The WWE Draft took place this week on SmackDown LIVE and thus, the WWE landscape has been forever changed. The brand extension has officially returned, and for the second time in history superstars will now compete on separate brands.
We already found out on WWE Monday Night RAW that Mick Foley will be the general manager of Stephanie McMahon's RAW while the recently retired Daniel Bryan will be in charge of things over on Shane McMahon's SmackDown. But just who will be the passengers aboard these separate ships? Let's take a look at the results of the WWE Draft:
Who's Going Where?
- RAW Draft Picks: Seth Rollins, Charlotte, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, New Day, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Chris Jericho, Rusev (w/ Lana), Kevin Owens, Enzo & Cass, Gallows & Anderson, Big Show, Nia Jax, Neville, Cesaro, Sheamus, Golden Truth, Titus O'Niell, Paige, 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.
SmackDown! Draft Picks: Dean Ambrose, A.J. Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Becky Lynch, The Miz (w/ Maryse), Baron Corbin, American Alpha, Dolph Ziggler, Natalya, Alberto Del Rio, The Usos, Kane, Kalisto, Naomi, The Ascension, Zack Ryder, Apollo Crews, Alexa Bliss, Breezango, Eva Marie, The Vaudevillians, Erick Rowan, Mojo Rawley, Carmella.
Without a doubt, the draft will bring much stronger programming for both brands. Back in the legendary "Attitude Era," the rosters were so amazing that yes, each superstar could appear on both shows and they would produce two amazing programs. But in today's era, the overall roster isn't as strong and thus, we see the same superstars forced down our throats with recycled storylines, while other talented competitors get overlooked.
With RAW and SmackDown! once again becoming separate brands, this gives the WWE a chance to showcase some of their stronger competitors. Furthermore, it will give SmackDown! a chance to shine bright like it once did. Since 2012, the show has basically become a RAW recap with few headliners and no storyline progression, albeit with relatively entertaining matches thrown in for effect. With SmackDown! once again becoming a separate brand, we will get to see a standalone show, set apart from RAW.
The healthy competition between the shows as they try to outdo the other will hopefully awaken a fire in the creative teams to produce even stronger programming weekly.
While both shows will likely remain separate entities, fans can expect to see the whole "SmackDown! vs. RAW" angle played up through inter-promotional matches. During the last brand extension, around WrestleMania time we would see some inter-promotional action. Furthermore, at Survivor Series in 2005, we even saw a Team SmackDown! versus Team RAW. With Stephanie and Shane McMahon already getting competitive, expect to see some inter-brand action as both shows compete for supremacy.
In fact, we won't have to wait too long — because Brock Lesnar is taking on Randy Orton at SummerSlam in August. Of course, this match was made before the Draft, but with Lesnar heading to RAW and Orton heading to SmackDown! expect this to be billed as the first battle between the red and the blue brands.
We had been hoping for this for quite some time, and now thanks to the draft, a number of NXT superstars have finally been called up to the main rosters. Perhaps the most important draft pick of them all was NXT favorite, Finn Balor.
Balor was one of the premiere superstars on NXT and a former NXT Champion. Fans have been campaigning for him to be called up to the main WWE roster for a long time. And now that he's a full-fledged WWE wrestler, expect to see him bring some five-star matches to the ring. I can't wait to see him take on the likes of Seth Rollins.
With both RAW and SmackDown! choosing superstars to help usher in the new era, it was the perfect time to rely on NXT. With the likes of Nia Jax, American Alpha, Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley, Carmella and Finn Balor all heading to the main roster, the future of the company has finally become the present.
One Big Face Per Brand
As much as we would like to believe that the number one draft picks for each show (Seth Rollins for RAW and WWE Champion Dean Ambrose for SmackDown!) will be the faces of their respective brands, we know the WWE too well. It's no coincidence that John Cena and Roman Reigns ended up on different shows. Cena will fill the Undertaker's position from the previous draft and play the role of the veteran headliner on SmackDown! while Reigns will continue to be thrown in our faces on RAW with the company's hopes of him becoming the next Cena.
Strategically, this is actually a good move. Whether you like these superstars or not, there's no denying that they will draw viewers for both shows. The up and coming Reigns will be constantly featured on the flagship show while Cena's presence on SmackDown! will draw viewership to the blue brand, in hopes of returning the show to its former glory.
Veteran Monsters On Both Shows
We also found out that WWE's veteran giant, the Big Show, has been drafted to RAW while their veteran Big Red Machine, Kane has been drafted to SmackDown! Both of these legends have proven to be extremely reliable athletes, especially when it comes to enhancing the younger talent. Not only have they both had legendary careers, they have no problem putting over future headliners. Moreover, both monsters are easy picks to rely on as an imposing threat to any newcomers who need to be tested.
Having a veteran on both shows will not only prove to be rewarding for the young talent, it will also keep the "Attitude Era" fans (like me) interested in their current programming. I'm really excited to see Kane on SmackDown!
When the list of superstars eligible for the draft was released, two names were noticeably absent. WWE Chief Operating Officer and 14 Time Champion Triple H and their resident Phenom, the Undertaker. Granted, both of them only wrestle a few times a year, but it's interesting that they weren't eligible.
However, this makes it all the more exciting, particularly in the Undertaker's case, as we will not only be guessing who their next rivals could be but what show they could be on. Thus, come WrestleMania time, the Undertaker's signature gong could sound on either show, which would be very exciting as the Phenom hasn't physically appeared on SmackDown! — the show he dominated for a decade — since 2013.
Expect to see Triple H show up on RAW to support his wife Stephanie. Now that she has control of RAW, it's likely that will happen sooner rather than later.
A New Era
With the draft having come and gone, WWE has officially entered a brand new, revolutionary period. Shows will be competing for supremacy, fan-favorites will get more screen time and the standards of both shows will hopefully be much higher. Whether you are a fan of the brand extension's return or not, there's no denying that WWE has entered a new era. Let's hope it's a great one!
Are you happy with the draft picks? Which show do you think will reign supreme? Let us know in the comments!