WWE Draft 2020 Results: Grades for Every Selection by Raw and SmackDown – Bleacher Report
Written by on October 10, 2020
0 of 20
It’s time to shake things up again in WWE, beginning with night one of the WWE Draft Friday night.
Unfortunately for fans, SmackDown provided a glimpse of things to come, and it was not particularly inspiring. What should have been a night of exciting moves and fresh storyline opportunities was, instead, more of the same. Some Superstars switched brands, but saw their feuds from their previous show carry over, negating any real sense of freshness.
With that said, not all of the 20 draft picks made Friday night are doomed to repetition and mediocrity. Some will have the opportunity to break out and become bigger stars because their either made a jump or stayed put.
Which moves worked best, which left fans wondering what WWE Creative was up to and why in the bluest of blue hells did they split up The New Day?
Take a look with these grades and analysis for every one of the picks on night one of the draft.
1 of 20
WWE spent the last year building Drew McIntyre, first as its champion and then, into the face of the company’s flagship show. He has beaten future Hall of Famers Brock Lesnar, Big Show and Randy Orton, retained his title against Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins, and is still going strong some six months into his reign with the gold.
There was no reason to mess with a good thing or to undo everything it had done to get to this point.
Taking McIntyre with the No. 1 overall pick cements his status as an elite star within the company and a Superstar Vinnie Mac and the rest of the writing brain trust plan to build around. Given that he was a comedic enhancement talent just under a decade ago, that’s not a bad position to find himself in at all.
His work and dedication between the ropes have only helped to earn him that spot.
2 of 20
Roman Reigns has been the best part of WWE television since returning at SummerSlam and there was absolutely no reason to switch up something that has worked so incredibly well as his engaging, compelling heel turn.
The Tribal Chief is the sort of cold, calculating, brooding and self-righteous heel that fans will ultimately want to see get his ass kicked. For now, he is a total badass who will stop at nothing to prove his point and that does not bode well for Jey Uso or anyone else that dares oppose him.
Reigns will remain the face of Friday night wrestling on Fox and the star around whom the entire upper-card will revolve.
And rightfully so.
3 of 20
In a few short months, Asuka went from lost in the shuffle to the centerpiece of a Raw women’s division that desperately needed her star power in the wake of Becky Lynch’s pregnancy and subsequent hiatus.
A workhorse for the brand who proved her worth earlier this summer, when she feuded with Bayley and Sasha Banks and routinely competed in the main event of Raw, Asuka is the most credible competitor in a division that finds itself in flux heading into this draft.
That The Empress of Tomorrow is by far the best wrestler on the Raw women’s roster makes this choice a no-brainer.
4 of 20
The Monday Night Messiah had been part of Raw for the entirety of his WWE career, achieving a consistency that simply has not existed in the company over the last six years. He had also been a main event star throughout, something the SmackDown brand can always use.
A change of scenery and fresh opponents make Rollins’ move one of the much-needed transactions of the entire draft.
That he heads to a show without a certain royal wrestling family only makes it that much better.
Wait until later?
The Mysterios to SmackDown?
5 of 20
The Hurt Business has built momentum for itself over the last six months, developing into one of the biggest breakout acts on the brand. They have been a pleasant surprise, helped re-establish MVP as one of the most engaging personalities on the show and gave Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander renewed purpose.
They have become a great old school faction that may consist of heels but are not afraid to throw down with invaders like Retribution when the time calls for it.
It is a group that can function as both heel or babyface, should the time ever come, and a launching point for singles runs for any of its four Superstars.
They could have achieved the same on Fridays but they are still building their own legacy as a faction over on Mondays. Keeping them there and letting them reign is exactly what they need.
6 of 20
AJ Styles is to jumping brands what Big Show is turning babyface and heel.
Styles left the Raw brand amid behind-the-scenes dislike for Paul Heyman and arrived on SmackDown, only to encounter Heyman once again as the advocate became the associate of Roman Reigns. Now headed back to Raw, expect Styles to enjoy a fairly significant role on the red brand right out of the gate.
With Drew McIntyre wrapping up his rivalry with Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell, do not be surprised if Styles quickly finds himself in WWE Championship contention. Still one of the most respected performers of his (or any) generation, he could very easily slide into the challenger role and help McIntyre further evolve into the champion and centerpiece of the red brand.
Or maybe he hops around the midcard, working with The Hurt Business, Ricochet and Retribution.
Whatever the case, Styles is still an incredible asset from a star power perspective, if nothing else.
Even if he really needs to pick a band for his own continuity’s sake.
7 of 20
Sasha Banks is about to whoop up on Bayley inside Hell in a Cell and become SmackDown Women’s Champion so it makes sense that the blue brand would want to hang onto The Boss.
Banks’ return to singles gold has been a long time coming. She has been a tag team competitor, a sidekick and the envious best friend to the champion. Now, she will carry the gold as the face of women’s wrestling on network television, a role that suits her.
