2023 WWE Draft Night 1: Grades and Reaction


Round 1, Pick 1: Paul Heyman, Solo Sik’oa and Roman Reigns to SmackDown

Unsurprising that Roman Reigns remains on the blue brand. If you have a formula, you might as well not alter it. He and Heyman remain the standard and the top mountain to conquer for any prospective challenger for Roman’s championship. Solo being drafted along with him also is not surprising, as it is quite clear that those two already have a powerful connection, and dare I say, there could be potential for……well, let us save that for another day. Monday Night RAW has been a secondary show since Roman has been champion, and this pick has it remain that way. I think this also likely assures that Roman Reigns will not only get over the 1,000 day threshold, but it’s highly possible that he enters WrestleMania 40 with the same titles.

Grade: A

Round 1, Pick 2: Cody Rhodes to Monday Night RAW


Another non-shocker, although this uncertainly puts Cody’s pursuit of Roman’s championship on hold. I don’t know how they are planning to continue Cody’s story with both superstars on different brands, but what I would say is that Cody’s story would not feel complete, if he wins the World Heavyweight Championship as opposed to Roman’s WWE Undisputed Universal Championship. Roman represents all of the obstacles Cody has had to overcome, and at WrestleMania, he failed. So if he were to win the World Heavyweight Championship, would that not feel like a consolation prize? We’ll see how things progress, but Cody still remains an elite performer. So it’s a great pick.

Grade: A

Round 1, Pick 3: Bianca Belair to SmackDown

Bianca coming to SmackDown represents a great change of pace for the women’s division of SmackDown, which has been pretty anemic for extended periods at a time. Even with Charlotte Flair as a champion, there was never a suitable challenger for her aside from Rhea. And once Rhea won the championship, she was still hopping onto RAW to join her fellow Judgement Day teammates. Bianca has arguably been the best overall female performer in WWE since 2022, and she has risen to essentially become the women’s equivalent of Roman Reigns in the division. Depending on how the rest of the draft shapes up, I’m looking forward to some fresh matchups as Bianca heads back to the blue brand, where she represented SmackDown in the main event of WrestleMania 37 Night 1.

Grade: A

Round 1, Pick 4: Becky Lynch to RAW

Becky still has elite star appeal for the women’s division, although I’m surprised that she didn’t make the move to SmackDown as well. It feels like she has occupied RAW for an incredibly long time ever since she won both the RAW and SmackDown women’s championships in the main event of WrestleMania 35. Regardless of such, Bianca Belair’s absence leaves a huge void to be filled in the RAW Women’s division, but Becky has shown that she can handle that kind of load, even as she is currently in a feud with a past her prime performer.

Grade: A-

Round 2, Pick 1: The Street Profits to SmackDown

The Usos’ dominant reign as champions nearly made us forget how solid The Street Profits have been as well. Coming off the heels of an impressive WrestleMania win in that fatal four way tag team showcase, you can pretty much always count on the Street Profits to be rock solid. However, the question remains as to how long they will remain a tag team and whether or not WWE will finally pull the trigger on a Montez Ford singles run that has been teased every few or so months. Assuming that they remain together in the interim, this is still a rock solid pick.

Grade: B+

Round 2, Pick 2: Imperium to RAW

Gunther has been one of WWE’s 3-5 best performers over the last year, and while he feels more suited towards the blue brand, I like him being featured on the red brand. I just certainly hope Sheamus will join him on that show, because those two are meant to fight together. This in all likelihood will mean that Austin Theory will be headed towards the blue brand if he retains his title at Backlash next week, which I would be more than okay with. As far as Ludwig and Giovanni are concerned, one could say they’ve been riding Gunther’s cottails, but they have also been lowkey solid on SmackDown in singles competition as well. Great value pick to occupy RAW’s 3 hours.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick 3: Edge to SmackDown

Edge has been on the record this past week stating that he only has about a year or so left of him being able to compete at this level with the next generation before he rides off into the sunset. This means that this could be his last draft and his swan song, and fittingly enough, it will come on the show that he dominated for much of his prime years. The hope, of course, is that Judgement Day doesn’t follow them to the blue brand because I think we can all say we’ve seen enough of that. Not sure what more remains for Edge, except one last potential reign as world champion before retiring. Being on the same show as Roman Reigns makes that unlike, so it will be interesting to see how his (likely) final year in his comeback is spent. Regardless of such, Edge has still shown the capacity to put on good matches and put over talent (even though he did pin Finn a lot during his feud with Judgemetn Day), so that’s still a big win.

