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The 2016 WWE Draft is approaching faster than you think and just like the NFL draft, Mock Drafts are becoming aplenty. The brand split should be great for many of the wrestlers as some of the best talents have become bogged down by the rising superstars that are coming from NXT or by their momentum becoming staunched by that same NXT talent. Both Raw and Smackdown promise to be unique shows with their own rosters and more rich storylines. While reports already have stated that the first two picks for both brands have already been decided on, there is still plenty of talent to fill out rosters; even after the draft there will likely be a lot of talent that needs to be signed by either Raw, Smackdown, or NXT to fill out the rosters creating an even richer roster than presented here. Without further ado, here is my first WWE Mock Draft:
Round 1 Raw:
Roman Reigns – Raw takes the reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion with the first overall pick and who can blame them? “The Guy” was a tough sell to the crowd for the past 8 months but now that Seth Rollins is back the crowd seems to be receiving him just how Vince McMahon had wanted (to a degree). Reigns will be an important cornerstone to build around for many years on Monday Nights.
John Cena – If you’re going to change how you do things on Smackdown then you need a guy that won’t just draw an audience but also get the people talking. John Cena has been the most talked about WWE superstar for many years and brings a huge following to the new live Smackdown.
Round 2 Raw:
Seth Rollins – It only makes sense to draft Rollins right after Reigns. Former teammates turned rivals and enemies, Rollins and Reigns will likely be butting heads for many years to come. To separate the pair just seems like passing up on all animosity that has been built towards for the past two years.
AJ Styles – A budding rivalry between the most beloved WWE figure and the guy that has helped infuse WWE with a breath of fresh air is what makes Smackdown draft Styles here. Styles completed his heel turn on Memorial Day when he and the Club assaulted Cena. This rivalry should last longer than a few weeks. Two of the biggest WWE talents headline the new Smackdown roster and should give some fantastic main event shows.
Round 3 Raw:
The New Day – Raw can’t give up their star tag team group. Raw already knows what works for their brand. Making sure that they can retain the Glory of Unicorns that hold the WWE Tag Team Championship will ensure the charisma that is felt on Monday nights remains and Raw continues to build towards being the superior brand.
Bray Wyatt – WWE has sadly never been able to reach Bray Wyatt’s full potential as a character. Drafting Wyatt to Smackdown allows WWE to hit the reset button and try again on Wyatt. Drafting Wyatt at this point makes him a HUGE cornerstone of Smackdown and really will be the first singular person drafted not attached to anyone else drafted thus far giving Smackdown freedom to do what they will with Wyatt.
Round 4 Raw:
Kevin Owens – WWE has been building Owens as a Main Event heel for sometime and now Raw has the opportunity to make Owens into that pure evil heel that they want and need. While his rivalry with Sami Zayn has been a big part of his story, Owens has the ability to terrorize any WWE superstar today and Raw will make it happen drafting him at this point.
Anderson & Gallows – Smackdown picks the rising Club as their top Tag Team and keeps one of their cornerstone Superstars happy by getting AJ Style’s buds. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are a menacing force that should dominate the tag team circuit on Smackdown while coming to the aid of AJ Styles when needed will give The Club a large presence on Tuesday nights.
Round 5 Raw:
Dean Ambrose – The Lunatic Fringe will likely get relegated to upper mid card events someday but in modern day Ambrose is worth the draft position. Ambrose is a worthy title contender as he gains momentum. Plus, Ambrose and Owens have beef; Ambrose doesn’t trust Canadiens. And anyways, while unlikely, a Shield reunion would be possible this way and its not like WWE hasn’t hinted at the possibility before.
Finn Balor – The Demon of NXT gets the call up in a big way. Fans have been calling for Balor to come to the main roster and Smackdown takes the chance on him. Smackdown, currently being dominated by a stable of heels, gets another face to attract attention away from Cena while Finn Balor gets to showcase why he should have been in the WWE a long time ago.
Round 6 Raw:
Charlotte- Raw begins construction on their Women’s division with the Women’s Champion. Charlotte’s title reign has been intriguing and now that she has rid herself of her father Charlotte’s journey is even more interesting as fans want to know if the second generation Flair is capable of winning without the help of anyone in such a crowded Women’s division.
