We’re still a few weeks out from WWE’s upcoming talent draft as part of the “new era” brand extension. Many fans are curious about where their favorite WWE superstars will land in the draft. Others are concerned that the draft will split up factions and tag teams. However, I’ve come up with five big questions about the WWE draft that have not been answered yet. And yes, before you ask, I’m aware this is all pre-determined. I know this is not a “draft” in the traditional sense of the NFL, NBA, etc. drafts.
5 Big Questions about the WWE Draft
1. Why would a GM draft a part-timer?
While there are obvious benefits to having a Brock Lesnar or Undertaker on your brand, what would be the ultimate motivation to picking them early? Brock Lesnar going in the first few picks seems a given, but the guy never wrestles on weekly TV and only works a handful of PPVs a year. Logic would dictate a GM would rather pick talent that works the show weekly. While Brock Lesnar may pop your ratings against your competition, think of the six months or more out of the year that he’s nowhere to be seen. The only thing that seems to make guys like Brock and Taker a relevant first round pick is their name value. Guys who don’t work a regular schedule seemingly should be made ineligible for the draft. It would make far more sense to have them either float between shows or sign as a “free agent” post-draft.
2. Who decides where NXT talent goes after the draft?
It is possible this point will be addressed as we get closer to the draft. However, as it stands it seems as though WWE will make NXT talent available in the draft. Well, that’s fine and good, but what about after the draft? Will NXT talent have to wait for each year’s draft to get called up to the main roster? If not, then who will decide which NXT talent goes where? Will we see the Raw and SmackDown GMs showing up at NXT scouting and trying to woo potential stars to their brand? I’d personally like to see that and have the GMs get into bidding wars over top NXT talent. It seems a little more likely that WWE may have a “NXT supplemental draft” later in the year where the two GMs can pick up new talent when WWE brass has decided it’s time for another NXT roster refresh. There is also the distinct possibility that WWE will never address this and NXT main roster debuts will just happen on both brands at random.
3. What would be the motivation of the GMs to split up a tag team?
Let’s say the Raw GM decides to draft Jimmy Uso and later the SmackDown GM picks up Jey Uso. What would be the motivation for that creative decision? You can sub in most tag teams here, but I used the Usos in this example as they’re guys that almost exclusively works as a team. Logic would dictate that drafting to split a team would be counterproductive for both brands. Now, I get WWE will use the draft to split up a few teams to allow for new creative directions. I’m thinking more of what would be the storyline reason to do this? For every Shawn Michaels that excels after he leaves a tag team, there are numerous other examples where the individual parts of a team are less than their sum. I still feel as though tag teams / factions should be part of their own “round” of the draft. If WWE wants to split anyone up, use the weeks leading up to the split to write some face / heel turns instead of relying on the draft itself as the MacGuffin.
4. What happens to unfinished feuds after the draft?
It seems like John Cena vs. AJ Styles is just getting started. But, if Cena goes to SmackDown and Styles goes to Raw, then say goodbye to the rubber match at SummerSlam. Considering the proximity of the draft to Battleground, I expect the upcoming PPV will feature a ton of blow off matches. The statistical probability for each feud ending up on the same brand is seemingly low. For every Baron Corbin / Dolph Ziggler never ending feud that will hopefully be stopped by the split, we could lose Styles / Cena or Ambrose / Rollins. It almost seems like the timing of this initial draft could not be worse. Hopefully next year, when WWE isn’t at the whims of USA’s programming decisions, the draft can happen at a more opportune time of the year.
5. What about non-NXT free agents?
Another big question ahead of the draft is what happens to free agents that WWE signs and has bypass NXT? Think AJ Styles. In a brand split WWE Universe, who would dictate where these guys would end up? Again, like the NXT question above, it seems tailor-made for vignettes with the GMs courting an incoming superstar. The cynic in me feels that WWE will just plop these guys onto a brand at random. It’s also possible any incoming free agents would be used bolster whichever roster has injury problems. However, since WWE wants to build NXT as a third brand now, it is likely any new signings will be filtered through NXT from here on out.