So the anticipation is finally over. The WWE Draft of “the New Era” has been completed with unique rosters being set for both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, as the draft set the tone for the future of the company very well. The Draft did have some surprises here and there with some NXT superstars getting their main roster calls, as well as both brands having a variety of talent to choose from. Raw got more picks because of it being 3 hours, and won the battle of the brands with an arguably more talented roster as Stephanie and Mick Foley made full use of their power to reap the absolute best for their brand.
Monday Night Raw currently has the Women’s Champion Charlotte, Tag Team Champions The New Day and US Champion Rusev. With both of Raw’s top dogs in Rollins and Reigns competing for the WWE Championship at Battleground, one can presume that it won’t be long before WWE’s most coveted prize is on the red brand. Not only did Raw pick the current main eventers in Rollins and Reigns but also balanced out the future pretty well, adding the likes of Finn Balor (who has the skills of being a future world champion), the exciting Enzo and Cass and also an amazing Divas Division. With Stephanie McMahon also announcing a Cruiserweight Division that's just around the corner, one can expect a lot of entertainment from this star-studded brand.
But the Raw roster is absolutely stacked, meaning that every man or woman will have to give their utmost best to even survive at the pinnacle of the company. With so many superstars but so little opportunity left, everyone will have to put in impressive performances week in, week out in order to woo creative into pushing them further upwards. But the array of talent Monday Night Raw possesses includes some who will absolutely thrive at the prospect of fighting their way to the top, while some others might get lost in the pack. Let’s take a look at 8 Raw Wrestlers who will thrive in the brand and 7 who will fail.
17 THOSE WHO WILL THRIVE
“The Man That Gravity Forgot” has turned out to be the perfect highlight reel for Vince McMahon after making his sensational debut on the main roster about a year ago. Neville has racked up a lot of pin-fall victories ever since, but saw his uprise deterred a few months back when he got injured during a match against Chris Jericho. The former NXT Champion would go on to miss WrestleMania 32 because of this setback, but vowed to return to his best after recovering from it. Neville recently returned to the main roster, working a dark match on last week’s SmackDown and has been drafted to Raw. With Stephanie McMahon unveiling the Cruiserweight division, it could be the perfect opportunity for Neville to become the face of that division as he has a lot of admirers because of his talent in the company. His sensational ability could kick-start the Cruiserweight division superbly, as he’d make for a brilliant Cruiserweight Champion as the championship could be a stepping stone for something even bigger in the future.
15 Enzo & Cass
Enzo & Cass are doing just fine at the moment in the WWE, engulfed in a top-level feud against The Club and have the backing of “the face that runs the place” in John Cena. Vince is reported to be very high on the team, particulary on Big Cass who he sees as a World Champion in the future. But in the present, Enzo & Cass could take this opportunity of being drafted to the Raw brand by becoming the hottest tag team in the industry. They are already extremely over with the fans, as the trash-talking, entertaining mic-skills of Enzo alongside the hard-hitting power of Cass makes for the perfect combination. With The New Day now only mere days away from becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in the history of the WWE, creative will probably look into passing the titles on to someone else and “The Realest Guys in the Room” are long-deserving of a championship in the company, after missing out on the NXT tag titles. If Enzo & Cass can keep this momentum going, then the sky is the limit for these two who can usher the brand into success in this “New Era”, leaving everyone else feeling SAWFT.
Cesaro has been on quite the uprise since last year, after he vowed to “grab the brass ring” and get himself to connect with the fans. Ever Since Tyson Kidd’s horrific injury, Cesaro has been on a roll in his singles career where he has more and more people joining “The Cesaro Section” and has been putting in amazing performances week in, week out with his incredible technical ability. So it was quite surprising to everyone when Cesaro was picked very late into the Draft, being picked by Stephanie as the 17th pick. It seems that the company is still not sure about his potential as one of the most popular guys on the brand, hence him getting picked so late, therefore indicating that he has to work harder to get to the top of the company. Knowing the tenacity and hard-working nature of “The Swiss Superman”, one can be sure that Cesaro will yet again try to prove his critics inside the company wrong and try to out-perform other wrestlers to the top. And Monday Night Raw is the perfect stage for him, as he can win over all the fans with his performances and try to convince the company to put a championship around his waist, as Cesaro is someone who can fit into “The New Era” or any era easily because of his incredible wrestling ability.
