The first draft in the WWE since 2011 is now in the books, and now Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live will be forging two separate paths. Those paths will only cross on the four major pay-per-views and two special “super shows” every year, so there will be unique stories told every Monday and Tuesday night. In total, 59 WWE Superstars were drafted (poor Heath Slater was left in the green room) with Raw getting three picks to SmackDown’s two, which was based on how long the two shows are.
There were no huge returns or debuts within the draft, but there were six NXT specific picks, including some surprising, but deserving ones in Alexa Bliss and Mojo Rawley, and some obvious choices such as Finn Balor and American Alpha. The draft was just a base to begin the split, and it is well known that Vince McMahon and Triple H are looking to lock up some huge free agents to make either their return to the WWE or their debut within the company.
This article is going to cover some of the major points that need to be covered in the aftermath of the WWE Draft such as how will certain factions function after getting split up in the draft, how will the new NXT stars fare on the main roster, will certain wrestlers who were drafted low be motivated to jump straight to the top, how is the championship picture going to look like on each brand, and much more. Take a look at 15 key things you need to look for post-WWE Draft.
15. How Long Before Foley Is Fired?
The first thing that came to mind when Stephanie McMahon hired Mick Foley as the General Manager of Raw was when will she fire him? Mick has not had an evil persona for a very long time, and has always been a babyface in his post-wrestling career. While it would be interesting to see Foley turn into a bad guy and somewhat of a corporate sellout, the odds of that happening are probably not good.
Some may wonder if Foley is the Raw General Manager to promote his show Holy Foley on the WWE Network, which is set to debut soon, and maybe once the first season has run its course the difference in opinions between Foley and Stephanie will be too much for them to co-exist on Monday Night Raw. This could come to the point where Stephanie publicly humiliates Foley and delivers the famous McMahon line, “YOU’RE FIRRRRRRED!” While most of us hope that doesn’t happen, it is a likely scenario a few months down the road.
14. How The NXT Surprise Draftees Fare
While we fully expected American Alpha and Finn Balor to be drafted, there were a couple of mild surprises in Nia Jax and Carmella, and a couple of big surprises in Mojo Rawley and Alexa Bliss. Between the four surprises of Jax, Carmella, Mojo, and Alexa, it’s interesting that they did not hold gold at all in NXT. Though they didn’t hold any championships, it doesn’t mean they cannot succeed on the main roster, especially with a brand split.
The most likely to hold a championship first would be Nia Jax as she will be built as a dominating force that will be hard to take down; however, there are some tough forces on the roster with her in both Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Alexa Bliss has been close to the main event scene in NXT, but it will most likely take her a while to hold the women’s championship, especially if there is only going to be one.
Carmella has also been close to the main event picture with a title match against Bayley, and being on SmackDown with no current championship will be tough for her as well; which makes it a little mind boggling that she wasn’t put on Raw with Enzo & Cass.
Mojo Rawley will tag with Zack Ryder for the short term, and it is unknown if he will be able to break out on his own quite yet, but tag gold is definitely a possibility if Smackdown gets their own title.
13. Look For Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens To Fight Forever
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens had what could be match of the year at “Battleground” just after the brand split draft. Many had speculated that they were going to be drafted to separate brands due to this pay-per-view match, but Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley ended up drafting Zayn at 11th overall, followed by Owens at 18th overall. That fact alone will definitely eat at Owens, and most likely continue what has been one of the best feuds of this year.
If I had my wish, this epic feud would continue on all the way through to the next WrestleMania where it would finally end inside of “Hell In A Cell.” After that point, Zayn wins the final match of the feud and Owens finally earns the respect of Zayn and turns face in the process. It can be similar to the up and down relationship that Triple H and Shawn Michaels had, and when you need a good heel, you could turn Owens again.
12. Does The Club Expand & Continue On Both Brands?
In a surprising move from the WWE Draft, A.J. Styles was separated from Anderson and Gallows. This trio has been dominating the scene for most of 2016, feuding mainly with Roman Reigns and John Cena, but this isn’t the first time they have worked as a unit. Styles, Anderson, and Gallows were all a part of the Bullet Club within New Japan Pro Wrestling. Many will argue that Bullet Club was the best faction in pro wrestling since the nWo, so it is no surprise that it carried over to the WWE.
Will The Club be able to continue after being split up? I believe it definitely can with two separate factions on the two brands. Before A.J. Styles was the leader of the Bullet Club, it was Prince Devitt, now known as Finn Balor. He can join Gallows and Anderson, while Styles can recruit two members to join him and make The Club a six-man faction. It would be great if the WWE were able to sign the Young Bucks away from Ring Of Honor, as they are current members of the Bullet Club and that would be the best fit.
