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WWE 2023 Mock Draft for Night One: Continuing Cody Rhodes’ story

Triple H has promised that this year’s WWE Draft is going to change the game.

We’ll find out in due time as the first few rounds of this year’s roster reshuffling get underway tonight on Friday Night SmackDown.

While many of us were glued to the NFL Draft coverage last night, waiting to see who our favorite teams would wind up with in the first round, WWE just casually unveiled the pool of Superstars that will be available for selection tonight and Monday.

Several questions we had about this year’s WWE Draft process we’re answered, including which tag teams and factions are package deals and which ones are at risk of being split apart.

Interestingly, The Bloodline only includes Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa and presumably Paul Heyman. It would not shock me if a certain wiseman used his influence backstage to separate the Usos and move them to Monday’s draft pool, making their Tag Team Championship match tonight even more important.

Their very spot in The Bloodline could hinge on whether they win their titles back or not. It would be very easy for Heyman to ensure that Jimmy and Jey are drafted to the same brand as the rest of their family if they are once again Undisputed Tag Team Champions. If they fail tonight, Heyman may feel inclined to let the chips fall as they may.

The main draft related story to keep an eye on tonight — will Cody Rhodes still have a clear path to getting another shot at Roman Reigns and his WWE Universal Championship? By the end of the night, we’ll know if each WrestleMania39 main eventer will call the same brand home or not, as they are both eligible to be drafted.

There are some noticeable absences from this year’s draft board. It appears that it may be a while still before we see Bray Wyatt as he and anyone associated with him, Uncle Howdy and Alexa Bliss, are not on either list.

WWE did confirm that NXT Superstars will be eligible for call ups, but kept their names hidden. Only saying that “select” superstars will be available for consideration. You’d have to imagine that means a few surprises are in play this year.

As of this writing, what we don’t yet know is which brand is choosing first or how the rounds are going to be structured. These are obviously huge omissions when trying to draw up a mock draft, so simple is the best solution in this case.

It makes sense that SmackDown would get the first pick tonight, since the draft starts on Friday, and then it can be flipped on Monday with Raw receiving the first selection on night two.

With all that out of the way... here we go!

Superstars with an * by their name indicates an NXT call-up

Picks No. 1-10

It’s not even up for debate. No matter which brand ultimately chooses first, Roman Reigns will be the number one overall selection. There’s no way FOX is going to willingly let their golden goose get away and getting Solo Sikoa as an added bonus just makes the pick all the more sweeter. SmackDown keeps its Tribal Chief and secures the WWE Universal Championship in the process.

The rest of the board begins to fall as you would suspect. With already the guarantee of the new World Heavyweight Championship coming to Monday nights, Raw will want to lock up its dominant Women’s Champion and keep Bianca Belair with the 2nd overall pick.

That will allow SmackDown to swoop in and claim Cody Rhodes, keeping Roman and Rhodes on the same brand - which is paramount moving forward. The American Nightmare CANNOT be the first World Heavyweight Champion. Then Triple H’s gorgeous new title belt will become the consolation prize that many have already deemed it to be.

Cody’s story has to end with him beating Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship and to do that any time soon, they both need to be on the same brand. The way these draft pools have been set up, it’s almost a guarantee that Cody will find a new home right next to the Tribal Chief.

Raw continues to hang onto their own, retaining the services of Big Time Becky Lynch with the 4th pick. The Man may no longer be a title holder, but her star is bright enough to merit this draft position. Her selection will also force SmackDown to make a bit of a panic move.

They want a Women’s Division on Friday night and getting three Superstars with one pick is hard to pass up. It may be a slight reach to take Damage CTRL here, but not by much. Bayley is a first ballot Hall of Famer and she’s flanked by two incredibly talented performers just waiting to break out on their own. Also, there’s a chance that IYO SKY could steal the Raw Women’s Title over to SmackDown by beating Bianca at Backlash.

Choosing Damage CTRL at five made sense, but it was also a costly selection. With the 6th pick, Raw makes it’s first big steal by taking Imperium. Complete with GUNTHER and his Intercontinental Championship.

Former rivals Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre will pass each other like ships in the night as they swap brands with the 7th and 8th overall selections, respectively. And then things get really interesting.

SmackDown makes a major play with it’s future in mind and calls up former two-time NXT Champion Bron Breakker. The son of a Hall of Famer has a rematch against Carmelo Hayes in the coming weeks, but Breakker is reportedly scheduled to be backstage at SmackDown tonight. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll get drafted, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the 25 year-old is set for a full-time main roster spot after his cup of coffee last year.

Closing out the first ten picks, Raw hangs on to Edge. The Hall of Famer may be nearing retirement, but the Red Brand wants that farewell tour on Monday Nights.

Picks No. 11-20

MVP is very good at his job. Not only is he able to book his client into matches against the likes of Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, but he’ll be able to secure him a prime draft selection. The Nigerian Giant goes 11th to SmackDown, and yes MVP is coming with him.

The Blue Brand does well here to cover all their bases, drafting for both the now and the future. There’s no denying Matt Riddle’s talent. The audience, for the most part, adores him and he has all the tools to be a future WWE Champion — if and when Roman Reigns ever loses those title belts.

SmackDown also does a great job of bolstering it’s Women’s Division, by brining in a very talented tag team in Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville and drafting Cora Jade to the main roster. Jade, who is also scheduled to be at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi tonight, will be the second NXT Superstar called up — joining Breakker on SmackDown.

Raw did exactly what it needed to do here as well, and that’s stockpile talent. The Red Brand is the longer show. They need more bodies on the roster. With that in mind, passing on all four members of The O.C. was not an option. Even with AJ Styles still on the shelf. Hopefully his availability in tonight’s draft means he’ll be returning to television sooner rather than later.

The Street Profits are staying on Monday nights. WWE doesn’t usually split up couples, so keeping Montez Ford and Bianca Belair together is a certainty. Especially considering they are in the middle of filming a reality show for Hulu.

Ford and Angelo Dawkins however, appeared to be prime candidates to be split up during the draft, but they are available as a package deal once again. Both men have incredibly bright singles runs in their future whenever WWE decides to finally push them in that direction.

For now the Street Profits remain a team and they’re getting some new competition on Monday Nights.

Yes boy! Pretty Deadly are not sleeping with the fishes after all. Count them among the NXT talent that are expected to be in town for SmackDown tonight. It’ll be a brief stay on for them on Friday nights, because they are headed to Raw with the 20th overall pick.

Picks No. 21-30

This is a very top heavy draft board, but there is still a bevy of talent to be found in the later picks — highlighted by the members of the women’s locker room that are still available.

Candice LeRae has been highly underutilized since returning to the company last year. A fresh start on a new brand could be exactly what she needs.

Roxanne Perez is my big surprise pick of the draft. There has not been a report that I’ve seen that indicates her call up is imminent, but it very well could be on the horizon after she failed to recapture the NXT Women’s Championship this past Tuesday.

Incredibly interesting that when Indi Hartwell injured her ankle and appeared out of the match, an audible was reportedly called to have Tiffany Stratton win the gold, not Perez.

At 21 years-old old, Perez lives up to her nickname of being a prodigy. She could use a little bit more polishing down in NXT, but overall she’s main roster ready and a name to look out for this weekend.

Cameron Grimes is the final NXT call up of the night. He’s reportedly been a member of the main roster for some time now, but has yet to make his on-screen debut. I expect we’ll see him on Raw or SmackDown very soon. I have him ending up on the Blue Brand.

What do you guys think? Will we see more NXT call-ups tonight? Let us know in the comment section below. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.

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