With hindsight being 20/20 and all, many people always want to look back and change the past, so it makes sense that the WWE Draft would engender those same feelings. While there are picks that WWE got entirely right, there are a handful of Superstars that we think would have benefited more by ending up on the opposite brand from where they landed. WWE hasn’t made any noises about the possibility of trades or waiver periods, but if they had, these are the moves we think they should make in order to improve both the rosters as they exist right now, and the chances of several wrestlers to have success in a post-draft world.
10. Cesaro to Smackdown
The guy just seemed so angry to be on Raw (there are rumors that he was originally supposed to end up on Smackdown, only to have plans change at the last minute), to be drafted so inexcusably low, and to be asked questions about how his GM and Commissioner will get along instead of anything related to wrestling. Plus, they even messed up his stats during the interview, displaying a chyron that claimed he debuted in WWE in 1999 and was a 9-time Tag Team Champion! While the debate will likely rage for a long time about how much of Cesaro’s post-Draft promo on the WWE Network was scripted and how much was him speaking from the heart (we’ll give you a hint, if it’s on TV, it was planned, especially when WWE’s social media team posts videos of promo on the Internet afterwards), his points about fitting in better on Smackdown are actually pretty valid, and looking at the people ahead of him in the pecking order on Raw, it’s hard to see that he’ll get as fair of a chance to break out on the flagship show than he would on the blue brand.
9. Erick Rowan to Raw
Listen, if they’re going to take Braun Strowman away from the Wyatt Family, just take Rowan away from him as well and let Bray go it on his own. Bray never really needed the Wyatt Family, because most of the act is him, while an assortment of silent big men stand behind him. No, we’re not trying to cast shade on Luke Harper here, because he’s actually very good, but the first time they broke up the Wyatt Family, it wasn’t Bray who floundered (although he was booked horribly, which is why they brought everyone back together). A clean break is best, and maybe instead of just keeping Rowan in a jumpsuit and sheep mask and saying “he’s actually a genius”, they could give him a totally new character. Is the world ready for a new version of The Berserker yet? Because Erick Rowan as a Viking is probably the role that will turn him into a global phenomenon. Or at least, something a lot cooler than he is right now.
8. The Dudley Boyz to Smackdown
This is purely a move that came about when we looked at the Smackdown tag ranks and realized that there aren’t any true credible challengers for American Alpha. And we love American Alpha and hope that they win whatever version of Tag Team titles end up being introduced on Smackdown, but unless they have some actual competition, the titles aren’t going to mean anything. Currently, it’s the Alphas, and maybe the Usos, whom we would generously consider potential champions at this point. Beyond that, there’s The Vaudevillains, The Ascension, and Breezango, which we’re pretty sure have won one WWE match, combined, in 2016, and that’s only because Breezango picked up a win on Raw before the draft. Oh, and also you could unite the Hype Bros in WWE thanks to Mojo Rawley’s promotion, but even with that, we’re not seeing a particularly strong field at this point. The Dudleys would be the ideal veteran team to move over, providing the credibility that comes with being the most decorated tag team in wrestling history, but also comfortable enough with putting over new teams that they could help build that division on Smackdown. Raw has The New Day, The Club, and Enzo & Cass to carry their end, let The Dudleys go to the brand where they could actually be useful.
7. Kane to Raw
The Big Red Monster just doesn’t fit on a brand that’s all about the color blue, but that’s not the only reason we’d send Kane packing from Smackdown. Frankly, in his Demon persona, he provides next to nothing for WWE, as his act is played out, his matches are competent but uninteresting, and there’s simply nothing he could do that he hasn’t done already. Having him clog up a show that is supposedly run by the guy who promised to eliminate exactly that sort of dead weight is incongruous at best. In fact, it largely seems like Kane ended up on Smackdown because someone thought up a cool bit where Daniel Bryan references their past as Team Hell No, and that was all the justification they needed (also, Kane and Bryan are good friends in real life, and we can understand maybe wanting to wind down the back half of your career in the company of friends). Plus, Kane gets in the way of Bray Wyatt running Smackdown as the chief supernatural entity, and we can’t have that. Move Kane back to Raw, switch him back to his Corporate persona, and you can have endless comedy bits between “Assistant (to the) GM” Kane and Mick Foley that should carry backstage segments for at least a few months.
6. Summer Rae to Smackdown
There’s no doubt that Raw drafted the superior Women’s roster, between Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Paige, and the newly arriving Nia Jax. Those four women could carry that division for the next year on their own, which means that late pick Summer Rae, who is a more than competent wrestler in her own right, seems like she’d end up both lost in the shuffle and relegated to being the jobber of the Raw Women’s Division alongside Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox. Over on Smackdown, there isn’t currently an established alpha female, just a lot of raw talent that will hopefully try hard to compete with the big stars on Raw. Oh, and also, Eva Marie is there. Moving Summer Rae to Smackdown would give her the first real chance she’s had since NXT to show what she can do in the ring, potentially establishing herself as the top star in that division that she’s entirely capable of being. If you watched early NXT, you remember that before Charlotte and Sasha broke out, it was Summer who was the actual leader and star of their group.
