The battle of the brands becomes the “battle of the networks” this week as Fox and USA face off in the WWE Draft!
Since the initial brand split in 2002, the WWE has periodically utilized the supplemental draft concept as a sort of soft reset method. Throughout the years, past drafts have been responsible for such historical moments as the splitting of the Dudley Boyz, the eventual creation of the “World Heavyweight” Championship, and even Rene Dupree being selected as a first round pick! The idea being that ANYTHING can happen during a WWE Draft. However, the more accurate statement would probably be that drafts are a convenient way for WWE to experiment within their own roster without the fear of risking much.
Sure, breaking up the Dudleys was a terrible idea, but figuring that out while having both Bubba and D-Von still under contract was perfect trial and error booking. With Vince and Co. currently having to please two separate national television networks on a weekly basis, as well as waging a new war with All Elite Wrestling every Wednesday night, the conditions are apparently perfect for some experimentation.
This week’s episodes of Raw and Smackdown were the stage for the latest edition of the WWE draft, and although there may have been a few unexpected results, it’s safe to say the overall event was predictable. Championships stayed on their respective shows, no tag teams were forced to go their separate ways, and most current ongoing storylines seem like they’ll continue. For all that talk I just made about drafts being experimental, this year’s offering seems to have fallen fairly flat. But, that doesn’t change the fact that I am obligated to give you fine readers the same above average pro wrestling article you’ve come to expect every week! Therefore, this week we’re going to handle Red vs. Blue a little differently.
Instead of the usual shtick of comparing the positive and negative aspects of both shows, this week we’ll be analyzing the best three and worst three picks by both shows, and we’ll use that information to determine which show not only won for the week, but also won this year’s draft overall. So, with my near incoherent introductory babbling out of the way, let’s jump right into the best picks of each show!
It goes without saying that Raw normally fares better than Smackdown in most drafts, with this year being no exception to that statement. The red brand was given a three to two pick advantage over it’s blue rival, which the USA network made ample use of, quickly securing talent the likes of Becky Lynch and all three members of The O.C. Yet, in my opinion, the biggest picks for WWE’s flagship show would come in later selection rounds. Seeing Ricochet, Aleister Black, and Andrade all drafted to Monday Night Raw reignited the hope within me that WWE will start getting behind their former indy talent more. Failing to acknowledge the next generation has always been a folly of World Wrestling Entertainment, a fact made even more legitimate by the little to no push most NXT stars receive upon transitioning to the main roster these days.
Despite this apparent lack of interest from inside the company, the trio of Ricochet, Andrade, and Black have done all they can to stay within the spotlight. Whether it’s the use of unique styles such as Ricochet’s traditional highflying lucha libre, Andrade’s technical based variation, Black’s kickboxing background or just the fact that they’re highly impressive fresh faced talents, these three have kept the fans’ attention. There’s no doubt in my mind that Andrade, Black, and Ricochet could easily become three of the pillars of Monday Night Raw.
Moving on to the blue brand’s picks, it would seem that the Fox network is intent on establishing Smackdown as the new Alpha amongst WWE’s weekly programming with one of earliest picks being the addition of “The Fiend” to Friday nights. Undeniably the most talked about gimmick to be seen in modern WWE, Bray Wyatt’s “Fiend” character has proved itself to be a proverbial viewership lightning rod. If Wyatt truly is exclusive to Friday night’s moving forward, then it’s safe to say Raw will definitely be taking a loss in the ratings to it’s end of the week counterpart.
Honestly, we could probably jump right to the worst picks now, but I did say I’d highlight three of each, so let me also touch on the drafts of Braun Strowman and The Miz to Smackdown. In my opinion, both these men deserve runs with a world title, and the blue brand is the perfect setting. How long have we been told that Braun is the “Monster Among Men”? Drive the point home by having him take out Lesnar for the WWE Championship! After that, start a feud between Miz and Braun with Miz trying to overcome impossible odds in an attempt at a world title reign that actually means something. You could even incorporate “The Fiend” after Miz eventually captures the title, which is going to draw a lot more viewers than having Lesnar F-5 Bray ten times before getting the three count and disappearing for two months.
As with most drafts, there are always a few picks that leave us either angry or scratching ours heads. Late in the rounds, both Raw and Smackdown made some rather interesting selections to wind down their respective rosters. Concerning the red brand, the easiest target has to be Titus O’Neil. I’m telling you right now, Titus wouldn’t have even been in this draft if Crown Jewel wasn’t coming up. There’s no chance WWE is heading to Saudia Arabia without reminding us about the infamous Titus “World Slide” incident.
Next, it looks like Raw plans on grabbing up some of those former 205 Live viewers by drafting all the cruiserweights Triple H didn’t want on NXT. Seriously?! Does no one remember how bad it was when the cruiserweight division was part of Raw?! Now, don’t get me wrong, guys like Buddy Murphy, Cedric Alexander, and Humberto Carillo will undoubtedly bring a new level of talent to the Raw roster, but where exactly do Sin Cara, and Akira Tozawa fit into the grand scheme? Hope you all enjoyed seeing these guys highlighted on 205, because it’s all down hill from here.
Lastly, Raw went on to add a surprising name to their final draft picks as Liv Morgan was announced as part of the Monday night team. Truthfully, Liv makes the bad pick list simply because I’m sick and tired of hearing about this supposed new gimmick she’s getting only to not see a sign of her. Mark my words, whatever this new gimmick is, don’t expect anything good to come of it. Remember Emma’s new gimmick? How about Eva Marie’s? Calling it now, in a year’s time Liv will be working with ROH or AEW.
Switching over to Smackdown, first on the chopping block for the blue brand has to be “Shorty” Gable. What the hell is this? You find yourself with a bonafide miniature version of Kurt Angle on your roster and you’re actually going to call him “Shorty”?! I’m not even mad that Gable got drafted, the kid is uber talented and a definite star in the making, but making a smaller wrestler’s ring name “Shorty” is far below sophomoric level writing. This pretty much tells the audience, “Hey, we don’t take this guy seriously, and neither should you.”
Wrapping up the blue brand’s worst draft picks, how about two guys that neither the fans nor the company cares about? Both Elias and Heath Slater found themselves selected as part of Smackdown’s draft picks, suggesting that if you’re getting exclusive use of “The Fiend”, then you gotta be willing to accept a couple of terrible musician gimmicks as well! There’s no one still interested in “Walking with Elias” and Slater only got drafted so WWE could avoid making another “I Got Kids” shirt. Just to drive home the point of how ridiculous these two being drafted at all is, Elias and Heath were both drafted over Cesaro…let that sink in.
Well, it definitely wasn’t as thrilling as other drafts, but if nothing else, it’ll be nice seeing some new faces popping up on WWE weekly programming. With the deck slightly shuffled, it’ll be interesting to see if WWE will actually hold true to each brand having an exclusive roster. But, you all came here to find out which show was the better of the week. In my opinion, for the fact of drafting Bray Wyatt if nothing else, this week’s winner is…
There it is, folks. Another week of WWE content over, and another Red vs. Blue in the books. So, as always, allow me to finish this all up by bidding you all farewell the only way I know how.
May all your kicks be super, and every single frog splash five stars!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.