WWE Draft: Night One Graded


WWE splits their roster after Smackdown’s move to FOX | Photo by: CBSSports.com

Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

While it isn’t currently possible to definitively grade the WWE Draft until the second half of the draft is complete, and to be fair it will probably take a few weeks to truly evaluate the Smackdown and Raw rosters, each pick will be analyzed before deciding which brand won the night.

Pick 1  RAW- Becky Lynch

  • It was widely suspected that whichever brand did end up with the first pick would take Lynch and that ended up being the case indeed. This is a nice feather in the cap for the RAW Women’s Champion, as “The Man’s” stock in WWE continues to rise. Lynch was at one point the hottest act in the entire industry and while the fervor around her has decreased, that has more to do with poor creative than Lynch herself. She has seen a spike in popularity again thanks to her feud with Sasha Banks and hopefully pairing her with the Paul Heyman lead RAW creative team will continue this trend. 

Pick 2 Smackdown- Roman Reigns 

  • The “Big Dog” stays on Friday nights. While the poorly conceived “Wild Card Rule” has muddied the waters in terms of the two rosters, it does feel like Reigns has done everything he can on RAW. Reins can serve as the figurehead on SD and serve as the steadying presence atop the roster.

Pick 3 RAW- The OC

  • Original Club. Only Club. Organic Club. Call them whatever you want but The OC is heading to Monday night. The pick would be a win with Styles alone, but throw in the criminally underutilized Gallows and Anderson and it might be the steal of the night. While Styles feels like a main event player, despite his taking the pin during the OC vs. New Day match, Gallows and Anderson still feel like little more than Styles’ goons. Heyman would be wise to pay heed to the Undisputed Era in NXT. While Adam Cole is clearly the main guy of the faction, each and every member of the UE feels like a badass in their own right. Gallows and Anderson can be that too with the proper booking.

Pick 4 Smackdown- “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt 

  • The Fiend is the hottest act in pro wrestling and while WWE kayfabed the whole USA versus FOX executives being the ones making picks in the draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we learned the Wyatt was coveted by both companies. On SD, Bray can continue to serve as the main attraction and hopefully get another run with the WWE Title, redeeming the poor booking of yesteryear.

Pick 5 RAW- Drew McIntyre  

  • WWE loves to tell their audience that McIntyre is a future World Champion. However, Drew should already be a World Champ and not playing henchmen to Dolph Ziggler or Shane McMahon. WWE has a shortage of credible heels, and if booked correctly, McIntyre could be a focal point for either show. While it feels like he would have been better served moving to Friday Nights, there is hope that Heyman can turn things around for the mismanaged “Scottish Psychopath.”

Pick 6 RAW- Randy Orton

  • Orton has been on top of the card for a long time on SD. When motivated, he can still do strong work and hopefully will find himself reinvigorated by the move. He has been somewhat vocal about his interest in AEW. Is that just talk to increase his WWE payout or some genuine interest from the Apex Predator?

Pick 7 Smackdown- Sasha Banks

  • Maybe the blue hair should have been an indicator, but the Legit Boss is moving to SD. Much like Orton above, Banks has been a long time staple of her former brand, in her case on RAW, and the move to Friday Nights feels like a restart. It also separates the Four Horsewomen, as Lynch will remain on RAW, and puts into doubt the 4-Way bout at the next WrestleMania. Considering how Bailey ended the night as SD Women’s Champion it wouldn’t be shocking to see Flair and Charlotte on RAW and Bailey and Sasha on SD.

Pick 8 RAW-  Ricochet


  • Ricochet has been booked fairly well since coming up to the main roster and his continued stay on RAW will hopefully see him bust out of the midcard scene and into the main event. His astounding ringwork alone should be enough to carry him there as there is no one on earth that can do the things that Ricochet can do.


Pick 9 Smackdown– Braun Strowman

  • It is evidence of how far Braun has fallen that he is the ninth pick in the draft. Braun has been continuously mismanaged by WWE and now serves as a Big Show 2.0 as he is the one brought in for celebrity angles. With the move to SD and a ready-made feud with former stable leader Bray Wyatt, there is hope that “The Monster Among Men” can improve his fortunes on the blue brand.

