The draft is over and we’re on to the post draft analysis that fills the time after any draft, whether it be WWE, NFL, or your fantasy baseball draft. We’ve always given out grades to both SmackDown and Raw. Now it’s time to look at the overall winners and losers of the night.
For a reminder of the picks, you can see the entire draft board here.
Raw: Raw won this one outright. The format that allowed them to draft 3 for every 2 SmackDown drafted gave them a unique advantage and they ran with it. They built a better women’s division (champion Charlotte, Sasha Banks, & Paige). They have a better tag team division (champs New Day, Enzo and Cass, the Club). They have the better midcard (Rusev, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Cesaro). They have the attraction Brock Lesnar. There’s no doubt that Raw is the more well rounded show and has more talent with huge upside.
The Shield: The first two men drafted were Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (Rollins to Raw and Ambrose to SmackDown.) Due to his current Wellness violation, the man who probably would have been number one, Roman Reigns, dropped to the second round, going to Raw prior to Brock Lesnar. Nonetheless, three of the first six picks were former Shield members. The men said that whether it would be together or apart, they’d be running on the top of WWE for years to come. This draft makes that look rather prophetic.
Doping violators: I’m not here to pass judgement on Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar. We don’t know the details of either man’s very recent doping issues: Roman’s 30-day Wellness violation from Raw and Brock’s two failed tests prior to UFC 200. Team Raw didn’t pass judgement either. In fact, they drafted them back to back in round two in their riskiest move of the night.
Bray Wyatt: Bray Wyatt was drafted to a SmackDown behind Dean Ambrose, John Cena, AJ Styles and Randy Orton. While those four are likely to be in the main event scene early on, there’s plenty of room at the top for Bray Wyatt. With John Cena taking on more and more projects such as reality shows, movies, Today Show hosting and Randy already rather part time, there will be plenty of opportunity for the New Face of Fear to become the New Face of SmackDown.
SmackDown: SmackDown was always going to be behind the 8-ball given the 3 to 2 format rounds. That mean SmackDown was going to have to draft smart early on to shore up their roster. While they drafted the WWE champion number one, they then went ahead and drafted AJ Styles, John Cena, and Randy Orton - three men 36 and older (Cena and Styles are 39). Cena and Orton are part time and somewhat injury prone. After they picked a Randy Orton who hasn’t even returned from injury, Raw picked the New Day, a team SmackDown was sure to have coveted.
They have a weaker midcard (Corbin, Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio), a thinner women’s division, and after the televised rounds, the only tag team they had at all was American Alpha. (They used later rounds to help bolster it but the stronger teams were already on Raw.) Given how thin their divisions are, we may be seeing a lot of the same feuds for a while there.
And as of right now, they don’t have a tag title nor a women’s title. That may be rectified in the future, but right now, they are missing a good amount of gold.
Cesaro: Tough night for the Swiss Superman. Not only did he not get drafted until the sixth round but he also lost to Chris Jericho (who had already been drafted to Raw) prior. He was damned close to not even getting drafted on television. Cesaro came back to WWE hot after WrestleMania. Today he barely gets drafted on the televised portion. Afterwards, he expressed his disappointment for dropping so far and going to Raw instead of SmackDown. Not the way to endear yourself to the higher ups, Cesaro.
Kevin Owens: Sure he still got drafted, but the man who calls any show he’s on The Kevin Owens show dropped to the fourth round. Even worse, his arch nemesis Sami Zayn got drafted much earlier in the 3rd round. Dropping this far could represent how management views you and could affect his bottom line down the road. However, he’s a prideful man and he will make everyone regret not taking him earlier.
The Cruiserweight Division: After announcing that the cruiserweight division was coming back to Raw last night, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley drafted only one cruiserweight talent in the first six rounds with Neville in round 6. (You could consider Xavier Woods as well but he’s still tied up in the tag team picture.) Even worse, they let Kalisto, a Cruiserweight favorite, slip to SmackDown and had to settle on his less exciting former Lucha Dragon partner, Sin Cara. The Cruiserweight division is going to need be filled via free agency or it’s going to be dead in the water before it begins.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Who are your winners and losers from tonight?