I know that some of my colleagues, some other wrestling bloggers, will be writing on how they loved the draft. I am not going to be one of them. For me, as the draft unfolded, things just felt rather off, and I think hindsight proves 20/20.¬† Here are just some of the issues I had with the draft, the process, and how things unfolded.
1-I was not a fan of drafting the champions, or at least, the biggest title holders. In drafts past, holding certain titles gave you the ability to be on both shows. But this time around, it was decided that the champions could be drafted. so that some titles show up on one show, and some on the other.¬† What I didn’t see explained, is what happens when the World Championship is on RAW, but the most obvious contender is on SmackDown. Is that a match that, as with splits past, can only happen on a “big four” PPV? If they explained it, I missed it. But I am not a fan of limiting the belt to one show, just as I am not a fan of creating a 2nd heavyweight championship so that each brand has one. My biggest issues here? There is only one Women’s belt, and it’s on RAW. There’s one set of tag belts, and those are on RAW too. Neither division is so deep that it warrants two belts, one per brand. I think this needs to be better addressed.
2-The imbalance of the draft picks. It was just bad. For every 2 SmackDown picks, RAW got three, the explanation being because of the hours each is on air. Fine, sure, I get it. But that meant that RAW got 2 picks in a row, sprinkled throughout the draft. I think this was making things needlessly complicated, and could have been done without.
3-The picks themselves. Taking nothing away from anyone, but there were plenty of head scratching picks during the draft. The NXT ones in particular were, to say the least, puzzling. Here’s the thing. I am taking nothing away from Nia Jax, I get it, she’s a unique talent who could dominate the women. But she got picked ahead of the current and former NXT Women’s Champions-neither of whom were picked. Now, I’ve seen things saying that some top stars might have been injured, so that’s why they weren’t touched. Or that because someone is slated to be involved in the next NXT TakeOver Special, that’s why. So, then. just as WWE did for injured main roster stars, WWE should have provided a list of draft eligible NXT talents. This way, people aren’t criticizing the fact that Mojo Rawley…MOJO RAWLEY?!?!?…..Was drafted, but guys like Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and Austin Aries were not. Just as people won’t be as perplexed that neither Bayley nor Asuka got the call, but Alexa Bliss and Carmella did. Not that Alexa and Carmella aren’t ready-I think they are, actually-it’s just that they weren’t as ready as those not drafted.
I was also surprised that Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry got picked. Or that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were picked, but not as the Social Outcasts with one pick and Slater, but as two separate picks. I am sure things were done for a reason and all that, but WWE can’t expect people not to be perplexed by that. If this wasn’t a pre-determined draft, those not getting called up from NXT, missing out over who was selected, would be livid.
4-It could have, should have, been it’s own show. I think WWE fumbled here. They have a partnership with ESPN, which knows a thing or two about draft shows. They have their successful network, which while it showed some of the draft, could have shown ALL of it. I think by having the draft on the network, rather than on RAW or SmackDown, would have underscored the pending brand split more. And would have allowed the wrestling shows to remain just wrestling shows, leaving the draft special to be just that-a draft special.
5-Timing was bad. I think splitting the week of a PPV was poor form. This kind of thing, as I see it, should be done following a major PPV. WrestleMania makes the most sense, since that is generally when old feuds are ended and is sort of the end of the WWE year, with the following RAW all about starting new feuds. SummerSlam would have been fine too, since they clearly wanted it to happen before next Spring, and it’s right around the corner.
Now, once things get shaken out, and we are fully used to the rosters as they are currently constituted, people are likely to forget how this all went down. But as far as WWE drafts go, this was not their best one.