Pick 10 RAW- Bobby Lashley

  • Once again, Lashley is another victim of poor WWE booking. Since making his return from Impact, Lashley hasn’t been able to show the personality he developed in his time away from WWE. He rarely is allowed to speak and when he does it is usually poorly scripted. It is unclear where his current cuckold storyline with Rusev and Lana will go, but it does seem to telegraph that they will join him on the red brand.

Pick 11 RAW- Alexa Bliss

  • Bliss has been a massive overachiever on the main roster. When coming out of NXT, there weren’t many expectations for “Little Miss Bliss”. Now she is a multi-time champion and a strong addition to any roster. While she has recently been teaming with Nikki Cross, it is unclear how the women’s tag division will operate after the draft. 

Pick 12 Smackdown- Lacey Evans

  • It’s hard to know what to make of Evans. She tries hard and she has her character work down but she doesn’t seem to be connecting with the crowd and her in-ring work is still hit-or-miss. Hopefully the move to SD can be the change she needs.

Pick 13 Raw- Kevin Owens

  • KO moves back to RAW. Anywhere Owens goes gains his strong mic presence and in-ring skills. Though he has flipped back and forth between rosters more than most, seeing what Heyman has in store for Owens is exciting. There is some room for concern. After firing rival Shane McMcMahon on SD, you have to hope that Shane doesn’t start popping up on RAW to further torment his foe under the guise that he was only “fired” from SD.

Pick 14 Smackdown- The Revival

  • Say yeah! It seemed obvious that the SD Tag Team Champions would stay on SD, but you never know in WWE. If WWE is more interested in using The Revival as the anchor of the tag division rather than embarrassing them on a weekly basis for not signing a long-term contract, then this will be a good move for the “Top Guys.”

Pick 15 RAW-  Natalya 

  • Is she a heel? Is she a face? Sometimes it seems like even she doesn’t know and much like Chicago weather, give her a day and she’ll change. Natalya is a strong veteran presence who can still deliver the in-ring goods even is she can’t seem to reconnect with the WWE Universe.  

Pick 16 Raw- The Viking Raiders  

  • If WWE allows these men to just wrestle and doesn’t constantly change their names, then the team formerly known as “War Machine” should be a force in the tag division. The whole Viking Experience thing really adversely affected their standing in the eyes of the fans, but hey, at least they aren’t named “Shorty” Gable. 

Pick 17 Smackdown- Lucha House Party

  • Not really sure what there is to say here. There is no denying the trio’s talent but they mean next to nothing to the fans. Each of them can go in the ring, and there are rumors that FOX, somewhat ironically, wants to reach out to more Latinx viewers . 

Pick 18 RAW- Nikki Cross

  • Why USA used two picks to choose the Bliss and Cross tag team will always remain a mystery. Does choosing them separately mean that their partnership is ended? Would it really be a surprise if even WWE didn’t know the answer? No. No, it would not be.

Pick 19 Smackdown- Heavy Machinery 

  • Is the WWE Universe fans of Heavy Machinery or just Otis? It feels more like the latter. Either way SD gets a serviceable tag team to compete against the Revival and Tucker Knight gets the chance to show he isn’t the Marty Jannetty of the team.

Pick 20 Raw- Street Profits

  • The Street Profits have been in an odd middle ground between NXT and the main roster, serving a Greek-chorus-like function for RAW. This solidifies the standing for the talented duo. 

If you have to give the edge to one roster or another, it has to be Smackdown. The trio of Reigns, Wyatt and Strowman means more than almost anyone drafted to RAW, sans perhaps Lynch. For that alone SD gets the win tonight. Enthusiasm for RAW has never been lower and without a much stronger board coming out of next Monday, it will solidify Smackdown as the new flagship show of the WWE.

RAW: C Many of the RAW selections feel like reclamation projects and just don’t have the star power of their Smackdown counter parts. Plus the eye rolling choice to use two picks to choose a tag team (Bliss and Cross) makes it harder for fans to suspend their disbelief.   

Smackdown: B+ A strong draft for team blue. They had to be dinged a bit for picking groups like Lucha House Party and Heavy Machinery when folks like Drew Gulack, Cesaro and EC3 where available.


Best Pick- The Fiend “Bray Wyatt

Worst Pick- Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross chosen separately 

Steal of the Night- The OC  

The IDK of the Night- Drew McIntyre

WTF Pick of the Night- Lucha House Party