It’s that time of the year again when the WWE landscape changes forever. Or at least until the next time they do a Draft. Yes, the USA Network and FOX are getting all their ducks in a row and seeing who they want to pick from the pool. Lots of rules but basically one set of talent can be picked from this week on Friday Night SmackDown and then there will be another pool on Monday Night RAW next week. Lives are about to change and it’ll be interesting to see who gets some new opportunities out of this shakeup. Let’s get right to the action.
Championship Picks (First Round)
We had the pleasure of Stephanie McMahon leading the 2020 WWE Draft picks throughout the night. I enjoy Stephanie a lot more in these rare appearances rather than any on-screen character involvement in storylines so it’s nice to see her again. Most importantly here we learnt of USA and FOX’s first picks and who they see as the most important talent in this first pool. Remember not all Superstars were available on the one night, so some of the pick orders may seem a little questionable.
- RAW pick: Drew McIntyre (WWE Champion)
- SmackDown pick: Roman Reigns (Universal Champion)
- RAW pick: Asuka (RAW Women’s Champion)
- SmackDown pick: Seth Rollins
- RAW pick: The Hurt Business
Analysis – It’s no surprise to see USA and FOX stick to their respective champions. Both men have been paying dividends in recent months and there are still plenty of fresh opponents and storylines to get involved in their brands. I’m still dreaming of a Roman Reigns vs Big E rivalry at this point. Asuka being RAW’s second pick is as it should be. I think we were all hoping Seth would move to SmackDown for something fresh, so the timing is right on that one. Getting him away from the Mysterios is no bad thing either. RAW keeping The Hurt Business gives four solid talents for the price of one and they’ve been one of the highlights of the show in recent weeks.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Big E vs Sheamus
Draft time also means we get the opportunity to see some great blow-off matches just in case talent get moved to different shows. The Big E and Sheamus rivalry has been brutal and physical all over the place so the Falls Count Anywhere match stipulation felt appropriate to bring an end to their story. With kendo sticks, tape and a few eggs thrown in, both men gave it their all with Big E picking up the win in the end. A Big Ending through a table off a car showed how far the New Day member was willing to go. He may be quirky with crazy energy but when Big E needs to focus and bring it, he undoubtedly does.
Big E feels ready to move to the next level. Yes, I still want that huge match against Roman but I’m sure there are a few steps along the way before we get to that, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for him. Another interesting development was the return of Kofi and Xavier backstage – they’re back and ready for action and The New Day are complete again. Will they stay by each other’s sides and support each other through Big E’s singles run? I hope so. They managed to do it with Kofi and that was one of the most genuine and heartfelt storylines they could have presented. There’s no reason they can’t do the same with Big E.
Consequences In A Cell
What are the consequences? WHAT ARE THEY? I want to know. Sometimes I just want people to give a straight answer, damnit, but unfortunately, that’s not the style of Paul Heyman and his Tribal Chief. We may not have received any details, and I’m sure that was ultimately disappointing for Jey Uso too, but what we did learn was that their Hell in a Cell match would also be an I Quit match. Not a combination I was expecting but considering how personal this feud has been I think it makes sense. Whatever the stipulations involved both men are going to put on one hell of a show.
A Phenomenal Pick (Second Round)
- RAW pick: AJ Styles
- SmackDown pick: Sasha Banks
- RAW pick: Naomi
- SmackDown pick: Bianca Belair
- RAW pick: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (Women’s Tag Team Champions)
Analysis – Another move that was expected by many, Styles is fantastic on whichever brand he goes to. Anyone he works with on RAW will benefit from his experience and talent. Hopefully, he’ll go straight for Drew as that’s a money feud right there. With Bayley a part of Monday’s second pool, Sasha was the logical choice for FOX and they’ve also invested in the future with Bianca Belair. Naomi moving to Monday nights gives her a fresh chance many fans have been asking for, and it’s no surprise that her new bosses wanted to keep their Women’s tag champs. They’ve been an unexpected success as a team.
Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle vs The Miz & John Morrison
One of those throwaway matches that were fun to watch for a few minutes. Apparently, it happened because Matt Riddle wanted to team with Jeff Hardy so there you go. No deep storyline there but I’ll take it because it means we got to see a Miz and Morrison match that didn’t involve Otis. What a rare treat. There’s still a chance that they’ll all get drafted together and their storyline will go on forever but fingers crossed the split is coming. The match was short and sweet with Riddle and Hardy showing good chemistry and teamwork and winning very quickly but it was more a set up for the aftermath.
Lars Sullivan! Who remembers him? I didn’t. I’d honestly forgotten he existed and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have been sad if he never came back but apparently, he’s ready to be on TV again. Looking at Wikipedia, we last saw him in June 2019 before he injured his knee, so SmackDown was a real night of people returning from injuries. Everyone wants to be eligible for the WWE Draft and make an impact. Sullivan looked destructive and powerful, taking out all four men in the ring, and Stephanie said he’ll now be in Monday’s second pool.
Bye Bye Ho Ho (Third Round)
- RAW pick: Ricochet
- SmackDown pick: Jey Uso
- RAW pick: Mandy Rose
- SmackDown pick: Rey & Dominik Mysterio
- RAW pick: The Miz and John Morrison
Analysis – If I’m honest, I was hoping Ricochet would get moved to SmackDown as there are quite a few people over there I’d love to see him work with but hey at least we got Miz and Morrison moved to RAW, so it’s not all bad. Well, as long as Otis doesn’t follow them. They wouldn’t do that to us, would they? Well, they did move the Mysterios to the same brand as Seth Rollins, so they’re not beyond disappointing us. Mandy staying on RAW is okay as she still has a lot to prove and it’s no surprise SmackDown keeps Jey Uso who has been doing the best work of his career.
SmackDown Women’s Championship – Bayley (c) vs Sasha Banks
After weeks of back and forth, it was finally time for Sasha Banks to get her hands on her former best friend Bayley and hopefully take the one thing that means everything to her – the SmackDown Women’s Championship. As the WWE Draft may cause both women to end up on different shows, Sasha was granted this chance to show Bayley who the real boss is but it wasn’t to be. This was by no means a classic match as it really didn’t get the opportunity to get going. Both women showed fire and hatred for each other but Bayley had no interest in getting into it with her nemesis.
Once again a chair was introduced and Bayley used it on Sasha to cause the deliberate disqualification so that she could keep her title. Hardly surprising as Bayley has been known for her sneaky tactics but after the match Sasha got the upper hand and managed to get a few chair shots in on Bayley to send her packing. More importantly, Sasha would reveal backstage that Bayley had only managed to make things worse as they will now meet at Hell in a Cell in a Hell in a Cell match.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs The New Day
While Cesaro and Nakamura have been enjoyable as the tag champs, I’m not a huge fan of makeshift teams and if Cesaro can get a singles run out of the WWE Draft, then that would be the dream. We can always hope, right? Back in July Cesaro and Nakamura defeated Kofi and Big E to win the titles so this was a rematch of sorts, only with Kofi and Xavier instead. Woods has been on the sidelines for months now so it’s great to see him back. I really rate him in terms of character and he always puts on solid matches, especially as part of a tag team. Kofi can work with whatever he’s given and having both men back is a real win.
Tag team wrestling really gets a tough time in WWE, especially considering how much talent they actually have. Not that I need to see another Usos and New Day feud or anything but when they do it right, they really do it right. Seeing a competitive match between the tag champs and the New Day was really enjoyable and took me back to when I fell in love with tag team wrestling with the Hart Foundation and the Rockers etc. I just wish WWE could build the division to be as strong as it once was. The New Day really timed their returns right as they were able to pick up the titles again and celebrate in the ring with Big E. A hugely successful night all round for those three men. Or was it?
