Pro Wrestling

The Top 20: Goliath Mock Drafts The WWE Brand Extension Source:

In any sport, everyone loves to make mock drafts, whether it be for upcoming entry drafts, All-Star teams, expansion franchises, or just random thought experiments that attempt to change past events. This time, it’s fans of pro wrestling who get a chance to mess with the careers of their favorite WWE Superstars, thanks to the resurrection of the Brand Extension. The real Draft goes down on the first live episode of Smackdown on July 19th, but before that happens, we thought we’d take a stab at filling out our picks for the first handful of roster spots on both Smackdown and Raw.

For the purposes of our draft (since WWE hadn`t released any rules of their own when we did this), we chose an alternating draft, and we’ll be doing the top 10 picks for each brand. Every titleholder, including the WWE Champion, is available, tag teams count as two people, and commentators/managers/non-wrestling personalities are not eligible to be drafted. In addition, nobody currently in NXT who hasn’t debuted on the main roster will be drafted, because we think they’ll instead make debuts on different brands in the coming weeks. We also didn`t bother drafting part-time wrestlers like Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker, since they`re just going to show up wherever they want to anyway.

In order to determine the order of drafting, we flipped a coin, and Smackdown won, which is probably the only time they’ll win anything of importance during however long the brand split lasts. To the podiums!

1. Smackdown – Dean Ambrose

Well, you have to draft the WWE Champion first over all, no matter who it is, right? You’d look pretty stupid if you were the brand that didn’t have a World title, because then you have to invent a title, and unless you come up with a great angle to determine the first champion, you’re already coming from behind. Or you could hand the new champion a World title out of a suitcase, you know, whatever you want to do. In any event, Dean Ambrose will almost certainly be WWE Champion (barring an unexpected and illogical loss to Seth Rollins on the Raw immediately before the Draft), and as tempting as some of the talent out the might be, you just have to go with the Champion. Source:

2. Raw – John Cena

Of course, once the WWE Champion is gone, you’re going to go straight for The Franchise, The Face That Runs The Place, and the guy that has been synonymous with WWE for over a decade. Sure, Cena’s apparently not working North American house shows for the rest of the year because he’s got reality shows to film and awards shows to host (and also because 2016 has definitely shown that he’s not as young as he used to be), but Raw is still the flagship show, and barring a massive run of injuries, Cena’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Frankly, if you’re going to lose the WWE Champion, you have to draft the guy who you could either instantly give a new World Title (although that would be a terrible way for Cena to tie Flair), or put in a match against someone that everyone would instantly see as a credible World Title match to determine a new Champion. Source:

3. Smackdown – Roman Reigns

He’s been gone for thirty days, but make no mistake, WWE’s going to keep pretending he’s the top face of the company, and that means a high draft position. Plus, if you’re smart, you’re going to want to hedge your bets and pick up as many members of the Shield Triple Threat at Battleground as you can, giving you a higher chance of ending up with the all-important WWE Title on your brand. In addition, the rumor for a while has been that Reigns and Cena would end up on separate brands, for obvious reasons, so even though we’d personally probably go with Seth Rollins, we can’t see Shane, or whomever he picks as GM, purposely picking the abrasive Rollins over The Guy. Granted, a lot of this depends on if Reigns’ stock has fallen at all since his Wellness suspension, but we figure that WWE will want to keep up appearances, at least for now. Source:

4. Raw – Seth Rollins

And since Stephanie and whomever ends up as her GM will also, presumably, not be idiots, they will likely make sure to secure the final former Shield member so they can at least have a shot at stealing back the WWE Title at Battleground. Plus, Seth has a pre-existing relationship with Stephanie that he’ll probably use to ingratiate himself, and also we could maybe see some more Rollins-Cena matches in the future this way, which we’re all for. Honestly, they wouldn’t be rushing to do the Shield Triple Threat match at Battleground (and would likely have saved it until at least SummerSlam) if there was a chance it could happen in the future at a bigger event. This suggests that, one way or the other, one member of the former group will end up on a different brand from the other two. Source:

5. Smackdown – Kevin Owens

We just talked about how Shane wouldn’t deliberately anchor himself to a heel who would do nothing but annoy him, but recently we’ve seen signs of Kevin Owens being both protected and pushed in ways that suggest he’s about to slide into a spot as a main event heel. With our draft seeing Ambrose and Reigns as Smackdown’s first two picks, and Rollins going to Raw, Owens gets the nod as the top available foil, even though neither he nor the people in charge of the brand may particularly enjoy it. Actually, we could see Owens being so thrilled that he got picked before Sami Zayn that he won’t initially realize that it also means he has to be on a brand almost certainly run by people he doesn’t like. Source:

