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Top 10 best WWE Draft picks in history

Published at :April 25, 2024 at 2:50 PM
Modified at :April 25, 2024 at 2:51 PM
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(Courtesy : WWE)

Darshanbir Singh

The Superstar Shake-up sets up the future storylines and rivalries for all brands involved

With WWE draft just around the corner, fans must be thinking about how the draft has worked before. WWE Draft first took place when it was WWF and it was 2002.

The WWE Draft, also known as the WWE Superstar Shake-up during certain years, is a strategic process employed by WWE to revitalize its roster dynamics between the Raw and SmackDown brands. This occurs particularly during periods when a brand extension is in place, which has been the case from 2002 to 2011 and then again from 2016 onwards.

During the draft, wrestlers from both Raw and SmackDown can be drafted to the opposing brand, allowing for fresh storylines, rivalries, and alliances. Additionally, wrestlers from WWE’s developmental brand NXT are also eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, providing opportunities for emerging talent to showcase their skills on the main roster.

The draft serves as a mechanism to maintain distinct identities for Raw and SmackDown while keeping the WWE Universe engaged with surprises and changes to the roster. It’s a pivotal event that generates excitement among fans and wrestlers alike, as they eagerly anticipate the shifts in the landscape of WWE programming.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 best picks in the WWE Draft that happened over the years.

The Miz to Raw (2009)

Before the 2009 WWE Draft, The Miz and John Morrison formed a comedic heel duo in ECW, even holding titles across all brands. However, Miz’s move to Raw ended their partnership abruptly, marked by a betrayal in the ring. Surprisingly, Miz thrived post-draft, eventually winning Money in the Bank and the WWE Championship. He remained a Raw mainstay until the brand split’s return in 2016.

Daniel Bryan to Smackdown (2011)

Daniel Bryan’s move to SmackDown in the 2011 Supplemental Draft proved pivotal for his career. Initially struggling after losing the United States Championship on Raw, his fortunes shifted upon winning the Money in the Bank contract on SmackDown.

Despite the eventual dissolution of the brand split, Bryan flourished on SmackDown, winning his first World Championship and popularizing the iconic “Yes” chants, marking a defining moment in his WWE journey.

Also Read: Top seven most shocking WWE draft trades in history

Edge to Raw (2004)

Edge‘s move to the Raw brand in 2004, following his return from a broken neck, marked a significant shift in his career. Transitioning from SmackDown for the first time since the brand split, Edge thrived on Raw. Embracing a heel persona, he found success, notably winning the inaugural Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21.

Over the course of three years, Edge engaged in memorable rivalries on Raw, notably with Mick Foley and John Cena, establishing himself as a key figure on the brand. Despite being primarily associated with SmackDown, Edge’s time on Raw was crucial in solidifying his status as a top-tier talent in WWE.

Roman Reigns to Raw (2016)

Roman Reigns’ draft to Raw in 2016 had mixed implications. On one hand, it positioned him as the top star, granting him ample spotlight and championship opportunities. However, his dominance also led to concerns of overexposure and limited opportunities for other talents.

Furthermore, Reigns’ character portrayal faced divisive reactions from fans, impacting the overall perception of Raw’s programming. Ultimately, while the move elevated Reigns’ status, it also brought challenges in maintaining balance and diversity within the brand’s storytelling.

Also Read: List of all WWE Drafts & brands involved

Roman Reigns to Smackdown (2019)

That’s when he ate the dog food in the feud against ‘The King’ Baron Corbin. Roman Reigns’ move to SmackDown in 2019 marked a significant shift in his career trajectory.

The change allowed him to establish himself as a dominant force on the blue brand as a heel and the head of the table gimmick during the Covid era when WWE was dry, separate from the controversies and criticisms he faced on Raw. Reigns’ presence brought a renewed sense of star power to SmackDown, where he engaged in compelling storylines and rivalries.

His move contributed to SmackDown’s reputation as a must-watch show and solidified Reigns’ position as one of WWE’s top talents.

AJ Styles to Smackdown (2023)

Aj is expected to face Cody Rhodes for his championship and this is made possible because of him being present on the Blue Brand.

AJ Styles’ recent stint on Raw lacked significant singles success despite a Raw Tag Team Championship reign with Omos. With Styles in his mid-40s, maximizing his potential during his active years is crucial.

His return to SmackDown presents a fresh opportunity, potentially setting the stage for compelling matchups, including a Universal Championship program, perhaps with Cody Rhodes, which is visible after 19th April’s Smackdown. Given his history on SmackDown, it’s an apt platform for Styles to reclaim his elite status.

Also Read: Top 10 worst WWE draft picks in history

Drew McIntyre to Raw (2023)

McIntyre’s brief stint on SmackDown saw him making waves, but his return to Raw was imperative. Back on Raw, he can reclaim his position as a main event contender and vie for the prestigious World Heavyweight Championship. Despite a recent title win interrupted by CM Punk, McIntyre’s resilience makes him a formidable force in the championship scene. Raw provides the platform for him to ascend once more and vie for top honors.

Gunther to Raw (2023)

After what Gunther did in his Championship reign, it is important to understand that he was one of the best pick of the Raw in 2023.

The absence of Roman Reigns left Raw without a dominant top heel, but Gunther’s arrival filled that gap seamlessly. His transition to the main roster has been executed masterfully, establishing him as a formidable force.

With the right handling, Gunther’s success on Raw is poised to continue, offering the brand a compelling antagonist to shake up the landscape. His presence promises to inject fresh energy and intrigue into Raw’s narrative, setting the stage for captivating storylines and rivalries.

Seth Rollins to Raw (2016)

Seth Rollins’ move to Raw in 2016 was a strategic decision made by WWE during the brand split. As part of the brand extension, WWE aimed to refresh the rosters of Raw and SmackDown, creating unique identities for each brand. Rollins’ transfer to Raw was likely intended to bolster the star power of the brand, positioning him as one of its top talents.

Additionally, Raw’s three-hour format provided more opportunities for Rollins to showcase his skills and engage in prominent storylines, further solidifying his status as a main event player.

John Cena to Raw (2005)

John Cena’s move to Raw in 2005 marked a turning point in his career trajectory. While still rough around the edges, WWE’s commitment to Cena as their top star propelled him to unprecedented heights. Surpassing peers like Batista, Cena became the face of WWE and dominated Raw for an impressive 11-year stint until 2016.

Despite not always being the most polished performer, Cena’s immense popularity and impact on the industry were undeniable, earning him accolades like Wrestler of the Year in 2007 and 2010.

While these all wrestlers will remain as the best ones, it will be important to see how WWE plans out the draft in 2024 with NXT being there. Tune into upcoming Raw and Smackdown episodes to find that out.

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