It’s that time of year where your favorite WWE Superstars get shuffled around, but where do I think they’ll land, and why…
By Sean Blanford
The 2021 WWE Draft begins this Friday (October 1st) on Smackdown and culminating the following Monday on Raw. If it is like previous years, I am sure there will also be supplemental selections made on some ancillary show like, oh, I don’t know, let’s say The Bump. Give people a reason to watch that because you have to know where Jaxson Ryker will end up. Most of these picks I could see happening, and some may be wishful thinking, but I will take a stab at it. Here are the rules that I am laying out:
Like previous years, each round will consist of five picks, three for Raw, two for Smackdown. Night One (Smackdown) will feature four rounds, where Night Two (Raw) will have the final six, for ten rounds total. I will also be adding in supplemental selections (with Raw getting the majority) and ten picks from NXT (six for Raw, four for Smackdown). I will also not be breaking up tag teams or factions, with one exception that you will see later. Finally, injured superstars can get drafted (Bayley, Asuka) and those currently written off of TV (Alexa Bliss). Part-time attractions such as John Cena will not be included as we do not know when they will be returning, but since we know approximately when Goldberg will be wrestling next, he will be included. Also, no selection pools. They’re dumb, and make the draft obvious. So, without further ado, the first round is as follows:
Round One: Raw selects The New Day, Drew McIntyre, and Charlotte Flair. Smackdown selects The Bloodline (Roman Reigns and The Usos) and Brock Lesnar.
Why?: Look, if this were real, The Bloodline would be heading to Raw, but there’s no way Fox will let that happen. No one is moving to a different show yet, but there are storylines currently in place for Big E vs. Drew McIntyre on Raw and Roman vs. Brock on Smackdown. In addition, Charlotte is an obvious first-round pick to anchor Raw’s women’s division.
Round Two: Raw selects RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle), Seth Rollins, and Bianca Belair. Smackdown selects Becky Lynch and The Hurt Business (Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin)
Why?: Three big moves to new shows, with Rollins returning to being the Monday Night Messiah and setting himself up as a potential challenger to Bg E by the Royal Rumble. The Hurt Business move to Smackdown sets up Bobby as the next challenger to Roman after Crown Jewel, and Cedric and Shelton can battle The Usos for the Tag Team Titles. Finally, Bianca was the most challenging choice to move from Smackdown to Raw because of her current feud with Becky Lynch. My ideal scenario takes place the first Smackdown after the draft is complete, and Bianca is given one final shot at Becky before the move. Win, and she stays on Smackdown as the champ, and Raw gets a supplemental pick from NXT (let’s say, Kyle O’Reilly). Lose, she heads to Raw, where she can be in the chase for Charlotte’s title. It’s a win-win because she is either the new Smackdown champ (which I don’t see happening), or we can get a killer program with her and Charlotte, which I would love to see.
Round Three: Raw selects The Street Profits, Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens. Smackdown selects Edge and Sasha Banks.
Why?: Smackdown keeps two big stars, with Edge getting away from Seth Rollins and Sasha being next in line for Becky Lynch. Raw meanwhile acquires three new talents, with a new tag team going after RK-Bro, and Balor and Owens solidifying the upper mid-card.
Round Four: Raw selects AJ Styles and Omos, Shayna Baszler, and King Nakamura (with Rick Boogs). Smackdown selects Damian Priest and Alexa Bliss.
Why?: Swap the mid-card titles and get fresh challengers for them. Baszler is getting a much-needed push to elevate the division, while Bliss can get away from Charlotte and feud with Banks and Becky once she returns.
Rounds Five and Six: Raw selects Keith “Bearcat” Lee, Super Brutality (Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley), Cesaro, Bayley, Sheamus, and Dominik Mysterio. Smackdown selects Goldberg, Asuka, The Viking Raiders, and Rey Mysterio.
