The big night has finally arrived. The highly-anticipated WWE Brand Extension Draft has altered the direction of WWE for the foreseeable future. The good old days of Raw vs. SmackDown have returned as that old familiar feeling begins to permeate the air of the WWE Universe.
Stephanie and Shane McMahon have chosen two massive fan favourites to lead their respective brands under the role of General Manager. Now, we await the results: will the Draft prove successful or will the entire Brand Extension fail in the months that follow? The stakes are high but there are reasons to remain optimistic, at least for the time being.
With the Draft in the books and the company prepared to embark down two separate roads, fans far and wide will lock into their screens each Monday and Tuesday night to witness what very-well could be the rejuvenation of WWE. So, what exactly did we learn about the immediate future of the company following the Draft?
Here are 15 takeaways from the historic evening:
15. Popularity in Power
With Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan serving as the Raw and SmackDown General Managers, respectively, it would appear as though WWE has opened its ears as Foley and Bryan are definitely popular choices.
Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan - while working through different Eras - would achieve success in a similar manner; an organic connection with the audience. Their presence will serve each bran well.
14. Finn Balor Went to the Wrong Brand
Finn Balor will finally appear on the main roster, but for Monday Night Raw? This doesn't seem like the proper place for Balor to make his WWE debut. In all likelihood, Raw will remain with the soap-opera format of programming.
Meanwhile, over on SmackDown Live - especially with Daniel Bryan as General Manger - the art of wrestling will be featured more prominently. Finn Balor should have gone to the more wrestling-oriented brand.
13. The Women's Division is Legit
With Charlotte - and ultimately the WWE Women's Championship - heading over to Monday Night Raw, the Women's division will be on full display on the company's flagship program; which is great news.
There has been a strong push recently in WWE involving the Women's division and placing their top female talent on Monday night proves that there is a strong support system behind this current movement.
12. Drafting Brock Lesnar Made Little Sense
What was the purpose behind drafting Brock Lesnar to Monday Night Raw? Lesnar works limited dates and would have served better as a "free agent" or as some sort of bounce-around performer.
In realty, Brock Lesnar does not need to be an exclusive member of any roster. Having Paul Heyman negotiate Lesnar's contract between Stephanie and Shane McMahon would have been an interesting angle.
11. A.J. Styles is Better Off on SmackDown
Let's be honest: A.J. Styles in many ways falls into the "B-Plus" category in which Stephanie McMahon has placed Daniel Bryan. Which is why having Styles with Stephanie would have flopped.
A.J. Styles was made for SmackDown Live, where "The Phenomenal One" will work with Daniel Bryan and will be afforded the privilege to showcase the most of his wrestling abilities while with the brand.
10. It's Time to Turn Roman Reigns Heel
Roman Reigns was officially selected to Monday Night Raw, a rather unpopular choice. Of course, Reigns was bound to receive some heavy heat regardless of which brand called his name on Draft night.
It should be clear by now: the Roman Reigns Top Dog Experiment is over. It's time to flip Reigns. The fans loathed Reigns and this will not change any time soon. The solution: turn Reigns heel.
9. Belief in The New Day
There was certainly speculation surrounding this draft and the status of The New Day. There was a feeling that perhaps the group would find themselves on different brands. (Including personal predictions made on site - sorry).
However, WWE has decided to keep the over-the-top trio together on the Raw brand. Thus proving that the Power of New Day has made a powerful enough impression on the company. The question now: how far will their title reign reach?
8. Bray Wyatt May Finally Find His Place
Bray Wyatt became an exclusive member of SmackDown Live on Draft night. This could prove to be a great situation for Wyatt who has lurked on the fringe of WWE Superstardom for quite some time.
Now, as a member of SmackDown Live, Bray Wyatt may finally find his place within the WWE Universe. And that place could very-well lead to the very top of the card; a position many feel Wyatt deserves.
7. Kevin Owens Was Selected Way Too Late
Kevin Owens is undoubtedly the best talent in WWE right now. Owens can wrestle - really wrestle - as well as entertain. This is the perfect one-two punch for a Superstar making his way up in WWE.
So, how the hell was Kevin Owens selected so late in the draft? (18th overall). Sure, Owens will perform exclusively on Monday Night Raw, but his place in the Draft leaves one to wonder about the confidence placed behind Owens.
6. Breaking Up The Club Sucks
With A.J. Styles heading over to SmackDown Live, his long-time buddies from Japan, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will work for Monday Night Raw. Why? Why break-up The Club already?
A.J. Styles can stand on his own but having Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows by his side was proving a successful formula. While known as The Club, hardcore fans knew full-and-well about the missing Bullet. Why break up this trio? Maybe it's time for the Balor Club instead?
5. John Cena's Role Has Changed
Surprisingly, John Cena was not selected until the second round (seventh overall) by SmackDown Live. Which proves that Cena's position within the company has shifted. However, would does this selection truly mean?
The problem presented here is that somebody is going to have to grab the SmackDown reigns and lead the way, especially early on in this process. John Cena will likely find his way to the top of the SmackDown card. Good thing or bad thing?
4. Dean Ambrose Belongs on SmackDown
Dean Ambrose is going to thrive on SmackDown Live. This is exactly where Ambrose belongs; away from Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns and provided with a blank canvas to truly establish himself as a top WWE Superstar.
On SmackDown Live, Dean Ambrose will be treated like a top-tier Superstar and will provide the brand with a fresh face (or mug) to help move SmackDown along into the future. Ambrose and Daniel Bryan together? Great mugs indeed.
3. Seth Rollins is The Man
The number one overall selection in the 2016 WWE Brand Extension Draft: Seth Rollins. Yes, Rollins stated that he would go first and that is exactly what happened. In fact, Stephanie McMahon couldn't wait to call out "The Architect" as the first pick.
What this proves is that Seth Rollins truly is "The Man" right now in WWE and that the investment places in Rollins is paying off for the company. If you don't like Rollins then get use to that face because Rollins is here for the long run.
2. Raw Looks Better on Paper
Monday Night Raw will always be the flagship program in WWE and the Draft proved just that. On paper, the Raw brand - which was allowed to select more Superstars - looks slightly superior than SmackDown Live.
Monday Night Raw will showcase the Women's, Tag Team, United States, and presumably Cruiserweight Championship. There will certainly be a lot of hardware floating around the Raw locker room.
1. SmackDown Provides Hope
SmackDown Live is going to serve as the underdog program moving forward. However, this is exactly what die-hard wrestling fans want. That sense of "us against them" with Monday Night Raw serving as the "establishment brand."
SmackDown will have the Intercontinental Championship and perhaps the WWE Championship (depending on Battleground). Even with John Cena - the company's top star on board - SmackDown has a "back against the wall" feel right now... and it's great.