The 2020 WWE Draft had a serious problem with the order of the wrestlers who were drafted.
I’ve said this once before but it bears repeating. In the world of professional wrestling, the top job of the performer is to make the audience believe in their performance, and it should absolutely be the same for those in charge. Another WWE Draft is in the review mirror and on more than one occasion this year I was left scratching my head. I couldn’t help but wonder just what was going through the minds of the “FOX and USA Network” executives.
The WWE Draft Rules clearly stated that FOX and USA would be the ones making the selections as they had the power to split up tag teams and factions if they saw fit to do so. While I’m assuming both networks did have some actual say in building their respective rosters, I would also say that a majority of the decision making fell on WWE Management. If that is indeed the case, then all I ask for is to make it believable.
When it comes to the top end of any draft class there’s always room for debate, but in my opinion, the 2020 WWE Draft got off on the wrong foot. The USA Network was gifted the number 1 overall selection. A pick that could completely transform Monday Night RAW and bring the brand a much-needed boost in audience, and those in charge decided to skip over Roman Reigns.
This is no indictment against Drew McIntyre by the way, because by all accounts he has been a fantastic WWE Champion. He’s a great performer, locker room leader, and all-around good guy from what I can tell. That said, Roman Reigns’ new persona has him on the brink of becoming the biggest act WWE has seen in decades. His new partnership with Paul Heyman is absolute money, and that alone should have been enough for USA to jump all over the Universal Champion.
I’ll make the analogy of having the choice between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. If you’re building an NFL franchise from the ground up you’d be happy to wind up with either player to build your team around. However, 9 times out of 10, I’m taking Mahomes. In this analogy, Roman Reigns is Patrick Mahomes.
All of that said, I can forgive the USA Network for being loyal to their Champion and keeping McIntyre on RAW. USA actually bet on all their own players in Round 1 by keeping McIntyre, Asuka, and the Hurt Business. By doing so, however, they lost Seth Rollins to SmackDown who carries with him a potential bonus. Per the rules of the Draft, anyone not selected becomes a free agent. Also, WWE likes to keep couples together on the same brand. That means more than likely, if\when she is ready to return, Becky Lynch is going return to the Blue Brand. Losing out on Reigns, Rollins and Lynch is a big round one loss for the USA Network any way you slice it.
To RAW’s credit, they did keep the WWE Championship, the RAW Women’s Title, and US Title in round one while stealing away AJ Styles in round two. So the argument can be made that both brands did well. As I said before, everything is subjective. Except for maybe the two most egregious moves of the entire draft.
The New Day are not together anymore in WWE. It didn’t have to be this way.
Let’s start with the break up of The New Day. I think I speak for everyone when I say… WHY?! Why would the USA Network do that? You have a first-ballot Hall of Fame faction fresh off a Tag Team Title victory and you willingly exclude Big E. Why? What’s wrong with Big E? My dude has been killing it on his own, going undefeated the last couple months, and we’re supposed to believe USA didn’t want him? It doesn’t make any sense to do it that way.
I get WWE wanted to create a somber moment, and they accomplished that. Everyone’s heart broke a little when Xavier said, “you didn’t say E’s name” because we all knew what was coming next. The most unnecessary split up of all time. You don’t need to break up The New Day to continue Big E’s solo run. The proof happened just last year with Kofi’s WWE Championship reign.
Regardless, if you were going to do it, would it not have made more sense to have Big E drafted earlier in the night before we knew Kofi and Xavier were back and eligible to be drafted? Then, once Kofi and Woods win the Tag Titles you could have USA swoop in and make a really smart play by prying the new Champs away from FOX. You’d get the same desired effect, but it would be so much more logical. I’m far from the only person to think that way either. I know Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful echoed similar ideas on Twitter.
Why slide an entire group of future Hall of Famers to round four and then needlessly separate them? It just comes off as disrespectful to everything The New Day has accomplished the last half decade plus. Speaking of disrespectful, can we talk about Sami Zayn?
Can WWE show Sami Zayn and the IC Title some love?
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. In fact I tried, but it was so much more impactful coming from the man himself.
This wasn’t only a lack of respect for the Sami Zayn, but the Intercontinental Championship as well. To be fair, round one on Monday was stacked. The Fiend was a slam dunk, game-changing selection for RAW. USA also kept Randy Orton and Charlotte, while FOX held onto Bayley and stole away the Street Profits. All justifiable selections.
Then came round two where four former World Champions were selected along with Matt Riddle. Ok, there are some issues there that I won’t get into, but you can make a case for most of the guys taken in round two over Sami. Round three… Houston, we have a problem.
As confusing as it was for WWE to sign RETRIBUTION in the first place, it was equally more puzzling for USA to willingly bring them back to the very show they are set on destroying. Then SmackDown takes Lars Sullivan and all his baggage. Keith Lee meanwhile, does make a ton of sense for RAW at pick three and is probably a bit lower than I’d like to see him taken as well. The next selection was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.
As much of a fan as I am of the guy, SmackDown keeping King Corbin over the reigning Intercontinental Champion is just inexcusable. Corbin has won all of three singles matches in 2020. From a wins and losses standpoint, his value has never been lower. A wrestler’s record should matter more in WWE than it does currently, but at this point it just is what it is. However, letting the Intercontinental Champion slide all the way into round four of night two of the draft is mind-boggling. Even if neither USA or FOX values Sami Zayn (which is ridiculous if true), the IC Title alone should bring more value than the likes of Lars Sullivan, Elias, and even Keith Lee.
Outside of the 24/7 Championship, the Intercontinental Title was the only singles Championship selected outside of round one.
If WWE is going to continue with the NFL Draft format for its own draft moving forward, then they should put way more stock into draft positioning. Bad selections are going to happen. That’s part of the game and makes the draft process more believable. Everyone evaluates talent differently. Some moves made this year though, are just inexplicable. Titus O’Neil over Aleister Black?! Seriously?
How about Andrade going from round one selection in 2019 to being undrafted in 2020? That one actually makes some sense to me. He had a very rocky year. WWE should make a storyline out of it. He finds himself back on RAW after signing as a free agent. He could have fled back to NXT, but he now has something to prove. He’s lost his manager, his tag partner, and all his momentum. The redemption of Andrade could be a major storyline moving forward.
Just make things believable and give even the smallest details and angles purpose. If Andrade is going undrafted there should be a reason for it, because the man’s raw talent alone should be enough to get selected by either brand. Did we forget this is the guy who beat Drew McIntyre for the NXT Championship? Apparently, USA and FOX both did.
Overall, I feel like this year’s draft was an improvement over 2019. The rosters definitely seem more balanced this year and that has a lot to do with the draft order not being accidentally leaked prior to the event forcing last second changes. I think both brands are in a solid position moving forward. Now it’s just up to WWE to improve the road to the destination for 2021.