Rusev has been one of the most impressive call-ups from NXT in recent years, as he seems to get better and better with each passing week in the WWE. He was first built as this monster with Lana as his “controller” and mouthpiece, he has now grown into a strong US Champion who has developed very good mic-skills. Rusev’s impressive performances has led the company to trust him as their mid-card champion for Raw, as he was drafted in by Stephanie McMahon ahead of Intercontinental Champion, The Miz. Rusev will try to not only hold this championship for a long time, but also transition into the main-event level as he has all the qualities needed for a main event heel now, and is guaranteed to reap heat because of his character. Rusev will take this opportunity by the scruff of the neck and impress creative even more in order to become the WWE Champion, and such a sight is possible in the near future if he keeps up the great work he’s already doing.
12 Sasha Banks
The Boss has taken the main roster by storm ever since arriving, as she’s yet to be pinned in a singles match in her main roster career. Sasha showed incredible potential in her NXT days where she got her “Boss” gimmick and displayed her heel side superbly as well, but because of her popularity is hanging between a tweener and a face on the main roster. Sasha was picked quite early by Stephanie and Foley, who wanted the best of the women’s division on their brand and this could also make for some storyline improvement, seeing as how Bank is feuding with Women’s Champion Charlotte, who is also on Raw. Banks has it all in order to become “The Boss” of Monday Night Raw and has impressed creative enough to have her high status on the main roster, as she’ll look towards gaining that Women’s Championship soon enough and usher the Women’s Division of wrestling on to greater heights with her amazing talent and prove that she is indeed the “legit boss” in the WWE.
11 Finn Balor
Ever since debuting in WWE NXT in 2014, Finn Balor has continued to mesmerize the WWE audience with his mystical, unique character and superb ability to deliver brilliant matches on a weekly basis. Balor has done it all in NXT, from wrestling against the best NXT has to offer to winning the Dusty Rhodes tag team tournament to becoming the longest reigning NXT Champion. His phenomenal last match at NXT against Shinsuke Nakamura was the perfect sending off to an incredible servant for NXT, who now looks to climb to the top of the WWE in the main roster. Balor was the 5th overall pick in the WWE Draft, over the likes of Roman Reigns and John Cena as Stephanie and Mick showed great intent on bringing The Demon to their show. With former Bullet Club mates in Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows also being drafted to RAW, can we see a Balor Club formation once and for all? And can that transcend Balor to winning the most valuable prize in WWE? We’ll have to see that, as the exciting prospect of Balor bringing his talent to the main roster and wrestling with the best the company has to offer Is enough to give goosebumps to fans, as the Demon will look to slither his way into becoming a top guy for the company now that he’s got his opportunity.
10 Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens has probably been the best call-up from NXT so far, as the moment he arrived in the main roster and started feuding with John Cena, you could figure out that this guy had a bright future in front of him. The guy oozes in confidence inside the ring and portrays his trash-talking, arrogant heel impeccably enough to have haters as well as a good amount of fans. It was surprising to see Owens get picked on so late in the WWE draft, considering how good a superstar he has been in the past year. Owens remains at Monday Night Raw which seems to be his comfort zone, and is probably tipped to be the best heel in the brand alongside Seth Rollins. Owens has put in amazing performances for the WWE so far, so should be treated as a prizefighter in Monday Night Raw after this draft, as he could be in contention for winning the WWE Championship in the future. Probably just beneath Rollins and Reigns in the peck of the order, Owens will look to capitalize on Reigns’ unsure situation to topple over him to become a prominent main-eventer for Monday Night Raw and soon turn it into “The Kevin Owens Show".
