Three years ago, the first legitimate WWE Draft in years was underway. Both Raw and then SmackDown LIVE got their own fresh rosters for the future. Now both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown take place under two completely different networks as NBC Universal and FOX compete to simply have the better show. Who’s to say who matters more (clearly it is FOX in WWE’s eyes), but WWE will have to make both sides be happy in their new business marriages. That being said, making the best rosters for both shows to be unique in their own way and pull in the views as captivating television on a weekly basis will be difficult, but the talent is certainly signed to do so.
News has come out that FOX’s SmackDown will get two selections per round, while USA Network’s Raw will get three choices per round due to being three hours, much like the 2016 draft. More than 70 stars and tag teams are set to be selected. Looking at the last draft will only help figure out the best ways to split rosters.
WWE Draft 2016: The Blueprint for Uniqueness
The draft that created fresh television for months, including SmackDown LIVE becoming the home of AJ Styles and Kevin Owens taking over as the centerpiece of Monday Nights while also allowing the women to really take the lead. For a few months there, it was entertaining TV that had people wanting more, especially when it comes to the blue brand. Raw planted the likes of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Chris Jericho as the top men stars of the brand. On the other show, it was AJ Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, and Bray Wyatt leading the charge for SmackDown LIVE. It was unexpected but turned out to be fun TV as commissioners Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon fought for power. If this is the blueprint on the men’s side to follow this time around, it would make some great television.
On the women’s side, Raw worked with the proven while SmackDown LIVE worked with the new breed per se. Raw selected Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks while adding Bayley soon after. For SmackDown, it included Becky Lynch as the main attraction along with Alexa Bliss coming up from NXT and Natalya and Naomi as veteran additions. Charlotte and Sasha had their legendary feud to lead Raw while Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss opened eyes to a new side of the women’s division. To say that right now is the richest women’s division including Raw, SmackDown, and both NXT brands could be an understatement. There is a real chance for both shows to really have established divisions on both the women’s side and men’s.
For the hope of the superstars and the best possible television WWE can offer, here is prediction time of what really makes the most sense following the last draft.
A Championship Pedigree: Champions To Kick Off Both Sides
World Title Picture
On Raw this past Monday, it seemed as though there is no guarantee that the champions stay on their respective brands. While the United States, Intercontinental, and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions seem to be able to switch brands no matter, it becomes tougher for the other championships and their respective champs. It seems all but confirmed that Brock Lesnar is going to be a SmackDown star moving forward. Winning the WWE Championship on the debut of SmackDown on FOX essentially shows the hand of FOX and them wanting the box office attraction in Lesnar. With that said, Seth Rollins seems destined to keep himself and the red Universal Championship on the red brand, making both possible first picks for their shows.
Women’s Championship Brings As Much Importance
Does the same go for the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champions as they teased on Monday? There is a reason that both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are in the spots they are. Both have been key contributors in any and all press for FOX, which very well could mean they will be on the same show once again. The first major change to create the best possible, believable rosters for both SmackDown and Raw is to move the Raw Women’s Champion over to the blue brand. Becky Lynch is the “face of the franchise”. She is in all the commercials, posters, etc. She is centered as the main star and was the one who started off SmackDown on FOX. Not even Roman Reigns has the importance of Becky Lynch. She will be in blue come the draft.
This would only make sense to see Raw draft Charlotte Flair, taking away the blue brand’s champion in an answer to Becky Lynch heading to SmackDown, possibly as the first overall selection. Keeping these two apart following their rivalry for the past year remains important. Both women should be the leads on each side, with both divisions being the main focal points of shows.
Mid Card Gold
The WWE really likes to shake up the mid-card championships, but there is some belief that Raw goes out of their way to keep AJ Styles and The OC, which means the United States Championship will remain on Raw. That means Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn seem destined to stay blue for the foreseeable future.
Tag Team Revamp
Going exclusive for tag teams on one brand or the other is impossible. But with WWE lacking the teams to fill both shows at times with viable teams on a week by week basis, it may be smart to load one side more than the other. Monday Night Raw must remain unique in its own way which makes tag team wrestling a possible outlet to do exactly that. Paul Heyman, executive director of Raw, already has “his guys” per many reports. What that means is he will get who he want. The current tag team champions on Raw include one of his guys in Robert Roode. Roode and Dolph Ziggler are the reigning champions and will be defending the championships against The Viking Raiders on Raw this coming Monday. It’s a time to begin a tag team revamp by crowning new champions in Erik and Ivar, positioning Raw as a firm home for tag team wrestling. Add The OC and The Street Profits to that side and it clearly becomes a great home for tag wrestling with these three true teams as the base. Heavy Machinery can be a solid addition along with a makeshift team.
