Raw and SmackDown made their selections of 61 WWE superstars as the company’s annual brand was completed.
The draft was staged in a new presentation style which featured Stephanie McMahon announcing the picks five at a time and with ‘war rooms’ representing the respective United States broadcast partners reacting as the selection process unfolded.
The red brand went first on both Friday and Monday night and also gained three names for every two for SmackDown by virtue of their longer show duration.
But did those advantages mean Raw came out on top of the annual roster refresh? We take a look…
Raw: Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Andrade, Rusev, Aleister Black, Cedric Alexander, Humberto Carillo, Erick Rowan, Buddy Murphy, Jinder Mahal, R-Truth, Samoa Joe, Akira Tozawa, Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio, Titus O’Neil, EC3, Eric Young, Sin Cara
SmackDown: Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ali, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, The Miz, Baron Corbin, Chad Gable, Elias, Apollo Crews, Drew Gulak, Heath Slater
SmackDown picked up arguably the biggest name in WWE today by bagging Brock Lesnar and they also took the hottest ‘sports entertainment’ commodity by landing Bray Wyatt.
That deal will presumably include his fabled Fiend, and their acquisition of Roman Reigns gives SmackDown a ready-packaged program should they need one for Wyatt’s macabre creation.
Daniel Bryan and Braun Strowman are main-event level players, with Baron Corbin also in that mix now, and they can also call upon high-quality in-ring performers such as Ali and Chad Gable to fill out their cards.
Raw has a definite edge in terms of numbers and will therefore be able to absorb any injuries better than SmackDown and they also have some big guns, including Universal champion Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton, who almost certainly has a run or two left in him in the main event.
They also have plenty of WWE’s up-and-coming talent on board, notably Andrade, Aleister Black and a man the company is said to be very high on: Humberto Carillo.
But the win probably has to go to SmackDown by a very narrow, but Brock-shaped, margin.
Raw: Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Kabuki Warriors, Liv Morgan
SmackDown: Sasha Banks, Bayley, Lacey Evans, Carmella, Tamina
One of the most meme-friendly moments of the draft was the shot WWE aired of the Raw ‘war room’ reacting excitedly to the acquisition of Natalya but while those high-fives were met with some mirth by fans, it is hard to argue against anything other than a big draft win for the red team.
SmackDown have a retooled Bayley – who was the talk of the fan community all weekend after fully cementing her heel turn with a ruthless slashing of the ‘Bayley buddies’ – and Sasha Banks, who has reminded everyone of her quality since returning but is now out with an injury.
Raw have the number one woman in the business (and the #1 pick in this draft) in Becky Lynch, plus a ready-made opponent for her in Charlotte Flair, plus the superb Kabuki Warriors and the ever-popular Alexa Bliss.
The Friday night crew will almost certainly heavily plunder the free agency pool – which includes competitors such as Mandy Rose and Naomi – and there could also be some NXT call-ups to add some new blood to both divisions.
Raw: The OC (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows), The Viking Raiders, Street Profits
SmackDown: The Revival, Lucha House Party, Heavy Machinery, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, The B Team
The duos division is an interesting area for analysis, with SmackDown again probably getting the better of the picks.
Several teams remain in the free agent pool: AOP, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder, the long-lost pairings of The Ascension and The Colons, plus the probably now inactive Hardys are all without a home.
But the big names in there are The New Day and The Usos, and their ‘unassigned’ status could see them float between both brands.