Regardless of what a sports team does in a rookie draft, there will always be criticism from fans and experts. It’s no different in the world of professional wrestling, where there is always going to be criticism of some kind. But the recent WWE Draft is a unique draft where Raw and SmackDown built up their own rosters from a pool that featured not only rookies from NXT, but up-and-comers and veterans in the WWE.
There were good picks from both sides, while each brand also made some questionable draft choices. It also was a weird draft where Raw had more selections on the first live episode of SmackDown just because they had an extra hour of programming – not that it has necessarily made the show better since moving from two to three hours.
Unlike the actual draft, this re-imagining will be fair, with both SmackDown and Raw getting an equal number of picks respectively. Also, Brock Lesnar is being kept off the list mostly for the fact that he actually is not a full-time superstar and isn’t really valuable in the long-run for either brand. No one drafted The Undertaker since he is really only wrestling once a year at WrestleMania events.
There is that whole issue with multiple failed drug tests, but it looks like that won’t lead to the company suspending the Beast Incarnate.
20 Raw – Seth Rollins
There’s nothing wrong with the first overall selection made in the WWE Draft as Seth Rollins proved last year that he is deserving of being the top overall selection. He’s obviously part of the main event picture of the new generation of WWE that we are currently seeing evolve before our eyes. It also makes sense since Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley likely saw him having a decent chance of winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later that night and wanted to have the champion on their brands.
19 SmackDown – Dean Ambrose
Another selection that makes sense, this time for the blue brand. If Raw was going to select Rollins with the first pick, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they were going to pick the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion at the time in Dean Ambrose. It was an interesting development at Battleground, as Ambrose walked away with the WWE Championship. It appears that RAW will eventually get a world title of their own, as WWE can't have their flagship show go by without a world title.
18 Raw – John Cena
One cannot ignore the fact that John Cena is going to become a member of the WWE Hall of Fame when his days of hustling, loyalty and respect are done – maybe not long after his final match with the company. Cena is a 15-time world heavyweight champion and has won just about every championship title in the WWE during his long career. The only reason he wasn’t a top choice for either brand is that drafting should be focused on the long-term future of the WWE.
17 SmackDown – AJ Styles
SmackDown’s second draft choice was another one that hit the spot as AJ Styles has definitely shown he fits right into being near the top of the WWE ladder. After more than 15 years wrestling around the world and winning titles in just about every country, AJ Styles is one of the many WWE superstars who has the most to gain from the new brand split as he can now have the chance to main event the blue brand with the likes of Ambrose and others.
16 Raw – The New Day
Obviously, Raw was still able to get The New Day faction that currently holds the WWE Tag Team Championship belts. The only thing is that the trio of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E should have been selected higher than the 10th overall draft choice. The main reason is that the three have become the most entertaining and consistent superstars on the main roster for the past few years, whether they are acting as heels or embracing being faces among the WWE Universe.
15 SmackDown – Charlotte
It’s funny how Foley and Stephanie McMahon made comments towards the SmackDown team that there were also women eligible for the draft as the blue brand selected males for their first five picks. Charlotte is definitely at the top of the division as the Women’s Champion, but there were some superstars that would have been more valuable for Raw to select before the current Women’s Champion.
14 Raw – Kevin Owens
Part of drafting superstars for your prospective brand means looking at who could be ready for the main event spotlight. Among the recent additions to the roster from the past few years, Kevin Owens has made the biggest impact that anyone from the company’s NXT development brand has had. He won the NXT Championship shortly after debuting on the brand and was even able to earn a victory over John Cena in his very first match on the WWE main roster.
13 SmackDown – Sami Zayn
While many fans would love to see Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight forever, the two do need to be broken up so that they can each have a chance to find their own success in the WWE. That doesn’t mean we don’t think these two are going to never face each other again, but a break from the two interfering in each other’s matches is necessary. While Raw would select Owens, Zayn would have a chance to really spread his wings on the blue brand.
12 Raw – Rusev
While it’s one thing to have try and get the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on your brand, one cannot have just one singles championship on your program. When it comes to the mid-card championships, Rusev is the more impressive superstar in terms of overall talent an in-ring abilities. The current United States Champion is back to being a dominant heel that reminds many long-time wrestling fans of foreign villains like the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff.
