The Draft is always an exciting time for WWE fans. Over the last week, a shocking change of rosters continued to happen, and there was no shortage of unexpected changes. Conn McGillion looks at both the positive, and negative changes and how it will affect both the wrestler, and the show they have been sent to.
Positive – AJ Styles, Smackdown to Raw-Styles has always claimed Smackdown is the ‘House that AJ Styles built’. Styles is a twenty year veteran, who is a former two time WWE World champion and also a former Intercontinental Champion during his on and off again, four year tenure on the Smackdown show. However, being moved to the Raw show opens up a series of new fresh possibilities for Styles; plenty of new opponents to wrestle. Such as the likes of WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, who Styles has never competed against previously. Or, perhaps wrestling some newer superstars such as the big man Keith Lee, there are many interesting, fresh possibilities for AJ Styles now he is on Raw.
Negative – Matt Riddle, Smackdown to Raw Having just been moved to Smackdown from NXT, Riddle fit into Smackdown like a glove, bro. The composed, chilled ‘Bro’ is known for his laid back attitude outside the ring, yet his incredible intensity within, so he was a natural fit for the more athletically driven Smackdown show. He has already had a series of brilliant matches against AJ Styles and Baron Corbin on Smackdown. It seemed as if Riddle could be primed to face Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Title; however, the change to Raw sees ‘the Bro’ swimming in a very deep talent pool. It will be more of a struggle for Riddle to make his mark on the more crowded Raw show.
Positive – Seth Rollins, Raw to Smackdown. Seth Rollins presents a very unexpected change to the WWE landscape. ‘The Monday Night Messiah’, has dominated Raw ever since the Brand Split started in 2016, when the roster was split in two, to wrestle on Raw and Smackdown separately. He has not appeared on Smackdown in those four years, and a change of scenery for the former Universal Champion is perhaps needed; he has exhausted most rivalries with most top wrestlers on Raw. Several intriguing new conflicts on the Smackdown brand with the likes of Big E, Jey Uso and Daniel Bryan all presenting completely new rivals. Outside of the Universal champion Roman Reigns, Rollins is now undoubtedly the biggest villain on Smackdown and there is no doubt he will take full opportunity of the new landscape.
Negative – Jeff Hardy, Smackdown to Raw. Jeff had been on fire on Smackdown. The twenty eight year veteran had a sudden career resurgence in 2020. He defeated rival AJ Styles for the Intercontinental Championship. And, he had a fantastic ladder match with both Styles and Sami Zayn at Clash of Champions. Now, with an unexpected move to Raw – and having lost the championship – the resurgence for Jeff has seem to come to a grinding halt. He has been moved down the card to possibly be on the losing end of a rivalry with Elias. The sudden shift to Raw in the midst of a brilliant Smackdown run has more harm than good for Jeff now.
Positive – Street Profits (Smackdown Tag ©). The tag team champions changing brands is exactly what was needed. The Street Profits, who were the Raw tag team champions before the Draft, and the New Day, who were Smackdown tag champions before the Draft, have switched brands. This is the first time the brand-exclusive champions have been drafted to the other show in the same Draft.
The resolution seemed simple, but was in fact the first time it ever happened. The two teams simply swapped titles – now the Street Profits reign as Smackdown tag champions, and the New Day as Raw tag team champions. This change was desperately needed for both teams. But, primarily the Street Profits. The Street Profits have dominantly defeated every tag team on Raw; they defeated almost every tag team on the red show. It seemed unrealistic for any team to defeat the duo but, now that they appear on Smackdown exclusively, in many ways, it is a restart for the Profits.
Positive – New Day (Raw Tag ©) As for the New Day, there is little they have not done for the tag division. The trio of charismatic athlets have dominated both Raw and Smackdown tag divisions with nine WWE tag titles under their belt between both shows. Being moved back to Raw will benefit the newer tag teams; the likes of the Viking Raiders and the Hurt Business, who are relatively new compared to the six years New Day have been together, will benefit immensely from the expertise of the New Day. Despite Big E remaining on Smackdown and splitting from the other two Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods will still excel on their own as the Raw tag team champions.
Negative – Keith Lee, stays on Raw- Keith Lee remaining on Raw is not necessarily bad. The former NXT champion quickly established himself as a main eventer immediately as soon as he arrived on Raw; putting away former twelve time world champion Randy Orton in your first Pay per view match is making a huge statement.
There is no doubt Lee will remain in the Raw main event scene – and rightfully so – but, he has already wrestled top Raw stars Randy Orton, and Drew McIntyre several times in the span of two months. A change of scenery could have completely flipped the script, there are many fresh, exciting match opportunities for Lee on Smackdown.
Positive – Big E, stays on Smackdown.- Many fans seem to be disappointed that Big E has been split away from the New Day – don’t be. The New Day, the trio of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E, have teamed for six years, and have done everything there is to do in WWE’s tag team division. But, Big E decided to break away on his own in 2020. Big E has brought heat over the last couple of months as a singles wrestler-defeating the likes of former four time World champion Sheamus in impressive fashion, Big E seems to be blazing his way to the top.
Without having to worry about tag team responsibilities, Big E has no roadblocks on battling his way to the very top of the singles mountain, and perhaps, he could be the one to dethrone Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns has looked unstoppable ever since he won the Universal Title which is the Smackdowns show top title. But, Roman has never wrestled someone quite like Big E – unproven, yet hungry. Once this match happens, it will be huge for both men- and there’ll be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Big E remaining on Smackdown is the perfect fit for the powerhouse.