The July 19th edition of SmackDown LIVE ushered a new era in the in the WWE. As the brand extension created the old famous RAW vs SmackDown rivalry, several superstars on the roster were assigned on the respective shows via a Draft, where both the commissioners and General Managers of both the shows hand picked their superstars whom they wanted. There were quite a lot of interesting picks and some picks that were shocking with the order in which they were picked.
The rules were as such that for every 2 picks by SmackDown, RAW got three due to their time difference to incorporate several superstars, also thereby stamping the claim that RAW is the flagship show and SmackDown a level below. And 6 callups were assured from developmental brand NXT.
Raw kicked off the Round 1 of the draft where RAW commissioner Stephanie McMahon picked Seth Rollins, quite an obvious pick that was considering the night before how she was in favour of his, leading to SmackDown countering Stephanie’s pick with Seth’s arch rival and the current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, which was also an obvious pick. The second pick for RAW was the current Women’s Champion Charlotte. A great pick that was by RAW GM Mick Foley, also uplifting the Women’s division and sending a message that Women’s division is set to rule. SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan wasted no time snapping up one of the hottest properties in the WWE today, ‘The Phenomenal One’ AJ Styles. RAW finished the first round snapping up NXT sensation and former NXT Champion, Finn Balor. Overall, the first round kicked off on a positively high note, and all the callups (especially the first by each brands) were very predictable but the picks that followed were just superb. Charlotte and Balor definitely deserved the top 5 picks.
The second round kicked off with RAW picking Roman Reigns, leading to SmackDown countering with ‘the face of the WWE’ John Cena. RAW further picked Brock Lesnar and The New Day while SmackDown utilized their last pick in the form of Randy Orton. I honestly liked SmackDown’s two picks. Both of the leading residents of the previous era, they can spearhead the brand and put other stars over. RAW again snapping the marquees with the ‘Golden Child’ Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, interesting to see how WWE deals with the latter coming into controversy for failing a dope test. New Day was an expected callup to be honest for the Red Brand.
The third round consisted of RAW picking Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks and Chris Jericho, SmackDown on the other hand picking Bray Wyatt and Becky Lynch. Again very amazing picks by SmackDown in the form of Bray Wyatt and Becky Lynch. But RAW again having the marquee upper hand with Zayn, Sasha and Y2J. Being a SmackDown fan I wanted Jericho, who personally happens to be my favourite wrestler too, but in a way it is fine seeing Jericho put over young talents on RAW since this time RAW proved to be the home for the young guns and Jericho will have a major role to play. As far as SmackDown’s picks were concerned, Bray has a huge opportunity of making it to the main event with him being the top heel along with current top heel AJ Styles. Sasha and Becky can help increase their own as well as the show’s momentum in terms of Women’s wrestling. Smart picking by both.
The fourth round consisted of RAW taking hold of their third championship, the United States Championship by bringing Rusev with his fiancee Lana, in addition they got Kevin Owens and Enzo and Cass, two of the hot properties in WWE. SmackDown meanwhile, got hold of their second championship, the Intercontinental championship with Miz drafting in along with his wife Maryse and they got Baron Corbin in addition. RAW again marching ahead of SmackDown with Rusev, KO and Enzo and Cass. But for a surprise, KO being so low in the pecking order just decreases his credibility in the roster. He is a phenomenal wrestler and deserved better. And also the fact that he’s in the same roster as arch nemesis Sami Zayn, separating them would have made more sense as they’re set to fight in a climax to their feud at Battleground. All of their picks bring star power and a lot of talent onto their roster. SmackDown again acting smart by picking Miz who has very much revitalized and enjoying one of his personal best runs with the company, and also with Baron Corbin, an up and coming star. With better writing and booking, he is very well destined to do big with the blue brand. But as it stands, Adv. RAW.
The fifth round had RAW picking the two-thirds of the Club in Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, veteran Big Show and NXT’s dominant female Nia Jax. SmackDown counters it with signing NXT’s best tag team American Alpha and Dolph Ziggler. SmackDown again with smart picks and this time, SmackDown with a definitive advantage picking one of the hottest tag teams in all of WWE and one of the most hardworking superstars in the roster. But RAW went for a marquee in Gallows and Anderson, picking a veteran in Big Show to put other talents over, and giving Nia Jax an upstart in the women’s division. Who knows we could have a new dominant diva in the division. Equally good thinking by RAW but adv. SmackDown!
The sixth and final televised draft picks consisted with RAW picking Neville, Cesaro and Sheamus, while SmackDown picking Natalya and Alberto Del Rio. I was honestly surprised with Cesaro being so low down the pecking order, same as KO which decreases Cesaro’s credibility as well. He’s a phenomenal wrestler and deserves better. Honestly I wanted him too at SmackDown! With veterans and upstarts, Cesaro comes right in the mix, defying the odds and also becomes a top star at the brand. Would have fared better at the blue brand. Neville made sense because the Cruiserweight Division was set to be exclusive to RAW and letting Neville be there could reinvigorate the Cruiserweight division. He is also set to be in a feud with Jericho which again lift his stock. SmackDown’s picks this time were idk what to say, but made sense, with Alberto to be a mid card heel and a wrestling veteran (sort of), so for Natalya extending her feud with Becky Lynch. Adv RAW!
Then followed the supplemental draft exclusive on the WWE Network, and the picks were as follows:
Round No. 7 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
31. Golden Truth – Raw
32. The Usos – SmackDown Live
33. Titus O’Neil – Raw
34. Demon Kane – SmackDown Live
35. Paige – Raw
Round No. 8 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
36. Darren Young (with Bob Backlund) – Raw
37. Kalisto – SmackDown Live
38. Sin Cara – Raw
39. Naomi – SmackDown Live
40. Jack Swagger – Raw
41. The Ascension – SmackDown Live
48. Braun Strowman – Raw
49. Breezango – SmackDown Live
50. Bo Dallas – Raw
51. Eva Marie – SmackDown Live
52. Shining Stars – Raw
53. The Vaudevillains – SmackDown Live
54. Alicia Fox – Raw
55. Erick Rowan – SmackDown Live
56. Dana Brooke – Raw
57. Mojo Rawley – SmackDown Live from NXT
58. Curtis Axel – Raw
59. Carmella – SmackDown Live from NXT