WWE DRAFT 2016 [Ringside Apostle Report Card]: Brand Ambassadors.
It only makes sense that the first WWE Split Brand Draft in years would be no more than 70 Masshole miles from my hometown. Yes–Worcester, Massachusetts was the setting for last night’s brand new #SmackDownLive on the USA Network. And the night proved an interesting.. ahem.. Battleground for current wrestlers of RAW & Smackdown, although the actual draft process came off far more “local divebar fantasy football” than that of the NFL or NBA. Hey, at least we didn’t have to deal with Roger Goodell.
I’ll let the New Ringside Apostles get deeper in thought (and bible!) than I down below; but, let us begin with last night’s draft results and all its resulting Moody-ness.
#1 Overall Pick. Seth Rollins (RAW) – Duh. With Steph as Commish, snatching “Crossfit Jesus” at the #1 slot wasn’t much of a reach. Heck, even ESPN had it on the money in their mock draft.
2. Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) – No other way to counter a champion than with the champion.
3. Charlotte (RAW) – Great to see the WWE Woman’s Championship hold some prestige.
4. AJ Styles (Smackdown) – Phenomenal.
5. Finn Balor (RAW) – Only way to counter the last choice! The only issue: When will we see AJ and Balor fight?
6. Roman Reigns (RAW) – Yeah.
7. John Cena (Smackdown) – Jim Ross called it. Also, as Michael Cole pointed out, Cena’s back on the same brand as his arch-enemy, AJ Styles. Props to the dubya dubya eee for not ruining a great, current rivalry.
8. Brock Lesnar (RAW) – Even two failed drug tests couldn’t prevent the “Beast Incarnate” from being drafted to Monday Night’s.
9. Randy Orton (Smackdown) – What a steal at #9.
10. The New Day (Big-E Langston, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) (RAW) – Wow. I thought we’d see.. the first tag-team chosen.. on Booty Tuesday’s!
11. Sami Zayn (RAW) – Wih this pic, I love that I don’t necessarily feel a “vibe” with either brand. There’s no definitive identity with either show, which I’m actually fond of…
12. Bray Wyatt (Smackdown) – The only true heal picked thus far aside from Rollins. I approve.
13. Sasha Banks (RAW) – Steal. Absolute steal.
14. Becky Lynch (Smackdown) – Response choice to lucky #13. While Becky is very talented — and very hot, of course — I would have went with Bayley! That certainly would have made a bigger splash and a nice response to Finn’s choice at #5. Bummer.
15. Chris Jericho (RAW) – RAW is…
16. Rusev (RAW) – It’s official: Mic Foley is horny as hell. Hi, Lana.
17. The Miz (Smackdown) – It’s official: Daniel Bryan’s wife is hot as hell. Uh, hi, Maryse.
18. Kevin Owens (RAW) – We’re reaching a point where every pick from RAW is a steal. Smackdown is officially still –and forever– the “b-list” show! Yes! Where’s Funaki?
19. Baron Corbin (Smackdown) – Setting up The Lone Wolf against Super John Cena!
20. Enzo and Cass (RAW) – What a year for these Certified G’s!
21. The Club (RAW) – One of the first and biggest surprises in a draft of utter predictability so far. Why are all the tag teams on RAW?
22. American Alpha (Smackdown) – Doh! Nevermind! NXT will forever get the best pop from the crowd, and Shane and DB certainly know how to channel them! I love having the Next-Gen Steiner Brothers on Smackdown!
23. The Big Show (RAW) – LOL.
24. Dolph Ziggler (Smackdown) – Man, this guy has become almost an afterthought. One of the fed’s greatest workers, for sure.
25. Nia Jax (RAW) – The Women’s Division on RAW is huge! Ha! Get it? Better, she can hang with her cousin on Monday Night’s. Will the Uso’s be next?
26. Neville (RAW) – Totally forgot about this guy… But with the Cruiserweights sticking to RAW brand, this choice makes absolute sense. Expect him to contend, if not don the strap in the near future.
27. Natalya (Smackdown) – Again, no Bayley? Such a horrible pick this high.
28. Cesaro (RAW) – Nice to see RAW going for actual wrestling talent over mere gimmicks and microphone skills.
29. Alberto Del Rio (Smackdown) – He’s great and a very, very sound in-ring technician, but Smackdown is such a logical choice for yet another tweener. John Cena can’t be the only answer.
30. Sheamus (RAW) – I don’t understand why none of the more exciting choices from NXT (Samoa Joe, Nakamura, Bayley) haven’t been chosen this low yet, but the usual suspects that have little to no pop are getting bagged. Poo.
