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TJR: Reacting to Every WWE Draft Pick Following Smackdown (Part 1 of WWE Draft 2020)

The first part of the WWE Draft took place this past Friday night on Smackdown. There were four rounds with 20 picks during Smackdown and then another round on Talking Smack with five more picks for a total of 25 picks. The way the draft worked is that some of the WWE superstars were available to be drafted on Friday while the rest of them will be selected (or left as free agents) on Monday during Raw. It’s not the most ideal way to do this, but it’s the format WWE used last year as well.

What I’ll do is break it down round by round with thoughts on each individual or team/group. I was going to write this on Saturday, but life got busy and I figured I could push it back a day, then I felt lazy on Sunday for Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Today (Monday) is actually Canadian Thanksgiving, but I felt like I had to get this done before Raw. Let’s roll.

ROUND ONE

Raw #1 – WWE Champion Drew McIntyre

It’s not a surprise that McIntyre is staying where he has been on Raw. I think we can all find things to complain about regarding Raw this year, but Drew McIntyre has been awesome as the centerpiece on Raw. Drew’s Royal Rumble win and then WWE Title win at WrestleMania were outstanding. There have been a lot of good matches and promos since then too. Drew faces Randy Orton for the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell (in HIAC match) on October 25 and I think a title change is very possible. I also expect Orton to remain on Raw, so I think he’ll be the #1 pick for Raw on Monday.

Smackdown #2 – WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns

This was a no brainer since Reigns is just getting started as the heel Universal Champion on Smackdown. The current feud with Jey Uso should lead to a Reigns win again and possibly they will become allies after it’s over. From there, they can line up other wrestlers to go after Reigns. My hope is that Big E is the guy that can take down Reigns at WrestleMania next year, but if WWE can get The Rock to commit to one more match then obviously Rock vs. Reigns would make a lot of sense too. That’s a big “if” right now, I guess, but it’s something to think about in the next six months.

Raw #3 – Raw Women’s Champion Asuka

It makes a lot of sense to keep Asuka on Raw. She has been on both shows in her career, but I think this has been the best year of her career first as a heel, then she turned face and you know the matches are always going to be good. What’s been really cool to see is how much she has developed as a character with the Japanese ranting mixed in with English speaking promos. Asuka is a lot of fun to watch.

Smackdown #4 – Seth Rollins

It’s a change for Rollins since he has been a key guy on Raw since this era’s brand split days started in the summer of 2016. The reason Rollins stayed on Raw for most of that time was because he was one of the top faces (last year was THE top face among male wrestlers) and now Mr. Becky Lynch is one of the top heels. I noted in the Smackdown review that it felt like WWE just switched Rollins and AJ Styles around since they were in similar positions as heels on their shows. I mentioned Becky because this will also mean that if she wrestles after having the baby (due in December) then putting her on Smackdown would make sense. It will probably be a few months after the baby is born, though.

As we would find out later, Seth’s adversaries Rey and Dominik Mysterio are also going to Smackdown along with Seth’s on again/off again disciple Murphy, so the story that has dominated Seth’s 2020 on Raw is going to continue on Smackdown. Is that a good thing? I don’t think so, but obviously WWE’s decision-makers like it.

Raw #5 – Hurt Business (MVP, US Champion Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander)

It’s nice that the group remains together because it’s been a productive thing for all of them. Perhaps going forward we see two of them become something of a regular tag team to go along with Lashley’s US Title reign. They are heels most of the time, but after repeated attacks from Retribution, it almost feels like WWE wants them to be faces. That would be weird because their gimmick works better as heels. Anyway, I’m glad they are staying on Raw.

Out of the first five picks, only Rollins is switching brands.

ROUND TWO

Raw #6 – AJ Styles

It’s back to Raw for Styles, who was moved to Smackdown a few months ago when he had creative issues with Raw’s Executive Director (at the time) Paul Heyman. Now that Heyman is not in that spot, Styles is back on Raw. I also noted in the Smackdown review that Styles recently talked about wanting to be home on Fridays to watch one of his son’s play football. Styles has four kids (the dates of their birth are tattooed on his body), so it seems like WWE is happy to move him to Raw to let him be there to support his son. That’s cool.

