Breaking Down the 2016 WWE Draft

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…The draft is done. Below are the rosters in draft order by brand. Before we get to that, there are a few superstars who are (still) undrafted:

  • Heath Slater
  • Tamina Snuka
  • Luke Harper
  • The Undertaker
  • Triple H

Of the five, Trips will likely join RAW, Harper will likely join Braun Stroman on RAW. Slater could go either way but will probably go to Smackdown for balancing reasons. Tamina Snuka is likely being kept out of public appearances due to litigation filed against WWE in which her father is one of the plaintiffs. ‘Taker–if he returns–will be cross-brand.

Speaking of The Undertaker: There are rumors ‘Taker had a falling out with Vince McMahon during and after WM32. Apparently he was booked to lose to Shane McMahon but changed his mind during the match. He reportedly told Vince that would be his last match and isn’t returning phone calls. It’s likely he was pissed over how the match was booked and promoted. Either way, I do think he will make another appearance even if just to say goodbye to the WWE Universe.

Although it wasn’t publicly announced, Ryback was released by WWE two months ago. Adam Rose was also released while serving a suspension due to an arrest. Despite this, it sounds like the door may still be open for Rose to return to WWE at a later point.

One last thing: Noticably absent from both commentators’ lists was Jerry Lawler. I didn’t cover this in my blogs before but Lawler was involved in some legal trouble last month and was suspended pending the outcome. The charges against him were dropped and he was immediately reinstated. According to several sources, Lawler was quietly released by WWE sometime last week.

All that said, here’s the complete draft lists by brand:

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The Raw Commissioner is Stephanie McMahon. The GM is Mick Foley.

Superstars:

  • Seth Rollins (1st)
  • Women’s Champion Charlotte (3rd)
  • Finn Balor* (5th)
  • Roman Reigns (6th)
  • Brock Lesnar (8th)
  • Tag Team Champions The New Day# (10th)
  • Sami Zayn (11th)
  • Sasha Banks (13th)
  • Chris Jericho (15th)
  • US Champion Rusev w/ Lana (16th)
  • Kevin Owens (18th)
  • Enzo and Cass# (20th)
  • Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (21st)
  • The Big Show (23rd)
  • Nia Jax* (25th)
  • Neville (26th)
  • Cesaro (28th)
  • Sheamus (30th)
  • The Golden Truth# (31st)
  • Titus O’Neil (33rd)
  • Paige (35th)
  • Darren Young (36th)
  • Sin Carra (38th)
  • Jack Swagger (40th)
  • The Dudley Boyz# (42nd)
  • Summer Rae (44th)
  • Mark Henry (46th)
  • Braun Stroman (48th)
  • Bo Dallas (50th)
  • The Shining Stars# (52nd)
  • Alicia Fox (54th)
  • Dana Brooke (56th)
  • Curtis Axel (58th)

Commentators:

  • Michael Cole
  • Corey Graves
  • Byron Saxton

* Drafted from NXT

# All existing members of the group were drafted together

Bold denotes Heel.

Italics denotes Face.

Raw took most of the vets on their roster. This should come as no surprise given they will also host the Cruiserweight Classic. Curiously, RAW didn’t draft as many NXT Superstars as Smackdown did but they did take the top NXT prospect in Finn Balor.

Now let’s get to how the draft picks effect existing feuds on RAW:

  • No question Reigns and Rollins being drafted to RAW is a clear indication their feud will continue after Battleground. At the very least, their feud will last through Summer Slam.
  • Since the Women’s Championship will not change hands at Battleground, the feud between Sasha Banks and Charlotte will will help push the Womens’ Division on the RAW brand.
  • Darren Young and Rusev (current US Champion) were drafted to RAW while Zack Ryder and The Miz (Current IC Champion) were drafted to Smackdown. Young and The Miz will face off at Battleground while Ryder and Rusev will face off, both for title matches. If both titles change hands at Battleground, the US Title goes to Smackdown while the IC Title goes to RAW.
  • Enzo and Cass will presumably continue their feud with Gallows and Anderson on RAW.
  • While I consider it a clearly a missed opportunity to not split up Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, given who’s coming it makes sense to keep them together for the time being: Finn Balor, who both men alog with Neville have a history with from their NXT days.
  • RAW took most of the Face Tag Teamsin The New Day, Enzo and Cass and The Golden Truth. Gallows and Anderson and The Dudleys are Heels. At least two new tag teams will likely be formed soon–one face, one heel–to help balance RAW’s tag team division.

…On that last point, the possabilties are something else. Titus O’Neil and Darren Young were once tag team partners as The Prime Time Players but I think it’s a safe bet they will remain as singles competators. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who was surprised none of the established tag teams were broken up. The Wyatt Family was more of a stable than a tag team while The New Day is using The Freebird rule. For those who missed it, The Lucha Dragons decided to split up on Smackdown last week.

Overall I give the picks a 7/10.

