WWE held its Draft on Friday and Monday, splitting up rosters between SmackDown on FOX and RAW on USA Network. Different than in prior years, WWE ran a storyline where executives from each network were picking the wrestlers they wanted on their show. It was a nice real-world touch, despite the cheesy acting every time they went to the “war rooms” of each network.
Let’s run down the results.
RAW will be headlined by Universal Championship Seth Rollins, with the main-event talent also including AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton. The next level includes Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Andrade. The mid-card portion of the roster will have Rusev, Aleister Black, Rey Mysteiro and R-Truth while the bottom of the card features Cedric Alexander, Sin Cara, Carillo, Erick Rowan, Buddy Murphy, Jinder Mahal, Akira Tozawa, Shelton Benjamin and Titus O’Neil.
On SmackDown, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar headlines the show along with other main-event talents such as Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman and Daniel Bryan. The top of the mid-tier includes Shinsuke Nakamura, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, King Corbin and the rest of New Day while the bottom of the card will feature Ali, Shorty Gable, Elias, Apollo Crews, Drew Gulak and Heath Slater.
On the women’s side of the roster, RAW gets Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Charlotte and Natalya while SmackDown gets Bayley, Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans and Carmella.
RAW will keep the Viking Raiders, who won the RAW Tag Team Championship last night, as well as the OC and Street Profits while SmackDown‘s roster will include The Revival, New Day, Ziggler & Roode and Heavy Machinery.
There is still some interesting talent that went undrafted. According to the “rules” WWE published before the start of the draft, these wrestlers are now free agents and can sign with any show that offers them a contract (presumably).
Cesaro and Luke Harper are the two biggest free agents on the men’s side. The undrafted women include Dana Brooke and The Ilconics, while AOP is still available from the tag-team division.
So, who won?
RAW has more depth — especially on the women’s side — while SmackDown seems to have more star power on the men’s side. It’s hard to argue with Lesnar being the top name in the company, and his forthcoming feud with Cain Velasquez likely means that Velasquez will end up on the blue brand as well. That’s a huge showcase at the top of the card.
RAW, however, has the better creative behind the roster with Paul Heyman reportedly running the show. Heyman should be able to do a lot of great things with Rollins, Styles, McIntyre, Owens and Ricochet. Let’s hope Vince McMahon stays out of the way.
Heyman also gets to play with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair … two huge components of the women’s division.
RAW‘s roster depth, and better creative, likely sets it up to be the better show as far as the quality of the program. But FOX’s big names and bigger reach likely means that SmackDown generates more viewers.