Why?: Keith Lee can cement himself as the first challenger to Shinsuke Nakamura’s IC Title. Raw strengthens their women’s roster with Ripley, Nikki, and Bayley when she returns, and The Viking Raiders are getting a fresh coat of paint on Smackdown. A move there with new match-ups could revitalize them. As for breaking up the Mysterio’s. In my scenario, Dominik puts in a request to not General Manager’s Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce to be drafted separately from Rey to prove himself as a single’s star away from his father. Rey doesn’t like it but respects his son’s decision.
Rounds Seven and Eight: Raw selects The Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode), Natalya and Tamina, Karrion Kross, Toni Storm, Alpha Academy, and Nia Jax. Smackdown selects Sami Zayn, John Morrison, Liv Morgan, and Happy Corbin (with Riddick Moss).
Why?: Raw gets a deeper tag and women’s division, while Smackdown gets fresh challengers for Damian Priest’s U.S. Title in Zayn and Corbin. Liv Morgan gets the chance to cement her spot as a top-tier woman on the Smackdown roster.
Rounds Nine and Ten: Raw selects The Miz, Mansoor and Mustafa Ali, Carmella and Zelina Vega, Mia Yim, Mace and T-Bar, and Reggie. Smackdown selects Jeff Hardy, Ricochet, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart, and Doudrop.
Not much to say about these last two rounds, to be honest. Reggie stays on Raw with the 24/7 title goobers, and Hardy, Ricochet, and Doudrop are all moving to the blue brand.
The NXT Picks: Raw drafts LA Knight, KUSHIDA, Dakota Kai, Aliyah, Pete Dunne, and Xia Li. Smackdown gets The Way (Johnny Gargano, Austin Theory, Dexter Lumis, Indi Hartwell, Candice LaRae), Legado del Fantasma, Cameron Grimes, and Franky Monet.
Why?: All of these people are now expendable from the old NXT that it is rebranded 2.0. Dunne, Knight, and KUSHIDA can all thrive on the red brand, with Smackdown loading up with big-time talents in Johnny Gargano, Santos Escobar, Cameron Grimes, and Franky Monet in the women’s division. I also wanted Kai on Raw to keep her away from Tegan Nox (for now).
The Bump All-Stars: Raw selects Akira Tozawa, R-Truth, Drew Gulak, Elias, Jaxson Ryker, Titus O’Neil, Eva Marie, and Team Jinder Mahal. Smackdown selects Angel Garza and Humberto Carillo, Lucha House Party, Apollo Crews (with Azeez), Dana Brooke, and Naomi.
Why: Keep the 24/7 chumps on Raw, because why not. For storyline purposes to keep that going, Naomi is the very last pick in the draft. This furthers the animosity between her and Sonya, with her joining The Bloodline in the cards potentially.
Where does that leave us?
Raw gets loaded up to go against Monday Night Football. The men’s division has a top tier of Big E, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens. The IC Title picture is also stacked with Nakamura having any number of challengers between Keith Lee, Cesaro, Sheamus, Pete Dunne, KUSHIDA, LA Knight, and Karrion Kross. Sheamus and Cesaro could also reform The Bar, but the tag title scene is deep, with RK-Bro, Styles and Omos, New Day, and The Street Profits being the top of that division. The women’s division is also prime for fresh match-up, with Charlotte at the top with Bianca Belair, Shayna Baszler, and Toni Storm at the top of that heap.
As for Smackdown, their problem could be that they made Roman too strong for anyone viable to take the title off of him that isn’t Brock or The Rock, if and when that happens. As for now, Bobby Lashley is the obvious choice after Lesnar, but Damian Priest could be a darkhorse to be elevated to the main event scene when he loses the United States Title. Of course, he could lose that to any of Sami Zayn, Happy Corbin, Johnny Gargano, Santos Escobar, or Cameron Grimes. The tag title picture after the Usos is a land of opportunity for teams like Cedric and Shelton, The Viking Raiders, Garza and Carillo, and LDF. The women’s title scene is potentially the most exciting part of the show. Becky at the top with Sasha, Asuka, Alexa, Liv, and Franky Monet could make for great match-ups. At the end of the day, though, this is Roman’s world, and we’re just here to acknowledge the tribal chief.