and neither show wanted the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Bayley or Asuka? I’m not saying that those four should all leave NXT at the same time right now, but logically it doesn’t make any sense.
In order to truly pass judgment on the draft, we must wait and see what Battleground and the first episodes of each show entails. So with that being said, Battleground is this weekend and I’ll see you then.