For Moody’s recap of the supplemental WWE Draft Choices (as witnessed on the WWE Draft Center on the WWE Network, post-Smackdown tonight), scroll down to the very bottom. Marks.
The picks have been made. WWE Draft is a wrap. My initial thought on the draft was: how will this work this time around? Will this last longer than a few months? How will the PPVs be split? They have a GM and commissioner for both shows. I figured a GM had higher power than a Commissioner… but.. oh, what the hell. The GM picks were a bit obvious. Foley has a WWE network show; Bryan can’t stay at home with his exceptionally hot wife. My only issue is Bryan, who lacks the character charisma when placed in the figure of authority. Foley is a much better, far more experienced authoritarian; this ain’t his first rodeo. As far as their picks, RAW got the better deal on the strength that it’s the “A” show. Again. That being said, Smackdown getting Orton and Cena isn’t a fluke–but we’ll see how much they have left in the tank to keep the brand relevant. 4/5 Bibles.
I’ve been wanting a legitimate brand split for a while, so I’m happy it’s happened (again). I think the most surprising thing was how balanced it was. Both brands have must-see stars, and both had moments that made me yawn (RAW drafting Big Show, Sheamus, Darren, and Swagger; Smackdown getting Ziggler, Del Rio, Ascension, Usos, and Kane). Oh, who the hell thought it was smart to send Kalisto to Smackdown NOW that the cruiserweight division is being brought back… you know, to RAW?! My favorite moments? ESPN–and almost everyone– predicting that Rollins would be the number one pick, and Cesaro’s “mini” pipe bomb. It’s a shame that wasn’t on TV. 3.5/5 Botched Draft Boards. (Would’ve been 4, but : A) Cesaro deserved better, and B) Mojo Rawley… Really?)
Simply put, splitting up the brands was a bad idea. There will be limited number of fueds and uncertainty for any of the particular wrestlers’ outcome. Worse yet, RAW won hands down–clearly the better brand. I’m pretty damned sure all of the Apostles agreed in their assessments. All this Mojo level Hype for “Smackdown Live!” and The Shane O’Mac & Goat Show, and I will probably just go to bed early on Tuesday nights. Who’d a thunk it? Regardless of my overall disappointment with the continued corporate onslaught of RAW and Mrs. McMahon Helmsley, I’m still quite impressed with how far the WWE has come. They finally found the firepower (via NXT, NJPW, and, hell, even TNA) to now fire up three legit brands. Yeah, Smackdown is only legit because anyone at anytime can still receive the RKO. To top it all off, the new commentary teams and set dressing is great. See you in the RA Chat on Monday Night’s, gentleman! 3.25/5 Corey Graves’.
WWE: Rebirth is upon us ! Lives have been changed forever! The War has begun! Or, not. The dust has settled and the roster has been divided. Fresh meat Crews and Corbin now have more room to breathe, grow and show the world what they have to offer, while the “get” of the night at first glance might look like RAW‘s Finn Bàlor. But for my money, it’s those other NXT darlings, American Alpha! Two rising stars with one pick. The Uso’s, Ascension, Vaudvillains, Breezango? All fresh new match-ups. On RAW, Owens and Zayn are still able to continue this blood feud that has now been spilled in three different companies. The Women’s Division has the incoming Nia Jax, Dana, Sasha and her mystery partner (who wants a hug?), with Paige and Summer all looking to knock Flair off her throne any given Monday. Lest we forget, the Shining Stars and Golden Truth give people time to buy nachos and beer.
(Cont.) With all the titles up for grabs this weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me if RAW ended up with all the gold– leaving Smackdown to get creative and do something completely different for a real change of pace. New announce teams of Cole, Corey Graves and Byron working RAW while Marello, JBL and David Otunga talk over all the action on Smackdown will bring new voices and dynamics to the table that is soon to be broken. Sorry King, at least you have Heath Slater to hang out with…for now. 4/5 Turnbuckles.
Just finished watching the Draft. “The Belser” can’t say he’s surprised by the first picks of both brands: Seth Rollins on RAW, and Dean Ambrose on Smackdown. They are viewed as the two hottest Superstars in the company right now. Both, also, reflect the attitudes of their respective commissioner. Both brands established a good blend of veteran, talent and up-and-coming Superstars and Divas. RAW has main attractions like Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho balanced with young talents like Kevin Owens, Enzo and Cass and Sami Zayn. Smackdown might have the edge though with talents like John Cena, Randy Orton and AJ Styles with NXT grads like Bray Wyatt, American Alpha and Baron Corbin. I’m interested to see how this turns out. 3.5/5 Belser Bibles.
