Night one of the WWE Draft is over, and 28 Superstars have found homes on either Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown thanks to some incredibly eager “network executives” from the USA Network and FOX. And one dude who was just starring at a screen-saver of a peacock all night, for some reason.
Of course, if Monday’s version of the Draft is anything like Friday’s version of it, the order of picks might just literally be word-for-word the previously announced Draft Pools released on WWE.com during the week (although just by looking at the Raw Pool, I doubt that is the case).
With night two of the Draft coming on Monday night, let’s take a look at how both brands did on Smackdown, and what they’ll be looking to build on going forward. Before we dive in, let’s check out the current rosters following night one of the Draft.
- Becky Lynch (Raw Women’s Champion)
- AJ Styles (U.S. Champion)
- Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
- Drew McIntyre
- Randy Orton
- Bobby Lashley
- Alexa Bliss
- Kevin Owens
- The Viking Raiders
- Nikki Cross
- Street Profits
- Roman Reigns
- The Fiend
- Sasha Banks
- Braun Strowman
- Lacey Evans
- The Revival (Smackdown Tag Team Champions)
- Lucha House Party
- Heavy Machinery
THE MAIN EVENT
Raw was given three Draft picks for every two picks that Smackdown received, so they’re already starting off with a wider talent pool. That said, the red brand is a bit low on main event male talent. The first overall pick went to Becky Lynch, and in the third pick Raw opted for the trio of The O.C., which is a great 3-for-1 deal that was bound to go fast. But that left Smackdown open to quickly snatch up Reigns, The Fiend and Braun Strowman.
Raw currently has Randy Orton, who is just coming off a WWE Championship program with Kofi Kingston (albeit one he lost) and can obviously be put anywhere on the card at any time. Once Drew McIntyre is back on a weekly basis he could be inserted into that role, and the good news is this time there’s no Shane McMahon to shackle him from actually getting over on his own. AJ Styles could always challenge for a world title, but he’s currently the U.S. Champion and has been great in his role of elevating up-and-coming talent of late.
I’d say the key to the Raw male Draft picks is probably Kevin Owens, but that depends entirely on how well they use him. He’s one of the best promos in the business and I don’t remember him ever having a bad match in WWE. He makes you “feel” it like few others do.
The question really becomes, who will the world champion be on Raw? If it’s Seth Rollins, and Lynch being there makes that more likely, a program with Owens could freshen up the Universal title picture. They’ve done a few things here and there but it’s been a full three years since they had a real pay-per-view program, and at that point Owens was the guy on top – and he’s changed significantly as a character since then.
Raw’s first priority on Monday should be to snag either Rollins or Lesnar, obviously, but they should probably jump on Daniel Bryan and/or Aleister Black with their second/third picks. When I asked Twitter who their Top 5 picks on the whole roster were, Black’s name came up more than anyone except Becky Lynch. It’s clear people expect big things from him. Those who would help round out the main event scene, while guys like Miz, Ali or Andrade could be solid projects to groom for that role if need be.
The Smackdown male main event scene is almost there already. The assumption has been that FOX wants Brock Lesnar, and with Cain Velasquez coming in and likely landing wherever the “Beast” does, you can do basically anything you want with Lesnar, Velasquez, Reigns, Strowman and The Fiend on your roster. Really, just one more bigger name – be it Miz, Samoa Joe, or whoever – and they’ll be set for awhile.
REBUILDING THE WOMEN’S DIVISIONS
Raw badly needs new blood in the women’s division. Lynch, Nikki Cross, Alexa Bliss and Natalya is… literally where they were a week ago. Granted you can break up the tag team and both are capable of working title programs, and are unique characters that stand-out.
Charlotte is an obvious choice, but I think it would be more interesting to rush Bayley into a top draft pick, with network execs being impressed with what she did on Friday night, creating a situation where you have two champions needing a resolution at Survivor Series. There’s also just nothing that has been overdone more in WWE than Charlotte Flair versus any of the Horsewomen.
Asuka and Kairi would be my first pick for the women’s division if I’m drafting for Raw. You get the champions, you get two for the price of one, and at any point you can split them up and they’re totally separate entities. Plus, they’ve been slowly teasing the Becky/Asuka program and let’s face it — that’s what we all want. Liv Morgan is also someone I would be keeping a very close eye on. If Raw can pick her up late in the second, or in the third round it’ll absolutely be worth their return on investment.
