For the first time in over three years, the WWE Draft returned Friday night on SmackDown (which you can read my full review of here). Yes, we've had pseudo-Drafts in that time called the Superstar Shake-Up, but those were terribly executed and never really shook up the rosters the same way an actual Draft would. With no general managers to make the picks, we were told that executives at USA Network and FOX influenced who went where, which I absolutely believe to be the case. The "war rooms" were a nice touch, though Stephanie McMahon just running down the list of Draft picks without cutting to reactions from talent in the back was slightly disappointing.
Otherwise, I thought Night 1 of the 2019 WWE Draft went fairly well. I liked what they did by putting the talent in two separate pools so that there's more major names to go on Monday's Raw (including Universal Champion Seth Rollins and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar). We were told that trades can happen and for every two picks SmackDown got, Raw would get three because it's a three-hour show (similar to the 2016 WWE Draft). Anyone who wasn't selected entered free agency, and can negotiate with whatever brand they wish. It's a cool concept, but I unfortunately don't see that ending well.
Either way, here are the full results of Night 1 of the 2019 WWE Draft with analysis for each selection from yours truly.
GSM's Analysis: The Raw Women's Champion is on Raw? I can't believe it! In all seriousness, I love that Lynch was the premiere pick in the 2019 WWE Draft. It makes her feel like a huge deal and obviously the flagship how is where she belongs. The same can be said for Reigns, who just moved to SmackDown earlier this year in the Superstar Shake-up. It was way too soon for him to return to the Raw roster, so expect to be him the face of Friday nights going forward (especially now that Kofi Kingston is no longer WWE Champion).
I was scared WWE would break up The O.C. the same way they did in the 2016 Draft, but thankfully, they were drafted to Raw as a unit. Similar to Reigns, they just switched shows a few months ago, so having them remain on Raw was a smart move. With Styles still the United States Champion, the star-spangled prize will stay on Monday nights as well.
Wyatt going to SmackDown was easily the biggest head-scratcher of Night 1 of the Draft for me since it was made clear earlier in the evening that his feud with Universal Champion Seth Rollins isn't over yet. My guess is that he'll get traded back to Raw because of how out of place he feels on a "sports show" such as SmackDown. Finally, I loved McIntyre closing out the first round. He can be an important player on Raw coming out of the Draft if WWE plays their cards right with him.
GSM's Analysis: I predicted that Orton would move to Raw because of how he's been a part of SmackDown since 2016 Draft, so I'm glad that happened. He'll have a fresh batch of opponents to work with over there. Banks is in a similar spot, as she too had yet to switch shows before Friday. Well, she has blue hair now, and coming off her loss to Lynch at Hell in a Cell, it was only academic that she was drafted to SmackDown.
Ricochet has had a solid run on Raw for the past six months, so I'm fine with him staying right where he's at, assuming he can find direction soon. Random wins over Apollo Crews and Cesaro won't do him many favors. Meanwhile, Strowman has been with Raw for the past three years, and considering his recent rivalry with professional boxer Tyson Fury has been all over SmackDown for the last week, I figured he'd also be SmackDown bound. I was going to say that he can win a world title at long last on SmackDown, but with Brock Lesnar likely to switch shows as well, he can kiss any aspirations of becoming WWE Champion goodbye.
Lastly, Lashley is staying put on Raw. It's not a bad pick by any means, but I'm disappointed this probably means he isn't going to be on the same show as Lesnar. Worse yet, if Rusev and/or Lana join him on Team Red, their awful angle is doomed to continue. Ugh.
GSM's Analysis: Bliss and Evans getting drafted ahead of Owens and the SmackDown Tag Team Champions was... interesting, to say the least. No disrespect to Bliss or Evans, and it's nice that the USA Network and FOX executives apparently view the women so highly, but Owens and The Revival deserve better. Nonetheless, Bliss didn't really need to move, whereas Evans going to SmackDown was a must. She hasn't had the best luck on Monday nights, so maybe moving to SmackDown will change her fortunes.
Owens was really catching on as a babyface on SmackDown, and it feels he's always swapping brands, so he was another pick that caught me off guard. It is kind of funny that he spent so long trying to rid the blue brand of Shane McMahon, only to get moved to Raw the very next week. He tweeted he was frustrated by getting drafted in the third round, but it's better than being drafted in the fourth round like he was in 2016. We'll see what his ceiling is on Raw soon enough.