From a performance standpoint, Styles remains one of the best in WWE at 43 years old. I thought his match against Daniel Bryan in the finals of the IC Title tournament was the WWE Match of the Year so far. Styles is so consistently great in the ring, he has also developed enough as a talker to where it has become a strength of his and his ability to be a face or heel makes him valuable. I could see him feuding with Drew McIntyre soon or perhaps another face that could use a boost. Styles makes everybody around him better.

Smackdown #7 – Sasha Banks

The second women’s wrestler picked remains where she has been. Sasha Banks staying on Smackdown is the right call since she’s in the early stages of her feud with Bayley as they head towards a Hell in a Cell match later this month. Banks turned heel last summer when she came back after a break and stayed in that heel role for over a year, so she should be pretty fresh as a face moving forward. I think Banks is one of the most talented women in the company, if not THE most talented, so I hope she catches fire as a face and has a long run with the SD Women’s Title because she deserves a long run with a title considering how short some of her title reigns have been.

Raw #8 – Naomi

This move puts the spotlight on Naomi again, which I like a lot because even though she’s a former champion, it feels like WWE ignores her too often. Naomi’s a natural face that has a lot of success in that role. However, I wonder if maybe she should get a fresh start as a heel. I would like to see her try. Her brother-in-law Jey Uso got drafted to Smackdown later in the show while her husband Jimmy Uso is out of action with a knee injury until January or February. I assume Jimmy will be on the same show as his wife, but without live events due to COVID-19, there’s less of a need for couples to be together. Plus, things can always change with a trade or WWE simply moving somebody.

Smackdown #9 – Bianca Belair

I thought it was ridiculous that WWE barely utilized Bianca Belair for the last six months. They debuted her on Raw, you would think they might do something with her and then she barely appeared. I don’t get it. A move to Smackdown could work out for her as a fresh babyface wrestler that they can push. It’s just a matter of WWE remembering to utilize her unlike what they did on Raw. She’ll find out where husband Montez Ford of the Street Profits gets drafted on Monday. Most couples are on the show when WWE does drafts like this.

Raw #10 – Women’s Tag Team Champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax

The tag team partners that don’t get along were a package deal in this draft. Keeping them both on Raw makes a lot of sense considering that Asuka is the babyface Raw Women’s Champion. It should lead to Asuka feuding with one or both of them in the near future. I like Baszler more than I like Jax although I’m not clamoring for a push for either woman.

ROUND THREE

Raw #11 – Ricochet

This an example of where you can really pick apart the lack of logic in the draft. Ricochet is not featured that much on Raw, yet he was picked a full round ahead of a guy like Big E, who is getting a big push and you would think would be valued more. It’s nothing against Ricochet. I’m just focusing on how WWE books these guys. Based on the booking, you would think Ricochet would go after a guy like WWE, but here we are.

I think Ricochet is a natural babyface that should be pushed more than he is. The US Title reign for him was okay, but it wasn’t that long or memorable either. I’m not sure if the creative team is going to really push Ricochet hard this year or next year. If they do then that’s great because he’s a likable guy that wrestles an exciting style. I just feel like WWE isn’t interested in pushing him that hard.

Smackdown #12 – Jey Uso

The guy that’s in the WWE Universal Title feud right now and one of the best tag team wrestlers in WWE history is picked after some people that are barely on the show. Once again, we can question the logic, but it’s not like WWE is going to provide answers. I like Jey a lot as a singles wrestler or in a tag team when brother Jimmy returns early next year. I think that Jey’s work in singles shows how talented he is and he could be a star on his own, but long term he’ll likely still keep teaming with Jimmy. That’s for the best.

Raw #13 – Mandy Rose

There was a storyline about one month ago where Mandy was traded to Raw one month before the draft took place. Why even do that angle? It made no sense when there was a draft coming and WWE didn’t even attempt to announce who she was traded for. Anyway, I think she’s better as a heel than a face because she got to show off her personality more as a heel whereas when she’s a face she’s boring although she’s gorgeous, so it’s okay to keep her in the face role. Right now she’s teaming with Dana Brooke. I guess that will continue as WWE tries to build up women’s tag teams.

