It’s once again that time of the year where the landscape of the WWE gets shaken up. The annual WWE Draft is set to take place over the next week with the first draft show airing on Friday, October 1st edition of SmackDown on FOX and the second show airing on Monday, October 4th edition of RAW on USA Network.
Last year, Drew McIntyre was RAW first pick when Roman Reigns was SmackDown first pick. Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, The Mysterios and Kevin Owens were drafted to SmackDown when AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Naomi, The Miz & John Morrison and Jeff Hardy were drafted to RAW.
Many of the stars who were selected in last year’s Draft are now gone from the company, as WWE has released more than 50 active wrestlers since the beginning of 2021, so who will be the 2021 draftees? Will we see some NXT “kids” coming to the main roster? Our team made their choices.
Seth Rollins to RAW
Tom Mimnagh: “The Drip King” Seth Rollins has had a mixed bag of a time on SmackDown since he was moved from RAW in the last draft. Although his feuds with The Mysterios, Cesaro and Edge have all been entertaining and produced superb in-ring action, Rollins has felt like something of an afterthought. His character work and continued evolution from the “Friday Night Messiah” to asking everyone to “Embrace the Vision” has been smoothly executed, but something just isn’t clicking.
“So why moving him to RAW, you may ask. Simply put, the red brand is flagging in terms of fresh matches, and specifically fresh heel challengers for newly crowned WWE Champion Big E. Rollins could immediately walk into a fresh title programme, could give the RAW main event scene an immediate boost and provide a credible opponent for the new champion to lock up with.”
Dakota Kai to SmackDown
Steph Franchomme: “Captain Kai is also the Queen of blindsiding. Beneath her warm smile laid a cut-throat competitor willing to stab anyone in the back to get her way. The first indication came when Kai blindsided longtime friend Tegan Nox. Kai then formed a potent alliance with Raquel Gonzalez, going on to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Titles, but that partnership, too, ended in betrayal when it became clear that Gonzalez was the only thing standing in Kai’s way of becoming NXT Women’s Champion. Kai is now an NXT veteran and has obviously more to offer on the main roster.”
Timothy Thatcher to SmackDown
Tom Mimnagh: “With Tommaso Ciampa now NXT champion, and the brand as a whole having undergone a major face-lift, I’m not sure what there is left for Timothy Thatcher in NXT (aside from a match with Bron Breakker, which could be spectacular). Although his work may not be to everyone’s taste, there’s definitely room for that sort of variety on the main roster and his hard-hitting, technical style would certainly yield some interesting combinations with the likes of Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura or Kevin Owens. One thing SmackDown is currently lacking is a sadistic mat-technician character, and Thatcher would absolutely fit that mould. If he’s not getting a call up here to one the main roster brands, and with WWE being very trigger happy with releases as of late, it could certainly be a cause for concern for Thatcher’s long-term future within the company.”
The Dirty Dawgs to RAW
Steph Franchomme: “As part of the 2020 Draft in October, both Ziggler and Roode were drafted back to the SmackDown brand. On January 8, 2021, episode of SmackDown, Ziggler and Roode defeated The Street Profits to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. They lost the titles to Rey & Dominik Mysterio at WrestleMania Backlash, ending their reign at 128 days. They wrestled the Alpha Academy, the Mysterios, the Street Profits, they have no more teams to challenge in the Blue brand. Some new and fresh competition on RAW would revigorate their chances to a title.”
Intercontinental Champion King Nakamura to RAW and United States Champion Damian Priest to SmackDown
Danny Cause: “WWE has often liked to switch their mid-card titles between brands a few times, but haven’t done so for a few years, perhaps 2021 is the year. Since making the move from NXT, Nakamura has constantly been on SmackDown, so he seems overdue for a spell on the red brand. As well as rekindling his feud with AJ Styles, Nakamura’s potential feuds on RAW could include Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton and Riddle. The questions remain over whether Rick Boogs would also make the switch, and how would Pat McAfee react.”
