Last night’s edition of WWE SmackDown on Fox saw the first night of the 2020 WWE Draft take place, where the two ‘main roster’ shows, Raw and SmackDown, get to negotiate and select their picks for their rosters during the next year (or whenever the next Draft happens to be called).
Night One of the Draft saw few surprises and little that raised the temperature of or excited the loyal WWE Universe. Let’s take a look at these initial picks:
- WWE Champion Drew McIntyre stays on Raw
- RAW Women’s Champion Asuka stays on Raw
- The Hurt Business (MVP, Cedric Alexander, Shelton Benjamin, WWE United States Champion Bobby Lashley) stays on Raw
- WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns stays on SmackDown
- Seth Rollins goes from Raw to SmackDown
- AJ Styles goes from SmackDown to Raw
- Sasha Banks stays on SmackDown
- Naomi goes from SmackDown to Raw
- Bianca Belair goes from Raw to SmackDown
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax stay on Raw
- Ricochet stays on Raw
- Jey Uso stays on SmackDown
- Mandy Rose stays on Raw
- Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio go from Raw to SmackDown
- The Miz and John Morrison go from SmackDown to Raw
- SmackDown Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods go from SmackDown to Raw
- Big E stays on SmackDown
- Dana Brooke stays on Raw
- Otis stays on SmackDown
- Angel Garza stays on Raw
Takeaways from the Draft
On the surface, this first part of the draft is a little bit disappointing. Yes, there are still some big names to be announced, of course, but you’d expect the first night of such an important event for the WWE, one that will dictate the shape of their upcoming year, to at least feature a big surprise or two to get people talking and build a buzz for the next Draft announcements. Announcing Lars Sullivan will be in Monday’s Draft pool is not the best way to generate a buzz, not a positive one anyway.
Both major champions, WWE Heavyweight Champion Drew McIntyre and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns are to stay where they are, on Raw and SmackDown, which is to be expected. But there were no hints as of yet as to future challengers to their titles.
Seth Rollins has been drafted to SmackDown, which might have been an intriguing move—now Roman Reigns is a heel, would Seth team up with his former Shield teammate to terrorise Friday nights? Apparently not, as the transfer of Rey Mysterio and his son Dominick suggests Seth’s summer-long feud with the family will continue on Friday nights instead. I’m not really sure how much more mileage is left in this feud, but unfortunately, this draft choice is going to give people more of the same, just on a different night.
With Mandy Rose staying on Raw and Otis staying on SmackDown, it’s perhaps fair to say that this particular storyline is dead and buried. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I would have liked to have seen more of a resolution to it either way.
Both AJ Styles and the tag team of Miz & Morrison moving to Raw could be positive and might help to breathe some life into Raw, which has increasingly appeared to be the weaker of the two brands in recent weeks. Saying that I’m not sure who’s left for AJ to feud with anymore. He made some interesting comments recently on Twitch (not for long, AJ!) about how he’s happy to put people over in service of a story. So I’d assume he’d be willing, as a veteran, to help build new talent. If Keith Lee is to stay on Raw, then I think a feud with AJ could do wonders for him going forward on the main roster.
Otherwise, AJ would be a quality and legitimate contender for Drew McIntyre. Whether WWE sees AJ in that headlining capacity anymore is a different matter, however.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this opening part of the Draft is that the SmackDown tag team champions The New Day, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, will be moving to Raw. Does this mean the Champions will have to vacate, and will that present an opportunity for a new team to get a shot at grabbing the proverbial brass ring? The only problem I can foresee here is that, with The New Day and Miz & Morrison having feuded on SmackDown previously, the temptation could be to put them together in the ring again. The Draft is supposed to freshen things up, not offer re-runs.
With The New Day moving to Raw, there seems to be confirmation of the rumoured singles push for Big E, who is remaining on SmackDown. Does this mean that Big E is now the New Day’s Friday Night Ambassador? There hasn’t been split per se as all three are tagging in Woods’ and Kingston’s farewell match next week. It will be interesting to see where they go long-term with Mr Langston. Part of me hopes Keith Lee (him again!) is moved to SmackDown—Lee vs. Langston would be a hell of a hoss fight!
Intriguingly, WWE has announced that wrestlers who were part of last night’s draft pool but were not picked by either Raw or SmackDown will be able to pick which brand they want to sign with.
It’s an interesting idea to a point, but surely the fact that neither Raw nor SmackDown wanted these wrestlers devalues those wrestlers’ worth and reputation moving forward? Why take an interest in someone who neither roster wanted?
Not only that, but this ‘Supplemental Draft’ is not even taking place on either Raw or SmackDown—it’s being announced on this morning’s edition of Talking Smack on the WWE Network. That’s not going to convince many that the destination of these ‘free agents’ is worth caring about.
The ‘free agents’ in question are:
- Humberto Carrillo,
- Mickie James,
- Drew Gulak
- Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado)
- Shorty G
The most intriguing names here are perhaps Murphy and Tucker. Murphy was last seen in a storyline with Dominick Mysterio, where Murphy had been messaging Mysterio’s sister. He was also Seth Rollins’ right-hand man, although tension between the two had been teased. I fully expect him to arrive on SmackDown to continue these storylines on, but I don’t know why WWE felt the need to take such a convoluted route to get him there.
Tucker, meanwhile, had been somewhat of an afterthought during Otis’ love triangle with Mandy Rose and Dolph Ziggler. Now that storyline is over, it might have been a great time to really get behind Heavy Machinery as a team. Putting WWE’s track record in recent years with tag teams aside, there appears to be a suggestion that Heavy Machinery will be split up and pushed as singles performers. I’m not sure if that’s wise or not. Do we have a Shawn Michaels, or two Marty Janetty’s? In an ideal world, we’d have two Shawn’s, but it remains to be seen. It’s something to keep an eye on, certainly.
So, few surprises but a couple of points of intrigue. What did you think of Night One of WWE’s 2020 Draft? Let me know in the comments, and keep it here at Sports Obsessive for updates and analysis of the ongoing Draft!