Following the draft over the past weekend, the armies have been formed and the battle lines drawn as we revert back to brand warfare between RAW and Smackdown, as well as their networks, USA Network and Fox.
The weirdest thing WWE has ever done, letting the networks pick the rosters and having them react extremely poorly to the decisions blurted out by Stephanie McMahon. A dream has been realised for all fans because the Wildcard Rule is no more and all competitors are to stay on their brands, and yes that does include Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. A weird ruling WWE made was RAW getting three picks to Smackdown’s two, even though RAW is longer, Smackdown seems to be the new ‘A Show’ thanks to the cash influx by FOX. Nevertheless, Smackdown will be the more ‘legitimate’ brand thanks to FOX’s demands. The rosters weren’t shaken up as much as we probably all thought, but some wrestlers moved around, including some we didn’t even realise where they were originally. Imagine having a tag team signed to RAW, currently holding the Smackdown Tag Titles, well that’s The Revival, now correctly on Smackdown. Smackdown did end up with some very promising picks, and the possibility to sign the ‘free agents’, like The Uso’s and Cesaro, who should never be free agents.
Quick honourable mention goes to The Miz, he was drafted back to Smackdown, a brand he made his home and became one of the stalwarts of the brand. He is back on the brand that holds the Intercontinental Title so we will be seeing that record tying reign when he gets his ninth reign and WWE can successfully remove Chris Jericho from their history.
5. The Revival
Speaking of the current Smackdown Tag Team Champions, they were drafted to Smackdown on Smackdown as pick number fourteen during the third round. Quite a high pick number for a tag team WWE have notoriously not been that hot on, but the fact they have those blue straps probably bolstered them up, otherwise they would be a free agent right about now. An absolutely phenomenal tag team and it has been proven with their track record of incredible tag team matches with various WWE talent including The Uso’s, The New Day and DIY back in their NXT days. And that is what WWE need to do, they need to reset their time on RAW, act like it didn’t exist and present The Revival like they were on NXT. Every single match they competed in seemed like a big deal, their tag team offence was second to none and their character work as desperate heels who would do anything for the win was what captivated audiences and gave us the brilliant visual in the match they lost to DIY. If The Revival can consistently have good matches and good storylines, not necessarily involving the tag titles, they will flourish on Smackdown. If not, then we all know what rumours will be running rampant.
4. Sasha Banks
This is my least favourite move, purely because I must listen to Michael Cole scream out ‘It’s Boss Time’ every single week but I am not being biased whatsoever. Sasha is possibly the best addition to the Smackdown roster, since her return she has been absolutely wonderful. In a woman’s roster which looks like it’s very heel, it seems Carmella is the only face, Sasha will be the top heel and Smackdown Women’s Champion in no time. Now, the current champion is her best friend and the recently fully heel, Bayley, which would make for some interesting program on how they would go about this. Sasha would probably end up being the face, which is the less appealing move out of the two down to Sasha’s incredible heel work. what I would love to see is a heel vs heel match for the title between Sasha and Bayley, with the winner being interrupted by the returning Ember Moon, who is currently a free agent and inactive due to injury. The other potential they could go down is Bayley loses to title to someone else, Carmella for example, reuniting the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection but as heels, putting them into the women’s tag scene. Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott are free agents, could reunite two thirds of the Riott Squad and get that little feud going when Ruby is back from injury. Either way, Sasha is the hottest superstar Smackdown acquired in the draft and I can’t wait to see what she does on the blue brand.
3. Braun Strowman
What seemed an interesting acquisition on Smackdown’s part, the Monster Among Men was one of the faces of RAW. I now see why they moved him to Smackdown as he is currently embroiled in a feud with English boxer, Tyson Fury, FOX wanted a more sports based product and having Tyson Fury regularly appear on Smackdown opposing Strowman would bring the crossover of boxing fans to the world of wrestling. Strowman has potential, his character work is great, his persona and in ring style suits him to the ground but a World Title has always alluded him. Strowman had six chances, I believe, at the Universal Title and failed every time. So, a change to a different brand and a different title could change that trend and he could become the World Champion on Smackdown, something I can see happening once Brock and Cain Velazquez’s feud is over. With the main event scene looking stacked on Smackdown, he will fit right in and have fantastic matches, and could possibly drop down and sit in the mid-card for a while and challenge for the Intercontinental Title.
2. Brock Lesnar
This one was obvious from the start, FOX wants sports based, who better to have than a former UFC World Heavyweight Champion? He is also now the current WWE Champion set to defend against Cain Velazquez on October 31st at Crown Jewel, in case you forget when it was. Brock is legitimate, he is adored by FOX executives for his background and for us fans, mainly speaking for myself, he is one of the best WWE currently have. If he doesn’t make the title part-time, like his schedule, he’ll be a grand fit for Smackdown and hopefully a fighting champion against some of the plucky babyfaces who also went over with him like Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan. If he does lose the title, it doesn’t matter because he is still a draw, he will still put people in seats and sell out arenas and bolster PPV buys. With the company on the road to Survivor Series, we will all get to see what I consider one of my favourite matchups, Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar, but it seems to be another match where they are booking themselves into a corner by having two superstars who can’t lose. Any match Lesnar has is big, it’s made a big deal by him, his opponent, Paul Heyman and most importantly, WWE.
1. Bray Wyatt
The best male pick Smackdown got, the most popular and captivating competitor in the company right now. However, an interesting choice due to his character work and focus on the entertainment side of the business, compared to the sports side of it. A disappointing end to his run on RAW with the extremely poor ending at Hell in a Cell, this gives Bray Wyatt a chance to refresh, pick himself up and start terrorising Smackdown’s superstars. With his feud with Rollins seemingly over, and it is shaping up that Rollins will be facing Lesnar at Survivor Series, we could see that match end in a double DQ after the Fiend attacks both competitors. This would end his feud with Rollins completely and set Wyatt up as a strong contender for the WWE title. If this wasn’t the route WWE went for, I can see him debuting in an attack or Firefly Fun House segment on Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan. A revigorated Bray will run riot on Smackdown and alongside Reigns, Bryan, Strowman and Lesnar, Smackdown have got the much superior main event scene. He is the most popular competitor in the company today, he will remain that because we all know he will become WWE Champion and the face of Smackdown in due course.
Smackdown is shaping up to be the more dominant brand, which we all expected after FOX pumped it full of money, and with these five and the other talent they have acquired, it will come into fruition. Let the war, commence!
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!