On the SmackDown side, The Revival should be moved full-time to Friday nights, as their style and rugged fashion fits perfectly with the sports vision of FOX. As the SmackDown Tag Team Champions of just a month it seems like a must at this point. Then enter The Usos, who never really fit on Raw when they switched at the Superstar Shakeup earlier this year. Moving The Uso’s back to the blue brand gives them possibly the best two tag teams the main roster has, making it a perfect fit for SmackDown as they have taken time away for the past couple of months. With The Revival and The Usos on tap, it comes time to wonder if The New Day fits the mold on SmackDown.
Is it still a New Day?
Being there since 2017, they have done everything they possibly could as a team. Kofi Kingston was the WWE Champion, all was great. Now as they hold zero gold around their waists fans wonder what is next. If there was ever a time to break them up it’d certainly be the WWE Draft. There is a good shot either could happen, but if they stick together it could be a serious idea to move them to Raw, giving Raw the main edge in the tag division. If they’re to be broken up, Kofi and Xavier Woods could go to Raw and be enriched there while Big E shines on SmackDown as the freak athlete he is. Remaining together is more believable, however.
The Blue Brand Game-Changer
The forgotten team of all of this is AOP. The Authors of Pain play a pivotal role in the future of the tag team division. Their home should be Friday Night SmackDown. Keeping them away from The Viking Raiders is important in the idea that both teams are sure to be powerhouses. Physicality and brutalizations are exactly what they can bring to the blue brand, which makes them the perfect fit as a team that still feels rather new because of all the time they have missed. They are the wild card in this entire draft, which makes it exciting to anticipate.
Women’s Division Experiences Evolution
With Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair set as the precedent of both divisions on SmackDown and Raw, it seems to matter what is next in the women’s division. Sasha Banks and Bayley will be the first women to come to mind and the question is if WWE wants to keep them together or not. Gut reaction says they stay together, one show three horsewomen, which could give more opportunities to the other women on a different show. Sasha Banks being drafted to SmackDown along with Bayley, putting the women’s division as a true main attraction on SmackDown. With Lynch, Banks, and Bayley covering the blue, Raw needs some help on their side. In comes someone like Ember Moon (Editor’s note: This was wrote before news broke that Ember Moon is injured), who has yet to really get opportunity despite her incredible ability inside the square circle. These two may be overlooked as well, but keeping together Fire and Desire and moving them to Raw seems like a must here. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville has shown plenty of promise and really would benefit from being on Monday nights.
For the rest of the women’s roster, there is plenty of talent that remains. Asuka and Kairi Sane are the reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions and should have been in this spot for years. There is real potential in both, but holding these titles will have them switching brands for the time being. Maybe they separate them on TV to have them continue switching back and forth. There is real potential in Asuka on SmackDown as a heel if this is the way we are trending, as it seems Asuka could very well be Becky Lynch’s next opponent following Raw this past week.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross could very well be broken up, having Bliss go back to SmackDown where she made a name for herself. Other names to be interested in seeing where they go are Liv Morgan, who could be a main part of Raw when she finally returns, Ruby Riott who is still nursing an injury but is a borderline main player in the division, Nia Jax belongs back on Raw as well, and a certain champion not on the main roster. Shayna Baszler is soon to be nearing her end as champion in NXT, so her making Raw her home when the time comes could really be a perfect move as she brings her dominance up.
Men’s Main Scene
With a strong women’s division comes a strong men’s division, which both shows easily can have depending on picks and opportunity that is allowed. It was announced Thursday afternoon how the first selection will be decided:
BREAKING: @WWERollins (representing #RAW) will face @WWERomanReigns (representing #SmackDown) in the opening match of Friday Night #SmackDown on @FOXTV for the rights to the first overall pick in the #WWEDraft!https://t.co/7ZpBcJzHLB
— WWE (@WWE) October 10, 2019
Former Shield brothers go into the war on SmackDown as they decide the fate of both Raw and SmackDown in the draft. With the first pick in the balance, there is a real shot Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns or even “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt are selected first with the way the draft pools have been decided. But this is about where the men of the WWE will find themselves when the draft is over.