The Revival officially moving to SmackDown was a given. Raw wrestlers holding the SmackDown Tag Team Championship made no sense to begin with and now they can resume their rivalry with The New Day if they stay on SmackDown. And then there's Raw picking Natalya, which I can't bring myself to care about. The USA Network executives acting as excited as they did backstage over landing the former SmackDown Women's Champion was genuine comedy.
GSM's Analysis: If Cross and Bliss were both going to be drafted to Raw, why wouldn't Raw just draft them as a unit? That felt like a waste of a pick to me (especially since Cesaro later went undrafted, which is unbelievable). It looks like they'll be in the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship picture for a little while longer. Other than her, the fourth round was all about the tag teams. Viking Raiders will be challenging Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Team Championship this Monday, so it would have been silly to draft them to SmackDown and spoil the ending to that outing.
Lucha House Party on SmackDown is hardly a game-changer, but based off how the commentators discussed it on 205 Live later in the night, it appears they'll be exclusive to the blue brand from now on and won't be wrestling in the Cruiserweight division anymore. They're a fun trio but were ruined almost from the get-go on Raw a year ago with the stupid "Lucha House Rules" and never really recovered.
Heavy Machinery have found their footing over the past few months on SmackDown, so I'm happy they're not going anywhere. I guess Street Profits being drafted to Raw was supposed to be a surprise, but everyone expected it. I just wish they were drafted higher because of their potential. Then again, they have been complete non-factors on the main roster so far, so I suppose in storyline they didn't deserve to be drafted any higher than they were. Here's hoping they can get in the ring soon and start chasing those Raw tag titles.
Additional Draft Picks
GSM's Analysis: These picks were made on WWE.com on Sunday, October 13 without any explanation. They apparently entered free agency after SmackDown on Friday before signing with their respective brand over the weekend. SmackDown got five picks to Raw's three, which wasn't explained, either.
Crews has been on both Raw and SmackDown a few times over the years and it hasn't made much of a difference. He's a hell of an athlete, but without any character development, he will continue to flounder and just be another dude on the roster for everyone else to beat. Sadly, he's probably the biggest "star" of this bunch with the best chance of finding success.
In a perfect world, EC3 would be an upper-midcarder by now, but WWE has shown zero interest in pushing him as anything more than a 24/7 Championship contender. What a waste of his abilities. He's no better off than fellow former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Eric Young, who has been a mainstay on Main Event for the past six months. Without SAnitY, I can guarantee you he'll be released within a year.
On paper, Gulak on SmackDown is a perfect fit, but I'm skeptical they'll actually doing anything of note with him. I'm still waiting for Buddy Murphy to get his just due, so I'm worried Gulak will suffer a similar fate despite his recent run as NXT Cruiserweight Champion. Slater went undrafted in 2016, but he has a home again on SmackDown. Sin Cara, another individual you probably forgot was still employed, will be returning to Raw. He's barely wrestled over the last year and is bound to remain an afterthought on Monday nights.
As for Tamina and The B-Team, the less said about them the better. Tamina returned at Hell in a Cell after taking several months off due to injury and briefly held the 24/7 Championship. She's terrible and will never be an asset to any brand she's on. The B-Team are basically the second coming of The Ascension, except they've actually won tag title gold on the main roster. Even still, they'll never be booked to be threats again and are just there to fill a spot on the roster.
GSM's Analysis: I'm convinced the only reason the Cruiserweights were a part of the pool was so the "networks" could have more talent to choose from for Raw and SmackDown. I realize Lucha House Party went to the blue brand in the fourth round and Gulak eventually ended up on Smackdown, but I don't think there was ever any intention of Tozawa or Carrillo leaving 205 Live.
The only way Cesaro not getting drafted makes sense (especially over someone like Eric Young or Tamina) is if he's headed to NXT or NXT UK. It's wishful thinking, I know, but at least he'd be better utilized on either of those brands. It'd be perfectly logical for his character to be frustrated by not being selected by SmackDown or Raw and taking his talents to NXT or NXT UK instead. Gable was another Superstar that surprisingly wasn't selected. Hell, he wrestled earlier in the night on SmackDown against King Corbin! He was fine right where he was on SmackDown, so here's hoping he doesn't move to Monday nights.