I remember when Vince McMahon came out in 2002 and said: "It's time to shake things up a bit!" He continued to speak and explained that Raw and SmackDown would be different brands, have different superstars and titles, and essentially be different wrestling shows. Twelve-year-old me was ecstatic. Now, after a bunch of re-drafts, we're finally getting a new draft with a bunch of new superstars.
Essentially, all these superstars will have more time to showcase their skills and improve upon their weaknesses. Many of these men and women didn't get a chance to be part of a segment on Raw, and therefore, their stories weren't told. Now, all of these superstars have plenty of time to get the audience to react.
There will be a learning curve for some superstars, but that's essentially the point of the draft. It's time for everybody to show what they can do. It's not just good guys that are going to get pushed. There will be a fair share of bad guys that now have the opportunity to show just how bad they can be. It's an exciting time for wrestling. So, let's go through the 15 superstars now in line for a big push.
15 Kevin Owens
Now that the draft has happened, Kevins Owens has the chance to truly become not only the top heel on Raw, but the top heel in WWE. He’s currently involved in a grudge feud with Sami Zayn and although I would happily watch them beat the crap out of each other for months, I’d love to see Owens move to the very top of the card. He has all the tools to succeed even more and his in-ring psychology is some of the best in the business. He can make a crowd hate him extremely quickly, which might be one of the reasons so many people like him. He’s just that good and fans appreciate a guy who knows exactly what to do. It would be great to see him against Roman Reigns for an extended period of time. I could even see him going up against Brock Lesnar eventually. He certainly can hold his own against Paul Heyman.
14 Braun Strowman
Obviously, Braun Strowman doesn’t have much experience. Also, now that he doesn’t have Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan to mask some of his weaknesses, Strowman is going to have to evolve quickly. I think that he can definitely do this and become a scary, menacing heel. Similar to Erick Rowan, both guys are going to get a chance to expand their character and go in different directions other than being lackeys. It’s obvious that he cuts a menacing figure and is bigger and stronger than just about everybody in WWE. So, the smart thing to do would be to use this. He can smash some low-card guys in order to build up his credibility. Have him beat Goldust and R-Truth in a handicap match. Eventually, Strowman can hold the United States Championship if Rusev doesn’t have it. By that point, he will likely have learned much more and will be able to put on better matches.
13 Darren Young
This redemption story of Darren Young is one of the most interesting currently going on in WWE. When The Prime Time Players broke up, most people though Titus O’Neil would be the one getting a push and a decent singles career. I was one of those people and I couldn’t be more wrong. Young and Bob Backlund have managed to revitalize Young’s career and the fans are really cheering for him. Young is a charismatic guy and now that he’s been given a bit of a chance, he’s getting a strong response. The crossface chicken-wing submission looks brutal and hopefully Darren Young can continue a strong singles run. In the ring, Young can keep up with just about everybody and he’s getting better every day on the microphone. I’ve never been happier about being wrong.
12 Erick Rowan
Now that The Wyatt Family has disbanded, Rowan has a new chance to stand out. When he was with The Wyatts, Rowan was the least popular member (probably due to his sweaty jumpsuit) and took a backseat to the other members. Now, he can branch out and explore different aspects of his character, so that when The Wyatts eventually reform (they will), Rowan will look just as powerful as his stable mates. Look, he’s 320 pounds and cuts an intimidating figure. He can actually move pretty well in the ring for a big guy and has that awesome spinning kick that should take out a lot of guys. He might not have the experience to contend for the most prestigious titles, but I could see him feuding for the Intercontinental Championship or going on a long run as the belt-holder as a monster heel that smashes everybody.
