The WWE Draft is almost here, and with it comes plenty of speculation over what SmackDown and Raw will look like by the time Monday's latter show comes to a close. This is a chance for both brands to freshen up their rosters, creating new dynamics and establishing a path forward as the Road to WrestleMania nears.
As anyone would do knowing a sports or sports-like draft is forthcoming, we here at CBS Sports decided to hold a mock draft of WWE superstars. Adam Silverstein took control of Raw, while I made the picks for SmackDown.
Considering we do not know the rules WWE will employ for its draft, we made our own -- and made them quite flexible. We did not take titleholders into consideration, leaving them on their respective brands as of draft day. The lone exception to this was Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax as women's tag champions being eligible for the draft since that title is not brand-specific. Part-timers like The Undertaker, John Cena and Brock Lesnar (who is not even under contract currently) were also off the table. Each brand was also allowed to make a single NXT call-up at any point in the process, though again, not any of the brand's champions.
Tag teams comprised of individual superstars (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, for example) and/or superstars with managers or storyline-entwined combinations (such as Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss) could be kept together or split apart either for draft or usage purposes. That was at the discretion of the draftees. However, established tag teams (The Usos, for example) must be kept together. Groups, factions and stables could be drafted as a single unit for storyline continuity. Obviously, there were plenty still left in the free agency pool, but we could not allow the draft to go on forever.
The draft was held in a snake format with overall pick numbers in parenthesis next to each selection. We have broken down the draft in two ways. First, you can see the round-by-round selections below. Below that, the draftees explain their selections.
WWE Mock Draft: Round by round
- Raw champions: Drew McIntyre (WWE), Asuka (Women's), Bobby Lashley w/ Hurt Business (United States), Street Profits (Tag Team), R-Truth (24/7)
- SmackDown champions: Roman Reigns (Universal), Bayley (Women's), Sami Zayn (Intercontinental), Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (Tag Team)
- Multi-brand champions: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (Women's Tag Team)
Draft was conducted in a snake format with Raw picking first due to a coin flip.
|Round||Raw (Adam)||SmackDown (Brent)|
|1||Big E (w/ New Day)||Sasha Banks|
|2||Seth Rollins & Murphy||Randy Orton|
|3||Becky Lynch||Charlotte Flair|
|4||AJ Styles||Bray Wyatt (w/ Alexa Bliss)|
|5||Bianca Belair||The Usos|
|6||Aleister Black||Kevin Owens|
|7||Keith Lee||Daniel Bryan|
|8||Undisputed Era [NXT]||Heavy Machinery|
|9||Matt Riddle||Johnny Gargano (w/ Candice LeRae) [NXT]|
|10||Samoa Joe||Mustafa Ali (w/ Retribution, I guess)|
|11||Andrade & Angel Garza (w/ Zelina Vega)||Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (c)|
|12||Sonya Deville||Braun Strowman|
|13||Rey & Dominik Mysterio||Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode|
|14||Riott Squad||The Miz & John Morrison|
|15|| ||Jeff Hardy|
|16|| ||Apollo Crews|
|17||Lucha House Party||Sheamus|
|20||Mandy Rose||Humberto Carrillo|
WWE Mock Draft: Roster breakdown
Raw (Adam): Quality, quality, quality. I chose Raw as my brand after a coin flip because -- while I'd prefer this version of Roman Reigns as my world champion -- the sum of Raw's champions was greater. New Day was the easy No. 1 overall pick considering Big E's main event potential and the fact that I got a two-for-one with a tag team. Though I was eyeing Sasha Banks as my second-round pick, I'm happy to end up with Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair as my top women along with Asuka. Since I already had Hurt Business due to Lashley, Undisputed Era was an easy call for some faction warfare. Samoa Joe is great on commentary but even better in the ring, so that was another easy decision to bolster the top of the roster.
My main event and midcard are incredibly strong, and I leaned toward younger/newer talent that I want to develop, including Sonya Deville and Chad Gable. I believe I have six of the nine best women on the main roster right now. Twelve of my 20 picks (60%) are talents who are either not yet on Raw or just joined in the last two weeks. That keeps my show fresh. As comprised now, this is a far better roster than Raw has been using.
SmackDown (Brent): My focus was on establishing strength and balance at face and heel across all levels of the card while also aggressively going after a women's division that was comprised of title-ready challengers. I also place high value on tag teams for the flexibility provided in getting a two-for-one deal. Sure, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are a fine team, but they also can break out into a singles program whenever needed. If I could change one thing, I wouldn't have tried to go one extra pick before dipping into NXT, but thought I could get away with it and still have Undisputed Era sitting there after Adam's next selection. I was wrong, which meant I was "stuck" with Gargano and LeRae -- not a bad consolation prize.
Looking back at my draft, I can say I'm extremely happy with where the women's division ended up and how much value I got out of "add-ons" like LeRae, Bliss, Mia Yim and Mercedes Martinez. The path is there for multiple programs at the universal and intercontinental title level and the talent level of the mid-card is solid enough to live up to SmackDown's reputation for good wrestling.