The 7 craziest things that happened at the WWE Draft, ranked
Never let it be said that WWE’s New Era didn’t begin with a bang. The WWE Draft, and the beginning of the Brand Extension with it, lived up to every inch of its promise to shake up the face of the company, as the showrunning teams of Raw and SmackDown split factions, recruited talent from WWE NXT and, in one case, left a former champion to test the waters of free agency. As speculation toward the first week of the Brand Extension begins, WWE.com counts down the craziest moments from the night where everything changed.
Where's Heath Slater?
Not only is Heath Slater a Social Outcast, but he’s a WWE Draft outcast as well. At the end of the night, Slater was the only Superstar who remained unclaimed by either brand, meaning that neither General Manager chose to #HitSlatersMusic when the time came. Adding insult to injury, fellow Outcasts Bo Dallas (Round 10, 50th overall) and Curtis Axel (Round 11, 58th overall) were both scooped up by Raw. On the bright side, this leaves The One Man Band to fulfil his destiny as the hottest free agent in all of sports. Get that checkbook out, babaaayyy!!!
The man the WWE Draft remembered
One of the most surprising picks of the night came from Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and her General Manager Mick Foley, and it was a Superstar who wasn’t even there to enjoy the honor: Neville, who has been out of action with an injury since last spring, was drafted in the sixth round by Team Raw at 26th overall. With similarly gifted talents like Kalisto and Apollo Crews (both of whom went to SmackDown Live) still on the board at that time, it might have seemed like Foley and Stephanie took an unneccessary gamble. However, consider the fact that a Cruiserweight division will be exclusive to Raw, not to mention that Neville is now part of a locker room that houses NXT alumni Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Finn Bálor … well, it makes sense to make a spot for one of the best high-flyers in the game.
The Women’s Revolution already taught the WWE Universe that its female Superstars were as worthy of the spotlight as the men. Still, it was something of a surprise — albeit a pleasant one — when WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte was drafted to Raw in the first round, and as the third overall pick (only Seth Rollins and WWE Champion Dean Ambrose were selected before her). Even if that doesn’t seem like a signifier of the second-generation Superstar’s talent at face value, consider her selection in this light: She was drafted before the likes of John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho. Go ahead and “Woo!” champ. You’ve earned it.
Sami Zayn was very adamant about his desire that he and Kevin Owens be drafted to different shows, as their rivalry has become (his words) a hindrance to his own development as a Superstar. Sorry, dude. Both The Underdog From the Underground and his sworn enemy are headed to Raw, as Zayn was scooped up in the third round (11th pick overall) and an irritable-as-ever KO followed in the fourth (18th overall). Looks like this shirt might have a few more months in it, after all.
Second is the best?
If you were to compile a dream list of first-round Draft picks based on an existing body of work, they’d likely include at least one of the following: John Cena, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, all of whom have been the proverbial “face of the company” at one point or another over the past two years. Apparently, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley, as well as SmackDown Live’s brain trust of Commissioner Shane McMahon and GM Daniel Bryan, decided to go in a more radical direction befitting the New Era, and the four former WWE Champions slid to the second round. There, they were quickly divided among the two teams of showrunners as Reigns, sixth overall, and Lesnar, eighth overall, went to Raw; Cena and Orton are headed to SmackDown Live at seventh and ninth, respectively. In terms of second-round picks, that’s quite an embarrassment of riches.
The takeover begins
The announcement that six Draft picks would be available from WWE NXT sent shockwaves of speculation throughout the WWE Universe, and the Gernal managers didn’t disappoint when they got their chance to raid the proverbial cookie jar. Five-tool player Finn Bálor was the final Raw selectee of the first round, going fifth overall, while Women’s division powerhouse Nia Jax (25th overall) and tag team wrestling machine American Alpha (22nd) were summoned in the fifth round. The action continued on WWE Network’s Draft Center Live following SmackDown Live, where Alexa Bliss (47th overall), Mojo Rawley (57th) and Carmella (59th, the final pick of the evening) were all picked up. The interesting wrinkle? Of the six NXT picks, only two — Bálor and Jax — ended up going to Raw. Looks like SmackDown Live’s in for a Full Sail reunion.
Breaking up is hard to do
One of the biggest questions surrounding the WWE Draft was whether any tag teams would be split up by the selection process. That answer turned out to be a resounding “yes,” as both The Wyatt Family and The Club were torn asunder over the course of the night. The First Family of Fear’s Bray Wyatt (third round, 12th overall) and Erick Rowan (11th round, 55th overall) are SmackDown Live-bound, while Mick Foley stole Braun Strowman to Raw in the 10th round at 48th overall. As for The Club, AJ Styles was a first-round pick for SmackDown Live at No. 4, but Raw poached away his good brothers Gallows & Anderson in the fifth round as the 21st overall pick. That leaves the two bruisers without a leader, though they do know Finn Bálor from way-back-when. Hmmm ….