9 Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins has constantly reminded us of why he’s “The Man” of the WWE as he’s undoubtedly one of the most devoted talents in the company who is everything you need to design to your brand around. Rollins’ development from his Shield days to becoming “The Architect” when he betrayed his Shield Brothers to join the dark side, to his recent gimmick of “The New and Improved” Seth Rollins who seems to have gotten better after his injury. Rollins returned to the ring like nothing ever happened to him and is reported to be the guy Vince McMahon wants to invest in after the Roman Reigns violation. It wasn’t much of a surprise that Stephanie picked Seth as her first pick as they have a long coalition together, and Seth is the guy you would want to lead your brand into success. From being an incredible athlete to an amazing work-horse, Rollins maintains his slimy heel character phenomenally and is one of the best talkers in the business as well right now. It won’t come off surprise if Rollins goes onto win the WWE Championship at Battleground this Sunday, because “The Man” is the present and the undisputed Future of the company, and there’s not a god-damn person or injury which can stop him from becoming a living legend who could help Monday Night Raw oust Smackdown in the ratings.
8 THOSE WHO WILL FAIL
7 Jack Swagger
When Jack Swagger debuted in the main roster, he found his home in the Smackdown brand where he soon became a prominent heel and soon a main-eventer. Swagger would win his first ever World Heavyweight Championship at the brand, and found all his success in that brand. But after the rosters were combined, Swagger seemed to lose his ground and fell down the peck of order and soon became a jobber for the company, mostly competing in shows like Superstars and Main Event. Recently Jack has been seen working “anti-American” wrestlers with his American Patriot gimmick and barely seems to get any time on WWE TV, let alone winning a match. So when the brand extension was announced, one had hope that Swagger be put into the less crowded Brand in Smackdwon where he could rebuild himself. To his horror, Swagger was drafted into the heavily crowded Raw brand which probably means that he goes back to wrestling in WWE Superstars and jobbing to random mid-carders. One can hope he can find success of this draft, but he’s probably destined to fail at Monday Night Raw.
Paige has come a long way from winning the Divas Championship on her first night on the main roster, as she’s probably the one who started the “Divas Revolution” and ushered the inflow of amazing female wrestlers from NXT. Paige has apparently found some “backstage heat” in the past few months, hence resulting in her being quite low at the female wrestler’s ladder and creative just doesn’t seem to have anything left for her. Paige was drafted in Raw with her real-life partner Alberto Del Rio being drafted to Smackdown, and to pile on her misery is the fact that she’s not getting a push anytime soon. Because of the Women’s championship scene seeming to be set for Charlotte vs Sasha Banks in the long run, she finds tough competition from Nia Jax- the brawny Samoan wrestler who has impressed Vince enough to have her get an early promotion to the main roster and Dana Brooke who’s touted to be the “female Roman Reigns”. Paige will find heavy competition in order to reclaim her lost glory in the Women’s division, and might not find main-event success anytime soon in the future because of her character’s predicament in the company.
5 Titus O’Neil
Titus O’Neil has the physique and personality to be a solid superstar for the WWE, but Vince McMahon’s unwillingness to push him has hampered his singles career in the company. After an entertaining stint with Darren Young(now pushed in the IC title picture) as part of the Prime Time Players, O’Neil tried a lot with his character but failed to impress in his singles career because of creative holding him back at times. On top of that, O’Neil was suspended a few months back for “shoving” Mr. McMahon and has incurred the wrath of the titan ever since. O’Neil was also drafted to Raw which made things worse for him, as he’ll probably be used to put other mid-carders over and might get some odd-ball wins against jobbers just because Vince doesn’t want to show his anguish towards him. O’Neil will suffer in this jam-packed roster of Raw and will find it difficult to compete with the younger, agile talent around him and will probably be put in stupid story-lines which ruin his career even more, as he should’ve been drafted to Smackdown which would’ve been a better opportunity as Titus has to probably has to suffer into another failed singles run as a departure from WWE looks certain in the near future.
