The WWE Draft is over and, for the most part, it was an enjoyable watch. However, as is the case with previous brand extension drafts, we’re left with a bunch of questions. For this article I’m going to avoid the most obvious question – “what about Heath Slater?” As evidenced here, WWE is clearly using this as a comedy angle for Slater. Think “Curtis Axel not being eliminated in the Royal Rumble”. Even though it sounds like WWE was still finalizing the roster moments before the show went live, I seriously doubt they “accidentally” forgot about Heath and then filmed a clip of him being “unpicked”. Likewise, if WWE was going to release Slater, they would have done so before the draft or found an excuse to make him “ineligible”, kind of like how there was no mention of Ryback at all last night.
The draft did, however, leave me with a handful of questions going forward.
6 Big Questions Coming Out of the WWE Draft
What About Bayley?
Bayley seemed like a lock to go in the WWE Draft. She’s been holding down the NXT Women’s Division long after her fellow Horsewoman left for the main roster. The internet even leaked “Hugger Section” signs being passed out in Worcester last night – but apparently that was just the work of an overzealous fan and not an official WWE move. Many speculated Bayley as a draft day given after a photo surfaced of five NXT stars doing a “curtain call” at a recent NXT live event. Past NXT “curtain calls” seemed to signify a call up to the main roster. Of note, that curtain call featured both Finn Balor and American Alpha (all three drafted last night) but also included Bayley and Shinsuke Nakamura (neither of which were drafted). Considering NXT has both Nakamura and Bayley booked in title matches for the next TakeOver, it may have wound up being a strategic move to keep both of them in NXT to fulfill the NXT TakeOver dates. The plot thickens for Bayley though as Sasha Banks’ “mystery partner” for Battleground still has not been named. Bayley was originally a front-runner, but would WWE not draft her and then call her up to work this match and… sign as a free agent? Seems strange, but having Bayley debut at a PPV in a match featuring the current top two women on the roster would be a solid debut for her. If we get Paige (rumored) or Nia Jax (also rumored) as Sasha’s partner on Sunday, I imagine we won’t be seeing Bayley on the main roster until after SummerSlam.
Was Cesaro’s Post-Draft Promo A Shoot?
If you believe Meltzer, it was. It does seems strange, however, that if Cesaro shot on the company that WWE took the time to release the promo on YouTube. It seems to me that it’s more likely this was the modern equivalent of a “pipe bomb”. Cesaro was likely venting and WWE is going to turn around and book him on Raw with this persona. While this may not be the thing that finally gets Cesaro over with management, it at least will add a new dimension to character that we previously haven’t seen. Cesaro can only go so far as the “silent, James Bond type” so I find this new attitude a welcome change – shoot or work.
Is Orton / Lesnar At SummerSlam In Jeopardy?
While Brock Lesnar keeps failing UFC drug tests, he was still picked by Raw as a top 10 WWE draft pick. Of note, the very next pick sent Randy Orton to SmackDown. One of two things seem to be at play here. The WWE may be hyping this match as a “cross-brand” attraction to drive home the point that the “big four” PPVs will feature both brands. However, this also may mean that WWE is backing off from involving Lesnar in SummerSlam. Brock was originally scheduled to be at last night’s draft, but WWE quietly said his next scheduled appearance was at SummerSlam following the first failed UFC test. WWE alleges they didn’t want to “waste” a Brock appearance on the draft show, but the timing is somewhat suspicious. One wonders how WWE plans to promote a SummerSlam match with the two competitors appearing on separate shows. One way this could work is if they book the match more in a “UFC” style. Brock and Randy cut promos on each other, during the lead up – likely with Heyman as Lesnar’s mouthpiece. Then they have some sort of “pre-SummerSlam press conference” on SummerSlam weekend where the two are in the room for the first time since the match was booked. If done right, that could be effective. On the flip side, I see why some feel this match may end up being scrapped as the Lesnar doping allegations continue to pile up.
Will Braun Strowman Get A New Gimmick?
WWE seemed to tip their hand a bit by making a point of having the Wyatt Family entered into the WWE Draft as individuals. As I suspected, Braun Strowman ends up the odd man out here. With Luke Harper still a few months out from returning from a knee injury, Braun is the lone “Wyatt” left on Raw. It seems highly unlikely that they stay the course with Strowman. Braun has been with the Wyatts the shortest amount of time and debuted with no previous NXT or main roster baggage. Considering the terrible job WWE did in giving him any sort of character, he’s essentially a clean slate. I could see WWE keeping him off TV for a few months, give him a new look, and then reintroduce him as the monster heel that Vince still gets all giddy over. While the attempt to refresh Erick Rowan and Luke Harper went terribly in the past, Braun seems like he has enough of an upside that he could still succeed independently of the Wyatts.
Will Raw Have The Balor Club?
WWE appears to have given up on “The Club” by splitting AJ Styles from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in the draft. Considering how poorly WWE booked what should have been a slam dunk, I’m not surprised they did this. AJ Styles is more than capable of surviving on SmackDown as a top singles heel. With Finn Balor heading to Raw, it seems, yet again, like a slam dunk to align Balor with Anderson and Gallows. Have WWE learned from their mistakes with “The Club v.1?” Well, I suppose we will find out. Anderson and Balor are both founding members of the Bullet Club, while Styles and Gallows both joined the faction after its original inception. It should be interesting to see if WWE decides to immediately make Balor a heel and align him with his “Club mates” or if they wait to do this sometime down the road. Balor was one of the most over babyfaces at NXT, so it would seem strange to immediately turn him heel just to form the “Balor Club”.
Weren’t Those NXT Draftees Some Strange Choices?
For the most part, I believe so. Balor and American Alpha were both givens. Balor’s call up was long overdue and American Alpha did everything there really was left to do at NXT. Nia Jax seems like a surprising call up. She felt like she was on the cusp of being ready, but not quite there yet. She’s got the monster heel schtick down as far as her in ring work but still has a way to go on the mic. I suppose teaming her with a better talker on the main roster could offset that a little bit. Alexa Bliss was surprising, but out of the non-Bayley or Asuka women at NXT, she seems to be the most ready. She’s a great heel promo and her in ring work got consistently better over the course of the past year. Carmella is a strange one too, insofar that she was split up from Enzo & Big Cass. She’s another one that seemed at about the Nia Jax level of being “ready”. Carmella is an above average talker and her in ring work has gotten significantly better. I think I am more surprised to see her go to SmackDown away from her boys than anything. Lastly, Mojo Rawley makes absolutely zero sense. The only context where it even makes a shred of sense whatsoever is WWE saddling Ryder with the Hype Bros. from here on out. It’s no secret that Mojo Rawley was the bane of my existence when I still covered the weekly NXT show, so I’m a little biased here. His promo style does not jive well with me at all. Rawley is also incredibly limited in the ring – something I assume they hope to bandage by having him work with Ryder as a tag team. Either way, he was the glaring “WTF?” for me on last night’s WWE Draft. If WWE was intent on keeping Nakamura, Joe, Aries, Roode, etc. in NXT, then by all means draft Tye Dillinger in Mojo’s place instead – he’s an all around better talent!
Do you have any lingering questions from last night’s draft that I missed? Sound off in the comments!