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EditorialWWE Draft 2023: Necessary Strategies for Trades Between Raw & SmackDown

WWE Draft 2023: Necessary Strategies for Trades Between Raw & SmackDown

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Tonight’s episode of SmackDown will be the first half of the 2023 WWE Draft. We know the pool that supposedly will be chosen (as WWE often deviates even from this, based on history), but we don’t know where anyone will end up.

So before it happens, let’s go over some “must-pick” scenarios of what has to happen, what should happen, and what absolutely must not happen no matter what.

General Balancing Act Part 1: Raw > SmackDown

It doesn’t matter how much WWE wants to appease the Fox executives. The deal for television contracts is coming up eventually and yes, they’ll need to negotiate, but they’ll also have to do the same with USA.

When there are 3 hours of Raw versus 2 hours of SmackDown, WWE absolutely cannot deviate from the rule of thumb that Raw needs to get more overall picks.

Whether that happens in a “Raw picks 3 per round and SmackDown picks 2 per round” setup like in the past, or if the supplemental picks just happen to be far more in Raw’s favor, the math still needs to work in that direction.

I’d say the best balance would be that Raw should get 8-10 more male Superstars and 3 more female Superstars—generally speaking.

General Balancing Act Part 2: No Roster Should Be Top-Heavy

Big names are what the draft mostly revolves around. That’s not a surprise, nor should that really change. But what WWE has to make sure it doesn’t create is a situation where one of the brands has all the major stars and the other is forced to play catch-up.

There should be a healthy mix. WWE should weigh their talent’s values ahead of time and try to assign the right balance of numbers between them.

For instance, Raw shouldn’t end up with Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre AND Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. That’s overkill.

All that does is force the opposite brand to have a weaker world champion while the overloaded brand has no room for those guys, so they end up falling down into more midcard roles.

Must-Picks for Particular Brands

The way I see it, only two people absolutely have a specific place in mind they have to stay/go: Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley.

They’re holding brand-specific championships that can’t be traded between them. And I don’t like the idea of the swap that they’ve done before to just have them hand each other the opposite show’s belt.

  • That means by proxy that The Street Profits need to stay on Monday Night Raw to keep Montez Ford and Bianca Belair together.
  • Likewise, The Judgment Day has to move to SmackDown. Ideally, that means Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor and Damian Priest all together, rather than splitting any of them up.
  • That also means Rey Mysterio should stay on SmackDown, and of course, the rest of the Latino World Order.
  • I do think The Miz has to stay on Raw to promote his show on USA, as well.
  • Carmella should stay on Raw, seeing as how Corey Graves is on commentary there.

Teams That Need to Stay Together

They can swap to another brand or stay where they are, but these people need to stick together no matter where they end up:

  • Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and likely, Dexter Lumis
  • AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson need to be on the same brand. Michin doesn’t have to be with them.
  • Elias and Rick Boogs haven’t even had a chance to properly team yet. Don’t split them up already.
  • Maximum Male Models all have to stay together. They’ll fade into nothing on their own.
  • Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins aren’t a team in the traditional sense, but where one goes, the other has to follow.
  • The same goes for Karrion Kross having Scarlett with him, obviously, and MVP sticking with Omos, and Emma with Riddick Moss.
  • Don’t split The New Day again. It is never a good idea.
  • Don’t split up The Viking Raiders, Imperium, Hit Row, Los Lotharios, or The Brawling Brutes—but Drew McIntyre could be on the opposite brand and that would be potentially okay.
  • There’s no need to split Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler.
  • Obviously, do not under any circumstances split up The Bloodline. WWE will not be able to help themselves and they’ll undermine the brand split by having them crossover within a few weeks and render the separation moot.

Teams That COULD Be Split Up

I don’t think it would be the end of the world if Otis broke off from Chad Gable. Otis could stick with Maximum Male Models and Gable could either get a singles push or be paired with The Creed Brothers.

Fair game for Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville. They aren’t much of a real tag team in the long run, I’m sure. Keep them together or split them, it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t think it would be the worst thing ever if Damage CTRL split. It wouldn’t be my ideal scenario, but it could happen and I can see positives that could come out of it.

Braun Strowman and Ricochet don’t need to stay a team. Put them where they will both be utilized best. If that happens to be the same brand, so be it. But if not, that’s okay.

 

People Who Need to Stay Away From Each Other

Some people have feuded long enough that I don’t want to see them anywhere near each other for a long while.

We need to freshen up opponents, rather than continue to beat the same drum for another year or so.

This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Belair needs new people. I don’t want to see her pick up Piper Niven for a KOD any time in the next 12 months, or have to fight Alexa Bliss, Damage CTRL, or Asuka again, either.
  • Unless you want to run it back over and over (which I’m not fond of), you kind of have to separate Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins.
  • Ideally, I’d like to move past Austin Theory feuding with Bobby Lashley after Backlash. We’ve seen it enough by now.
  • Keep Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn away from Roman Reigns or you’ll end up retreading familiar territory for future events and sacrificing them, since we all know Roman’s not losing for a looooong time.

What’s Going on With the Tag Team Titles?

I’m convinced something is going to happen tonight that will split the tag team titles with The Usos holding one set and Owens and Zayn holding the other.

Whether that happens, the champs retain or The Usos win it back, we need a settled idea of what’s going on. The world title is no longer going to be cross-branded, so what about the men’s and women’s tag team divisions?

Make a statement. Even if it is just “we still want to have those cross-branded, but they’ll be the only ones”. And finally, settle on new belts, for God’s sake!!! Those red and blue silver-plated monstrosities are so ugly and don’t even have side plates!

Other Miscellaneous Ideas

Rounding things out with some random extra points:

  • LA Knight should go to Raw. There’s more time for him to talk and get some screen time.
  • Karrion Kross should go to whatever brand is going to have the non-Roman title.
  • Keep Gunther in mind for that new world title. Maybe make sure he’s on that brand so there’s a chance he can win that, too.
  • I’d like to see Raquel Rodriguez stay on SmackDown to feud with Rhea Ripley down the line, and for Charlotte Flair to move to Raw to eventually feud with Bianca Belair.
  • Personally, I’d like to see Dana Brooke tag back up with Emma. Neither are doing anything. Put them on the same show and let it happen.

What do you think is going to happen in the draft? Are there any trades you’re particularly hoping for? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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