4 The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz’s return to the WWE has been pretty uneventful, as the two have barely made any impact in their return and seem to have gone with their stale, watered-down 90’s gimmick. When they returned to the company last year, many went berserk at the thought of them having matches with the talented up-and coming teams in the company, but all their feuds so far have been pretty underwhelming. Their heel-turn seemed to be pretty intriguing but have been given too less TV time to actually develop their heel persona’s, so they’d probably would’ve been hoping for being drafted to Smackdown to become its main heel tag team. Many even hoped they’d split which would avail Bubba to portray his “Bully Ray” persona in WWE. None of that happened, as they were drafted to RAW where they have no chance at getting picked over the top 3 teams in The New Day, Enzo & Cass and Anderson and Gallows who are all very over. The Dudley’s seem to be stuck in a limbo right now with creative not having any story-line for them to win their 10th WWE Tag Team Titles in, and are probably going to continue to job to other tag teams and be stuck in this horrible predicament for a long time.
Sheamus seemed to have fallen from grace in such a shocking manner in the past couple of months that it’s almost impossible to remember that he was the WWE Champion about 8 months ago. Sheamus had an eventful 2015, where he won the Money in the Bank and later cashed in his contract on Roman Reigns to win the championship, only to lose it to him a few weeks later. After that, it’s all been a bad landslide for the Celtic Warrior who had to disband with “The League of Nations” and while his compatriots(barring Barrett) all went onto more prominent situations in the company, Sheamus went to jobbing to Apollo Crews and Zack Ryder recently. His status in the company seems to have shifted into a glorified jobber of sorts, and that doesn’t seem to be ending as he was drafted into Raw which is jam-packed with mid-carders who need to be put over. Sheamus will probably be that man, and might play a part at putting over Finn Balor soon enough. The Celtic Warrior was off a main-eventer status a few months back and nowadays struggles to find a prominent place in the card, as his torment is probably going to continue at Raw as his lack of fan-following won’t help change his predicament either.
2 Sami Zayn
“The Underdog from the Undergound” is quite the fancy name for Sami Zayn, who’s seems like a happy chap to be entertaining the fans and making quite a few of sacrifices to put others over. This kind of selflessness is an admirable quality for Zayn the person, but will eventually lead him to nowhere in the competitive environment of the WWE. Ever since debuting for the main roster, the former NXT Champion has been a thorn on Kevin Owens’ back and while they’re rivalry is very enticing, Owens’ getting the win every-time hampers Zayn’s credibility. Many thought that their rivalry would see it’s end at Battleground as many predicted that the Draft would send them apart, but Zayn would be drafted to Raw along with Owens and a bunch of other talented superstars. Vince McMahon apparently “doesn’t get” Zayn and isn’t really the biggest fan of him, as Zayn can get lose in the pile of talented superstars in the brand right now as the likes of Owens, Balor, Cesaro and Rusev threaten to dismantle his position in the mid-card. The worst thing for Zayn could be if he’s put in the Cruiserweight Division which would probably take away his chances at winning the WWE Championship anytime sooner, as well as departing him from anywhere near the main event scene. One can hope that Zayn gets the Daniel Bryan treatment, but with the inflow of so much talent in the industry, he might get lost in the competition of Monday Night Raw.
1 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman’s debut was quite terrorizing, as the absolute monster of a man came to destroy the duo of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Introduced as the “black sheep” of the Wyatt Family, Strowman let Bray do the talking for him while he destroyed bodies in the ring. He impressed Vince so much at first that creative had great things planned for Strowman, with a match against Brock Lesnar even considered for the near future. But Strowman was still pretty raw and slow in the ring as Vince saw the flaws in his brawny superstar and put down all plans for him, letting him destroy people for Bray. Strowman is quite the terrifying character but now that he is drafted away from Bray(drafted to Smackdown) and has ended up alone in Monday Night Raw, it isnt’ sure where he goes from here. Strowman has no compelling mic-skills which is a mandatory asset in the field of Sports-entertainment and is very limited inside the ring, wrestling mostly in tag matches for short durations. WWE has transitioned from their love for Brawny, Monstrous men to more agile superstars and the lack of pace in Strowman might make him suffer in Raw as he has no story-line potential without Bray either. Strowman might wither into nothingness soon enough because of his incapability to make for interesting matches or promos on his own, and might terribly fail on his own at the competitive environment of Raw.