Despite WWE moving things along slightly above a snail’s pace, they’ve announced they’re having a brand split, with distinct rosters for RAW and Smackdown. So where there’s a draft, there’s bound to be a mock draft. So I dialed-up long-time contributor Sir Hayes XIV, let him have RAW (and the first pick), and after we laid out some ground rules, things got rolling.
Ground rules? Yeah, let’s talk about that for a moment.
Some Superstars aren’t draftable. The Undertaker is only around a couple months out of the year, same with Sting, so they’re both out. Who knows what’s going on with Brock Lesnar at any given moment, so we’re not drafting him, either. Ryback’s contract situation is up in the air, so he’s out. Tyson Kidd has a potentially career-ending injury, so he’s staying shelved. Brie Bella is supposedly taking time off for a while, so she’s not being drafted either.
Tag teams can be drafted together, or split. If you draft them together, it takes multiple picks to do so. Drafting The New Day costs three picks because, well, there’s three of them. The Vaudevillains cost two, as do The Dudleys. If you want to pick Enzo Amore separately, that’s fine, but Big Cass might get picked before you get a chance to scoop him up, and so you’ll have to live with the fact that you split apart the Certified G’s.
Maryse. The lovely Mrs. Mizanin. If you pick The Miz, she accompanies him, and because she’s one of the Top 10 best Divas in the past 20 years, her return to the ring would be golden, so she costs an extra pick. And because Lana can get into the ring and shake things up, she and Rusev also cost two picks.
Other than that, it’s smooth sailing… aside from the squad who performs at Full Sail. We can’t exactly rob NXT blind, now can we? So here’s how NXT is being handled. I think it’s a safe bet that a handful of NXT folk are going to get called up through the draft, but there are going to be enough NXT roster members left untouched so that their product doesn’t too significantly suffer. That idea in mind, the rules are simple:
Each roster can draft 1 male singles competitor from NXT, along with 1 female singles competitor from NXT, and one NXT tag team.
Draft picks are alternating back and forth, which is far easier than trying to figure out the “snake method” with only two people and tag teams counting multiple slots. With the second pick in the draft, this doesn’t benefit me very much, but my drafting skills are strong, so I’m not worried about it.
Here’s how the draft shaped up:
Pick #1 (RAW): With the First Pick of the 2016 GN Mock Raw and Smackdown Draft, GM, xiv selects, the Architect, THE man, Seth Rollins.
Explanation: Young, talented, and already has been touted as a guy you can build a company on. Part of the most dominant faction in WWE history. WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Can get booed, and has just scratched the surface for what he can do a face of the franchise type. Plus he JUST turned thirty. Cornerstone of the franchise who fits any need you have on any roster in the world.
Pick #2 (Smackdown): Picking second, Rob selects The Phenomenal 1, AJ Styles.
Explanation: He has won championships all around the world, and as the WWE Universe realizes what AJ Styles is capable of doing in the ring, they’re going to be excited to see him come through that curtain every time his music hits. His longevity might not be as long as Seth Rollins, but he has plenty left in the tank.
Pick #3 (RAW): GM XIV’s second pick, gives him two ANOTHER former member of The SHIELD, Roman Reigns.
Explanation: While various members of the IWC might wail and gnash their teeth at this pick, its a no brainer. He has plenty of the tools to be a top player and is already a top guy, while not being a finished product. Athletic and power that took him to the heights of Division 1 college football, and a deep lineage within the world of pro wrestling. Similar to Rollins and his face prospects, there is ENDLESS potential for “THE GUY” as the top bad guy in all the land.
Pick #4 (Smackdown): Dean Ambrose
Explanation: Don’t be surprised that all three members of The Shield have been drafted within the top 4 picks of the draft, they’re easily some of the best all-around performers on the roster. Ambrose is a five-tool competitor and can be funny and super-intense. The only thing not to like about Ambrose is the fact that he wrestles in jeans.
Pick #5 (RAW): Kevin Owens
Explanation: A guy who’s appearance is more suited to sitting ringside than battling inside it. Owens has fought-owens-fought his way not just to the WWE, but to the top in just over a year. He debuted, by taking out the Franchise of the company in convincing fashion. He has won the Intercontinental Championship, twice. He’s stolen shows. Crowds both love AND love to hate him. He has future world champion potential AND sprinkle in the fact that he’s a merch machine? $$$$$
Pick #6 (Smackdown): New Day
Explanation: They’re young, charismatic, successful and have a variety of skills within their three-person team. Fans of all ages love them, they’re arguably the most merchandise friendly competitors on the roster. Sure, it costs me a couple extra draft picks, but the light-blue show deserves them.