11. Also, Does The Wyatt Family Expand To Both Brands?
Just like The Club, the Wyatt Family was split up in the draft as well, with Braun Strowman going to Raw and Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan going to Smackdown. Just like The Club, the question is posed whether the Wyatt Family will continue to be a faction on both brands? It could be a possibility if Luke Harper goes to Raw and joins Strowman after he returns from his knee injury.
The odds of the Wyatt family existing on both brands is not that good, especially after the first Raw and SmackDown shows that aired after the WWE Draft. It appears that they have decided with Strowman to move on and have him forge his own path, since it is no secret that Vince McMahon is high on him due to his size. On the other side, it appears that Bray might be on his own too, as he was not with Rowan at all on the first SmackDown after the draft.
10. Will The Cruiserweight Division Fit In On Raw?
Before the draft, we found out from Stephanie McMahon that Monday Night Raw would be the exclusive home to the Cruiserweight Division once the Cruiserweight Classic concludes. For those who have seen the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network over the past few weeks, you definitely can see that there are several talents that would be a great fit in NXT or the WWE. Some of the participants in this tournament that will most likely get a shot with the WWE include Kota Ibushi, Akira Tozawa, T.J. Perkins, and Zack Sabre Jr., among others.
The big question is if this division will fit in Raw or not. The vast majority of people believed that Monday Night Raw had a better draft than SmackDown, and it was a landslide for Raw when comparing both shows that aired for the first time after the split. SmackDown almost seems like the better fit, and is also the brand that needs the division more than Raw, so it will be interesting to see if they fit in. Considering it’s a three-hour show, there is room to have them on it.
9. How Fast Will Vince Push Braun Strowman?
As mentioned previously, Braun Strowman was drafted to Monday Night Raw and was separated from the Wyatt Family he had been associated with since August of 2015. Strowman is definitely a menacing figure at 6’8″ and nearly 400 pounds, and it is no secret that Vince McMahon loves those big guys who can perform in the ring. Before the WWE, Strowman competed professionally in Strongman competitions before training with the WWE from 2013 to 2015.
Since Strowman was split off on his own, it is pretty clear he’s going to get pushed, but how fast will it be done? He has shown a lot of improvement in the ring as of today compared to when he was first on the roster as he moves a lot more fluidly and is not as stiff. Strowman is definitely not ready for the main event level yet, and let’s hope Vince doesn’t push him that fast. Have him keep beating up jobbers for a while, then have him challenge for the United States Championship at some point.
8. Does The Low Draft Pick Motivate Cesaro To The Main Event Picture?
Cesaro knows how Aaron Rodgers felt when he was in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers was considered an easy top ten draft pick but slid all the way down to 24th to Green Bay. Fast forward to 11 years later and there are 23 NFL teams banging their heads against the wall as Rogers is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL. Cesaro should have definitely been a top ten pick, but was drafted all the way down at #28 with such wrestlers as Big Show, Nia Jax, Natalya, and Chris Jericho drafted ahead of him.
The question to ask with Cesaro being drafted so low is if it will turn into an angle that catapults him to the top of the card for Monday Night Raw? We all know that he deserves a chance at the top of the card, but for some reason Vince McMahon is playing with our emotions and is keeping him from breaking through that glass ceiling. The brand split will definitely help Cesaro in possibly becoming a world champion, but a trade to SmackDown would probably give him the better chance.
7. How Many Championships Are Going To Be Added?
We know that Raw missed out on the WWE Championship thanks to Dean Ambrose retaining at Battleground, but on the next night at Raw, Stephanie McMahon announced a second world title would be introduced at SummerSlam (called the WWE Universal Championship) for which Finn Balor and Seth Rollins will compete in the main event. On Monday Night Raw, the only missing title is the big one, but there is the possibility that they will create one for the Cruiserweight Division, too. As for SmackDown, there are two titles missing.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan were able to draft two champions to Smackdown Live in WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose, and WWE Intercontinental Champion, The Miz. There are tag teams and women that were drafted over to Smackdown Live, but they do not have a title to fight for (as of the time of this writing). All indications are that the women and tag champs on Raw are not going to be on both brands, so eventually a new title needs to be created for those divisions.
6. One Simple Trade To Fix The Balance On Raw & SmackDown
The opinion in the WWE Universe was pretty much a consensus that Monday Night Raw had the much better draft than SmackDown Live. The Women’s division is led by Becky Lynch and Natalya, but pales in comparison to Raw, who has Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, and Charlotte. Same goes for the tag division which is led by newcomers American Alpha and The Usos. whereas Raw is stacked with The New Day, Anderson & Gallows, Enzo & Cass, and the Dudleys.
