Until confirmed (and even then, things can still change), every rumor has to be taken with a grain of salt. When Andrew Zarian tossed out dates for the 2021 WWE Draft as being set for August 30th and September 3rd, it seemed as good as any time to take care of shaking up the rosters.
Now, Zarian is reporting WWE has delayed the draft several weeks down the line. He suggests October 1st/4th or 4th/8th as the next likely dates this may go down.
At the moment, WWE has yet to even hint at a draft happening at all, let alone any given time frame for it to take place.
What does this mean? Why would WWE push it back? How might this affect each of the rosters, as well as plans for current and upcoming feuds seemingly in the works?
Let’s try to sort out what could have caused this change and how things may play out differently now that the draft isn’t happening for an extra month.
Breathing Room for SummerSlam and Extreme Rules (and TakeOver?)
One reason why might be because WWE doesn’t want to crowd the landscape with too much going on at the same time. Spreading things out allows the writers more of an opportunity to focus on one thing at a time.
SummerSlam is set for August 21, meaning this initial idea would place the draft the very next week. You’d get one episode of Raw for fallout from SummerSlam while promoting the next episode as “everything can change.”
Rumors have circulated that an NXT TakeOver event could accompany SummerSlam Weekend, too, taking place Sunday the 22nd. While that doesn’t take focus away from the people responsible for the main roster, the draft does factor in NXT for call-ups. That might make things a little more confusing. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier, that’s for sure.
There’s also Extreme Rules. As evidenced by how ungodly many rematches take place on WWE programming these days, the company clearly has a directive to “just do that again” as often as possible, no matter how much that might hurt ratings and interest.
Perhaps WWE started working on plans for the SummerSlam card, saw Extreme Rules coming up on September 26th and said “Damn it. That’s going to be hard to do the big event, a draft, and then have enough time to sort out Extreme Rules, too. How about we just do a series of rematches for the B-level event and in the meantime, that’ll give us time to sort out the draft after that?”
Any scenario that involves less work/effort and more rematches is something I can imagine is approved these days in WWE, so that wouldn’t surprise me.
Season Premiere = Draft Day
Zarian also stated that the October 4th episode of Monday Night Raw would be designated its “season premiere.” This is always strange for a show that doesn’t have any actual seasons, but they do classify a premiere every year in some fashion.
A solid theory would be that WWE wants to kick off its premiere for Raw (and possibly SmackDown, if they end up saying the 8th is the blue brand’s premiere) with something they know will draw viewers without having to book title matches and guest appearances.
Think about it. What’s easier to do:
a) Orchestrate a series of feuds and storylines that have proper star power and can get people invested, and simply throw them away for one night when you can draft them out for a month or more by only doing one piece of it at a time on each episode.
b) Scrounge up whatever legends you can get to appear, knowing you have less now than ever before and it didn’t pop a huge rating the last time.
c) Call it the draft and tell people everything is changing and this premiere is going to truly kick off a different feel for the two shows going forward. Basically, all you’re doing is announcing a list of people and putting some matches on for filler, but you’re being given the benefit of the doubt that this is a “fresh start” and you have good will from the fans and a big premiere to show off to USA without needing to bring in guest stars.
I know I’d bank more on Option C being the easiest, simplest, catch-all answer.
Recent Call-Ups on the SmackDown Roster
Delaying this a month now makes more sense why WWE called Tegan Nox, Shotzi Blackheart and Toni Storm up to SmackDown already. It felt strange they’d make the jump just a few weeks prior to a draft that they could have been part of. But there’s a big difference between 8 weeks and 13 weeks.
SmackDown needed the women NOW. Actually, it needed the women OVER A YEAR AGO. Let’s not forget that for the bulk of Bayley’s reign as champion, she fought only Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss. We’re talking months of having no options because they bled SmackDown dry—something that happens every single year, without fail, and they never learn from. Insanity.
Bianca Belair was set to fight Bayley again at Money in the Bank. Clearly, WWE was stalling. They didn’t want Sasha Banks to make her return for this event, rather than SummerSlam, and when Bayley went down with her injury, they were forced to take a look at how thin the roster was and panicked.
Assuming Banks fights Belair at SummerSlam and they do a third match with some sort of gimmick attached to it at Extreme Rules, that carries them week after week. It won’t automatically be great (especially after seeing how awful that feud was prior to WrestleMania and how they banked on it just being “But isn’t it great these two awesome performers are in the main event? Ignore the bad story.”). But what it will be is “something easy to do for 2 months straight.” Easy = go for it, as far as WWE’s concerned these days.
Nox, Shotzi and Storm will be the new kids on the block that distract from that. As they get their footing on SmackDown, that will kill some time and WWE will become more comfortable with them before deciding who they want to shift around between Monday and Friday night, as they may not even stay there.
What’s Up with Mandy Rose on the NXT Roster?
Tonight on NXT, Mandy Rose randomly popped up. There was no rhyme or reason to her appearance and she didn’t focus on any one person in particular. At first, she was simply watching on as Sarray and Gigi Dolin wrestled. Then, she had some words with Franky Monet, Robert Stone and Jessi Kamea.