Pick #7 (RAW): The GM XIV grumbles mightily having his pick snaked from him there. Bright side? Three straight picks for the Raw brand!
Explanation: (a gasp goes up from the crowd) – No one has come into NXT and been as successful and popular as he has. World class pedigree and is the type of wrestler who oozes charisma. Even if casual fans don’t KNOW who or what the King of Strong Style is? They’re going to find out, and they’re going to love it.
Pick #8 (Smackdown): [New Day]
Pick #9 (RAW): Sasha Banks
Explanation: (quite possibly another gasp) Much like a lot of GM XIV’s squad, she has potential to work “Both sides of the Aisle” in the pro wrestling world. She is young, talented, charisma for days, and can throw down in Match of the Year type contests. Can be a cornerstone of a division for YEARS.This GM also has a clear creative vision for Women’s Wrestling, and so while SOME might scoff at this pick as a “reach”? He assures you this pick is LEGIT.
Pick #10 (Smackdown): [New Day]
Pick #11 (RAW): Bray Wyatt
Explanation: The Eater of Worlds is a fascinating study. Massive larger than life personality who has been a foil for so many of the WWE’s heroes since his arrival, and despite a more villainous bend? The crowd has guzzled his Kool-Aid and he has the WWE Universe “In his hands”. He’s a big, nasty, and talented third generation superstar, and will be having everyone on Raw looking to… … … RUN!
Pick #12 (Smackdown): Paige
Explanation: Out of the ladies remaining, she’s the most versatile, with all the tools to be the cornerstone of the division. She might’ve waited a couple more picks if not for Sasha Banks being chosen here, but I can’t imagine my roster without her. She’ll get the chance to make Smackdown HER house.
Pick #13 (RAW): Cesaro
Explanation: The Swiss Superman, the Suited Swinger, whatever alliteration you want to attach to him? He’s one of the strongest wrestlers in the WWE. He meshes incredibly well the with Raw roster being assembled and could have many an intriguing “dance partner” when this brand split goes through.
Pick #14 (Smackdown): John Cena
Explanation: He’s the face of the company, and how he slipped this far is beyond me. His versatility is off the charts… as in, uncharted waters. His willingness to work with the midcard is also a huge selling point, though he probably won’t need to. With Cena and New Day on Smackdown, I’m guaranteeing that I get the under-15 crowd glued to the blue show each week. We’re going to be selling some Booty-Os and wristbands, bank on that.
Pick #15 (RAW): Enzo and Cass
Despite being new editions to the main roster, these two have shown to have a special bond with the WWE Universe. They could approach “New Day” Level popularity and could be valuable members of Raw’s tag team division.
Pick #16 (Smackdown): American Alpha
Explanation: They are quite possibly the best tag team on the planet, and once they get a chance to show that on Smackdown, their stock is going through the roof. They’re maybe not as good on the mic as Enzo and Cass, but they’re well above average, and in the ring, on the mat, no one touches them.
Pick #17 (RAW): [Enzo and Cass]
Pick #18 (Smackdown): [American Alpha]
Pick #19 (RAW): Bayley
Explanation: If you HAVEN’T seen Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from Takeover: Brooklyn? Stop reading right friggin’ now and go watch it. … … We’ll wait. If you have a woman who has potential to be a Cena level face on the women’s side? Its Bayley… only? smarks love her. With her and Banks you have the makings for an amazing division.
Pick #20 (Smackdown): Sami Zayn
Explanation: What can’t this guy do in (or around) the ring? He’s incredible, and not half bad on the mic for a guy who… is best friends with a guy who spent most of his early career in a mask. I love the dynamic he’d have with most of the guys on my roster so far, even if they’re both faces going into the match.
Pick #21 (RAW): Rusev (w/Lana)
Explanation: The Bulgarian Brute is an established monster. Strong and freakishly athletic, and with the Ravishing Russian by his side, he could give lots of the Raw Roster splitting headaches.
Pick #22 (Smackdown): Charlotte
Explanation: A second-generation beauty who is young and charismatic and has quite the in-ring arsenal thanks to her athleticism and family history, Charlotte provides a great foil to what Paige brings to matches. There’s no surprise here that she is the current Women’s Champion. What she can do on the mic reinforces the strong reactions she gets from fans.