Enzo & Cass – Smackdown gets their own masters of the mic with Enzo & Cass coming to Tuesday nights. The duo has captivated the WWE since they arrived the day after Wrestlemania and has earned their keep fighting the Dudley Boys and Vaudevillains every week. Becoming the main foil against The Club may not be the plan Smackdown has in mind but the pair guarantees an audience every Tuesday night to hear who’s sawft this week.
Round 7 Raw:
Sami Zayn – While Raw should try to branch out of the Kevin Owens – Sami Zayn rivalry, the rivalry must still go on. The two will always have animosity for the other but both have the potential to cause chaos in their respective ways. As a current Money in the Bank contestant Sami Zayn has the potential for several new storylines as well as an argument for contendership while helping out Owen’s victims in his spare time.
Natalya – Smackdown chooses Natalya as their cornerstone of their Women’s Division. Someone that likely could be the Women’s Division champion if not for a distraction from Dana Brooke at Extreme Rules, Natalya is a strong piece is build around. Smackdown gets a reliable piece that finally gets to dominate a division like she deserves.
Round 8 Raw:
Becky Lynch- Raw does’t hesitate to take Charlotte’s biggest rival since she came to the main roster after watching Natalya slip through their fingers. Considered the one true babyface in the Women’s division, Becky Lynch’s fights against former best friend Charlotte have been entertaining through and through. Whether it’s Shane or Stephanie running Raw, giving Charlotte a strong contender every week is essential and drafting Lynch here guarantees that.
Cesaro – Swedish Superman becomes the first upper midcard talent drafted and in doing so sets the tone for Smackdown’s high ceiling talent. Drafting the hardworking Swede gives Tuesday nights an exciting feel that will get people tuning in well before the main event talents take the ring. Cesaro is someone that can and should be used every week and will push the rest of the talent to make the brand that much better with his high flying action.
Round 9 Raw:
The Vaudevillains – Having solidified a strong Main Event roster and a good Women’s division rivalry, Raw has to address the elephant in the room that they have no challengers in the Tag Team circuit. Having lost out on The Club (who was the perfect match against The New Day) and Enzo & Cass (who is the only team really rivaling The New Day’s popularity) Raw settles for the Vaudevillains who have been vying for the WWE Tag Team Championship the past few months. With less roadblocks Aiden English and Simon Gotch can pool all their energy and focus into effectively attacking and ending The New Day’s run as WWE Tag Team Champions.
Rusev – The Bulgarian Brute and United States Champion comes to Smackdown to continue building a roster that seems to be going in a much more nitty gritty way while Raw focuses on continuing their brand of flashy and cool personalities. Rusev in past weeks has shown he can be merciless and aims to make points going so far as attempting to break Jack Swagger’s back despite the bell having already rung on June 2nd. Smackdown gets a ruthless heel that is willing to go to great lengths in order to win.
Plus, who wouldn’t want the United States Championship on the same show as John Cena, who practically made it his own championship? Additionally, Rusev’s wife and manager Lana comes to Smackdown with him. With the brand split, we may see Lana get in the ring in lower midcard events.
Round 10 Raw:
Bayley – The second NXT product comes off the board and brings a lot of competition to Raw’s Women’s Division. Bayley has been criticized by rivals for being too nice but its her niceness that has made her into such a lovable character. Bayley can dominate in the ring and should bring a fire right away having always been second to Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Wanting to prove she’s better than her former friends and rivals should give her more than enough motivation to create some fantastic matches after having so much history with them in NXT.
Randy Orton – The Viper has been out since October with a shoulder injury but that doesn’t mean he can’t provide Main Event potential. A great value pick at this point for so many reasons, Orton brings Smackdown someone that can be inserted into many storylines. After being supplanted by Seth Rollins as the face of the Authority, Orton has seemingly drifted around with no definite storyline. Now on Smackdown the Viper can go toe-to-toe with anyone on the roster.
Whether it’s reigniting his old rivalry with John Cena, challenging Bray Wyatt, fighting the Demon of NXT, providing Cesaro with a worthy upper mid card opponent, or even completing the babyface turn that he was in the midst of when he got injured by joining Cena’s side in the fight against The Club, the options are endless and only makes Smackdown that much of a better show.