5. Carmella to Raw
Yes, it’s lazy to simply re-unite Carmella with the Realest Guys in the Room on Raw, but frankly, as much as Carmella has improved since Enzo and Cass left her alone in NXT, her act is still closely tied to theirs, from the modified opening spiel to the New York attitude. If Carmella was interested in switching up her character to a more arrogant, heelish fashionista, similar to what she intially came into NXT as, this might not be necessary, but as long as the Queen of Staten Island is shouting “Badabing, hottest chick in the ring, how you doin’?” as part of her character, she might as well become part of the total package on Raw. Besides, it’d probably be good for Enzo and Cass to have a relatively sane, stablizing presence at ringside, to keep them focused, and attaching herself to that act will guarantee that she ends up a star, whereas staying on her own has far less certainty.
4. Sheamus to Smackdown
Similar to a couple of other names on this list, Sheamus is just too far down the ladder on Raw. He is a multiple-time World Champion, after all, but the people ahead of him in the pecking order on the heel side is pretty intimidating, and things wouldn’t get any better if he turned face. On Raw, Sheamus is the fourth or fifth guy from the top, at best, and would likely ending up stuck in the role he’s currently filling, as something of a gatekeeper for Rusev. But on Smackdown, thanks to the smaller roster, Sheamus has the potential for a lot more upward mobility. Sure, he probably won’t unseat AJ Styles as the brand’s top heel, but beyond that, short of Baron Corbin actually becoming something worth watching, the field is wide open, and an established star like Sheamus could probably revitalize his main event career after his disastrous run over the last year.
3. Kalisto to Raw
Why on earth would you announce that you were creating a Cruiserweight Division that was going to be exclusive to Raw, and then draft Kalisto to Smackdown? Sure, he massively punted his post-Draft promo, which was unintentionally hilarious and probably could get him even more sympathy as a face, but Kalisto is the closest thing WWE has right now to a true successor to Rey Mysterio, only with better knees. Kalisto has a high-flying arsenal, but knows WWE style and can look credible against big men, he’s got a marketable look, and (that one instance of completely forgetting his lines aside) he speaks excellent English as well as Spanish. He’s the crossover Hispanic star WWE has been looking for, but rather than make him the centerpiece of their new featured division, he’s as far away as possible from it. Maybe there are bigger plans in store for Kalisto on Smackdown than we know, but for our money, he sure would fit in a lot better in a division that he’s perfectly suited to rule.
2. Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens to Smackdown
As happy as we are that Zayn and Owens can continue hating and fighting each other on a weekly basis, WWE has literally set up their Battleground match as the final confrontation ever (we know, “forever” in wrestling isn’t that long, but still), and it’s hard to believe that when they’re still going to be around each other afterwards. There’s no way anyone is going to believe that Sami and Kevin are going to simply start ignoring each other because they agreed that the Battleground match was their last one. Their history runs too deeply for that to possibly be true. The only way to end this feud, if it’s even possible, would be to ship one or the other off to the other brand, so they only have to see each other four times a year at most. Even then, it’s still not a guarantee, but at least you avoid the ridiculous situation where Zayn and Owens end up on opposite sides of a random tag match on Raw roughly three weeks from now, and everyone pretends they’re not going to go after each other the first chance they get.
1. Randy Orton to Raw
Our only real justification for this move is that it has always felt wrong when John Cena and Randy Orton are on the same brand. Give WWE credit, during Cena and Orton’s formative years, they did a lot to keep them separated, until they finally had a long-drawn out feud when they were near their peak as Superstars to pay off their parallel rises into cornerstones of the company. And then they kept feuding, to the point that WWE had to advertise their “last match ever” so everyone could finally move on (spoiler note: they lied about that). Anyway, while Orton is a big star in his own right, when John Cena’s around, he’s unquestionably the second banana, and if he stays on Smackdown as a face, that’s all he’ll ever be. As a heel, maybe there’s potential, but in that case, it’s inevitable that Orton and Cena would resume their feud, and we’re not big fans of that idea. Over on Raw, however, Orton can still be a big fish, because the purported top face of the brand is a guy nobody likes, and unless Sami Zayn or Finn Balor is getting one heck of a push post-draft (Balor might be, but we don’t think it’ll be as a face), there really aren’t any challengers to the throne of #1 Raw babyface. Orton could at least push for that spot if he wanted to, something there’s no chance he’ll be able to do in the shadow of his greatest foe on Smackdown.