Last night’s SmackDown saw the first night of the heavily promoted WWE Draft take place.
Amongst a night of huge news up and down the card, four rounds of drafting took place with a total of 20 picks made by Raw and Smackdown.
Below we breakdown each round, confirm who was picked and give a short analysis on the picks.
For each round, each brand got one pick her hour of weekly programming. So three for Raw and two for SmackDown.
- Raw: WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
- SmackDown: Universal Champion Roman Reigns
- Raw: Raw Women’s Champion Asuka
- SmackDown: Seth Rollins
- Raw: The Hurt Business (United States Champion Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander and MVP)
No real surprises here and you could certainly believe this would be a genuine first round of the draft we’re legitimate. Both brands used their first pick to protect their world champion. Raw then similarly protected its women’s champ while SmackDown used pick two in order to steal one of Raw’s most prominent stars. Makes sense. Raw then used their last pick of the round to secure their top stable and four talent.
So far so logical and the big news is Seth Rollins switching to SmackDown for the first time since the brands were split in 2016, as had been predicted by spoilers ahead of time.
- Raw: AJ Styles
- SmackDown: Sasha Banks
- Raw: Naomi
- SmackDown: Bianca Belair
- Raw: WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
The headline news here is obviously AJ Styles moving back to Raw mere months after being traded to SmackDown. Again, this is a move that had been floated prior to the draft. Styles had previously complained about missing his son’s (American) football matches taking place on a Friday night. He had also allegedly been moved from Raw to get him away from Paul Heyman who was in charge of the show behind the scenes at the time after their relationship became toxic. A move back to Raw now Heyman is on the blue bland as a talent makes sense.
The other interesting titbit from this round sees Naomi and Bianca Belair effectively swapping brands. Does this suggest Blair’s husband, Montez Ford and the Street Profits will follow her to SmackDown? We will find out on Monday.
- Raw: Ricochet
- SmackDown: Jey Uso
- Raw: Mandy Rose
- SmackDown: Dominik & Rey Mysterio
- Raw: The Miz & John Morrison
Seth Rollins won’t get peace from the Mysterio family just yet as round three sees Rey and his son Dominick drafted to Smackdown. The Miz & John Morrison move the other way but overall this round was light on news or eyebrow raising moves. Standard fare.
- Raw: SmackDown Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods
- SmackDown: Big E
- Raw: Dana Brooke
- SmackDown:“Mr. Money in the Bank” Otis
- Raw: Angel Garza
The biggest draft revelation was saved until the end. Picks 3-5 are mere window dressing around the big news that sees arguably the greatest team in WWE history split up!
The newly returned, new SmackDown Tag Team Champions, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods move to Raw while Big E waves goodbye to his brothers and stays on SmackDown to continue his ascent to the top of the singles mountain.
Overall, it was a sensible and well booked out draft. It delivered one big but logical shock, a few interesting roster moves and avoided the logic gaps and nonsensical picks of previous years.
The draft will conclude next week with 30 superstars picked on Raw followed by free agency. It is so refreshing to see WWE’s new sports-like draft process in action rather than having matches to determine picks, ‘random’ drawings and talent moving back and forth often in one night. It truly feels that after so many years of experimenting, they’ve finally got this right.