Hi, hello & welcome to the OFFICIAL WWE Draft Report Card. I’m Steve Cook, and I know there’s nothing I love more than reading report cards on drafts. Sure, the experts will tell us that we can’t really judge drafts within 5 years. They are wrong, We can judge them right now, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do now. Heck, I didn’t even watch the draft because I was busy getting paid to be somewhere else. When Dustin James pays me to watch wrestling, I will watch wrestling. Until then, I will give grades based on a draft result sheet. Let’s go.
Round No. 1
1. Seth Rollins – Raw: A. Rollins was the top pick on most experts’ draft boards so Stephanie McMahon & Mick Foley went with the easy selection here. I might have questioned not picking the WWE Champion first to gain control of that title, but Rollins can still win the strap at Battleground.
2. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose – SmackDown Live: A. Ambrose was low on experts’ boards due to his instability, but he’s currently the WWE Champion. You have to make this choice even if there are more physically gifted guys on the board. Sure, whoever doesn’t get the title will just make up their own anyway, but this title will carry more prestige with it than the invented one.
3. WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte – Raw – B. Charlotte’s not the third best talent in the draft & you could have gotten other brand names with this pick, but Raw does gain control of the resurgent Women’s Division by drafting the champion. I’m not surprised that the inventor of the Divas Revolution and a noted Diva supporter from back in the day went this route early.
4. AJ Styles – SmackDown Live – B+. I go slightly lower on this grade only because of other names still on the board, but Styles is as talented as they come. It goes to show how highly valued he is by Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan that they took him before some bigger WWE brand names. They obviously believe he fits the SmackDown system.
5. Finn Bálor – Raw from NXT – D+. Balor is talented and has shown some potential in NXT, but this was a total reach by the Raw brass who may have felt that SmackDown was going to go workrate heavy and take all the IWC favorites. Not even the top name off the board from the NXT talent.
Round No. 2
6. Roman Reigns – Raw – C. Reigns has obviously been pegged as the future by WWE brass, but WWE fans have obviously rejected this idea thus far. Steph & Mick obviously still believe in Roman, and he’s also part of the WWE title match on Sunday so if Rollins doesn’t get the job done maybe he will.
7. John Cena – SmackDown Live – A+. Anytime you can get John Cena in the second round of the WWE Draft you gotta do it. Cena is still the most recognizable name on WWE’s roster and people will tune in Tuesday nights to see him win or lose.
8. Brock Lesnar – Raw – B+. Brock’s stock has gone sky high after his UFC 200 appearance, but I think fans are forgetting that he only wrestles a couple of times a year, usually on dual-branded shows, and therefore he’s a bit of a waste of a top draft pick. 8 isn’t a terrible spot to get him though, and he’ll come in handy during WrestleMania season.
9. Randy Orton – SmackDown Live – D. Back in the day Randy would have been an easy top five pick. Now, he’s injury-prone, doesn’t appear often, and when he does appear it’s rarely interesting or beneficial to business. Shane & Bryan reached by taking Orton here based on past performance.
10. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day – Raw – A+. Bonus points to Stephanie & Mick for doing the smart thing and taking all three members of New Day. Taking Big E or Kofi or Xavier by themselves would have been a wasteful way to end a perfectly good group. Raw also acquires the Tag Team titles at the end of the 2nd round, which could come in handy.
Round No. 3
11. Sami Zayn – Raw – A. Sami is one of the key future players for WWE, and Steph & Mick’s proposed cruiserweight division would benefit from his presence. One of the best in-ring & connecting with a crowd.
12. Bray Wyatt – SmackDown Live – C-. I like most scouts am not sold on Bray based on his win/loss record and his general goofiness. This was way too high to take him.
13. Sasha Banks – Raw – A. I’m shocked that Raw was able to grab the top two Divas off the board. Sasha & Charlotte will be key Raw performers for years to come.
14. Becky Lynch – SmackDown Live – C-. I love Becky as a sleeper. But this isn’t a sleeper pick. It was reactionary to Raw’s Sasha pick & Shane & Bryan realizing that the women were going off the board earlier than they thought. I guess it’s not surprising that Shane would underrate the women, but Bryan should know better.
15. Chris Jericho – Raw: C. Jericho’s peak years are behind him and this pick was largely based on reputation. Raw cleaning up on part-timers.
Round No. 4
16. United States Champion Rusev (with Lana) – Raw – A+. Love this pick for Raw. Rusev was a top performer at the combine, Lana was great in the interview process, and the US title has leapfrogged the IC title in prestige since John Cena held it last year. These two in the 4th round are an absolute steal.
17. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (with Maryse) – SmackDown Live: B. Another reactionary pick by Shane & Bryan here. They could have had Miz later and grabbed another big name here…Raw already has the US title, Women’s title, Tag Team title & cruiserweights, they weren’t going to bother taking the IC title too, as it’s the same thing as the US title.
18. Kevin Owens – Raw: A+. Steph & Mick had to be pinching themselves in disbelief that Owens was still on the board at this spot. Why didn’t SD take Owens to keep Raw from getting the Owens/Zayn forever feud? Great coup for Raw.
19. Baron Corbin – SmackDown Live – D. Corbin was one of my sleepers so it’s not like I hate the guy. I hate the pick at this spot in the draft though. Don’t know what Shane & Bryan were thinking, maybe I did too good of a job selling his violence and intensity.
20. Enzo & Cass – Raw – A. Smart move by Steph & Mick taking both guys and not getting too excited about Cass as a single. Even if you eventually split the team up, you can feud them on your show. Enzo can also be a good mouthpiece for somebody if you don’t like him in-ring.
Round No. 5
21. Gallows and Anderson – Raw – B. Good solid hands that will be good for the Tag division. I’m surprised SD didn’t take them earlier, but maybe their brass doesn’t want the Club influencing AJ’s actions. I suspect Gallows & Anderson will hook up with their old friend Finn Balor.
22. American Alpha – SmackDown Live from NXT – A. Two great talents here. SD waited a bit on starting a tag division, but I’d take these guys over most of the teams Raw picked. If you haven’t seen Chad Gable & Jason Jordan do their thing yet, get ready to be amazed.
23. Big Show – Raw – D. Shit clogger.
24. Dolph Ziggler – SmackDown Live – C-. Dolph’s seen better days and I don’t think the new scenery will improve his lot, but I could be wrong.
25. Nia Jax – Raw from NXT – F. Really? All the women still on the board & Steph & Mick take Nia Jax at this slot? Nia isn’t considered ready for prime time by most scouts and easily could have been drafted later. Horrible pick.
Round No. 6
26. Neville – Raw: A-. If you’re going to have a cruiserweight division you need to have a guy like Neville that does crazy flying. He’ll be better served going against other cruisers than he has so far in his WWE stint against larger competitors.
27. Natalya – SmackDown Live – C-. Nattie’s a good solid hand to have working your women’s division. But the people drafted just below her hurt this grade because you’d take the last three picks in this round over her pretty easily.
28. Cesaro – Raw – A. Considering most draft experts had Cesaro in the top 10 at the very least, 28 is an absolute steal. It doesn’t bode well for his usage though, which has been Cesaro’s main problem in WWE. WWE brass hasn’t believed in him since his arrival, and his placement here tells me that Steph & Mick won’t be in a rush to use him.
29. Alberto Del Rio – SmackDown Live – B. El Patron has been up and down since his WWE return, but SmackDown was always kinder to him as a performer than Raw. I suspect that trend will continue.
30. Sheamus – Raw – A-. Sheamus was one of my sleepers and this is a great pick to take him with. Internet experts don’t love him and honestly he’s not the most over guy with non-experts either, but you can send him out there for 10 minutes with almost anybody and have a decent enough match that’ll fill some time.
Round No. 7 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
31. Golden Truth – Raw – D. I mean…at least Goldust & R-Truth are in one match instead of two? I don’t have a lot of use for either of these guys at this point, though Goldust still tries hard.
32. The Usos – SmackDown Live – A-. I’m not a huge Uso fan, but if they’re falling behind the Golden Truth you gotta take them.
33. Titus O’Neil – Raw – C-. I feel like Titus would have gone at least 10 spots earlier last year. He got a year older, and he pissed off the boss. A bad combination. The fact that he got picked by Stephanie keeps me from panning this pick more.
34. Demon Kane – SmackDown Live – C. I’m not surprised that Bryan would spend a pick on his buddy. Kind of surprised Shane would go along with it.
35. Paige – Raw – B+. Love Paige at this spot in the draft and on the same show with Charlotte & Sasha. She should be able to do good things on Raw, but she misses the A-range due to inconsistency.
Round No. 8 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
36. Darren Young (with Bob Backlund) – Raw – B-. The addition of Mr. Backlund to the Darren Young act is interesting. I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to justify him at this spot, but it’s interesting.
37. Kalisto – SmackDown Live – C. I mean, he’s better than a lot of the guys drafted in front of him. And I guess if you’re going to counteract Raw’s cruiserweight division it’s a nice choice. I just feel sorry for the guy.
38. Sin Cara – Raw – B-. At least he’s on the right show to have some decent matches. I like Kalisto better, but I think Sin Cara fits better in his scheme.