As the first woman drafted to SmackDown in this year’s draft, it is apparent that management has big plans for her, just as Raw has for Asuka. The Blueprint will become the leader of the women’s revolution on SmackDown and the timing, and placement, of her drafting supports that idea.
8 of 20
Naomi is one of WWE’s more underutilized talents, a dynamic performer whose raw athleticism, undeniable charisma and willingness to adapt certainly have earned her more than she has received from management.
With that said, she has been such a non-factor over the last year or two that the idea that either Raw or SmackDown would select her over the women’s tag team champs Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, or the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley, is unrealistic.
Such a move suggests WWE Creative was looking to make a splash, perhaps responding to fans’ calls for a push by giving Naomi something of substance to do rather than wasting her athletic prime. Hopefully, that is the case.
Still, this was still a questionable night one draft choice if only because storyline would dictate she would probably be available later on down the line.
9 of 20
Bianca Belair to SmackDown is the best pick of this year’s night one.
Wholly underutilized since jumping to the main roster the night after SmackDown, The EST of WWE is a game-changer. She is a star of the future with the tools to make an immediate impact today. Strong, fast, athletic, agile and intelligent, with charisma for days, she should have been an enormous star on Raw already.
She was not, due to questionable booking and a non-existent presence on the show, but the move to Friday nights should help alleviate that problem.
Look for Belair to find herself in contention for a SmackDown Women’s Championship opportunity fairly quickly as WWE Creative wraps up the Banks-Bayley storyline as soon as Hell in a Cell on October 25.
10 of 20
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler remaining a part of the Raw women’s division, as its tag team champions, is a lateral move with little or no long-term benefit to the performers themselves.
They are a tag team because creative had nothing else better for them to do. They had both been beaten by the top star in the division (Becky Lynch or Asuka, depending on the time) and needed something to do while the creative time cycled other challengers into and out of the title picture.
As a team, they have been fine enough but without many other established teams posing much of a threat whatsoever, it remains to be seen how long they can wallow in creative mediocrity before it becomes monotonous and their ability to recover whatever star aura they previously had is called into question.
At least Raw has a tag team or two for them to work with, something that cannot be said about SmackDown, so there’s there.
11 of 20
Ricochet stays put on Raw, because that has been such a source of personal success for him over the last year.
His run with the United States Championship and feud with AJ Styles feels like a lifetime ago, especially since The One and Only fell out of favor with management and found himself losing to guys like Brendan Vink and Shane Thorne or picking up meaningless wins on Main Event.
A top 15 pick in this year’s draft, hopefully, this can serve as a spark for a star far too talented to remain in such a funk.
Until we know otherwise, this feels like a potentially wasted pick and the WWE product really cannot afford those at this point in time.
12 of 20
Jey Uso has been a revelation since embarking on a singles run that has seen him working with Universal Champion Roman Reigns in the main event storyline on SmackDown.
Equal parts fiery and sympathetic, the babyface has become one of the bright spots on Friday nights. It is for that reason that his drafting to Smackdown was no surprise but, also, the right move.
Jey has been so good that it would not be a surprise whatsoever if he remained in the upper-midcard through the remainder of 2020, even if he loses the I Quit Hell in a Cell Match at the upcoming October 25 pay-per-view.
Fans on Friday nights have been able to invest in his storyline and genuinely care about Jey, getting to know and follow him in ways they had not been able to when he was in a tag team with twin brother Jimmy for the first decade of his career.
Uso is trending upward and another extraordinary performance at Hell in a Cell will only serve to convince management and fans alike that he has earned a sustained push at the top of the card.
13 of 20
Mandy Rose recently jumped to Raw as part of the storyline pitting Otis against The Miz and John Morrison. Traded there at the behest of The Hollywood A-Lister, she has immediately found success in the last two weeks in a tag team with Dana Brooke.
Perhaps that is why her drafting to the red brand made such little sense.
The Golden Goddess literally just got there and embarked on the journey with her Flex Appeal tag partner. Why WWE Creative would have moved her again, so soon after her arrival on Monday nights, is a question with no logical answer.
In fact, WWE Creative easily could have come up with a reason as to why Rose should not have been included in this year’s draft and the fans probably would have bought it. Unless the purpose was specifically to highlight her on a special draft episode of programming, thus keeping her name fresh on the minds of the audience, this was absolutely a wasted pick.
14 of 20
Damn it, WWE. Earlier in the night, you moved Seth Rollins from Raw to SmackDown, freshening things up a bit and giving the former WWE and Universal Champion an opportunity to escape the never-ending rivalry with Rey and Dominik Mysterio that bogged down Monday nights for the last two months.
So, naturally, the crack creative staff goes ahead and books Rey and Dominik as the 14th overall draft picks, all-but ensuring the father-son combination finds a way to continue combatting Rollins on a new night.
Like a few others, this was a linear move, even if it does boost star power over on the blue brand. Rey and Dominik have absolutely nothing to gain from being on the same brand as Rollins. Even if they manage to stay away from the Messiah, what are they going to do? Proceed to get their asses kicked every Friday night by Roman Reigns, thus continuing to fill the role of sympathetic doofuses?
