Last night’s edition of Raw saw the WWE 2020 Draft conclude in a generally anti-climactic fashion, as the picks made suggest some feuds are not prepared to end, regardless of if they’re past their sell-by-date or not.
First of all, let’s take a look at last night’s picks:
- “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt goes from SmackDown to Raw
- Randy Orton stays on Raw
- SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley stays on SmackDown
- RAW Tag Team Champions (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) go to SmackDown from Raw
- Charlotte Flair stays on Raw
- Braun Strowman goes to Raw from SmackDown
- Daniel Bryan stays on SmackDown
- Matt Riddle goes to Raw from SmackDown
- Kevin Owens goes to SmackDown from Raw
- Jeff Hardy goes to Raw from SmackDown
- RETRIBUTION stays on Raw
- Lars Sullivan stays on SmackDown
- Keith Lee stays on Raw
- King Baron Corbin stays on SmackDown
- Alexa Bliss goes from SmackDown to Raw
- Elias goes to Raw from SmackDown
- WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn stays on SmackDown
- Lacey Evans goes to Raw from SmackDown
- Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura stay on SmackDown
- Sheamus goes to Raw from SmackDown
- Nikki Cross goes to Raw from SmackDown
- Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler go to SmackDown from Raw
- WWE 24/7 Champion R-Truth stays on Raw
- Apollo Crews goes to SmackDown from Raw
- Dabba-Kato stays on Raw
- Titus O’ Neil stays on Raw
- Carmella stays on SmackDown
- Peyton Royce stays on Raw
- Aleister Black goes to SmackDown from Raw
- Akira Tozawa stays on Raw
- Lana stays on Raw
- Riddick Moss stays on Raw
- Arturo Ruas stays on Raw
- Natalya goes to SmackDown from Raw
- Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan go to SmackDown from Raw
The biggest talking point for me is that, while there is potential for new feuds, it is noticeable that some of the biggest feuds of the summer, rather than be concluded in time for the Draft, have instead simply found themselves swapped to the opposing brand. Seth, Murphy and the Mysterio family have all moved from Raw to SmackDown, as have Kevin Owens and Alistair Black, whilst The Fiend and Braun Strowman have both made the leap over to Raw.
While there is no definite indication that these feuds will continue on their new brands, it’s fair to say that the point of the Draft is to mix things up and create fresh match-up’s and feuds for the year ahead. Simply swapping feuds from one brand to the other does not suggest a creative or imaginative direction for the next 12th months.
Where the Draft was interesting last night was in the spaces where it suggested new feuds could and might happen. Keith Lee vs. Braun Strowman, announced for next week’s Raw, is an exciting idea in that it’s a fresh match-up and has the potential to be a good old hoss fight. But it will be the starting point for a larger feud or a one off? If The Fiend interferes, that will give us some indication, I suppose.
Meanwhile, Elias attacking Jeff Hardy is a step in the right direction. Elias has been a victim of stop-start booking for a long while now, but a feud with a veteran name like Hardy could do him a lot of good from star-building point of view. The curious thing about that, though, is that Elias’ attack came on the heels of a triple threat match that featured Jeff and AJ Styles—two men who have just been feuding over the Intercontinental title on SmackDown! With AJ saying he and Jeff have unfinished business, I have little faith that WWE won’t interject him into a Hardy-Elias feud somehow. Which takes us back to the issue of continuing feuds on new brands.
The other noticeable issue, to my mind, was the total absence of NXT in the draft. If WWE wants us to accept NXT as their third brand, something that can compete with AEW, then the Draft was a perfect opportunity to strengthen the brand. Some names that are getting a little stale perhaps on the black and gold show, people like Ciampa, Cole and Gargano, who have little else to prove or achieve in NXT, could have given themselves and the main roster a boost by switching.
By the same token, guys like Cesare, Nakumura and Andrade, extremely talented guys that seem to be treading water on the main roster, could have helped to give NXT a fresh injection of talent and creativity. Surely those wrestlers, as NXT alumni, would fit the wrestling style of the black and gold brand? I mean, you wouldn’t want Roman Reigns back in NXT now because he wouldn’t fit the style, but how about Daniel Bryan? He’s an absolute match for the NXT style and he would bring much-needed name value to compete with AEW on Wednesday nights. Same with AJ Styles or Jeff Hardy.
The fact that NXT was ignored totally by the Draft betrays the fact that, whatever Triple H or the placement of NXT on the USA Network on Wednesdays tells us, Vince McMahon does not see NXT as an equal of Raw and SmackDown. Whatever excitement we had by Finn returning home, and Charlotte Flair and Seth Rollins making appearances, it looks like we shouldn’t expect more of the same—at least not until it comes time to promote Survivor Series.
The biggest casualty of the Draft, though, appears to be Andrade. As of writing, he has not been drafted to either main roster brand. Not only that, he was destroyed by The Fiend after his match on Raw, used as a way to demonstrate The Fiend’s power and nothing else. It’s a shame that quality talent like Andrade gets treated in such a manner, but by now with WWE, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised.
What are your thoughts on the 2020 WWE Draft? Were they picks you were impressed by? Let me know in the comments!