The WWE Draft is just a matter of hours away. The big question is of course, who will end up where? I decided to write about who my priorities would be if I were one of the selectors. But I’ve also shaken things up a bit and called in the reinforcements! I asked a couple of friends to join me in choosing their top picks, just to see if there was a consensus for anybody on the roster.
The criteria I gave the guys was that they had to pick at least one woman, at least one team (for the purposes of this I said you could pick the Wyatt Family or The Club as a team) and we could pick a maximum of one NXT superstar to call up. Simple enough, right? Let’s get to the picks, starting with the choices of… Jonny Bird!
Ah, the lunatic. Is there anyone cheered more than him at the minute? In the WWE there is reward for being versatile but the most important thing (after being pretty handy in a ring of course) is to establish your character. Yes there are always changes as the industry demands but the best don’t change character it’s merely a change of attitude. The Rock, Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, whether face or heel they remained fairly similar. If you cast your mind back to The Shield, Rollins likes to remind everyone he was the architect but Ambrose was actually the guy who stood centre stage and was the most vocal. Whichever situation you put him in he sticks to what he sees himself as and that’s why I would have him as my first pick.
Arguably the initiator of the ‘Divas Revolution’ (it was not the Bellas) Paige has a pretty big responsibility as she’s the one who will inspire the young girls to have a little rebellious side. Again comparisons with Lita are easily drawn; in a business, in a country where there is an image associated with the job, she’s the one to break the trend and will be inevitably followed by millions (I feel Becky Lynch also deserves a mention here as another possibility for this role). Paige vs Sasha Banks will no doubt headline several main events in future and I predict a few contenders for match of the year.
The future, the boss. It’s been a long time since there has been so much excitement about the divas division so I felt it was only appropriate to give it the attention it deserved with two picks. Whether Banks is separated from Paige to provide strength on two fronts or kept together to form what could be a great rivalry I think these two could be talked about for decades. There are so many up and coming Divas who should be mentioned but these are the two that I can see gaining the kind of fan base Lita, Trish Stratus or Chyna did. Banks is already well along the way with crowds showing overwhelming support and her in ring ability is more than matching the talk. Plus, if you haven’t fallen in love with her you’re broken.
When AJ Styles entered the Royal Rumble there was a mix of excitement and confusion. It was well known he had been signed, but making his debut in the Rumble at no.3 was a bit of a shock. It turned out to be a genius move though as it allowed him to show everyone what he’s capable of without interrupting the developing plotlines. Sticking with comparisons I like to think of Styles as a lower flight risk version of CM Punk. The way he isn’t adverse to using backup, winning the dirty way and then still gets cheered by the crowd anyway because they see that he deserves it. If you want someone to build a show around, someone who fits into most storylines, Styles is your guy.
The New Day
Well, I should probably have taken a safer option in case they don’t actually make it to the draft but to heck with it, New… Day… Rocks. If I’m entirely honest when I first saw them I had my doubts. I said they were awful and was the most incorrect human since Churchill stepped off that plane with his bit of paper saying Germany had chilled. It was just so unlikely that those three would make a great team, I mean think back to them beforehand; Kofi was a circus performer, Big E was constantly referred to as Ryblack and Xavier Woods was well, no one. They are the proof that there is opportunity everywhere in WWE, you just need to take it.
Now for our second contributor of the day, these are the choices for my former BPWOW co-host Jamie King! Jamie chose to get really into this and picked as the Smackdown Comissioner/GM!
Ambrose is big right now. He’s the champ and he has the crowd behind him like no other right now. For me, it just makes sense to have him come to Smackdown. The smaller brand is going to need more than just the fans excitement about the split to bring in views, and having a huge name like Ambrose to lead the charge would be ideal. The prospect of Rollins going to Raw makes the whole idea even better, with two big names on either side to be the faces of their respective brands, and to highlight the brand rivalry. Plus, it only makes sense to have the biggest face in the company representing the face run brand.
Balor is over in NXT, but so is his run there. He is one of 6 NXT stars slated to move up to the main roster on Tuesday. The difficulty is that with so many new faces coming in, it may be difficult for them all to take off. That’s why I feel Balor will be unleashed on Smackdown. He’s got a bit of everything that the WWE fans want; charisma, in ring ability, and a ppv gimmick that adds just the right amount of spectacle to an already spectacular wrestler.
With Balor in Smackdown, it would make total sense to have the Club there as well. It would make the stable stronger to have Balor join their ranks, and it could set up any number of discord angles within the group. Sometimes over saturation can be the downfall of a group, but with the level of talent the members share already, I don’t see the reintroduction of the Prince being a bad thing.
In a similar way to Ambrose and Rollins, Banks is easily the best counterpoint to any top woman in the main roster right now. Great in the ring, great on the mic and brimming with a natural presence, she could easily lead Smackdown’s women against Raw’s likely figurehead of Charlotte.
This an odd one, for sure, but I honestly believe that the WWE have noticed Harper’s potential as a singles competitor. He is a hulk of a man, but he works beyond the usual stereotype of the big brute with strength. He’s shown that he can be dynamic and unpredictable in the ring, and out of all of Wyatt’s acolytes, I see Harper as the most adept on the mic. It may take some of the muscle away from the family, but it would give Harper a chance to show what he could do on his own. Let’s just hope he’s allowed to go his own way, and maybe invest in some new ring gear.
And now it’s time for my choices. I actually had Smackdown in mind when making these picks too, but they could work either way.
Seth Rollins is the man I would build the whole brand around, so as such he’s my number one pick. He has credibility as a top guy, and importantly he gets reactions – good or bad. He’s surprised me with just how good his heel work has been since The Shield, but I still think he has massive potential as a top face. His athleticism, high-flying style and technical prowess mean he can appeal to most demographics. And he’s still only 30, so there’s plenty of longevity in him. I don’t think there’s a downside to Seth, so he has to be my top guy.
My love of AJ Styles has been no secret, and I can’t wait to see how he is positioned after the draft. I would have him as my top heel in a title program against Rollins (can you imagine?!). Again though, he has the potential to be a top heel or face, and is a world class performer. Gallows and Anderson however, are set in the heel role for the foreseeable I think. We haven’t seen the best of them as a team, and are more than solid choices to lead the tag division once New Day drop the belts.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that in this spot I’ve picked Banks. She is my favourite woman in WWE. She is great in the ring, has a well-developed character, and crucially for her to be my top female pick, she is equally adept at playing a face and a heel. I think she thrives as a heel, but she also gets far and away the best crowd reactions. She can have great matches with most of the division and – for me – should be the face of the women’s division for years to come.
I’ve written elsewhere about my wish for AJ Styles and John Cena to be kept apart in the draft, but here we’re picking five guys we can build a brand around, and like it or not Cena is still the face of WWE. When being in a feud with him is at a similar level to holding a world title, he’s a must have. He is still the biggest draw WWE have, and he is in such a credible position to elevate new stars, which has to be the aim of the brand extension.
Owens is one of the few pure heels left in WWE today. That makes him an incredibly valuable asset to either brand. He should also be one of the main beneficiaries of the brand extension, as he should be able to finally make the breakthrough to main event level. He is arguably the best talker there on a regular basis, can produce classics in the ring, and who wouldn’t want to see him vs Rollins? He is also only 32, so can be a top heel for years to come. I think Owens is a must have.
So there you go! I find it really interesting that the only consensus we came to was Sasha Banks, and in one form or another AJ Styles. A few other superstars were picked twice. Who would your priorities be? Let me know!