Pick #23 (RAW): [Rusev & Lana]
Pick #24 (Smackdown): Becky Lynch
Explanation: If you really watch Becky’s matches, you’ll see that she’s one of the toughest women on the roster, and one of the stronger female competitors as well. Her suplexes surprised me the first few times she picked up her opponent and threw them across the ring, but since that point, I just sit back and enjoy.
Pick #25 (RAW): The Wyatt Family (Harper and Rowan)
Explanation: Off the radar for a while due to both Harper and Bray Wyatt’s respective injuries, these two monsters have not been TRULY unleashed on a WWE Tag Team Division. Large, athletic, creepy, and talented. Throw in the fact that they can now stand behind and side by side the Family’s patriarch and namesake, and Raw better be ready!
Pick #26 (Smackdown): Dolph Ziggler
Explanation: Possibly one of the most athletic and charismatic Superstars in the company, Ziggler works well as a face or a heel. He has incredible matches and has the ability to make his opponents look good even when they’re under-performing.
Pick #27 (RAW): [Wyatt Family]
Pick #28 (Smackdown): The Club (Anderson and Gallows)
Explanation: I’ve already got AJ Styles, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t draft these guys. They’re a great compliment to AJ, their time together gives them great chemistry, and the WWE Universe has plenty to see in terms of what The Club is all about. They’re just getting started!
Pick #29 (RAW): Neville
Explanation: The Man that Gravity Forgot is pure kinetic entertainment. One of the best flyers in the world, and crazy strong. There is nothing he can’t do inside the squared circle. Coming back after a broken leg just in time for the brand split should mean great things for the Newcastle native.
Pick #30 (Smackdown): [The Club]
Pick #31 (RAW): The Uso’s
Explanation: A long time veteran tag team, former champions. Its actually surprising they lasted this long (similar to what happened with Cena.) Guessing we newly crowned GMs were getting a little too complacent, or “smart” for our own good. They’ve had great matches and feuds with tag teams from Cesaro and Kidd to the Wyatts, and have helped carry and cement WWE”s tag team division as something of note. Now? They’ll look to do the same on Raw.
Pick #32 (Smackdown): Baron Corbin
Explanation: He’s tall (and you can’t teach that), young and has a badass way about him. He’s not only a perfect fit for my roster, but also as the mid-card member of The Club.
Pick #33 (RAW): [The Usos]
Pick #34 (Smackdown): The Lucha Dragons
Explanation: Not only are they a fun team to watch, but they work great as singles competitors too. I personally like the idea of Sin Cara going back to being Hunico, which is a gimmick with tons of potential.
Pick #35 (RAW): Chris Jericho
Explanation: Drink in the excellence of Jericho. First undisputed world champion. Maybe you hadn’t heard, but he beat the Rock and Stone Cold the same night! He’s a first ballot hall of famer and brings a high level of skill and entertainment value to the Raw roster.
Pick #36 (Smackdown): [The Lucha Dragons]
Pick #37 (RAW): Emma
Explanation: One of the most underrated women in the WWE. Emma really found her groove when she went back down to NXT and turned over a new, evil, leaf. Talented in the ring and excels at being bad and matches up well with the women on the Raw roster.
Pick #38 (Smackdown): The Miz and Maryse
Explanation: They’ve got faces for Hollywood and are great at telling stories in the ring. Both of them. Don’t mess with their faces or you’ll regret it, because they’ve got the skills to back it up, as annoying as that might be!
Pick #39 (RAW): Naomi
Explanation: Arguably the most athletically gifted woman on the roster. Has very much “untapped” potential. There aren’t many women wrestlers who have graced the WWE with her ability to fly and dazzle crowds with aerial offense.
Pick #40 (Smackdown): [The Miz & MARYSE]
Pick #41 (RAW): The Vaudevillains
Explanation: Former NXT Tag Team champions who have hit the ground running since their post Mania call up. Talented in ring competitors who week in and week out find more footing and comfort in the entertainment aspect of “Sports Entertainment”. English and Gotch will have a chance to shine on Monday Night Raw!
Pick #42 (Smackdown): Apollo Crews
Explanation: Arguably the most gifted athlete on the roster, he’s got power, speed and agility, and when he gets the time to show his skills on the mic, he’s not bad there either. Tons of potential as a young superstar, we’re happy to say that this sleeper pick might pay the biggest dividends.