There were no big surprises for the most part. Most of the picks were “safe” picks while some picks were passed over to help draw ratings to Smackdown. The Big Show and Mark Henry have a track record of being Face or Heel to help younger talent. That’s why I didn’t tag them. For most of the others, it could be either way.

Almost forgot: Jericho and Rollins being on RAW means their respective talk shows–The Highlight Reel and The Rollins Report–are RAW exclusive.

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The Smackdown Commissioner is Shane McMahon. The GM is Daniel Bryan.

Superstars:

  • WWE Champion Dean Ambrose (2nd)
  • AJ Styles (4th)
  • John Cena (7th)
  • Randy Orton (9th)
  • Bray Wyatt (12th)
  • Becky Lynch (14th)
  • Intercontinental Champion The Miz w/ Maurice (17th)
  • Baron Corbin (19th)
  • American Alpha#* (22nd)
  • Dolph Ziggler (24th)
  • Natalya (27th)
  • Alberto Del Rio (29th)
  • The Usos# (32nd)
  • Kane (34th)
  • Kalisto (37th)
  • Naomi (39th)
  • The Ascension (41st)
  • Zack Ryder (43rd)
  • Apollo Crews (45th)
  • Alexa Blizz* (47th)
  • Breezango (49th)
  • Eva Marie (51st)
  • The Vaudevillains (53rd)
  • Eric Rowan (55th)
  • Mojo Rawley* (57th)
  • Carmella* (59th)

Commentators:

  • Mauro Ranollo
  • JBL
  • David Otunga

* Drafted from NXT

# All existing members of the group were drafted together

Bold denotes Heel.

Italics denotes Face.

Hands-down Cena going to Smackdown is due to name recognition as well as to draw in casual fans. It makes sense given most of the roster are midcards or NXT imports. I doubt WWE will do this but as a reminder, all the singles titles except the Women’s Championship is being contested at Battleground. If all them go to RAW, it could open the door to a few new titles being introduced.

Dean Ambrose being the top face of Smackdown speaks to The Underdog tone Shane set for the show moving forward. While I personally think keeping the WWE Championship on Smackdown is best for business, all signs point to the Hardcore Championship being brought back with who’s on the Smackdown roster. The right superstars are there to make it work and make it really interesting.

Now, let’s get to how the draft picks effect existing feuds on Smackdown:

  • Styles and Cena’s feud will likely continue after Battleground. This is obviously why they were both drafted to Smackdown. We know Styles can hold his own in singles competition. Cena’s there to help further his development.
  • Ziggler and Corbin being on Smackdown ensures their rivalry continues.
  • If Ambrose drops the WWE Championship at Battleground, it’s to position him to either contend for Smackdown’s equivalent opposite Randy Orton or pick up the Hardcore Championship.
  • As others have said, Becky Lynch being separated from Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Paige allows her to truly come into her own. I figure this is why her feud with Natalya was set up a few weeks ago.
  • If The Miz retains the IC Championship at Battleground vs. Darren Young, I expect him to be put in a feud with Zack Ryder, Apollo Crews or Alberto Del Rio.
  • Bray Wyatt is easily the top heel on either show. How he could be used on Smackdown is pretty exciting. Revisiting feuding him with Kane isn’t entirely out of the question.

…All in all, Smackdown will clearly be about developing what had been midcards alongside the NXT imports. This is why Ryder, Breezango, Kalisto, Corbin, Lynch and Ambrose got such massive pushes for almost a year. Ambrose is now the top Face of Smackdown while Lynch will likely lead the women’s division on Smackdown. The vets thrown in are their either for name recognition or to help the newer talent.

There are five Tag teams on Smackdown, three of them heels (Vaudevillains, Ascension and Breezango). The Usos and American Alpha will likely be Face but another tag team will likley be formed soon to keep things from getting stale.

Overall, I give the picks a 7/10.

Like the RAW picks, most were “safe” picks. Smackdown has a slightly smaller roster, yes but more will likely be added once the dust settles. Unlike RAW, almost everyone on the Smackdown roster is clearly a Face or Heel.

Ambrose and The Miz on Smackdown also makes their respective Talk Shows–The Ambrose Asylum and Miz TV–Smackdown exclusive.

 

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…The second to last cross-brand PPV, it will be the last time you will see certain superstars in the same ring at the same time. The title matches are all suddenly more important at the same time.

Like I hinted at above, it’s very likely the Hardcore Championship will be brought back as well. In addition, the show that doesn’t leave with the WWE Championship (2 to 1 odds favor RAW) will have its new top title introduced immediately.

I think it would be far easier to introduce the new top title on RAW than Smackdown due to RAW having the larger pool of top-tier superstars on its roster. Since it’s unlikely John Cena will be a Face for the rest of his WWE career, Alberto Del Rio will be brought in as a Heel to continue their earlier rivalry.

The race will be on for both shows to establish new rivalries and re-establish existing ones after Battleground. Now’s a really good time to get the WWE Network ^_^

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Breaking Down the 2016 WWE Draft

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