Round 11 Raw:
Baron Corbin – Cobin is on the cusp of becoming the next big WWE heel. Recognizing this, Raw decides it can’t pass up the potential he brings and reaches for him here. In doing so, a true heel for years to come is guaranteed to the Raw roster and they can sleep easy at night knowing that the future of Raw is safe with wrestlers like Corbin and Bayley only just getting started in what should be years of being fan favorites.
Luke Harper – Pleasantly surprised that one of the most feared superstars is still around, Smackdown realizes they can begin to piece together Bray Wyatt’s stable of henchmen. Getting Harper is key to Smackdown since he’s shown he can survive without the Wyatt family making him more dangerous to everyone around him and being able to work independently for Wyatt or on his own accord presenting more storyline options.
Round 12 Raw:
The Usos – The Bloodline ends up being retained on Raw as Jey and Jimmy get drafted to Monday night. The pair have been a high flying act that much like Roman Reigns until recently have had trouble getting a good clear crowd reaction. With less prominent acts like The Club and Enzo & Cass around to push the Usos out they can now find their true identity and give the Vaudevillains trouble while they too push for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Sasha Banks – The Boss is back and ready to again challenge for the crown. This time around though she gets to push to be the big bad on Smackdown. Sometimes forgotten as a heel, especially in recent memory due to injury and Charlotte being extremely evil by banishing Ric Flair from the ring, Banks won’t need to be worried about being overshadowed by anyone as a heel. Young and confident, Banks will be a mainstay on the Smackdown roster for years to come. Best of all, we can enjoy Snoop Dogg appearances without the worry of him interfering in matches.
Round 13 Raw:
Sheamus – Momentum has not been on Sheamus’s side, especially since the collapse of the League of Nations. Missing out on Money in the Bank in an unexpected loss to Sami Zayn seems to be a new low for the Celtic Warrior. With the WWE draft not only can the WWE universe hit the reset button but so can Sheamus. Likely an upper midcard talent Sheamus will be able to fight his way back to the top with less of a crowded roster on Monday nights now. Raw holds on to one of its more promising superstars and Sheamus gets to put the past eight months behind him and begin anew.
Dana Brooke – After missing out on Charlotte Smackdown brings in the next best thing: Her protege, Dana Brooke. Brooke has all the necessary traits to push both Natalya and Sasha Banks. Brooke’s interference in Natalya’s recent loss at Extreme Rules could also create animosity against Tuesday’s choice for top woman. Separating Brooke from Charlotte however will leave her vulnerable if she can’t prove she can survive without her one time mentor and could inevitably backfire on Smackdown and its showrunner.
Round 14 Raw:
The Miz – The Intercontinental Champion has been owning his role as a heel while he defends his title against the likes of Cesaro, as well as Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens until recently. Raw should recognize this and grab The Miz off the board at this point. Certainly not a reach now in the 14th round but a potential steal, The Miz and his wife Maryse have been intoxicatingly annoying for fans to watch due to their public display of affection and overall cockiness.
Those traits have made The Miz a great heel and Raw would do well to retain him while they can with hopes of him finding continued success. The Miz also brings manager, wife, and 2x Divas Champion Maryse who could get back in the ring herself and build the Women’s Division roster even more.
Apollo Crews – A possible reach here but Apollo Crews provides a lot of potential. Being presented as a scrappy underdog in most cases since coming up to the main roster Crews would make a great midcard face to build towards the Main Event someday. Crews won’t be ready for the Main Event for a few years likely but with the roster that’s already been built Crews has the time to come into his own as the likes of Cena, Styles, Wyatt, and Balor should dominate the end of the night.
Round 15 Raw:
Paige – The victim of an act that was supposed to help her out, Paige has been thrown to the wayside since the Divas Revolution really came into full effect, having to watch Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks dominate the top Women’s events most nights. Raw gets out looking like a bandit at this point as Paige is still a fantastic wrestler and good on the mic too and if not for the crowded Women’s division would have been drafted much earlier. Now the former Divas champion has a more clear path to the Women’s Championship and should have plenty of chances at a still very young 23.
Dolph Ziggler – The best technical wrestler in the industry, Smackdown just continues adding pieces to create a tough looking roster. Ziggler is a fantastic add to the midcard and gives the Smackdown roster a teacher as well who can bring wrestlers like Crews along in their technique behind the scenes to ensure the brand retains its nitty gritty feel that has been built through this draft. Ziggler also gets away from Baron Corbin who brought the worst out of Ziggler recently after Dolph got revenge with a groin shot after being hit with a groin shot himself from Corbin at Extreme Rules presenting a fresh start with brand new storylines to explore with Ziggler.