It’s tired and both Rey and Dominik have earned better treatment than that.
Keeping them on Raw would have given them the opportunity to grow and evolve as a family act rather than remaining in the shadow of Seth, one lazy booking day away from rekindling a rivalry no one wants to see continue.
15 of 20
The Miz and John Morrison jumping to Raw gives them the opportunity to change things up and work with fresh new opponents but the problem with them has nothing to do with who they compete against. Instead, it has everything to do with a sameness and staleness that has permeated their act since their reunion.
It would be different if Miz and Morrison had done something to evolve their partnership past what it was 12 years ago when they first started teaming. But they did not. They were the same wise-cracking heels with a penchant for ridiculous videos that they were over a decade ago. Two of the more creative performers on the roster, it is almost certainly through no fault of their own, but the lazy creative really hurt their effectiveness.
Maybe a jump to Raw helps solve that problem but if their use on SmackDown is any indication, it will be more of the same for two stars who would almost benefit more from a feud with one another than remaining a tag team.
16 of 20
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods winning the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, then being drafted to Raw made absolutely no sense.
Not because of the title situation, but because it is extremely difficult to wrap one’s head around the logic of drafting two-thirds of The New Day when the other third has been tearing it up as a singles star for the last four months.
Taking into consideration that Michael Cole revealed the “executives from USA and Fox” were in charge of making the picks, in what universe would the rocket scientists over at USA decide that having two-thirds of the Hall of Fame-worthy faction was better than drafting the group as a unit?
And, speaking from a strategic standpoint, how did they even know Kingston and Woods would be back in time for tonight’s show when their return earlier in the broadcast came as a surprise to even Big E?
This was one big, bad, nasty, nonsensical decision that will ultimately prove a massive mistake in the long run.
There is, after all, a reason the faction worked for six years without having to stoop to a breakup and that is because people genuinely loved the threesome. Of all the acts to break up or split in this draft, New Day was not it.
17 of 20
It is admirable that WWE Creative is genuinely trying to push Big E as a singles star. He deserves it. His match Friday night with Sheamus, a bloody and hard-hitting Falls Count Anywhere affair, was extraordinary and really gave the former Intercontinental Champion the sort of win he needs as he embarks on the next chapter of his career.
With that said, there is absolutely no reason he could not have remained part of New Day and still went on a singles run.
It worked for Kofi Kingston just a year ago, to great effect. He was the top star on SmackDown, yet remained loyal and close to his best friends. The same easily could have been accomplished with Big E.
Instead, WWE has decided (wrongly so, I’m afraid) to split him from the two men he has become so synonymous with, and push him on his own. It is officially sink or swim time for the former powerlifter and comedic genius.
At least SmackDown will give him a better opportunity to succeed, what with an audience already invested in his journey.
18 of 20
Like Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke had just made the jump to Raw when she was drafted to the red brand officially Friday night.
Why the company decided to waste a pick on someone we literally just witnessed arrive on the flagship two weeks ago is a mystery, but few have the opportunity at success that Brooke does.
One of the more underrated and undervalued members of the women’s division for the last year or so, the former fitness competitor has consistently evolved as a performer and now heads to a show with three hours to spare and plenty of opportunities for female Superstars to succeed.
Hopefully, the creative team can come up with something for her to do consistently because she has patiently waited her turn and absolutely has earned the chance to show she can hang in a talented division full of quality heels and babyfaces.
Even if she has to start in a tag team with Rose.
19 of 20
Speaking of wasted picks, Otis remains on SmackDown, where he can continue to look up law phrases with Tucker as he attempts to preserve his status as Mr. Money in the Bank.
Yeah, the decision to draft him Friday night gets his name alongside the other draftees, thus making him feel like a big deal, but it is another case of a lateral move. It really does nothing to help him or SmackDown on a night when the show really should have been dedicated to draft moves that created a general excitement for the show.
Add to that an increasingly serious atmosphere on Friday nights with the rise of Roman Reigns, the family feud at the top of the card and the drafting of Seth Rollins, and you have a scene that really doesn’t suit Otis and his fun-loving ways.
If anything, this feels like a move that could end up getting the charismatic big man lost in the shuffle rather than a championship opportunity.
20 of 20
Night one of the draft wrapped up with Raw retaining the services of Angel Garza.
Unlike Otis, Garza fits the athletic landscape of Monday nights and has spent the last six months establishing himself as one of the brightest young stars on the flagship. Comparisons to Eddie Guerrero by the commentary team are indicative of how management sees him, while his in-ring game has supported any push he has received.
His relationship with Andrade and Zelina Vega seemingly over, it is time for the Latino Lothario to enjoy a singles run in which he does not have to share the spotlight and can evolve, grow and achieve success on his own.
He will get the opportunity. It is up to him to prove he is ready for it.