First up is Roman Reigns, who many believe that when he was switched to SmackDown LIVE earlier this year, it was for him to be on FOX. It seems all but sure that Roman Reigns should be the face of SmackDown along with Becky Lynch, putting the faces of the company on the new “A” show. After “The Big Dog” is where it gets really interesting as rumors are afloat and there really are no leaks at this time. With all the men on the roster, it may be easier to go by brand here, starting with SmackDown.
Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez seem to be the feud for the WWE Championship right now, which leaves everyone else in the men’s division to fill in. The sports-inspired SmackDown should nab the likes of Ricochet, who is the perfection of athleticism and awe-inspiring ability. The popularity of Kevin Owens should remain on SmackDown as well following his feud with Shane McMahon, he can finally set his future back on what matters most which should be championship gold. Following what occurred in recent weeks, the legendary Rey Mysterio should return home to SmackDown to someday get retribution on Brock Lesnar and be a key part of what makes this show special. Drew McIntyre is a name that has not been said in quite a while. After losing in the first round of the 2019 King of the Ring Tournament, McIntyre reportedly went away to recover from an injury. Assuming he is ready to go, the “Scottish Psychopath” is a perfect name to change brands and be a serious contender.
Braun Strowman has been on Monday nights his entire career. It may be time for a change. Strowman is seemingly set to take on Tyson Fury at the upcoming Crown Jewel event. Considering this match was teased originally on the FOX debut, it only seems right to have the build-up as well on that exact show. Braun needs a new home in the draft. Now, this is a name that is difficult to place but has star potential. Ali has shown signs of potential championship material, maybe even world title potential. Ali would join Ricochet on SmackDown as one of the most uber-athletic and jaw-dropping superstars on the show. Fans need to remember the name Samoa Joe. He has been and is a special part of what SmackDown can be. His brawler style would be perfectly fitting with the likes of people on this show with him. Joe has been underutilized long enough.
Nowhere has NXT been included in any of this when it comes to the draft. But there are sometimes that the WWE follows what they layout for the fans, which allows one possible surprise to be called up besides a Shayna call-up down the line. That man is Matt Riddle, who would more than fit in on SmackDown. The former UFC fighter seems to fit the build of what FOX is looking for. This could give Riddle his dream of retiring Brock Lesnar, so let’s all hope we get a nice surprise.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt is going to be a hot option on Friday as he sits in the first night pool and could very well be one of the first selections. “The Fiend” belongs on Raw where he should become world champion very soon. There is no doubt that fans have been going out of there way to try and figure out any “scoop” when it comes to the draft. There seems to be only one real one that has slipped out which just happens to be Aleister Black moving over to Monday nights. “The Dutch Destroyer” has a big supporter in Paul Heyman, as Paul has reportedly done all he could to get the former NXT Champion on his show. Black could become a main event wrestler on this show and find the fandom that he had in NXT. Rusev and Bobby Lashley have entered a rivalry that just simply is not one to head over to FOX, making it a layup it seems to remain on USA and Raw.
There is not much thought in The Miz being on Raw besides his show, “Miz & Mrs”, being on the same channel. Two names who can become huge stars on a show like Raw is Andrade and Buddy Murphy. Andrade has shown signs at times of becoming a huge star but has yet to get to that point. Raw certainly could be that shot for Andrade. Murphy, on the other hand, found himself in the right place at the right time a few months back, putting on some great matches and even defeating Daniel Bryan. Buddy Murphy could truly gain a lot from being moved to a three-hour show rather than a two-hour show like SmackDown.
Now, you may be wondering where are the big male names for Raw as they just have Rollins and Bray Wyatt when it comes to name value. While Raw should be going out of their way to make brand new stars, they will be getting two main event guys who should be at the top of the show. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton are those two names that can really make Raw a fun show along with these young but unproven talents. Daniel Bryan is instantly becoming a fan favorite all over again, which bodes well for Raw popularity moving forward. Orton, on the other hand, remains the perfect selection for a heel main event veteran. Never bad to add a 13-time world champion.
So there you have it, an image of what the best rosters for both Raw and SmackDown should be, including a full look at the championship landscape and each division. Enjoy the draft.
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