With Survivor Series under two weeks away, we are set to see Raw and Smackdown Live clash for the first time since the draft happened back in July.
Brand warfare creates a lot of discussion. Not only through which show has got the better booking, management and all out star power but more importantly which of the two brands is keeping their promise in providing it’s wrestlers with the sense of opportunity.
Based upon this, who really has benefitted the most from the draft? Let’s take a look at ten different options from Raw and Smackdown Live.
10) Braun Strowman
Upon his separation from the Wyatt Family, Braun Strowman’s future was in question. For a man who relies on strength and power, losing his mouthpiece in Bray could’ve been a disaster.
With not much to build upon, Strowman was bound to exceed expectations, however his impressive size and strength – laying waste to local talent – shouldn’t be swept so easily under the carpet. Strowman has posted himself as a ferocious individual and appears to be firmly in his stride embracing opportunity after opportunity.
While fans may not be ecstatic over his position, given work and time, Strowman has potential to becoming a behemoth hit on Raw.
The much more condensed rosters between each brand has allowed Charlotte to maintain her role as the top female within the WWE and although she’s had her ups and downs, it looks like her powerful persona won’t be changing any time soon.
Even though she’s lost the WWE Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks twice – both times on Monday Night Raw – Charlotte has made quick work of reclaiming her gold and solidfying status within the women’s division.
While it seems like the rivalry between Charlotte and Banks is far from over, the idea of the title being passed solely between the two alone doesn’t seem fitting. Charlotte will need to move on elsewhere – namely a feud with the tremendously over Bayley, if this week’s Raw crowd is anything to go by.
8) Dolph Ziggler
When Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon marketed the Blue Brand out to viewers as the show that was the land of opportunity, it seemed only fitting to see Dolph Ziggler grace their presence.
The Show-Off has had a rocky career to say the least. Arguably ‘the bridesmaid, never the bride’, Ziggler has gotten so close to the world championship on so many occasions but never been able to capture it.
However, on Smackdown a multitude of opportunities swung in his direction, starting with his showdown against Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship. Despite losing, Ziggler was quickly greeted with another chance for gold, competing against the Miz and becoming the Intercontinental Champion in one the most exhilarating matches seen in 2016.
7) The Miz
Walking on to the blue brand with an Intercontinental Championship reign that wasn’t much to write home about, the Miz was probably the least likely Superstar to have the attention of fans.
Fast forward a few months and one Talking Smack promo later, The Miz has become one of the most notable heels on the show.
Despite losing his gold at No Mercy, Miz continues to up his game each and every time he steps foot in the ring and it’s making the prospect of seeing him win the Holy Grail of sports entertainment a lot more likely under the brand extension.
6) Heath Slater
If there is any Superstar who has changed under the brand split, then it is Heath Slater.
For a lot time, ‘the One Man Band’ has struggling (to say the least) to get solid character direction within the WWE, bouncing from one lacklustre and cringe-worthy gimmick to the next. However, the way he has been utilised since the draft has made him look brand new.
From gusty confrontations with Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, to teaming up with Rhyno to become one half of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions its clear that Slater has taken his slap in the face from being excluded from the original draft picks and run with it.
5) Finn Balor
Regardless of being struck down with a debilitating injury during the biggest match of his career, within his debut month to the main roster Finn Balor delivered everything and more to wrestling fans.
From being fifth overall draft pick, to his subsequent victory at Summerslam to become the first WWE Universal Champion, Balor’s NXT efforts were not in vain.
Despite, the sustained injury derailing plans to continue catapulting Balor towards becoming the biggest WWE star within the modern day, it goes without saying that upon his return, there is a main event spot with his name on it.
4) Becky Lynch
Rising through the ranks alongside Sasha Banks and Charlotte, led Becky Lynch to seem like the odd one out within the call up.
With Sasha becoming a fan favourite almost immediately, and Charlotte’s family lineage working tremendously in her favour; Becky had to be drafted to SmackDown in order to break the lesser role that had been thrust upon her.
SmackDown has allowed Becky to emerge from her shell and take on her rightful role at the forefront of the face of the women’s division; quickly making light work of her fellow females in the six-pack challenge to become the inaugural SmackDown Women’s Champion.
While her reign may feel slightly cheapened by her recent injury misfortune, there is no doubt Becky is the top woman on Tuesday night’s and rightfully so!
3) Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has been in WWE for almost two decades and yet he continues to reinvent himself in such a way that you cannot help but drink it in, man.
From his character quirks to The ‘List of Jericho’, Y2J makes it look easy. He is easily one of the most over individuals on the Raw roster; personifying how to give a rub to the ‘newer’ talent without just taking the pinfall.
At this point, the level of entertainment that is being brought by Jericho – especially over the last three months – seeing him at the top of the WWE mountain again may not be so farfetched after all.
2) Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has been a slow build that has been nothing but enjoyable to be a part of because while it has taken a while to get here, now that the Prizefighter is in his rightful spot, there will be no stopping him.
Balor’s injury was Owen’s gain; a gain that has seen little to no disappoint. Impeccable promos and in-ring work have evidenced how making him the second ever WWE Universal Champion was the right decision. While his allegiance with Jericho brings a nice slice of comedy without undermining the solidness of Owens’ character.
So solid is his performance that it’s difficult to imagine Owens in any other position and since issues with Rollins and Triple H’s betrayal have yet to be resolved, it looks like he’ll be on top for quite some time and given the level of entertainment delivered so far, that’s hardly the worst thing in the world of wrestling.
1) AJ Styles
The debut of AJ Styles, for many, will go down as being one of the greatest.
Raw fed him a series of solid rivals in Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho and John Cena. All bouts that engaged him within nicely booked feuds and helped cement himself within WWE.
However, it wasn’t until he joined SmackDown, that The Phenomenal One started to live up to his name. While his clean victory over John Cena at Summerslam stands as a big achievement within AJ’s varied and colourful wrestling CV, it was his win over Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship that crowned AJ Styles as the blue brand’s top dog.
If there’s anybody that the brand extension was tailor-made for, it’s A.J. Styles.