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..
When CM Punk made his AEW debut, it was made apparent Friday Night on Rampage, that WWE was going to have to answer with their own surprise and indeed answer with their own surprise, they did.
The Beast Incarnate's return to WWE Saturday night was nothing other than Vince McMahon's desperate plea to answer the competition, and if you think it was just a coincidence, you may think again. It's evident that Tony Khan genuinely cares about the fans and is invested in giving them the best wrestling product as a performing art, and not just from an entertainment perspective. Vince is content on just giving a theatre production and more than likely he only did what he had to in order to keep the weekend buzz about WWE and SummerSlam and not for the sake of wrestling in the ring as an art, or the fans.
The Champ Is Back!
With his surprise return at Money in the Bank, John Cena is set to take on the tribal chief at WWE’s marquee event of the summer.
Reigns has been booked as an unstoppable force since his return at SummerSlam 2020 with phenomenal in-ring work and promos. However, do not be surprised if WWE has Cena dethrone him to become a record setting 17-time WWE World Champion.
In past promotions, a returning veteran facing off against the current face of the company would be a guaranteed loss for the vet, but WWE has shown they are content betting on aging and part-time stars.
As exciting as a Cena victory would be, Reigns cannot lose the title until later in the year. And when he does, Big E has to be the one to do it.