11 SmackDown – The Miz
It’s funny how Daniel Bryan admitted that he didn’t want to pick The Miz – probably due to the long history he had that dates back to his rookie year in the WWE years ago. However, with Raw having the United States Championship with Rusev, the Intercontinental Championship is needed to provide the blue brand with a singles championship that helps establish the best of the mid-card tier of the SmackDown roster. Looking at The Miz himself, he is a veteran who has found much success in his career that had the most awkward beginning. Do you remember him yelling “HOO-RAH” and looking like he tried his own version of the chicken dance as he walked to the WWE ring?
10 Raw – Finn Balor
The Raw brand made the right choice in picking up former NXT Champion Finn Balor, but they likely could have picked up some other talents earlier in the draft and still nabbed Balor. While he is obviously going to be a big name talent moving forward in the future, Balor could arguably be considered a bit of a stretch when Raw picked him up with the fifth overall selection of the WWE Draft.
9 SmackDown – Samoa Joe
With Balor having made the jump to the main roster, SmackDown should have responded with their own selection from the NXT brand. A big announcement that would have sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe would have been to respond to Raw selecting the former NXT Champion by picking up the current NXT Champion in Samoa Joe. It wouldn’t be the first time someone currently holding the NXT Championship would be called up before dropping the title down in Florida (i.e. Kevin Owens).
8 Raw – Enzo and Big Cass
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady have made a surprising impact since coming up to the main roster back in April. There were no vignettes to build attention to their debut on Raw. But with the WWE Network and the WWE placing weekly highlight videos from the NXT brand has helped the WWE Universe track the future generation of the WWE and that’s why there was such a big pop to the main roster debut of Enzo and Big Cass.
7 SmackDown – Cesaro
While he hasn’t really fully developed with a microphone in his hand, Cesaro has become the go-to guy for the WWE when they need a guaranteed five-star quality match. It really doesn’t matter who he works with in the ring. Cesaro has put together top-notch matches with many of the WWE superstars currently ahead of him on this list. It can be argued that he deserved to be selected well before the sixth round of the actual WWE Draft.
6 Raw – Sasha Banks
With a need to showcase the importance of the women’s roster in the WWE, Becky Lynch is someone who could help one of the brands in being able to help them stand out. If the WWE has only one women’s championship title and SmackDown was able to pick Charlotte, then Raw would have needed a top female wrestler of their own. And while someone would have namedropped Natalya for this type of spot, she is a veteran who might soon be leaving the WWE.
5 SmackDown – Sheamus
Maybe the stock of Sheamus has fallen in recent years and was the leader of the short lived League of Nations faction that slowly died in 2016 with the departure of Wade Barrett. But Sheamus is still a pretty good performer in the ring as someone who has a good combination of speed and agility for a big guy. He’s also very good at the microphone and could be someone who helps bring five-star matches to SmackDown.
4 Raw – Alberto Del Rio
While the former World Heavyweight Champion from the later years of the original brand split hasn’t been in the title picture for a while – part of that due to his departure in 2014 after the backstage incident with an employee – Alberto Del Rio can still be the WWE’s top superstar in among Latin American fans. Del Rio comes from the Dos Caras line, but has recently done well unmasked to becoming Mexico’s top star as he competed as Alberto El Patron between 2014 and 2015.
3 SmackDown – Bayley
No disrespect is meant towards Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss or Carmella, but none of those women were who many wrestling fans were expecting to see called up during the WWE Draft. The top female prospect from the development brand was Bayley, who would have really been a big addition to either Raw or SmackDown. Considering the mentality that both Bryan and Shane McMahon have shown towards building towards the future, one would have truly thought Bayley was bound for the blue brand.
2 Raw – Roman Reigns
While the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion has a good chance at winning back his title in the near future, one would imagine that his stock in the company has taken a bit of a hit. He did serve a 30-day suspension for his first violation of the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program, but came at a bad time as he was finally showing he belonged as “the guy” in the WWE after some great matches with AJ Styles after WrestleMania.
1 SmackDown – Wyatt Family
The worst thing that could have happened for Bray Wyatt during last week’s draft was having his faction split up. Unless the WWE creative team has something special planned to replace the Wyatt Family, the WWE made a terrible choice to have only Wyatt and Rowan go to the blue brand. Remember how Erick Rowan did on his own when the team first split up in 2014? He was dull in terms of character development and wasn’t able to stand out on his own.
The split did work for someone like Luke Harper, but has little chance of helping someone like Braun Strowman. While SmackDown made the right choice in drafting Bray Wyatt, they really needed to help multiple superstars by selecting the entire Wyatt Family as one of the only heel factions the company currently has to feud with teams like the New Day and the pairing of Enzo and Big Cass.
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