Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wrestling with the logic of the WWE Draft

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

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When WWE announced they were separating RAW and Smackdown into separate brands and bringing back the draft, I think most fans were excited at how the rosters would shape up when all was said and done. Then, much like every time WWE seems to be doing something exciting, the draft happened and instead of being excited most fans were left shaking their heads. How could a successful company keep making the perceived dumbest decisions over and over?

I understand criticizing the draft after the fact is pretty easy. Who knows what the WWE creative team had to deal with in making the decisions on where to send each Superstar. Given the stories about Vince McMahon constantly changing his mind up until show time on normal weeks, it’s not out of the realm of possibility there were changes happening during the show. However, the final draft results shows more an incompetence for the teams of Stephanie McMahon/Mick Foley and Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan than it shows a well thought out long term plan for what the two different plans will offer to fans.

Now the draft only factored in Superstars already on the WWE roster. According to rumors, WWE has reached out to former Superstars. If this is true, the draft results don’t reflect the final rosters for each show, which will be more dynamic than they currently appear. With that said, let’s dive into the logic gaps of WWE draft.

One out of four...

Before the draft, announced there would be six draft picks from NXT. Naturally this led to speculation over who would be brought up to the main roster. Other than two or three names, I don’t think many fans were happy with the names that didn’t get drafted. The six NXT talents to get the call up are: Finn Balor, American Alpha, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley and Carmella. These are all fine talents who have the potential to be stars in the future however, why were the most popular stars, Nakamura, Bayley, Samoa Joe and Austin Aries not drafted?

I’m not sure the line up for NXT: Takeover Brooklyn 2. What I have read is most of the talents who weren’t drafted have matches on the show. If that’s the case, a simple explanation stating NXT General Manager William Regal had petitioned to have those talents ineligible for the draft so as not to mess up Takeover Brooklyn. Making talents unable to be drafted and letting the audience aware of the decision would have tempered expectations and given a logical reason for the top names to not be drafted.

Courtesy: WWE

On RAW, Stephanie McMahon announced RAW would be home to the new Cruiserweight division, which could include a Cruiserweight Champion after the Cruiserweight Classic is finished. During the draft, Shane McMahon used the first pick to draft the current WWE Champion. From there, Stephanie McMahon drafted the Women’s Champion in the first round. The second round saw Stephanie take the Tag Team champions before taking the US Champion Rusev as the first pick in the fourth round. After selecting Rusev, Smackdown GM reluctantly drafted The Miz noting Smackdown needed a champion. Why weren’t champions regarded as higher draft picks? Especially since Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan used the second round to pick John Cena and Randy Orton. While being main event stars, both guys are on the verge of being part time performers and have been the focus of WWE programming for almost 15 years. Why not go with Superstars who could be the future of the company?

Based on the card for Battleground on Sunday, there is the chance the US and IC titles could swap brands. Even if both swap that doesn’t do anything to even out the brands. I still stand by my opinion one show should be home to the Women’s division and the other should have the Tag Team division. One should have the IC title and the other the US title as the secondary title to a WWE title and World title.


Unless Stephanie is going to have him work more dates, why did she draft Brock Lesnar with the number eight pick? Picking a guy who shows up a handful of times a year, and may be on the verge of a wellness program suspension, over guys who are there every week doesn’t make sense.

What about Heath?
Courtesy: WWE
With all the talk about splitting up tag teams, the only teams to be split were the Wyatt Family and Social Outcasts. Braun Strowman was drafted to RAW while Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan went to Smackdown. In the case of the Social Outcasts, Stephanie used two picks to for Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel instead of simply taking the Outcasts in one pick and getting Heath Slater as well. This may be leading to a bigger story, as Heath was the only person not drafted. Even if does lead to something for Heath down the road, having Bo and Curtis drafted to the same show four picks apart doesn’t make sense.

Yes! No?! Maybe?
Courtesy: WWE
Given Shane McMahon’s reasoning for returning to RAW because he wanted to change the show and undo the damage caused by Stephanie and Triple H along with Daniel Bryan’s knowledge of the “younger” talent available in the draft, why are the majority of their picks Superstars who have been around for around ten years? If they were choosing talent in any of the four major sports drafts, they would be run out of town after the draft was over.

Now that the draft is over, we’ll have to wait and see what happens to the rosters going forward. Based solely on the results of the draft it seems WWE has their work cut out to make each show feel different and compelling. Given WWE’s track record, I don’t have high hopes but will be willing to give them time to see what they do.

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