During Wrestlemania weekend, I re-subscribed to the WWE Network because the build to the showcase of immortals was fantastic. It’s a shame night two (besides the Intercontinental title) couldn’t follow the heights of night one.
Ever since I’ve been rewatching the Monday Night Wars documentary and with the WWE draft coming up this week, I can’t help but think about Attitude Era and now with Triple H running creative.
The wrestling is miles better now than in the 90s, though the same can’t be said for the storylines and emergence of new talent. I think we’re getting there with storylines – the rise of Dominik Mysterio coming the biggest heel on Monday Night Raw. The Bloodline feud with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, even the Chad Gable and Otis stuff is entertaining.
However, this year’s draft genuinely feels like the perfect re-set for many superstars across Raw, Smackdown and NXT, and when he says, “this draft will truly change the game”, he has to mean it.
This has to be a hard draft. No more crossing brands for the night or shake-ups, each roster has to stick to their own sides. These brands should only meet at Pay-Per-Views/Premium Live Events, though the company could be looking at brand-exclusive shows and only the big four (or five now if you include Money in the Back) being joint shows.
What makes things interesting now is on this Monday (24th April), Hunter came out to unveil the new WWE Heavyweight Championship and confirmed this title would be defended on the opposite brand to the Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns.
The new Heavyweight champ will be crowned on Night of Champions. I believe this title will be going to Raw, with Reigns staying on Smackdown.
This puts a spanner in the works regarding my thoughts and predictions for the 2023 WWE Draft.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (Raw)
One of the first things I’m doing is splitting up the tag titles, with Zayn and Owens having to vacate the blue brand’s team belts. In doing this, Smackdown can then do a tournament to find new champions.
The Bloodline (Raw)
From a storyline perspective, having The Usos and Solo on the red brand makes perfect sense, especially in their future feuds with Zayn & KO, Matt Riddle and Cody Rhodes. Additionally, it’ll give the Usos new teams to face, and Solo will be challenging for the US and Heavyweight titles soon and he can have a similar reign as his cousin and brothers.
Furthermore, I would split the family to dominate Monday and Friday nights. Roman will appear on Smackdown to prove the reason he’s been champion for over 1,000 days is because he is a wrestling god.
Drew McIntyre & Seth Rollins (Raw)
I had both men switching brands to build new feuds and for Seth to face off against Roman. However, with the inclusion of the Heavyweight belt, it makes perfect sense to make Rollins the champ and build the main event picture around The Visionary. It’s ideal for McIntyre to go to Mondays and become a heel and build a rivalry around the two.
The Judgement Day (SmackDown)
With Rhea Ripley being the leader of the pack of the women’s division on Smackdown, it makes perfect sense to move the whole faction to Friday nights.
The storylines are there with Finn going for the IC title and Damien Priest and Mysterio challenging for the tag titles. Until the time is right for Balor to claim the Undisputed belt and Priest in the IC mix. Plus, the feud between themselves and Imperium would be fantastic.
Becky Lynch (SmackDown)
I don’t know how likely it’d be considering her family situation and not wanting to do separate calendars from her husband Seth, especially with a young daughter. However, Lynch on Smackdown will have new characters to come against and be the first significant challenger for Ripley.
Bobby Lashley (SmackDown)
He’s done everything on Raw. He needs to go on Smackdown and be the first post-Wrestlemania feud for Roman. Plus, he can have big beefy boy battles with Sheamus and Gunther.
Ricochet, Karrion Kross & LA Knight (Raw)
All three men can be in the mid-card picture on the red brand, and all go for the US title. Kross and Knight could progress later in the year towards the main event, especially with a new title in the picture.
Montez Ford (Raw) & Angelo Dawkins (SmackDown)
It’s time for the Street Profits to go their separate ways and prove themselves as solo performers. We all know Ford has everything to be the face of the company. However, the questions were about Angelo and whether he was ready to be a single competitor, but in recent months, he has proven himself to be within the IC/mid-card picture.
Charlotte Flair (Raw)
She’s trying to eclipse her dad’s title record and believe Flair would have a better chance of doing so on Raw since dropping the Smackdown Women’s strap at Wrestlemania and reclaiming from Ripley so soon would kill any momentum the Aussie had.
Bayley & Asuka (SmackDown)
With the inclusion of these two women, the blue brand’s women’s roster would be complete. With Damage Control ending, this would be a great moment for Bayley to have a face run after a solid performance as a heel. Meanwhile, the Empress of Tomorrow has just lost to Bianca Belair at Wrestlemania, and she can’t really do much on Raw after that.
Indi Hartwell, Roxanne Perez, Katana Chance & Kayden Carter (Raw)
It was surprising to see Hartwell win the NXT Women’s title at Stand & Deliver and retain it on Spring Breakin’, but it feels like it will be a short reign and would help boost the women’s tag scene re-teaming with Candice LaRae.
While Perez is the young up-and-comer and could grow into becoming the company’s future face, the pair could join Belair, Flair, Bliss and Sky to battle for the main event. Elsewhere, Chance and Carter are easily the company’s best women’s tag team and have done everything in NXT.
Tyler Bate & Ilja Dragunov (SmackDown), Grayson Waller, Cameron Grimes & Bron Breakker (Raw)
I can see these five NXT male singles getting pushed up into the two brands. Bate and Dragunov can rekindle their rivalries with The Ring General and have solid feuds in the mid-card.
We all thought losing the title at Stand & Deliver, Breakker would’ve got the call-up on the Monday after Wrestlemania, but that never happened. WWE must’ve waited for the draft. I would keep him heel and stick him straight into the main event. Waller and Grimes would be perfect additions to the mid-card.
Chad Gable & Creed Brothers (SmackDown)
The final addition to the blue brand’s mid-card would be Gable. He would have brilliant battles with a list of names mentioned above. Then if you include the Creed Brothers (becoming a new version of Team Angle with Chad being the faction’s mouthpiece), who would be in the tournament for the tag belt.
LWO & New Day (Raw)
The red brand is slim with tag teams, and both these groups would bring great matches and be part of the mix for the titles. Also, have the LWO become a heel faction with Santos Escobar as the leader going for the US and Heavyweight titles.
Pretty Deadly (Raw)
Including Pretty Deadly would complete my Raw tag roster and add some freshness to the division YES BOY!!!. They’ve shown they can do comedy stuff, but they are also a great team and have the look to be popular on Monday Nights, especially after sleeping with the fishes on NXT Spring Breaking.
Wildcard – Zoey Stark (SmackDown)
If Lynch doesn’t move, then this would be the perfect opportunity for Stark to move up, especially after her showing at the Royal Rumble. She’s the type of wrestler that could shine on the blue brand.