Would they or wouldn't they? That was one of many questions on the minds of all WWE fans for months and months. Earlier this year, there was talks of tickets for the May 23rd edition of Raw titled "Monday Night Raw vs. WWE". At the time it was waved off as rumour but now it looks like the brand split has made its return. Starting July 19th, Smackdown will go live on Tuesday nights at 8 00. Never before has Smackdown been live weekly in its history, so this is huge.
So many questions are still lingering in the air though. When will the draft be held? What champions will be on which show? Will there only be one World Champion or two? We will have to wait for the official answers to these questions, but in the meantime we will have to make some assumptions and move on with the mock draft.
Here are the ground rules for the list:
- We're going to say there is only one World Champion, Tag Team Champions and Women's Champion for both shows.
- Tag Teams will be considered as one pick for the draft. The last thing they need now is tag teams breaking up. Most times the company does that, it ends in disaster.
- We will have the I.C champion remain on one show and the U.S champion on the other. This, combined with the one world champion, should make these titles mean much more than they do now.
- Let's assume that Shane McMahon will run SmackDown and Stephanie McMahon runs Raw.
- Part timers like Brock Lesnar will not be included on the list.
- Let's also assume no title changes will take place from now till then.
This mock draft will be how I see the draft unfolding, not necessarily how I feel the rosters should be divided. The picks will also reflect the onscreen characters of Shane and Stephanie and who they would want on their show. Stephanie's RAW will get the first pick, because you would just assume Mr.McMahon will give the first pick to "daddy's little girl". Let's begin then with the WWE 2016 Mock Draft.
20 RAW's 1st Pick: Seth Rollins
Yes, Stephanie McMahon rebuked Rollins' attempt at a hug on the May 23rd Raw, but Steph most likely still views Rollins as a fantastic talent and one who is capable of anchoring Monday Night Raw as its first pick.
Blessed with incredible in-ring talent, a slimy personality that slips through anyone's grasp and a former champion who never lost his title, Rollins has all kinds of momentum even if he loses to Roman Reigns at Money In The Bank. Sure WWE can F that up faster than a Sheamus world title run, but let's be optimistic here.
19 SmackDown's 1st Pick: John Cena
Like it or not haters, John Cena is one of the finest professional wrestlers in the world. His status as the absolute face of WWE hasn't come close to being threatened by Triple H darling Roman Reigns and his talent in the ring has reached an all time high in the past couple of years. He is the measuring stick in WWE and the perfect choice to anchor SmackDown.
Not only did he make his name on that show more than a decade ago, but SmackDown will likely need some reliable and steady names on the brand to get people to watch and nobody is more rock-solid than Cena. There's a chance that Shane may pick a fresher face for WWE's "New Era" but it's hard to ignore a 15-time World Champion.
18 RAW's 2nd Pick: AJ Styles
A phenomenal second pick (oh come on, you know Michael Cole is going to say it), AJ Styles has already proven that he belongs in WWE on the back of his excellent main event matches with Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules and Payback.
He may lack some mic skills, but Styles' in-ring work and natural likability have already gotten him over not just with hardcore fans but casual fans as well. In my view he can be seen as the "heroic" version of Seth Rollins. With them on the same brand, we can see these two go at it. Who wouldn't want that?
17 SmackDown's 2nd Pick: Dean Ambrose
You can't keep a good talent down. For every idiotic storyline they give him, Dean Ambrose still manages to rise back up when presented with something good (i.e the Brock Lesnar feud).
Ambrose has sniffed the World Championship several times through his WWE career but has yet to actually hold the title. While it doesn't seem like he will hold it for a while, he could hold the U.S. title (and actually defend it this time). It's clear that WWE still views Ambrose as a big talent, hence him being SmackDown's number two pick.
16 RAW's 3rd Pick: Kevin Owens
Is there another heel in WWE hotter than Quebec's Kevin Owens? Put him on commentary= gold. In the ring= perfect bully heel tendencies. On the microphone= a master troll. Nobody has a brighter future in the WWE than Owens and it shows in my call for him being RAW's number three pick.
Owens has held the I.C. Championship before and if he were to hold it for an even longer time on RAW as a headlining act, you won't hear any complaints from me.
15 SmackDown's 3rd Pick: Cesaro
I don't think there is any more appropriate nickname for a WWE Superstar than "The Swiss Superman" for Cesaro. Full of confidence and bursting with athleticism, Cesaro has finally found a unique identity with his James Bond entrance and tear away suits to complement his amazing in-ring work.
Cesaro won't be the guy on the roster who is going to cut 15 minute promos but that is fine; not everyone will fit that role. However, as a top ranking wrestler who will consistently main event SmackDown, the obvious choice is Cesaro.
14 RAW's 4th Pick: The Miz (I.C Championship)
Alright alright... nearly my entire life I've hated The Miz. I thought his mic work was annoying but ineffective and his ring work to be laughably fake looking. But you know... he has become tolerable for me.
His ring work has tightened up and the addition of his wife Maryse has given him a new dimension to work with. While he might be a high pick at the present time because of his title, I don't see Miz ascending to the top of RAW in the long run.
13 SmackDown's 4th Pick: Randy Orton
Bet you forgot about this guy. To be honest, so did I for a second. After 14 years in the company, it's difficult to see what the hell is left for Randy Orton to do. I have to assume though that WWE sees something that I'm not given his beefy contract.
To justify his contract, I have to believe that WWE will pin him as a high draft pick. On the plus side, he is a reliable drawer for the casual WWE fan which is why I see the company putting him with Cena on the SmackDown brand to inject some ratings into it.