Right now Smackdown only has Sasha Banks and Lacey Evans. So they need more women, and quickly, but the good news is both are fresh to the blue brand and both are two stars. I’m hoping Charlotte stays on the blue brand, and I’d probably make it a point to pick up Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville – and actually do something with them!
What’s more interesting to me is actually the women who are NOT eligible to be drafted on Monday. There are a few injured names like Ruby Riott and Ember Moon that will make a difference when they come back, but I’m more talking about all the incredible talents in NXT that could drastically shake up either women’s division.
They should hold a third, much smaller Draft night after this is all said and done, and give both brands a few picks from a hand-selected pool of NXT stars. They can protect the brand by making sure none of the champions are viable, but names like Mia Yim, Xia Brookside, Toni Storm, Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair could drastically shake up WWE’s women’s divisions in very needed ways.
TAG TEAM WRESTLING
I mean… The real question is, will it matter? WWE has some of the best tag team wrestlers in the world, but if they don’t actually consistently make it a point to get tag team wrestling over and treat it with respect – which they have totally failed to do for the better part of a decade – what is the point?
For the sake of this column, let’s assume WWE wants to build up two strong tag team divisions. I’ll give them some credit, they have put a bit more effort in over the last year or so, and we have watched The Usos, The New Day and The Revival all put on great matches time and time again. So maybe there is hope.
Raw currently has The O.C., The Viking Raiders and The Street Profits. That’s a really strong start, but WWE is going to need to stop messing around and making me hate every second that Ford and Dawkins are on my TV sets every week, and actually let them wrestle matches – immediately.
Raw also needs champions, so I expect Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to get drafted fairly early; probably high in the second round, or maybe even the final first round pick just because they badly need the titles before Smackdown gets both sets. They’ve been doing GREAT together over the last couple months, and are only getting better as they find their chemistry and their motivation for actually being together. Knowing WWE that means it’s time to split them up, but I honestly hope they don’t.
Those four teams would make a very solid division on its own. The New Day are obviously key to the Draft as you’re potentially getting three picks at one point, which seems a tad unfair given one of them was literally just WWE Champion. I’d send them to Raw to shake things up.
Smackdown has The Revival and Heavy Machinery. They also have Lucha House Party but unless WWE shocks me and actually uses them for something besides doing the job or filler matches, it might not matter. They’re all tremendous talents though, and could tear the house down with The Revival, so I’m crossing my fingers that we at least get a few good matches out of them.
The blue brand needs to make it a point to snag AOP when they have the chance. I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve been doing with the backstage vignettes, and letting them speak their native languages has made them 1000% more interesting. Plus… Does anyone NOT want to see Revival and AOP beat the absolute hell out of each other?
If they want some new blood I’d also package cousins Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza together and put them on Smackdown immediately. Even if it’s just to fill out the roster, they could have tremendous matches with the Lucha House Party at every house show in the world and it would already be worth it.
HERE AND THERE
The one glaring hole left on either roster is Smackdown’s midcard division. And by that I mean, they literally don’t have one. Unless you think Roman Reigns is gonna be challenging for the Intercontinental title – which they don’t even possess at this point – they’re gonna need to flood the brand with some talent.
Nakamura seems like a safe bet to stay on Smackdown, and apparently he just comes packaged with Sami Zayn, so that’s sort of a two-for-one deal. If Raw doesn’t snag Aleister Black he could make a great champion to just sit on the title and rack up wins for a few months, creating a “who the hell can beat this guy?” scenario.
Harper and Rowan have transformed recently. Either could make a good challenger. Luckily there’s no end to the names they could infuse the brand with to build up the midcard. The Miz, King Corbin, Ali, Cedric Alexander, Rusev, Andrade, Buddy Murphy, Chad Gable and even someone like Jinder Mahal could be rebuilt into a serviceable heel if needed. So while they do need to make it a point of rebuilding that division, they could also very likely just luck into a decent midcard pool without putting in a whole lot of effort.
Raw has U.S. Champion AJ Styles, as well as some solid challengers in Ricochet and Bobby Lashley if they wanted to go that route. Hell, I don’t see why you can’t throw Randy Orton in there just to shake things up too. I would make sure they have a few more up-and-coming names to let the veterans work with; someone like the aforementioned Ali or Cedric, or really any of the former 205 Live guys would work.