Oh Ruru, you’re just awesome. Sorry about that, but Rusev is one of my favorite superstars and I think he’s in line for a big push. Since the top of the card is stacked with guys that are at least somewhat good, Raw needs a guy that is a heel through and through. In the ring, Rusev is a monster. He moves well and can out-wrestle and out-strike tons of competitors. Although not speaking well is part of his character, he can communicate a lot through his facial expressions. Besides, he has Lana to tell everybody how much they suck and how Rusev is the best. I would really like for them to get back to how Rusev was acting in early 2015, when he was a monster who smashed everybody for his home country. Although the foreign gimmick is dated, Rusev was entertaining when he brought it back and I think it could continue to build his popularity.
I’m really excited for the break-up of The Lucha Dragons just so Kalisto can get a restart of his singles career. I think that he proved that he can look good as a champion and held victories over Ryback and Alberto Del Rio. My guess is that WWE wants Kalisto to eventually become this generation’s Rey Mysterio. Well, the best way to do that is to have Kalisto win some matches and feuds. Alberto Del Rio is on the same show and these two always seem to bring out the best in each other, so perhaps this would be a good first feud for both. Eventually, Kalisto has to move into a title picture. I do think it’s early for him to be working toward the big belt, but the Intercontinental Championship is certainly within his reach. Kalisto can have a good match with just about anybody and if he can improve his speaking ability a bit, he’s got a good chance to truly become a superstar.
9 Bray Wyatt
Since the beginning of his time in WWE, many fans have been waiting for Bray Wyatt to become the real face of fear that he says he is. With the dissolution of The Wyatt Family, Bray might finally get that chance on SmackDown. We know that he can have great matches with both Dean Ambrose and John Cena, so he has that going for him. Other than AJ Styles, Wyatt is the biggest heel on the roster and should be treated as such. He can go after some mid-card guys like Kalisto and Zack Ryder and annihilate them if WWE is concerned that fans don’t think he’s too intimidating. After that, he will have momentum to shoot towards the top and truly become scary. Honestly, I can see Bray Wyatt with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for a long run. He’s worked hard and taken his share of losses, so I think Bray Wyatt is due for a big run.
8 Nia Jax
There were a lost of astonished fans at the pick of Nia Jax on Raw. Especially, since she was taken so early in the draft. This leads me to believe that Jax is going to get a big push and become a championship contender very soon. Obviously the main program is going to be between Charlotte and Sasha Banks, but Nia Jax should be right behind them. Looking at the rest of the women drafted to Raw, the only other face is Paige. Could this be Nia Jax’s first feud? Unless there’s a change in her character, or the call-up of somebody new, I can’t see how it isn’t. Paige is still a big name and gets a big reaction, even if she’s been booked strangely over the past few months. Beating her would move Jax right up the ladder and establish her as a threat. If Sasha Banks eventually wins the Women’s Championship, Nia Jax could be waiting for her and put on some great matches.
7 Baron Corbin
As long as Baron Corbin doesn’t wrestle Dolph Ziggler for a few months, I’ll be happy. I love Ziggler and he’s one of my favorites, but after awhile, what the point of them wrestling every week for months? Both guys can do better. There are many other guys that he can fight and interact with.
Honestly, I really like Baron Corbin. He’s got a great look and has a great finishing move that he can hit on anybody on the roster. Now, he just needs some more mic time to build a character and get his motivations across to the audience. He’s a great candidate to add to the Intercontinental Championship hunt. Baron Corbin against Kalisto or Apollo Crews sounds like a pretty good number one’s contender match. Heck, I think he matches up well against Dean Ambrose or even John Cena. Corbin is that good and now he has a chance to prove it.
6 The Club
Raw has the two most popular tag teams,\ and the tag team titles. Both of those popular teams are good guys and loved by fans, so they’re going to need bad guys to work with. Enter The Club. Other than The Dudleys and Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel, there aren’t any heel teams. Although Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows haven’t looked very intimidating lately, the draft is the perfect opportunity to re-push them as killers. Perhaps most importantly, they’re not going to be looked at as “those two guys with AJ Styles.” Even though they’re great together, being AJ’s lackeys wasn't going to help them. Going after the tag team titles, or Enzo & Cass, will help them. Quite simply, looking like threats will help them. They’re definitely the best heel tag team on Raw and should be treated as such. The draft will give them an opportunity to show their ferocity in the ring and on the microphone.
