It’s the week of the 2016 WWE Draft, so get ready for an onslaught of roster-related articles not just by myself, but from everyone else. If that’s not your bag, sorry, everyone!
Today, WWE released an article detailing some of the rules of what’s about to go down on Tuesday night, including a list of the stars eligible to be drafted between the two shows. It was kept vague when it comes to “six draft picks will be made off the NXT roster”, but spelled out rather clear about tag teams being drafted as groups unless Shane or Stephanie only wants one of them, and the rest of the list of singles stars who can be chosen.
Immediately, I scanned the list to see who wasn’t named, and there are 9 names who stood out to me based off the Wikipedia reference of the roster, as follows:
A recurring theme on this list is that most of these wrestlers are currently inactive due to injuries, and we can assume they won’t be back in time to be drafted similar to a Randy Orton, who is not only on the eligible list, but already has a match scheduled for SummerSlam.
Emma has been out since May from a back injury she sustained at a live event, which required surgery. To my recollection, there has not been a timetable put out there for her return, although such little time has passed from such a potentially very serious injury that it makes sense for WWE to just push her aside for now, rather than make a draft choice that will lead nowhere for months.
If you believe Nikki Bella’s social media presence, she appears to be in much better shape than Emma at the moment, and her recovery seems to be coming along at a decent pace. Nikki has had more time on the sidelines so far, though, as she hasn’t been in the ring since dropping the Women’s Championship (at the time, the Divas Championship) to Charlotte back in 2015. Lately, though, she has been talking about training with Daniel Bryan, working out in the gym more, and even preparing a new finisher to be utilized when she makes her return, which could be any time soon or still a while away.
It almost feels like a recurring joke that Rosa Mendes is still employed. For the most part in her career, she’s contributed absolutely nothing, and at her best, she was either the dancing valet of Primo and Epico or a still-inactive member of the Total Divas cast, depending on your preference. Even if she weren’t apparently out of the game with her pregnancy/child situation, one questions whether either side would want to draft her, as she has nothing to offer. For God’s sake, she was even talking about her dream being “to win a match”—A match…as in, a single match.
Rosa has been in WWE since 2006. In ten years, she’s accomplished nothing to be drafted, and it’s mind-boggling how her maternity leave didn’t transition to a permanent leave yet.
WWE really doesn’t want to just release this guy, do they? For months now, Ryback has been missing in action due to contractual disputes, all the while giving off the impression that he’s definitely not coming back to the roster. But while most people in this scenario are released relatively soon after such squabbles take place, Ryback is continually not the subject of a WWE.com article saying he’s been wished the best in his future endeavors.
Not having him on the eligible roster list speaks volumes to his position in the company, though. Either he’s indeed not returning and WWE is just waiting for the contract to expire, or he’s staying on board, but being punished as an outsider until he wins back some fans. This is either a case of separation to force him to feel like an outcast or he’s already been marooned and WWE wants no parts in reminding us that he’s still on the payroll.
Similar to Emma’s situation, Tamina has been out of action since April from an injury she suffered at a live event in Malaga, Spain. She, too, is recovering from surgery, so she can’t really be expected to return within the next few days, but once she’s back in the swing of things, it won’t be hard for WWE to just place her onto whichever show could benefit with another woman on its roster.
That in itself is something to keep in mind that people may look past: the ability to just bring more people into the fold as new signees down the line. Since this isn’t regulated the same as the NFL or NBA or whatever, there’s nothing stopping WWE from changing the rules up in a month or two, having Shane and Stephanie trade between Raw and SmackDown, and bringing new talent onto the rosters from outside sources. Someone like Tamina is off the table now, but will eventually return and won’t have to wait until next year’s draft.
It’s not surprising to see The Rock’s name missing from the list, as he’s not a normal roster member. It can be argued that he isn’t even part of the company at all, and that he’s just someone who happens to make some appearances here and there, similar to the other celebrities who pop in once in a while. In comparison, Stone Cold Steve Austin even has more of a connection to WWE at this point than The Rock, as he’s at least doing the podcasts on the WWE Network on a semi-regular basis. The Rock makes his handful of appearances a year and gets into some scuffles now and then, but it would be foolish to think that he’d be used as a draft pick.
On the other hand, The Undertaker is someone who also makes sparse appearances, but technically should still be eligible to be drafted. The fact that he shows up so rarely isn’t something written into the way the show operates. The Rock is a former wrestler and now an outsider who guests sometimes, but The Undertaker is a roster member who just so happens to disappear for the majority of the year in a way that we’re not supposed to question. Of course, we all know that this is because his age and injuries have been catching up with him and WWE values his WrestleMania spot more than if he were to just show up at TLC or something, but still, it’s kind of odd if you think about it. Because of this, though, it makes perfect sense why he isn’t on the list, as it would just call attention to his absence instead of allowing him to pop up randomly when the time comes.