Smackdown #14 – Rey and Dominik Mysterio

Rey and Dominik as a duo likely also means Rey’s wife Angie and daughter Aalyah (settle down, Murphy!) will be on Smackdown too. The whole storyline ended up moving since Seth Rollins and Murphy were drafted to Smackdown. Since Rey has a long history as one of Smackdown’s biggest names in the history of the show, it makes sense. Also, since Smackdown is two hours compared to three on Raw, it means we might get less Mysterio family drama skits. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rey and Dominik in the ring and want to see them as tag team champions at some point. I just think the ongoing storyline needs to go away quickly.

Raw #15 – The Miz and John Morrison

The role of Miz and Morrison is that of two heels that started in WWE about 15 years ago and act like they are big stars even though they lose nearly every match. At least that’s what it feels like to me. They could go after tag team titles again or there could be a split between them with Morrison breaking away as a face (his goofy heel schtick isn’t great). I’m not sure if either guy will be in main events any time soon, but as midcard heels they are fine.

It also makes sense for The Miz to be on Raw on USA Network since USA Network airs “Miz & Mrs.” reality show with a new season starting next month. That show is on Thursdays at 10:30pm ET, which is a brutal timeslot for a family reality show.

ROUND FOUR

This part of the draft happened right after Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles from Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. That meant that Kofi, Xavier and Big E were all in the ring watching this happen.

Raw #16 – Smackdown Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods

Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles on Smackdown this week. They get to take those titles to Raw apparently. My guess is the Street Profits get moved to Smackdown as the Raw Tag Team Champions and they agree to switch the titles around. Another option is merging the Tag Team Titles by having a match, so then there’s one set of Tag Team Titles between Raw and Smackdown just like the women have. Since WWE isn’t keen on having a deep tag team division on either brand, that would be a sensible decision.

It’s a bit of a fresh start for Kofi and Xavier since they have been on Smackdown for a long time. It wouldn’t be a terrible thing if they did less teaming up to see how they can do in singles too. We saw Kofi as WWE Champion already while Woods is a guy with untapped potential as a singles wrestler since he can go in the ring and he’s a very good talker when he gets the chance too. I think they’ll do well on Raw.

The other obvious question is why would Raw only pick two New Day guys instead of all three with Big E? It’s not like WWE is going to provide an answer to that. It’s just a question that most fans would ask because we think logically while WWE’s creative team fails to do that at times.

Smackdown #17 – Big E

I mentioned the logic of the draft order earlier. Obviously WWE had Big E go this late because they wanted him in the ring when New Day’s guys were picked. I get it from an angle standpoint. However, just based on his history in the company and the fact that he’s getting a singles push, it’s hard to justify why he was “only” the 17th pick in this part of the draft. Once again, though, Big E should be considered a higher pick considering his spot on the roster. The problem in WWE is they don’t try to explain anything. If it was up to me, decisions like this would be explained better.

As for the future, Big E has been on a roll for a few months with plenty of wins on Smackdown. I think WWE should be smart by keeping him away from Roman Reigns until early next year when it comes time to think about Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. If WWE gets The Rock for WrestleMania then fine, put him against Reigns. However, if not, then Big E is a guy that they should continue to build for considering in that spot. I’m excited about his future.

Lastly, here’s a clip of Big E mentioning the lack of logic in WWE. Even the superstars laugh about it.

Raw #18 – Dana Brooke

It’s a move back to a show that Dana has been a part of in the past. For the past five years, Dana has been on both shows, she’s had some mild pushes here and there, but nothing consistent. Perhaps the first title she’ll win will be as a tag team with Mandy Rose because they are good looking blondes that work hard, so let’s see what they can do as a team. I’m not sure if Dana will ever have a significant singles push and that’s okay. I just think WWE’s creative could be better at coming up with ideas for her.

Smackdown #19 – Otis

The current Mr. Money in the Bank was broken up from his tag team partner Tucker. It’s a bit of a surprise considering the popular Heavy Machinery team never won tag team gold together even though the fans wanted to see it back when fans were at shows earlier in the year and last year. This team was cheered a lot. Vince McMahon apparently really likes Otis, so that’s a good thing for Otis, who probably won’t be Universal Champion any time soon, but at least he’s in the title hunt.