Fresh off the heels of things going successfully in typical “Best for Business fashion”, we have an unneeded and unnecessary old draft tactic: the WWE’S attempt to rehash and reenergize the palette for wrestling fans. “The Bishop”, for one, finds it so comical that Shane and Stephanie needed something to do within the company; you know, since HHH is kicking ass with overseeing NXT (the real deal, entirely unruined by tonight’s draft). Of course, RAW picks the choice cuts since it’s WWE’S Flagship show. Smackdown sees a trick of new talent head over to breathe new life into the roster, as well as insert talent that require some fine-tuning. I only applaud Daniel Bryan becoming Smackdown GM, while sending Dean Ambrose to Smackdown only weakens the title. Owens, Zayn, Rollins, Reigns, and Balor to RAW was a good call; but splitting up the former Bullet Club — now, The Club — this soon is a dumb move. I wasn’t a fan of AJ to Smackdown, when he was ready and primed to be RAW‘s prime time player. 3/5 Vince Russo’s.
31. Golden Truth (RAW) – Comedy on RAW. Nothing changes.
32. The Usos (Smackdown) – I just find it funny that Golden Truth got picked over The Usos. This also splits up the Rock’s Samoan cousin connection.
33. Titus O’Neil (RAW) – Absolutely love this choice. All of the big dogs seem to be on RAW, so why not draft the biggest dog of them all? Whood-uh-whood-uh-whood-uh!
34. Demon Kane (Smackdown) – NO! I’M THE GREATEST TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS! Makes sense.
35. Paige (RAW) – Things are gonna get quite spicey in the Diva’s division on Mundays.
36. Darren Young (RAW) – Great.
37. Kalisto (Smackdown) – Ha! See Felipe’s re-cap. Dumb!
38. Sin Cara (RAW) – Another jobber for Kevin Owens.
39. Naomi (Smackdown) – Smackdown has second tier Divas. Hell, they have second tier everything. Uh-huh.
40. Jack Swagger (RAW) – He still has a job? I do like Corey Graves’ call for a possible Darren Young/Bob Backlund team-up.
41. The Ascension (Smackdown) – Well, the brand needed tag teams…
42. The Dudley Boyz (RAW) – Will RAW be more extreme? Will extreme mean anything anymore? Can Paul Heyman run another ECWesque stable on RAW with the Dudley’s, Brock and such?
43. Zack Ryder (Smackdown) – Poor bastard. As one of the wrestlers to blow in the past year, at least this brand will give him a chance to taste gold once again.
44. Summer Rae (RAW) – Ew. Surprised she still has a job, seriously.
45. Apollo Crews (Smackdown) – The best supplemental draft pick so far.
46. Mark Henry (RAW) – Seriously, all of the washed-up big boys are back on RAW.
47. Alexa Bliss (Smackdown) – So, Smackdown (sans Balor) is just NXT with a few old guys?
48. Braun Stroman (RAW) – Again, if you’re over 300 lbs., you found yourself on RAW tonight. So, expect both ultra fast matches on RAW, and ultra sloooooooowwwwwww matches. Sounds like fun, Steph!
49. Breezango (Smackdown) – Now we’re starting to see identities. Tuesday Night Tweener. If you’re 185-245, and have an inch of mat skill, see you on Smackdown.
50. Bo Dallas (RAW) – Seriously? I’m inspired. Bo-leeve!
51. Eva Marie (Smackdown) – Corey Graves is begging for a promotion!
52. Shining Stars (RAW) – Yes! Yes! Yes! Oops. Wrong show. I’m seriously thrilled that my new favorite tag team is heading to RAW.
53. The Vaudevillains (Smackdown) – NXT with a blue coating. They can wrestle American Alpha ten times a month. Snooze.
54. Alicia Fox (RAW) – Who?
55. Erick Rowan (Smackdown) – Hey! A big man to fight Demon Kane on SD. Zzz…
56. Dana Brooke (RAW) – Charlotte Flair has a sla.. ahem.. I mean, friend.
57. Mojo Rawley (Smackdown) – No chance for Mojo Night Rawley!
58. Curtis Axel (RAW) – Drafted over Samoa Joe. Hahahahaha!!!
59. Carmela (Smackdown) – Split from her Certified G’? Lame!