Grade: A –

Round 2, Pick 4: Matt Riddle to RAW

Riddle made his return to the red brand after WrestleMania, but it honestly has not felt the same since Randy Orton’s back injury has kept him out of commission. He is still one of WWE’s most complete ring performers, even if the whole stoner act can get stale at times. He’s aligned himself with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the time being, but I often get concerned about him getting lost in the shuffle for singles stars on a three hour show. He can fill in a slot for a solid match against the right opponent, so there’s value in that at least.

Grade: B –

Round 3, Pick 1: Bobby Lashley to SmackDown

Bobby Lashley is in the middle of a feud with the big and meaty Bronson Reed, as he looks to recover from a disappointing WrestleMania season, where an expected bout with Bray Wyatt was cancelled, and was left with a hollow Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal victory. As a matter of fact, since he lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar last year, he had been having some difficulty finding his footing. He had a pretty uneventful feud with Omos, a forgettable reign with the United States Championship, and was just another face on RAW. Since Bobby returned to WWE in 2018, he has pretty much been a RAW exclusive, so seeing him on Friday nights could be a change of pace. And perhaps he could serve as another potential challenger to Roman.

Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 2: Drew McIntyre to RAW

Drew is currently on the shelf with injury, but there’s no doubt he is one of WWE’s upper tier performers, as shown by his role in the triple threat match at WrestleMania with Sheamus and Gunther. That being said, his status as a WWE competitor may be in jeopardy, as he and WWE brass are reportedly far apart in money in terms of a new WWE contract. As a former 2 time WWE Champion and one of the gutsiest and toughest performers WWE has to offer, I think losing him would be a pretty significant blow to the main roster. But assuming they’re able to mend fences and get something done, RAW gets a stud.

Grade: A –

Round 3, Pick 3: The OC to SmackDown

The real prize here, of course, is AJ Styles, as Michin and Gallows/Anderson haven’t really done anything much of value. AJ has been sidelined with a bad injury that caused him to miss WrestleMania. And in spite of his injury, he still remains a top star when healthy. Styles, Gallows and Anderson have been together and various times, starting from 2016, another stint in 2019-2020, late last year and now. There might be a run-in with the Bloodline or somewhere else. Who knows. This will grade higher strictly for the addition of AJ back to SmackDown. The rest of the OC is honestly just fluff to fill out the rest of the roster.

Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 4: The Miz to RAW

The Miz is what we call a steady veteran presence. If you need someone to cut a good promo, put someone over, put on a solid match, or work with a celebrity, The Miz is your guy. The Miz is hard pressed to get wins these days, but that hardly matters. The Miz has become an elite jack of all trades, and while I would have loved for him to get a chance to do his thing on SmackDown, I would not mind seeing more of him on RAW. Not everyone is a fan of his shtick these days, but pro wrestling rosters need guys like The Miz.

Grade: B+

Round 4, Pick 1: Damage CTRL to SmackDown

Damage CTRL was in great need of a change of scenery, simply because they haven’t put together high profile wins lately. Bayley failed to get the championship from Bianca, and the tag team championship reigns of Sky and Kai really didn’t amount to much while representing an anemic tag team division for the women. Here’s to hoping SmackDown presents a new chance for them to regain their footing.

Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 2: Shinsuke Nakamura to RAW

Much like many others, Shinsuke Nakamura has been exclusive to one brand for years. Since his call up from NXT, Shinsuke has been primarily on SmackDown for the last 6 years. While he’s found moderate success in the mid-card, he quickly fades into the background for extended periods at a time. A move to the red brand may be just what the doctor ordered.

Grade: B

I’ll be honest in saying I have not paid much attention to NXT recently, so we’ll have to see how Hartwell, Fyre and Dawn adjust to the main roster. However, I do know that the women’s tag team division is severely lacking, and so it never hurts to add depth to that division.

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