Pick #43 (RAW): [The Vaudevillains]
Pick #44 (Smackdown): Prime Time Players
Explanation: These guys have money written alllll over them. Given the chance to shine, these guys are easily worth millions of dollars, millions of dollars, millions of dollars!
Pick #45 (RAW): Sheamus:
Explanation: FOrmer multi-time world champions just hanging around this late? Yup, Raw will snatch them up. Big brawler with a mean streak and has the pedigree and talent to have high profile matches with anyone on the roster!
Pick #46 (Smackdown): [Prime Time Players]
Pick #47 (RAW): Breeze-Zango
Explanation: A shocker, perhaps, and maybe the new Raw GM has been sipping too much victory champagne for clearly dominating this draft, but watching Tyler Breeze and Fandango together has impressed him. They’re young and have incredible chemistry together. They could have a long run at the top… assuming ZOolander’s lawyers don’t end up sticking their nose in their bidness!
Pick #48 (Smackdown): Heath Slater
Explanation: His mic skills are good enough for him to hang with most people, and his in-ring abilities can shine now that he got a respectable haircut and doesn’t look like a fool anymore.
Pick #49 (RAW): [Breeze & Fandango]
Pick #50 (Smackdown): Mark Henry
Explanation: Sure, he’s getting older, but he’s still one of the strongest and toughest men on the roster, and in the right role, especially as a mentor or a tag team partner (or both), he’s going to shine, even at this stage of his career.
Pick #51 (RAW): Natalya
Explanation: Former Diva’s Champion, third generation superstar, and a veteran presence on the Raw roster. She’s a gifted wrestler who will push and challenge the young upstarts that litter Raw.
Pick #52 (Smackdown): Alberto Del Rio
Explanation: He’s not my first choice to be the World Champion for Smackdown, but he’s undeniably a proven option in the spot. He’s got potential as a feuding partner as a heel or as a face, and I could easily see him as an on-screen “mentor” or ring-leader for The Lucha Dragons. Or as a feuding partner. Options galore, and with Del Rio’s undeniable charisma, he can help make it all the more entertaining.
Pick #53 (RAW): Bo Dallas
Explanation: Former NXT Champion with loads of potential, but has never really gotten any traction since his call up. Currently in purgatory with the Social Outcasts, but its clear with this pick that THIS GM BO-LIEVES!!
Pick #54 (Smackdown): The Dudleys
Explanation: Really? An explanation as to why I picked one of the most accomplished tag teams in the history of the business, who still have plenty left in the tank, who are very entertaining, can work face or heel, who somehow managed to slip this far? No explanation needed. Now get the tables!
In fact, we’re at the point now in the draft where explanations with each pick probably isn’t necessary.
Pick #55 (RAW): Zack Ryder
Pick #56 (Smackdown): [The Dudleys]
Pick #57 (RAW): Nikki Bella
Pick #58 (Smackdown): Randy Orton
Pick #59 (RAW): The Revival
Pick #60 (Smackdown): Samoa Joe
Explanation: Joe deserved WAY better than being picked in the 60s, but when Shinsuke Nakamura got picked so early, that meant there was no way that Samoa Joe was going to get picked until I was ready to pluck him off the board, so there was no rush. But I’m super interested in seeing him match up with my main eventers.
Pick #61 (RAW): [The Revival]
Pick #62 (Smackdown): Alicia Fox
Pick #63 (RAW): Dana Brooke
Pick #64 (Smackdown): Big Show
Pick #65 (RAW): Jack Swagger
Pick #66 (Smackdown): Tamina
Pick #67 (RAW): Goldust
Pick #68 (Smackdown): Curtis Axel
Pick #69 (RAW): Eva Marie
Pick #70 (Smackdown): R-Truth
Pick #71 (RAW): The Ascension
Pick #72 (Smackdown): Asuka
Explanation: I highly considered picking Alexa Bliss, but Asuka has a certain badass aura that surrounds her which Miss Bliss doesn’t, and that aura plays well with the other women on my roster.
Pick #73 (RAW): [The Ascension]
Pick #74 (Smackdown): Summer Rae
Pick #75 (RAW): Braun Strowman
Pick #76 (Smackdown): Epico & Primo
Pick #77 (RAW): Kane
Pick #78 (Smackdown): [Epico & Primo]
Rusev & Lana
Enzo & Cass
Fandango & Breeze
Alberto Del Rio
Miz & Maryse
Prime Time Players
Epico & Primo
Heath Slater & Mark Henry