6. Raw – AJ Styles

Call us crazy, but we’re pretty sure Styles vs Cena isn’t ending at Battleground in a six-man tag match. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that there’s an excellent chance we see Styles take on Cena at SummerSlam for whatever the second World title will be called. Then John Cena will win his sixteenth World title just to cheese off everyone who will immediately claim that Styles is being “buried”, because it turns out predicting the future isn’t that hard when you’re talking about wrestling fans. But seriously, there’s a chance that might not happen, because WWE has to realize that AJ Styles is one of the hottest properties in wrestling right now, and like Cena, he isn’t getting any younger, so the time to strike is now. Plus, a certain former associate of Styles just finished up his NXT run, so there could definitely be outside factors at play. Source:

7. Smackdown – Randy Orton

Well, if he’s important enough to face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam (although simultaneously, unimportant enough that nobody’s going to care when he loses), he’s probably going to end up getting drafted at some point, and likely fairly high. Similar to Roman Reigns, we could definitely see Orton being separated from Cena, if only because WWE has spent the majority of their careers keeping them separate for the purposes of future dream matches. That’s not entirely the reason here, because Cena-Orton has pretty much been done to death at this point, but it would still feel weird to have one brand with both John Cena and Randy Orton, especially if Orton returns in a face role, at least leading up to the Lesnar match. Source:

8. Raw – The Miz

Once again, we get back to title holders, and while The Miz might be the most annoying person on God’s green Earth, he brings that fake Hollywood cachet that would definitely come into play when he’s begging Stephanie and whomever her GM is to draft him. WWE vacillates between whether those in charge actually believe Miz is a movie star or just a joke who stars in bad movies, but you have to know that each brand is going to end up with one of the midcard Champions, and The Miz could ride his position as a Top 10 draft pick, and the first Champion drafted besides the WWE titleholder, to even higher levels of irritation. Frankly, it’s a coin flip at this point, because whichever champion doesn’t get picked first, will almost certainly get picked next. Source:

9. Smackdown – Rusev

Honestly, we just liked the match-ups Rusev would have in our Smackdown mock draft better than we did by putting him on Raw, due to Smackdown’s seemingly eternal perception as the “wrestling show” (while Raw has always trended more towards “sports entertainment”). Rusev has consistently been an underrated worker who should finally get his chance to shine during the brand extension, assuming he doesn’t lose the US Title at Battleground to Zack Ryder, which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen. Plus, it gets him away from worrying situations like John Cena going full All-American again and running down the Bulgarian Brute to bring the US Title “home”. Source:

10. Raw – Charlotte

There’s only one singles title left unaccounted for at this point, and that’s the one held by Charlotte. We’re not sure exactly what the brand extension will do to the slowly evolving Women’s Division, although we’re pretty sure it’s going to at least split it up between the brands. We wouldn’t be a fan of two separate belts, though, mostly because we’re pretty sure WWE would just go back to the “Divas” well, but given that single-brand PPVs are also making a comeback, it’s practically impossible for there to be any “floating” champions, leaving us with a dilemma going forward, because the Women’s division simply doesn’t have the depth to maintain two separate rosters at this point. Frankly, we’d prefer keeping them all on one brand, likely on the show that has an extra hour to fill, but for some reason we don’t see it going down that way. Source:

11. Smackdown – Sasha Banks

If the plan is to split up the women (which, again, we’re not too keen on), Sasha Banks is a no-brainer for a draft pick once the Champion gets snapped up. Frankly, we’d take The Boss first, but much like the WWE Champion, you have to take the person holding the belt before anyone else. The only problem with this pick is that it basically ends the possibility of Sasha facing Charlotte one-on-one for the title at SummerSlam, which would seem to be the logical progression since they’re in a tag match at Battleground (with Sasha having a mystery partner that we can only hope enjoys the company of wacky arm-waving inflatable tube men). If anything, that gives us hope that WWE might keep all the women together, which we think would be best for the division, but given that they haven’t made any indication one way or the other, we’re going to go ahead and draft the best option regardless of gender. Source:

12. Raw – Sami Zayn

Raw was getting a little heel-heavy, and much like the Shield Triple Threat, it really feels like WWE wouldn’t blow off Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens at Battleground if there was a chance that it could happen again in the near future at a larger show. Thus, Sami must end up on a different brand than his eternal nemesis/friend, which will probably be better for both of them. Actually, in this situation, Sami instantly becomes one of Raw’s top faces, which is a position he should do well in. Well, as long as his role doesn’t become “John Cena’s sidekick who gets beaten up by Cena’s enemies to send a message”, because that never works out for anyone. Source:

13. Smackdown – Cesaro

Speaking of wrestlers that will hopefully thrive in the brand split, Cesaro is once again stuck in limbo despite having a cool character, a rabid fanbase, and more than enough skills to pay the bills. Hopefully, splitting the roster in half will open up a spot for the Swiss Superman, as either a face or heel, because the fact that WWE seemingly can’t find anything good for him to do is just baffling for a number of reasons. We’re not saying that Cesaro will instantly become a main event guy on Smackdown, but he could be a suitable new challenger for Rusev’s United States title, and the matches they’d have would definitely be PPV-worthy. Plus, it’s someone who can face Rusev without it getting all “USA vs Russia”, as his feuds inevitably degenerate into. Source:

14. Raw – Darren Young

On the other hand, there’s this guy, who will probably show up in the draft because WWE has randomly decided to push him into a PPV feud with Rusev. We’re not sure that Darren Young actually is great again, and we’ll remain so until he actually wrestles a match on TV, but given that he’s now apparently a featured part of WWE alongside his ridiculously strong 66-year-old mentor, there’s a better-than-even chance that Young could be Intercontinental Champion after Battleground. When you look at it from that perspective, much like the situation with the Shield, if you already picked The Miz, why not guarantee that you’ll still have the Intercontinental title on your brand after the next Pay Per View? We’d consider doing the same with US Title challenger Zack Ryder, but come on, he’s not winning the title at Battleground. Source:

15. Smackdown – Bray Wyatt

While factions might be split up, somehow, we don’t see that same happening for the Wyatt Family. But even if somehow Erick Rowan or Braun Strowman found their way to a different brand, we’re pretty sure the shepherd could afford to lose the services of his sheep and still survive just fine. Plus, we’re assuming WWE will forget to assign the injured Luke Harper to a brand, which means Bray’s strongest follower can probably return to his side at any time. Much like Rusev, Wyatt’s an underrated worker, so it makes sense to put him on the blue brand, and also like the US Champ, we want to keep him as far away from John Cena as is humanly possible. Source:

16. Raw – Kane

We’re getting down to the indifferent choices here, with Kane still a big enough name and presence that WWE will make it seem like a big deal that he got drafted to Raw, even though it really isn’t. The only thing that led us to putting him on Raw over Smackdown is that we’re pretty sure Shane hasn’t forgiving him for electrocuting his testicles, and Corporate Kane has somehow always played better when he’s using his earnest but evil attempts to help against a heel boss, because they’re more likely to enjoy the evil parts of his plan while still being frustrated by how he’s always so gosh-darned chipper. Source:

17. Smackdown – The Big Show

Speaking of choices that seem important but aren’t, with Show allegedly challenging Shaquille O’Neal to a match at WrestleMania 33 (with decent odds that it actually happens this time), we can expect the World’s Largest Athlete to be hanging around on one of the brands for at least the next year. Show’s a utility piece at this point and he knows it, and at this point, his alignment doesn’t particularly matter, because he’s just the Big Show. Maybe he’ll crack a joke, maybe he’ll punch you in the face, maybe he’ll do both. His motivations are irrelevant at this point, so you can pretty much throw him in anywhere you need him. We wouldn’t expect to see Show actually wrestling many matches or even taking up that much TV time (at least, we hope not), but he will still undoubtedly be a presence going forward. Source:

18. Raw – Apollo Crews

Man, this guy should be way more important than he is right now, or he should have been left down in NXT where he could have been a bigger part of that show. Crews’ character work isn’t the strongest, but WWE hasn’t helped him a single bit by bringing him up and basically forgetting about him, aside from a fluke upset of Sheamus at Money in the Bank that would have been a pre-show match had WWE not decided the PPV was going to be short. Since then, Apollo’s been present, but not really treated as anything important, although he’s still one step up from a jobber. Frankly, he probably should have won the battle royal to challenge The Miz at Battleground, but at least he was the last guy out, which suggests WWE still has nonspecific ideas about him. Crews is the kind of “blue chip” pick that happens in the later rounds, so that commentary can talk about he’s a potential main event talent and a great surprise choice. Source:

19. Smackdown – Triple H

This has absolutely no chance of happening, in part because we’re actually pretty sure Triple H is busy with his off-screen pursuits running NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic, and also because it’s possible that he’ll have the “Vince McMahon” role backstage on one of the brands (likely Smackdown), where he’s actually running the shows. But stay with us for a second, because everyone is currently assuming Stephanie will name her husband as the Raw GM, since that would be the obvious choice, and she even namedropped him on Raw. But with Vince telling his children that they should take every advantage to crush each other, wouldn’t it be the perfect play for Shane to irritate his sister (and deny her first choice of GM) by drafting Triple H onto his brand? After all, he’s technically still an active wrestler. Again, this probably won’t happen, but it made us laugh when we thought of it. Source:

20. Raw – Baron Corbin

And, to round things out, here’s Baron Corbin, because much like Apollo Crews, WWE can’t decide quite what they’re doing with the Lone Wolf. Is he a future star, just another guy, or Dolph Ziggler’s eternal nemesis? So far, it depends on the week, because Corbin has had a roller coaster ride in his few short months on the main roster, from winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal to occasionally not even appearing on TV. However, we’d like to think that Crews and Corbin eliminating each other in the Intercontinental title battle royal might lead to a feud between them, where they can fight over who is really the blue chip prospect out of NXT that is the future of the business. SourcE:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.