5 Becky Lynch
With Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and the Women’s Championship on Raw, Becky Lynch got the short end of the stick. She’s far away from the title and the two wrestlers that she has a connection to. So, this leaves her to possibly continue her feud with Natalya after Battleground or move into a role as somebody that the less experienced wrestlers will work with. Alexa Bliss and Carmella are new faces to the WWE crowd and having Becky work with them can improve everybody’s stock. If WWE decides to make another women’s championship belt, I would be surprised if anybody received it other than Becky Lynch. She is the most cheered woman on the main roster other than Sasha Banks and deserves to be the face of a brand. Becky has a great look and she’s excellent in the ring. She’s also hard-worker and if any woman can make a mountain out of a molehill, it’s Becky Lynch.
Before the draft, I think Neville’s return had fallen a little under the radar. Everybody was talking about Seth Rollins’ return, Brock Lesnar’s, Randy Orton’s, and Luke Harper’s eventual one. I didn’t hear much about Neville. But, he should be back fairly soon and I think he’ll get a huge push. With the cruiserweights becoming a mainstay on Raw, Neville should become the champion or at least be constantly feuding for the belt. He’s fantastic in the ring and pulls out new moves every match. Fans love him and everybody loves seeing his Red Arrow. It makes sense that Neville gets a lot more important screen time on Raw. Hopefully he can impress and eventually move up into feuds for the U.S. title. Potentially, I can see Neville in the world title picture if a world title belt is made or the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is moved to Raw. He’s that good.
3 American Alpha
There’s only six tag teams on SmackDown, so there's no reason that American Alpha can’t be the number one team. The teams in their way are The Ascencion, The Usos, The Vaudevillains, Breezango, and possibly The Hype Bros. There’s no way that American Alpha isn’t going to shoot ahead of all them after their first match. Other than The Usos and the possible Hype Bros, there’s no team that will be working as faces. The Usos have received mild reactions for awhile now and American Alpha can easily take their place as the top face team. Or, The Usos could possibly turn heel due to jealousy or something along those lines. I bet some great matches would take place between them. The good thing is that there’s three solid heel tag teams American Alpha can work with and look good working with. Both Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are total beasts and I can see them reigning supreme if WWE decides to create new tag team belts for Smackdown.
2 Sami Zayn
The perpetual thorn in the side of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn has the possibility to become the biggest babyface on Raw. It’s almost impossible to dislike Zayn, as he exudes a passion and drive rarely seen today. His real-life story of traveling around the world and being an underdog can make him as well liked as Daniel Bryan someday. As with most competitors on this list, the draft will give Zayn more of an opportunity to succeed. Think about it. Who else is there on Raw that can be the number one babyface? Roman Reigns gets mixed reactions all the time. Seth Rollins leans towards heel tendencies. Finn Balor might need some time to become more recognized with the audience. Cesaro is similar, but he doesn’t have the same charisma that Zayn does. I think that Sami can go as far up the card as he wants to now that he will get more exposure.
1 Finn Balor
This one is fairly obvious, if a little surprising. This was as good a time as any to call Finn Balor up to the main roster, but he went extremely early and which surprised many fans. This just shows that WWE has a lot of faith in Balor and want him to become a key player very quickly. There’s a chance that Balor will quickly begin at the very top and feud with the A+ players, but I think he might start somewhere in the mid-card instead against somebody like Sheamus. Balor will easily show those unfamiliar with his work in NXT, and before coming to the WWE, that he is a main-event player. This guy is the future of WWE and likely will be for the next ten years. Plus, he won’t have JBL yelling about how he isn’t a real demon every three seconds, which will help him get over with the television audience much faster.
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