The WWE draft, which came to a conclusion Monday night on Raw, was plagued by a lack of realism.
The concept of network executives from USA and Fox having “war rooms” and deciding their own picks failed to connect. It was a poor imitation of an integral part of pro sports, instead of delivering an innovative version of pro wrestling.
WWE’s Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon again announced each selection, but there was no rhyme or reason to why or where anyone was drafted. The most frustrating part is that WWE had the pieces in place to put together an incredibly compelling draft.
Wrestling, particularly in the WWE, needs to be presented in a realistic fashion—and the draft would have been built on a realistic foundation had showrunners Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff selected the rosters.
The chance to blend reality with storyline would have brought significantly more tension, authenticity, and drama to the draft. Both Heyman and Bischoff are Executive Vice Presidents, with Heyman overseeing Raw and Bischoff in control of SmackDown. Why not have the actual backstage authority figures choose their roster?
They could have explained why each talent added importance to their roster. The broadcast could have also made it clear that Bischoff and Heyman work behind the scenes and would no longer appear on television as EVPs—and it would have been a nice touch to have Bischoff draft Heyman’s on-screen “client” Brock Lesnar to SmackDown.
The rosters for Raw and SmackDown now have definition, though a trade was teased for Tuesday night’s premiere of WWE Backstage on FS1. It will also be worth watching to see how WWE treats those who weren’t drafted. Those who went undrafted are now “unsigned free agents,” but no explanation was given regarding whether the newly signed Cain Velasquez will be on Raw or SmackDown.
There were some highlights, including the War Raiders winning the Raw tag titles, as well as a Buddy Murphy-Cedric Alexander match that served as a reminder that both are destined for stardom in WWE.
Here are the results from night two of the draft, as well as my takeaways. (See the results and takeaways from night one here.)
Full WWE draft results
1. Seth Rollins (Raw)
2. Brock Lesnar (SmackDown)
3. Charlotte Flair (Raw)
4. The New Day (SmackDown)
5. Andrade and Zelina Vega (Raw)
6. The Kabuki Warriors (Raw) *Note: Though Kairi Sane and Asuka will defend the WWE women’s tag titles on both Raw and SmackDown, they will be exclusive to Raw if they drop the titles*
7. Daniel Bryan (SmackDown)
8. Rusev (Raw)
9. Bayley (SmackDown)
10. Aleister Black (Raw)
11. Cedric Alexander (Raw)
12. Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn (SmackDown)
13. Humberto Carrillo (Raw)
14. Ali (SmackDown)
15. Erick Rowan (Raw)
16. Buddy Murphy (Raw)
17. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode (SmackDown)
18. Jinder Mahal (Raw)
19. Carmella (SmackDown)
20. R-Truth (Raw)
21. Samoa Joe (Raw)
22. The Miz (SmackDown)
23. Akira Tozawa (Raw)
24. Baron Corbin (SmackDown)
25. Shelton Benjamin (Raw)
26. Rey Mysterio (Raw)
27. Chad Gable (SmackDown)
28. Titus O’Neil (Raw)
29. Elias (SmackDown)
30. Liv Morgan (Raw)
Becky-Charlotte match booked well
Raw opened with a match pitting Becky Lynch against Charlotte Flair to determine which brand would receive the No. 1 pick. Lynch was selected as the number one pick overall by Raw on Friday night, and she won the match against Flair to give Raw the top pick on the second night of the draft.
Lynch winning was the right call. Considering she was the top overall pick, having her hand raised on the opening match of Raw was a smart way to kick off the show.
Celebrity cameos were a distraction
Maybe I’m the minority, but I prefer guest cameos to be at a minimum during my wrestling shows.
Raw had draft analysis cameos from Kathryn Tappen, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Jones, Jim Cramer, Al Roker, Willie Geist, Rebecca Lowe, Kyle Martino, and Robbie Mustoe.
All the multiple guest appearances only served to lessen their uniqueness and importance.
Multi-night format muddled the concept
Another issue with the draft was the order of selections.
This wasn’t helped by the fact that WWE needed to extend the draft over two nights to bring a piece of the anticipation to both USA and Fox. Spreading out the draft over two nights required making separate draft pools; otherwise, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, and every other major star would have been drafted on Friday night.
The order was also questionable. Why would Braun Strowman be selected ninth overall on Friday? How can you justify Titus O’Neil going ahead of Elias? And how was Humberto Carrillo drafted 13 picks ahead of Rey Mysterio? If the order of selection is supposed to mean anything, it was not presented that way.
Viking Raiders add to their collection of gold
The Viking Raiders defeated Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to start their first-ever reign as Raw tag team champions.
The potential exists for Ivar and Erik to become one of the more memorable tag teams over the past decade in WWE. The Viking Raiders offer size and a versatile style for two bigs. They have the potential to be the modern era’s Demolition, and should continue to be booked as unstoppable force.
Raw has the stronger women’s division
When comparing the women’s divisions between the two brands, Raw holds a significant advantage.
Raw now has a roster of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Kairi Sane, and Asuka.
SmackDown is built around Bayley and Sasha Banks. But the major question regarding is where Ronda Rousey will land if she returns in time for WrestleMania 36 in April.
Somehow, both Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville went undrafted.
Strowman seems destined to job out to Fury
Tyson Fury, boxing’s undefeated, lineal heavyweight champion of the world, had a contract signing on Raw for his upcoming Crown Jewel match against Braun Strowman.
Strowman, both literally and figuratively, is one of WWE’s biggest attractions. He doesn’t need the WWE title to define him, though the company would certainly be well represented with Strowman as champion.
But Strowman is playing the role of The Big Show here as WWE’s resident giant, and part of that responsibility is losing to an outside talent to bring additional eyes on the company (though I’d argue that Fury appearing in WWE does more for boxing). Fury is undefeated in the boxing world, and I cannot envision any scenario where he does not start off undefeated in wrestling, too.
What happens with Rollins-Wyatt feud now?
Seth Rollins cut a really strong promo backstage on Raw, promising to go “Fiend hunting.”
Rollins found Bray Wyatt during the “Firefly Fun House” segment, beating up Wyatt and then burning down the set.
It is interesting that the story between Rollins and Wyatt is continuing. Wyatt was drafted to SmackDown and Rollins will remain on Raw, and the rosters for the shows are supposed to be exclusive.
Will an exception be made for Rollins and Wyatt?
A better solution could be to keep the two separated from each other until the Survivor Series in November, when Wyatt can have his rematch against Rollins for the WWE title. That allows an opportunity to rewrite the finish after a disastrous end to their main event match at Hell in a Cell.