WrestleMania weekend 2022 in Dallas, Texas wasn't what some would call, "Wrestling for the wrassling purists," but WWE proved once again, when they know how to and want to, they can deliver, even if from a more "Sports-Entertainment" angle.
The weekend was marked with several big star studded shining moments, so it's hard to pick a "single moment." Although, arguably it should, technically go to Cody Rhodes' return since the weekend was fueled by rumors of his imminent return, and had been for what was, at the time going into WrestleMania, Saturday was 45 days since news had broke on the former EVP and his wife, Brandi leaving from AEW. The return, much like CM Punk's AEW debut in August, was admittedly, "Wrestling's worst kept secret" but that of course, still didn't stop it from being every bit of a memorable moment that wrestling fans won't soon forget, or stop tweeting about.
Much like I said after Night 1, I thought the 2021 WWE Draft was well done on the whole this year. Trust me, it's far from a perfect process and I'm still left questioning why certain moves are made and why certain stables aren't picked all together, but I wasn't left scratching my heads this year as much as I have been in the past. Baby steps, I suppose.
The biggest issue with the 2021 WWE Draft was that the draft pools were never announced ahead of time, even though they were in 2019 and 2020. Granted, there was never any justification for why certain Superstars were eligible on certain nights and why others weren't eligible at all, but at least it made things a bit easier to follow. We didn't get that at all this year. Worse yet, they didn't bother to put a pool together before Raw telling fans who was left to be picked coming out of Night 1. Nothing! We were left to figure that out ourselves, which tells you how late they stated putting this stuff together.
Nevertheless, you'll find that I was a fan of most of the moves made and what round they were drafted in. The inevitable swapping of the Raw Women's Championship and the SmackDown Women's Championship is going to be dumb (and is another reason why we shouldn't have brand-specific titles), but I'd say both rosters made out well and are fairly even. Raw definitely comes away stronger and with more star power, but what they'll do with those competitors remains to be seen.
Here's my full analysis of each round from Night 2 (including the additional draft picks made on Raw Talk on Monday night) and who went where. As you probably know by now, these moves will not go into effect until the October 22nd edition of SmackDown, the day after the Crown Jewel pay-per-view.
Despite WWE not having the strongest track record with the annual Draft shows in terms of how they're typically structured, I thought Night 1 was a success all things considered. The formatting was tweaked a bit compared to previous installments with SmackDown getting the first overall pick (for the first time since 2011 I believe) and there only being four picks per round with two going to Raw and two going to SmackDown. We'll see if Raw gets the first pick come Night 2, but either way, this makes much more sense compared to how WWE has done the Draft in the past.
My biggest knock against the Draft this year was that unlike in 2019 and 2020, the draft pool was not announced ahead of Night 1. For Night 2, anyone who wasn't selected on Night 1 is obviously eligible, but the list of eligible Superstars wasn't made clear prior to Friday night, leaving a lot of fans to question where certain stars where and whatnot. We were also told that NXT Superstars were eligible, but again, it was never made clear who exactly. For example, why would Austin Theory be picked before Samoa Joe, Johnny Gargano or almost anyone else on the roster?
We still don't have a clear-cut answer on who exactly has input on these decisions outside of "network executives" and the usual nonsense. and that's the problem you run into when you don't have on-air general managers assigned to each brand (I barely count Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville). There was never any talk of trades or why certain stables and groups could be selected as a single picks and others could not, but I've come to expect that sort of thing from the WWE Draft every year.
On the bright side most of the moves made were the right ones. There were some surprising selections, including a few that I'm slightly skeptical of on the surface, but I don't have a ton to complain about coming of Night 1 as far as the draft picks go. Night 2 could be entirely different story, of course, but I'm content with what we've gotten so far and hope that trend continues on Monday night.
Here's my full analysis of each round from Night 1 (including the additional draft picks made on Talking Smack on Saturday) and who went where. As WWE noted multiple times, these moves will not go into effect until the October 22nd edition of SmackDown, which is the day after the Crown Jewel pay-per-view.
With Adam Cole's contract with WWE set to expire this Friday, rumors about his eventual whereabouts have been floating around, making him once again among the top talked about wrestlers in the industry. Thanks to a few hints and teases left by the AEW roster, and Cole himself, there may now be legitimate reason to believe he will be AEW's next biggest signee.
Also, before we move forward with the list, please note that this is NOT necessarily ranked in order and with that in mind there is plenty to be hopeful about to see if this does actually come to fruition. So, from a Bullet Club revival in AEW, to The Young Bucks and more tag team glory there is much to be expected and excited about even if it's still a fantasy at this point. So, without further ado, here is the list..