Raw #20 – Angel Garza

The alliance of Angel Garza, Andrade and Zelina Vega is a thing of the past now, so Garza will be a singles act on Raw. Even though he’s not a bigger guy, I can see him getting a solid push on Raw in the midcard possibly in the US Title hunt at some point. Garza has a lot of charisma, he’s a natural heel and the “Latin Lover” gimmick at least allows him to show off some personality, which is more than some people in WWE right now. Garza recently got married this year while WWE continues to book him as a flirt. Good for him.

ROUND FIVE (Talking Smack)

Raw #21 – Humberto Carrillo

Humberto Carrillo stays on Raw while his short-lived team with Dominik Mysterio is over. I assume that was done because they want Dominik to team with Rey regularly, but it’s not a good thing for Carrillo. While Carrillo has a bright future as a guy in his early 20s, I just don’t know if WWE will utilize him more than they have in the past.

#22 pick Murphy goes to Smackdown

When I saw that Seth Rollins and Rey/Dominik Mysterio were moved to Smackdown I figured we would see Murphy there too. After all, WWE wants him to keep pushing his developing relationship with Aalyah Mysterio, who is only 19 years old. I’m not sure if the angle is going to turn Murphy face by having him feud with Rollins or if he’ll still stay a heel that’s loyal to Rollins. There are a lot of ways that things can go. At least Murphy has been featured more in the past year.

Raw #23 – Drew Gulak

Gulak was already on Raw recently since he was going after the 24/7 Title for the last few weeks. They weren’t doing much with him on Smackdown in the last few weeks. I like him as a worker and I wonder if this means Daniel Bryan gets drafted to Raw as well because I like the two of them as a duo.

#24 Kalisto goes to Smackdown

It was pretty obvious that Lucha House Party were splitting up with Kalisto acting more heelish nearly every week. Perhaps we’ll see Kalisto in a heel role against Rey Mysterio and Dominik just to see if Kalisto can get over as a heel on his own. I think he’s got a lot of potential in a heel role.

Raw #25 – Tucker

This split was revealed on Talking Smack with Tucker and Otis looking shocked about it. This could be really bad for Tucker if he becomes a forgotten man because WWE wanted to push Otis without his partner around. Then again, maybe WWE seems something in Tucker as a bigger guy that can talk, he’s pretty solid in the ring for a man of his size and the bosses might like him a lot more than we think.

WWE also listed the following names as free agents:

Mickie James – I think she’s a good fit on Raw or Smackdown. By having her not get picked, maybe it’s a way to make her a heel that is mad about being disrespected and that could set up a rivalry for her. I just hope there’s a logical reason for it.

Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado) – Since Kalisto is on Smackdown, I would assume they go to Raw to separate the group members.

Shorty G – Dumping the name Shorty G and putting him on NXT would be awesome to see. I know NXT was not part of the draft, but if he’s a free agent, then why not have him sign with the show that has a lot of great wrestling matches? I’d love to see Chad Gable against the likes of Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa and others. It would be fresh. Plus, when Gable was in NXT he was mostly a tag team guy, so let’s see what he can do in singles.

 

NAMES DRAFTED ON RAW TONIGHT

The following wrestlers are available to be drafted tonight on Raw. Some of them likely won’t be drafted and will become free agents. This is how they are listed on WWE.com right now.

  • Andrade
  • Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley
  • Aleister Black
  • Alexa Bliss
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Carmella
  • King Corbin
  • Apollo Crews
  • Nikki Cross
  • Dabba-Kato
  • Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
  • Erik (of The Viking Raiders)
  • Lacey Evans
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Jeff Hardy
  • Billie Kay
  • Lana
  • Keith Lee
  • Elias
  • Riddick Moss
  • Natalya
  • Titus O’Neil
  • Randy Orton
  • Kevin Owens
  • R-Truth
  • RETRIBUTION
  • Matt Riddle
  • The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan)
  • Peyton Royce
  • Arturo Ruas
  • Sheamus
  • Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro
  • Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)
  • Braun Strowman
  • Tamina
  • Akira Tozawa
  • Zelina Vega
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Sami Zayn

I’ll have a Raw review up later tonight or more likely early Tuesday morning. Then I’ll do another column breaking down all the moves to Raw.

Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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