A simple trade of six superstars could help this balance out greatly if you would take Enzo, Big Cass, and Cesaro from Monday Night Raw and trade them for The Usos and Kalisto from SmackDown Live. This makes a lot of sense because then you’d reunite Enzo and Cass with Carmella and spice up the tag division, while Cesaro has a better shot at becoming a world champion on SmackDown Live. Putting the Usos with Roman Reigns to create a heel faction would be refreshing, while having Kalisto in the Cruiserweight Division.
5. How SmackDown Fulfills Their Goal Even With Drafting Cena & Orton
The Commissioner (Shane McMahon) and General Manager (Daniel Bryan) of SmackDown Live set the goal to make this show about the wrestlers and to remove that glass ceiling. They wanted to give everyone an opportunity while making the show different than any WWE television show in the past. Oddly enough, their draft didn’t really reflect that, as they took John Cena and Randy Orton back to back with the seventh and ninth picks of the WWE Draft instead of taking newer stars.
Even though the early part of the draft saw two guys with a couple dozen world championships between them drafted, SmackDown Live is already off to a good start with having Dolph Ziggler take on Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. They can continue this change by pushing new stars such as Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin, but they can also “sign” some NXT or indy stars as well to create the culture that SmackDown Live is looking to create.
4. Zack Ryder Could Be The Leader Of A Weak SmackDown Midcard
One of the glaring holes in the WWE Draft for SmackDown Live was the midcard. They drafted The Miz as the Intercontinental Champion, but the overall draft for Smackdown was really top heavy. There will be new stars that can get into the division such as the previously mentioned Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin, but the roster definitely needs some work in developing that midcard and making the battle for that Intercontinental Championship great again.
There is one guy on the Smackdown Live roster that can completely flourish from this, and that is Zack Ryder. Ryder has been pushed a lot better in 2016, and has been in numerous important matches, including the career highlight of winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania in the ladder match. He was also in the final four of the battle royal to determine Dean Ambrose’s number one contender. The split will benefit Ryder, and look for him to be in the hunt for the WWE Intercontinental Championship again very soon.
3. Which Wrestler Will Be The First To Get Their First World Title?
As we saw with the previous brand split, there are more wrestlers who will benefit from this and become a world champion. The biggest names that come to mind include John Bradshaw Layfield, Rey Mysterio, and Dolph Ziggler. Now that we know for sure there will be two world championships- the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on SmackDown Live, and the WWE Universal Championship on Monday Night Raw- the chance for someone to become a first-time world champion increases greatly.
My guess for the person who gets their first ever world championship would be Bray Wyatt, as he is one of the most interesting characters that the WWE has had since The Undertaker, but yet he has not held gold in the WWE since his debut in 2013. Every time it seemed like Wyatt was going to get a huge push, it was stopped, but now it seems like he is on his own, and could be in for a face turn eventually, and it would make for a great story having a crowd favorite like Bray Wyatt chase his first ever world championship.
2. Where Do The Older Veterans Fit In?
When the dust settled on the WWE Draft, there were a number of veterans that were taken by either Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live. Chris Jericho was a pretty high draft pick at #15, but it seems like he is not going to be on tour with Fozzy this summer, and will be with the WWE for an extended period of time. Big Show, Mark Henry, and Kane were also drafted, but have not really been on the full-time WWE schedule as of late.
So where do these veterans fit in? In the case of Chris Jericho, he is still performing at a high level and can be anywhere on the roster; whether it be the main event picture for the United States Championship, or in a tag team. As for Big Show, Mark Henry, and Kane, they are on the downsides of their career, and possibly may retire within the next year or two. Pairing them with an up and coming tag team partner would be great, or even one final run at a world title could be in the cards, too.
1. The Draft Was Just A Base To Begin The Split
When it was all said and done, a total of 59 WWE Superstars were drafted to either Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live, but even more have already returned to the show in the form of former superstars such as Rhyno, Jinder Mahal, and soon Shelton Benjamin. The lone wrestler not drafted (for comedic purposes) was Heath Slater, but he’s too talented to be let go, he’ll find a home eventually.
The draft was just a base to split up the current roster, but the WWE is looking to expand by bringing back former stars such as possibly Kurt Angle, Curt Hawkins, John Morrison, Melina, Carlito, Rey Mysterio, and others. Monday Night Raw will have a Cruiserweight Division to add to their roster, while there could be more call-ups from NXT for both brands as well. On top of this, Vince McMahon and Triple H are definitely looking to sign some top talent from the independents as well to bolster their two brands.
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