Round 16 Raw:
Dudley Boyz – With a strong tag team roster already, Raw finds the finishing piece in the Dudley Boyz. The Dudley Boyz will provide constant pushback to all teams and despite the age of D-Von and Bubba Ray, should still have a case on Raw for the WWE World Tag Team Championship. With their current rivalry with Enzo & Cass ending via brand split, the Dudley Boyz would be free to harass and challenge any of the teams, even the New Day.
Chris Jericho – A good tweener option in the midcard for Smackdown at this point, Jericho can provide exciting matches and still cut a great promo. The man also has some good storyline potential on Tuesday nights with the possibility of revisiting the rivalry he had with AJ Styles at some point if his momentum swings in the right direction.
Round 17 Raw:
Alberto Del Rio – A thorn in a lot of new era talent’s side, Del Rio should make a good heel in any storyline. His experience in so many different wrestling circuits gives him a fantastic move set and will make him a tough opponent still in the midcard.
Erick Rowan – Smackdown breathes a sigh of relief as they get another member of the Wyatt Family. While Rowan has not seen much singles match time, he can team up with Harper and/or Wyatt and make a good partner with his size and power. Smackdown can be happy to get another huge piece in what will shape into some great Wyatt family storylines.
Round 18 Raw:
Kalisto – A fun wrestler to watch with his best years still ahead of him, Raw makes a fantastic value pick here. Kalisto will likely not be happy about being left on the board for so long either after being the United States Champion fairly recently and will bring an intensity to the ring that will make opponents fear him.
Braun Strowman – Smackdown goes for the final member of the Wyatt Family after drafting Erick Rowan a round earlier. A definite reach as Smackdown could have built another part of their roster instead and gotten Strowman as a sort of undrafted free agent but the feeling of having security in the entire Wyatt Family being on the roster will justify the move so late in the draft. Strowman, the black sheep and newest member of the Wyatt Family, could and likely will be Rowan’s tag team partner in those situations while Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper act more independently.
Round 19 Raw:
Shinsuke Nakamura – Raw’s roster becomes defined by this move by drafting and calling up Shinsuke Nakamura. Raw’s roster is obviously the more flashy and fun to watch and getting such an over the top personality like Shinsuke Nakamura is important to the roster to bring in an even bigger viewing audience on Monday nights. Nakamura should be a great upper midcard talent and wonderful steal at this point in the draft with the ability to perform in the Main Event.
Titus O’Neil – Smackdown takes a flier at this point in the draft on Titus O’Neil who has a budding rivalry with Rusev. Rather than allow that rivalry go to waste, as O’Neil defends the ideal of what it means to be an American, Tuesdaynights get O’Neil. Whether the rivalry explodes into anything beneficial should not make a difference as O’Neil can fill out the low midcard events which Smackdown will need somebody to do once the two settle the score.
Round 20 Raw:
Sin Cara – Raw gets to reunite the Lucha Dragons with their final pick in Sin Cara. Sin Cara has provided some interesting storylines and with his Luchador background always gives entertaining matches. A dual threat pick here as Raw gets one final tag team and a good midcard talent as well.
Carmella – Smackdown’s final five picks have been mostly about retaining stables and rivalries. Drafting Carmella, the woman that aligns with Enzo & Cass, continues that trend. The pick may not be the best here but a healthy woman for the Women’s Division and new storylines makes Smackdown that much more interesting especially when the woman can be involved with one of the most exciting tag teams in WWE right now.
Both Raw and Smackdown build rosters that have unique feels to them. Raw builds off of what has already been established and gets a majority of the flashy superstars that will bring in the casual fan. Smackdown opts for a brand that likely will have more grinders and hard hitters that may not all be great on mic but will bring great matches. Each roster should also have the opportunity to sign other superstars that were not drafted to help fill out the midcard and continue creating interesting storylines. NXT may have some familiar faces rejoin as well as they feel a purge of their talent moving to Mondays and Tuesdays. The fallout is something that will cause some harm to some of the superstars’ momentum but WWE will come out better after July 19th.
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By Sherron Watson