“The Archer of Infamy has had a monumental run since debuting on the main roster at the Royal Rumble. He instantly embarked on a feud with The Miz and John Morrison, plus he had support in the form of rap sensation, Bad Bunny for his first WrestleMania match. Priest since moved onto a feud with Sheamus where he defeated the Celtic Warrior at SummerSlam, capturing the United States Championship in the process. The time feels right for Priest to move to SmackDown, taking the US title with him, where fresh rivalries await him. The most immediate could well be Apollo Crews, a former US and Intercontinental Champion in his own right. Other potential feuds on SmackDown for Damien Priest could include Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn and Happy Corbin.”
Roman Reigns to RAW and Big E to SmackDown (Universal Title goes to RAW, WWE Championship to SmackDown)
Tom Mimnagh: “Are Roman Reigns and Big E likely to swap brands in the draft? Probably not, but it shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. WWE are looking to react to the momentum AEW have been building while trying to freshen up their product in the process. Reigns’ recent appearance on RAW prompted a good number in the ratings and WWE likes to provide a shock in the draft sometimes. It’s also not totally unprecedented, with the respective titles essentially switching brands in 2019. For Reigns, who has dominated and decimated the field on SmackDown, it would yield new challengers and fresh match-ups, while Big E would be able to continue building on his solid start as champion away from the pressure of the RAW ratings. It may seem totally insane, but it’s not unlike WWE to opt for the unexpected when they feel it necessary to shake up their creative direction.”
Shayna Baszler to SmackDown
Steph Franchomme: “The Queen of Spades is one of the true pioneers of women’s MMA but a devotee of catch wrestling, a time-tested, hybrid form of grappling. Capturing the NXT Women’s Championship on two separate occasions, she still holds the record for total days spent as NXT Women’s Champion. Ever since arriving on RAW, Baszler has laid waste to numerous opponents with her patented Kirifuda Clutch and found success as a WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion with Nia Jax. Despite her new mission, breaking the arms of all her opponents, Shayna Baszler did it all on RAW. Despite missed occasions, she deserves to capture a singles title, something she has never been able to do on RAW.”
Ricochet to SmackDown
Tom Mimnagh: “Ricochet should not be messing about with the 24/7 title mob. His skillset is borderline superhuman and the fact WWE have not managed to capitalise on that so far (outside of NXT) is criminal. Ricochet is a man lost in the shuffle, and the draft brings an opportunity to provide a fresh start for one of the most talented aerial performers in the industry. WWE has needed to create new stars, and for a while, it seemed like Ricochet was on the path to becoming one. Now with AEW nipping at their heels, WWE needs to find new stars even more pressingly and with the right rehabilitation, Ricochet could be that star. However, it’s not going to happen on RAW and fresh matches with Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, even Roman Reigns could be the ticket to unlocking his potential.”
Bayley to RAW
Steph Franchomme: “Being sidelined by an injury doesn’t mean you’re not on the Draft list. During the complicated pandemic era, Bayley had been an important part of the success of the Blue brand. Her SmackDown Women’s Championship second reign lasted a stunning 380 days. She also held the Women’s Tag Team belts. RAW would be a land of new challenges for the former Hugger. Her ‘Ding Dong! Hello!’ would open her the door of a second RAW Women’s title.”
MSK to Smackdown
Tom Mimnagh: “The current NXT Tag Team Champions have been putting on some great matches since they debuted in NXT, but like others, they have probably outgrown the new model being applied on NXT 2.0 and it might be time to inject some new life into the SmackDown tag team scene. With The Usos as heel champions, it makes sense to inject some fresh blood into the division and MSK very much fit the bill. While Grizzled Young Veterans are probably a more experienced choice, MSK bring youth and energy, which would make them a very attractive proposition for the Blue brand. It could be argued that it is too soon, but WWE are frequently criticised for being too slow to capitalise on the talent they have and Nash Carter and Wes Lee are ready for the step up.”
Special thanks to Alex Sutton – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE