With SmackDown moving to FOX, while RAW remains on the USA Network, a draft was to be expected in order to completely shuffle the cards for both rosters and it had already started on Friday Night SmackDown, competition will take an interesting twist in the next few weeks. Survivor Series is 5 weeks to come, Crown Jewel in 10 days or so, which means the Champions of today may not be the ones we will see face each other in one of The Big Four WWE PPVs. Let’s dissect how this shake-up is going to influence the future storylines, as well as the Superstars’ fates.
Like said in a previous piece, wrestlers currently sidelined because of an injury or a lack of storylines remain undrafted. Ruby Riott, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Naomi, The Usos, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, The Ascension, Maria Kanellis, Lars Sullivan, Mickie James, Ronda Rousey and Matt Hardy are, for the moment, free agents.
RAW: WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair, Andrade and Zelina Vega, EC3, Eric Young, Sin Cara, WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka and Kairi Sane, Rusev, Aleister Black, Cedric Alexander, Humberto Carrillo, Erick Rowan, Buddy Murphy, Jinder Mahal, WWE 24/7 Champion R-Truth, Samoa Joe, Akira Tozawa, Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio, Titus O’Neil, Liv Morgan, RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, The OC, Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Natalya, RAW Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders, The Street Profits, The IIconics, Sarah Logan, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, No Way Jose, Authors of Pain.
Friday Night SmackDown: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, The New Day, Apollo Crews, Drew Gulak, Heath Slater, Tamina Snuka, The B Team, Daniel Bryan, Bayley, WWE Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn, Ali, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, Carmella, The Miz, King Baron Corbin, Chad Gable, Elias, Roman Reigns, “The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Sasha Banks, Braun Strowman, Lacey Evans, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Revival, Lucha House Party, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss, Cesaro, Luke Harper, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Dana Brooke, Drake Maverick.
RAW: Run, Seth, run. The Universal Championship will be a pretty coveted title with wrestlers like Aleister Black, Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Rusev, Lashley, Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens and Randy Orton, to name only a few, around the corner. Around the United States Championship, the same men could be serious contenders for AJ Styles, unless WWE explore the possibility of giving the belt to former Cruiserweight Champions like Buddy Murphy or Cedric Alexander.
SmackDown Live: If Brock Lesnar is a part-time Champion, like he was when Universal Champion, the Blue Brand will mostly work with a group of 8 or 9 main-eventers led by Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman. Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn, The Miz, King Corbin have the potential to be some Beast Slayers. The same guys could also chase the Intercontinental belt but count on Chad Gable, Drew Gulak, Ali or Elias to enter the run very soon. Despite fewer talents, the Draft, in fact, opened up the competition without narrowing the possibilities of feuds, and mostly fresh feuds.
RAW and SmackDown Live: Saying the division was shaken-up would be a lie. The Women’s Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors are now on RAW. If the Iiconics were drafted there too, there are not a lot more teams to try to dethrone them. Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross and the team Fire & Desire are now on SmackDown and would have more possibilities if involved in singles competition. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Natalya will be the leaders of a pretty poor Red female roster. Bayley and Sasha Banks will have more competition with Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans or Carmella also on the Blue Brand.
RAW and SmackDown Live: On that point, RAW will not be a Land of Opportunities. The Red Brand drafted way too many wrestlers that will have the time to knit more than a scarf in the locker room. EC3, Humberto Carrillo, Akira Tozawa, Mojo Rawley, No Way José, Titus O’Neil, their only goals will probably be to chase R-Truth in the hallways of the arenas to try to grab the 24/7 title. SmackDown stretched that part of its roster and it’s way better for a 2-hour show. Guys like Drake Maverick, Apollo Crews or Heath Slater will not be on TV every week but, if WWE want it, they can reach some attention, the same way Chad Gable, aka Shorty G, or Ali have been able to do.
RAW: With 4 competitors, The Viking Raiders may remain Champions for a pretty long time. If they already defeated the OC, they will find new foes in The Street Profits and The Authors of Pain. The scheme is pretty similar to the one NXT knew a few years ago, which was not the most interesting one the yellow Tag Team Division have known in its history. As far as Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder are concerned, their chances to defeat the current Champions are mere.
SmacKDown Live: With 3 teams and 2 stables waiting for their chance, The Revival will better watch their back. As former 6-time Tag Team Champions, The New Day is on top of the list even if Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler proved on RAW they can be the leaders of the division. Then, you have Otis and Tucker. The guys may look cool and funny, do they really have the shoulders to be Champions? The fact is, if they become Champions, it should be very difficult to dethrone them. If I won’t bet a dime on The B-Team, The Lucha House Party could be serious contenders, their recent match on RAW against The OC gave us some reasons to believe it.
Saying there’s a winner of this Draft would be difficult to judge. Each show has the roster that fits the length of the show but, because of that, many Superstars who should not be on TV very often are on RAW. The Red Brand is now stacked of main-eventers and mid-carders that will have to try to find their place under the spotlight. SmackDown Live regains its nickname of Land of Opportunity with a real chance to make more talents shine. Time will tell but some frustration should emerge soon on the Red side of the WWE boat.
All pics, screencaps and videos courtesy of WWE.com