39. Naomi – SmackDown Live – D. Does she still do things? Considering who is still on the board this is a bad pick. And I loved her work before getting called up…its just that the bloom is off this rose.
40. Jack Swagger – Raw – C. This guy was a combine beast. He doesn’t translate otherwise. But he’s good at this spot.
41. The Ascension – SmackDown Live – D-. Some of these teams still on the board and you’re taking the Ascension? I’m only keeping this pick from being a failing grade because Konnor’s wife is literally the nicest person ever and I hope she doesn’t read this. But man,this was a bad pick.
Round No. 9 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
42. The Dudley Boyz – Raw – C. I’m pretty shocked they didn’t try to split these guys up. But that’s all right, the Dudleyz are better together than apart. (Between you and me, I didn’t love Bully Ray as much as everybody else did.)
43. Zack Ryder – SmackDown Live – A-. Pretty good steal here by Shane & Bryan. Zack is very popular with the Internet fanbase and is arguably having his best in-ring year in 2016. The guy’s only 31 years old and it feels like he’s been around forever. Good guy to have around.
44. Summer Rae – Raw – D+. I mean, I like Summer, but has she done anything of value since breaking up with Fandango? She’s spinning her wheels, maybe she can assert herself in the women’s division but she hasn’t yet.
45. Apollo Crews – SmackDown Live – B. This guy was awesome in the combines. Hasn’t really translated to the main roster yet. But when he does…this could be a steal of a pick here.
46. Mark Henry – Raw – C. Shit clogger. He used to be more, but at this point he’s a shit clogger.
47. Alexa Bliss – SmackDown Live (from NXT): C. I like Alexa a lot. I don’t think she’s ready. But I like her a lot.
Round No. 10 Picks (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
48. Braun Strowman – Raw – D. Braun doesn’t have much value without Bray Wyatt calling his shots other than he’s big. Lord knows that’s been enough for a lot of guys, but I don’t see it with him.
49. Breezango – SmackDown Live – C-. I was hoping that Tyler Breeze would be split from Fandango and allowed to go cruiserweight, but no such luck. They’re good talents and I think they’ll have an awesome match with American Alpha on a random SmackDown Live, but I don’t see them doing much more than that.
50. Bo Dallas – Raw – D. I’m not sure why if you insist on breaking up the Social Outcasts, Bo Dallas is the guy you want. His solo gimmick had no legs outside of Full Sail and his combine performance was laughably bad.
51. Eva Marie – SmackDown Live – A+. Steal of the draft. How you gonna pick frigging Bo Dallas over Eva Marie? Mick should have known better.
52. Shining Stars – Raw – F. No matter how you repackage these guys, they’re still the shits.
53. The Vaudevillains – SmackDown Live – D+. The gimmick doesn’t really translate outside the NXT environment, but they should be fun jobbers for American Alpha or whoever.
Round No. 11 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
54. Alicia Fox – Raw – C. It’s been awhile since she was crazy, but I just can’t bring myself to hate on Alicia too much because that gimmick was awesome for all the right and wrong reasons. And now Todd Bergman’s mind explodes because he thinks I only like white girls.
55. Erick Rowan – SmackDown Live – C. At least he can be paired with Bray Wyatt and probably Luke Harper when he returns, if that’s something you’re into.
56. Dana Brooke – Raw – B-. I have a bit of a soft spot for Dana because she was really interesting on the Breaking Ground show. She might not be ready for prime time, but at least she’s with women that can help her get there.
57. Mojo Rawley – SmackDown Live from NXT – B. Mojo wasn’t expected to make the draft board by most experts, but bringing the Hype Bros team to SD was too intriguing an idea for Shane & Bryan to pass up. I don’t love Mojo but he’s a good pick here for that reason. GET HYPED STAY HYPED.
58. Curtis Axel – Raw – C. He’s still around? Good for him.
59. Carmella – SmackDown Live from NXT – F-. I mean, it’s the last pick in the draft. But when Bayley is still on the board & you take Carmella, your scouting department sucks.
Heath Slater: This fucking guy.
I feel like Raw won the draft, and it’s the difference between people that follow the product and people that don’t. Stephanie McMahon, like her or not, has had to keep a close eye on these people forever because it’s her job. Mick Foley, like him or not, is a close observer of the product. Shane McMahon has been busy with other things. Daniel Bryan has had a tough time watching wrestling since he was forced to retire, only recently has he become engaged with the CWC. When you consider these things, it’s not surprising that Raw won the draft. It would have been shocking if SmackDown had won. The deck was stacked, as it usually is in WWE.