Orton is due back any week now, and I suspect he'll be a SmackDown superstar when he returns.
12 RAW's 5th Pick: Enzo Amore and Big Cass
Where The Ascension failed, Enzo Amore and Big Cass have succeeded. Longtime fan favorites in NXT, the Bonafide Gs have already replicated that fan following on the main roster in short order.
The tag team division has struggled in WWE for a few years now but it seems to finally be back on track on the back of teams like this. Word is that the company is high on this team and as a result, I think they will be coveted draft pick for Monday Night RAW.
11 SmackDown's 5th Pick: Rusev (U.S. Championship)
Just when it seemed like the Titanic was going to hit an iceberg, the ship has made a right turn.
When Rusev split off from Lana last year, it seemed like the Bulgarian Brute's career was doomed, especially once he joined the paperweight known as The League of Nations. However, now that he's back with Lana and is looking like a destroyer again following his win over Kalisto at Extreme Rules. Expect Rusev to be a dominant force on the SmackDown roster.
10 RAW's 6th Pick: Sami Zayn
Come on, did you really think that I would dare splitting up Sami Zayn and eternal rival Kevin Owens? Not on your life.
To me, this seems like a feud that will never quite have a definitive end. It can end at any time and then be picked up again at some point later down the road.
Similar to AJ Styles, I think Seth Rollins will need wrestlers who not only oppose him on the face/heel scale but can also keep up with him in the ring. With Zayn on the roster, you can add one more horse to this stable of thoroughbreds.
9 SmackDown's 6th Pick: The Club
Signed from New Japan Pro Wrestling back in January, the tag team that ran roughshod over the NJPW roster through for years have made a pretty good start in WWE. Not undefeated, but still looking like a pretty dominant force nonetheless.
While Enzo Amore and Big Cass anchor RAW's tag teams with their charisma and promo skills, Anderson and Gallows are going to rely on their smash-mouth offense and take no prisoner attitudes. This will give a good contrast between RAW and SmackDown's tag teams anchors.
8 RAW's 7th Pick: Sasha Banks
Charlotte may be holding the Women's Championship, but everyone knows who Charlotte is really holding the title warm for; The Boss, Sasha Banks.
It seems that WWE is taking the slow burn approach with Banks and it seems like it may pay off in a couple of months. The draft takes place about a month before SummerSlam and I can't think of a better time to put the rocket on Banks' back and have her lead the Women's division.
7 SmackDown's 7th Pick: Becky Lynch
At WrestleMania 32, Charlotte was champion and Sasha Banks was the clear fan favourite, leaving Becky Lynch in the cold. With this brand split though, Lynch will now have a chance to take command of the spotlight for herself.
Lynch has a good sense of humour and is full of energy, never negative qualities for a wrestler to have. Couple that with a distinct look and solid ring skills, I see Lynch using her time on Smackdown to grow and become a big star in the Women's division.
6 RAW's 8th Pick: Bayley
You want some Bayley you say? Well you're gonna get her on the RAW brand!
If there was ever a bigger white meat babyface than Bayley, I haven't seen it. The ability to be liked by everyone is hard to come by in wrestling nowadays but the NXT Women's Champion manages to pull it off. If you dislike Bayley, there is something with you and you hate joy itself.
Bayley is the last of the four horsewomen to stay in NXT and come draft time, she will finally graduate to the main roster. Believe it.
5 SmackDown's 8th Pick: Kalisto
He may have lost the U.S. championship, but I don't think that it's a sign of WWE completely dropping Kalisto from their plans.
It's no secret that once Rey Mysterio left the company, WWE began to search for a suitable luchadore replacement. While the Sin Cara character might be doomed, Kalisto is still full of potential. Nobody else can match his high flying style and his look is one of the coolest in the company.
While it may be my nostalgia for the glory days of Rey Mysterio on SmackDown, I can see Kalisto playing a similar role on that show.
4 RAW's 9th Pick: Baron Corbin
I can't be the only one who just doesn't see it with Baron Corbin. His ring work isn't bad but it's nothing special and his whole Lone Wolf schtick kind of puts me to sleep. But alas, it seems like WWE has some plans in store for Corbin.
Corbin will fill the role on the RAW brand as a lower tier heel who can sometimes rise up and be a threat towards the I.C title, but never be a big deal in the long run.
3 SmackDown's 9th Pick: The Usos
The longest tenured tag team on the WWE roster, The Usos have for better or worse remained consistent throughout their run. This superkick-happy brother duo has been on the main roster since 2010. They have never tanked but never really soared either.
I'm not sure if this brand split will be The Usos' time to break out of their complacency, but there's no better time than now. The WWE obviously values the two brothers quite a bit so I predict them being number nine on the SmackDown brand.
2 RAW's 10th Pick: Finn Balor
The main roster is full of great talent, but it's missing a little bit of demonic energy. That's where longtime face of NXT Finn Balor comes in.
While it may seem odd to put Balor all the way at 10, the way WWE structures their drafts seems to me like they want to end it with a bang. While there are reports saying that Balor wants to stay in NXT, the fact is he's been there too long and it's time for him to graduate. RAW needs the demon, and we're finally going to get him.
1 SmackDown's 10th Pick: Natayla
It seems to me that SmackDown is going to become more of a show for the veterans of the promotion and who else to represent the WWE's women than the longest tenured one in the company.
Finally getting a chance to show off her talent in this feud with Charlotte, it seems that the company is finally realizing what kind of an asset that the Hart torchbearer can be to the company. It may be too late for her to be the face of the Women's division, but she can still be of big value to the WWE.
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