On May 25th, 2016, the WWE announced that SmackDown will become a live show on Tuesday nights and will feature its own distinctive roster starting on July 19th, 2016. Although it wasn’t formally stated, wrestling fans all over knew that this was the return of the Brand Split that WWE initiated in 2002. Many wrestlers have come and gone in that time period and the roster today has a lot of fresher faces than in years prior. Only three of the top stars from Ohio Valley Wrestling remain in the company today in Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena; all of whom the focus has decreased on in order to make room for new stars. The WWE had become more open to wrestlers from the independent scene with guys like AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and several others getting prominent booking on TV. The WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship have been replaced by the unified title known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And Vince McMahon, the dominant boss for many years, has now been replaced by the new crop of authority figures in Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H.
In an era where the WWE is lacking genuine stars, the return of the Brand Split is a perfect way to help protect, preserve, and develop more wrestlers than they have since the Brand Split’s end in 2011. If these brands are to be truly separate, then the WWE will be able to hold off on wrestlers crossing paths with each other for much longer periods of time. In addition to that, wrestlers will now be able to have more long-term feuds that will help to make both the champions and challengers look even better in the process. However, before the Brand Split can be truly in effect, a draft must take place.
This new draft will be the first one to occur since the show in 2011 and will require intelligent booking and planning to make it work. If more upper echelon talents are on one brand than the other, if the midcard isn’t balanced, and if this doesn’t come off as a genuine competition than this revived concept will be pointless. So this upcoming draft will need to have a good enough balance to keep both shows looking good and for them to be able to stand on their own.
And with that being said, this article will look at the roster and pick 10 wrestlers who should be drafted to RAW and 10 wrestlers who should be drafted to SmackDown on July 19th.
SIDENOTE: For the draft in this article, the World title will not be split and will allow whoever’s holding it to appear on both shows. Similar booking would apply to the Women’s Championship and the Tag Team Championships as well. However, the title holders must be on a specific brand in the event that they lose the title. Also, the two midcard championships would be brand specific with the United States Championship being the RAW title and the Intercontinental Championship being the SmackDown.
With that out of the way, let’s begin.
20 Cesaro - Monday Night RAW
19 Dolph Ziggler - Tuesday Night SmackDown
18 Apollo Crews - Monday Night RAW
17 Kalisto - Tuesday Night SmackDown
16 Sheamus - Monday Night RAW
15 Neville - Tuesday Night SmackDown
14 Alberto Del Rio - Monday Night RAW
13 Baron Corbin - Tuesday Night SmackDown
12 Rusev - Monday Night RAW
11 Sami Zayn - Tuesday Night SmackDown
10 AJ Styles - Monday Night RAW
9 Kevin Owens - Tuesday Night SmackDown
8 Bray Wyatt - Monday Night RAW
7 The Miz - Tuesday Night SmackDown
6 Randy Orton - Monday Night RAW
5 Dean Ambrose - Tuesday Night SmackDown
4 Seth Rollins - Monday Night RAW
3 Chris Jericho - Tuesday Night SmackDown
2 Roman Reigns - Monday Night RAW
1 John Cena - Tuesday Night SmackDown
No matter how many great wrestlers are added to SmackDown, the bottom line is that the show will need star power in order to matter. And since the current World Champion Roman Reigns would be a much better fit for RAW, the best thing for SmackDown would be for Big Match John to become the Tuesday Night Delight. John Cena began his career in the WWE on SmackDown when he answered an open challenge from Kurt Angle and spent a few years there until he became the WWE Champion and was drafted to RAW in 2005. Since that time, Cena has become one of the biggest draws for WWE and his name and star power carries a lot of weight to it; evident by how he elevated the United States Championship in 2015. With the main event scene currently filled by Reigns and Seth Rollins, this provides a golden opportunity for Cena to do more work in the midcard again. Whether it’s pursuing the Tag Team championships, pursuing the Intercontinental Championship, or just having non-title feuds with whoever’s on the show, SmackDown would benefit greatly by having the face that runs the place on their roster.
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