Feel The Power (Fourth Round)
- RAW pick: The New Day (Kofi and Xavier – SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
- SmackDown pick: Big E
- RAW pick: Dana Brooke
- SmackDown pick: Otis
- RAW pick: Angel Garza
Analysis – Most importantly – OTIS IS STAYING ON SMACKDOWN. That means the Miz and Morrison feud finally ends. Or at least it will soon. I know they still like to have crossovers for a few weeks after the WWE Draft but at least the end is in sight. In other news, apparently, The New Day have split and Big E will in fact have to go it completely alone. Poor Big E. I do wonder how the guys feel about it legitimately as they’ve always spoken about not wanting to turn on each other etc. What a night of mixed emotions. I’m not even sure how they were available as separate picks but that’s WWE logic for you. RAW also got Dana Brooke and Angel Garza, let’s just say I’m far more excited about Garza.
The Fiend vs Kevin Owens
As promised from last week after that bizarre Kevin Owens Show moment where Alexa Bliss was completely in a trance, Owens got a chance to get his hands on The Fiend. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure. That mask completely freaks me out and we all remember the time Seth Rollins had to do approximately 100,000 stomps to try and put him down. Owens would probably be more successful doing a gauntlet on RAW Underground than trying to defeat The Fiend. Yet it’s a feud that works quite well as both men are always willing to go out there and give it their all.
Give their all is exactly what they did. A worthy main event with some intense action in the ring and even more brutal outside of it. Owens showed no fear in going after The Fiend but you just had that feeling that whatever Kevin threw at Bray’s alter-ego, he was always going to come out on the losing side. The Fiend just kept coming back after all of Owens’ big moves and the Mandible Claw once again brought him a victory. Good luck to whichever brand picks him. We ended with The Fiend and Alexa Bliss staring at each other and I thought maybe they were going to kiss but thankfully not. Kevin Owens has had better nights.
The best of SmackDown
- Big E and Sheamus – both men gave it their all and they work incredibly well together. A really enjoyable match that gave Big E yet another push in the right direction.
- Seth Rollins – a whole new set of matches now on SmackDown assuming they can keep him away from the Mysterios long enough
- Kofi and Xavier return – neither looked like they’d missed a beat and I’m all for the power of positivity. Hopefully, they can continue to elevate the tag division and lots of new feuds on RAW.
- Miz and Morrison – they’ve been moved. I could not be more excited.
- Roman and Jey – they may not have had much time this week but the intensity and intrigue remain.
The worst of SmackDown
- New Day split – I do not like seeing Big E sad. Don’t do that to me. I hope he makes new friends.
- Lars Sullivan – I just don’t get it.
- Otis – he still exists. There’s literally no one I want to see him work with.
- FOX – choosing to move the Mysterios to the same brand as Rollins. How dare you.
Well at the top of the card the champs remain where they are, so it wasn’t exactly an earth-shattering night for WWE as a whole, but it’s telling to see what they think the future might look like. Especially when it comes to Big E being separated from his New Day brothers. That’s the main talking point of the first pool and while I’m sad for them I have to take it in a positive way that they genuinely want to get behind Big E and go forward with him. The show overall was decent and thankfully it looks like both brands remain quite balanced and equal. I will apologise in advance as it looks like my moaning about Otis and Miz and Morrison will just be replaced by moaning about Rollins and the Mysterios but I suppose we can’t love everything right? Now on to Monday night for the remaining picks.
WWE Draft Night One Summary
- Drew McIntyre (WWE Champion)
- Asuka (RAW Women’s Champion)
- The Hurt Business
- AJ Styles
- Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (Women’s Tag Team Champions)
- Mandy Rose
- The Miz and John Morrison
- The New Day (Kofi & Xavier – SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
- Dana Brooke
- Angel Garza
- Roman Reigns (Universal Champion)
- Seth Rollins
- Sasha Banks
- Bianca Belair
- Jey Uso
- Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio
- Big E
LAST MINUTE – Supplemental Saturday’s Talking Smack Round:
- RAW picks Humberto Carrillo
- SmackDown picks Murphy
- RAW picks Drew Gulak
- SmackDown picks Kalisto
- RAW picks Tucker
Mickie James, Shorty G, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik remain free agents.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE