We’re likely not the only website running a WWE Brand Extension Mock Fantasy Draft here in 2016, but I like to think we put some thought into the draft and effort into the presentation.
If you’ve ever mock drafted or fantasy drafted for Fantasy Football or other sports, this is pretty much in the same vein. We threw together a few loose rules and got to working on the project. The rules are as follows…
* We are allotted a total of 40 picks in all. That’s 20 picks for Raw, 20 picks for Smackdown. the Raw end of things will be drafted by myself BJack, while the Smackdown side of things will be drafted by our resident screen capper xStat32x.
* All roster members are in play. WWE and NXT. Superstars (male & female), etc…
* Tag Teams – Every 8 picks or so we call an audible and each draft a tag team to keep things fair and the rosters even. In the mean time if either promotion wants a specific tag team member at any time, they are welcome to select them as a singles pick. Tag teams do NOT need to be drafted together, but can be. Again, for the interest of fairness.
* With rumors of old unsigned talent returning to help beef up the rosters we discussed possibly making a few picks of that nature. But when we couldn’t establish who could REALISTICALLY be drafted due to potential contract situations with other promotions (Jeff Hardy in TNA, Misterio possibly with LU, etc…) we decided to waive the idea of drafting outside talent for the sake of keeping it realistic.
1. Dean Ambrose
Probably not first on most lists, but close to it. I simply think Dean has “IT”. They jobbed him out in every high profile story he was in for a year or more and he just kept getting over. I think he makes a great face or heel. In my world he’s a baby face to get things going. Maybe a heel turn down the line when the time is right. Dean is entertaining, will do anything asked of him in a match, cuts a solid promo, and constantly sells his gimmick. He has everything but “the look”, which was never a big thing to me anyway. I think he has longevity and connects with the people in a Roddy Piper meets Cactus Jack sort of way.
#2 – Seth Rollins – Smackdown
With Smackdowns first pick, Shane McMahon selects Seth Rollins! With this pick we add the most versatile wrestler on the roster. Seth Rollins can work with any type of wrestler and makes the life of General Manager Shane McMahon a whole lot easier. He will deliver night in and night out and be the best wrestler in all of WWE. He is a great foundation for the redesigned Smackdown.
3. John Cena
This is why I wasn’t concerned with taking Ambrose first. While not a favorite of mine, with John Cena still extremely credible, selling merchandise, and basically in the “Hulk Hogan” spot in the company, I don’t have to worry about immediate attendance, merchandise, or major rating dips. I select John for the name value and what he brings to the table for my company both financially and credibility. And with the right foes, Cena can put on a decent match.
#4 – Brock Lesnar – Smackdown
With Smackdowns second pick, Shane McMahon selects Brock LESNAR!!!! I believe this pick explains itself. Brock Lesnar is one of the baddest dudes on the planet and whenever he steps foot in the wrestling ring it is a spectacle because you never know what he may end up doing. He is one of the biggest draws in wrestling and will easily be one of the top 2-3 talents on Smackdowns roster. Now we just need to convince him to come back full time….
5. AJ Styles
A guilty pleasure. This was an instance where I planned to take Bray Wyatt, but was surprised to see Styles still sitting here. Don’t have to write much here. AJ is new to the company but already has main event credibility, it’s a no brainer. Tons of ways to use him, but I hated the heel turn so I’d eventually get him back in the face spot. The minute I took him, my Smackdown enemy made it clear he would have taken AJ already but had forgotten to. I lucked out.
#6 – Randy Orton – Smackdown
With Smackdowns third pick, Shane McMahon selects ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton! Randy Orton is one of the finest technicians to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. He will be one of the key components to the reimagined Smackdown. Whether he is a good guy or a bad guy, he will be a key factor in all the main event title picture.
7. Bray Wyatt
This is simply someone I had to have, and like I said before, I would happily taken Bray at #5 had AJ not been available. The character, the promo ability, the entire aura and character is so far different from everyone else, the Wyatt character could easily be playing at the top of the card right now if WWE would just let him. He’s being held down…. But not on my Raw.
#8 – Cesaro – Smackdown
With Smackdowns fourth pick, Shane McMahon selects Cesaro! This guy never got the chance to break through the glass ceiling on Monday Night Raw. That won’t be the case here on Smackdown. Cesaro is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and he will be given every opportunity to grab for the “brass ring” that my father loves to talk about. Watch out for Cesaro to be in the match of the night every Tuesday on Smackdown!
9. Kevin Owens
Again, I got this pick in JUST in time. If I hadn’t taken KO at #9, I believe Smackdown wanted him at #10. I personally can’t stand his promos, character, or looking at his sweat hog face… BUT I am easily able to separate my personal likes/dislikes when it comes to business. I will not deny his ability to have really good matches and get heel heat. The top two qualities for me. He’s easily in my upper card just a rung below the main event. But I have no doubt I’d be using him in main events before too long.
#10 – Shinsuke Nakamura – Smackdown
With Smackdowns fifth pick, Shane McMahon selects Shinsuke Nakamura! Nakamura is one of the most charismatic wrestlers in all of the business. He is also one of the stiffest wrestlers in all of WWE. He will be a huge asset to the Smackdown roster and will be right in the mix when it comes to all of the titles on the Smackdown brand.
11. Roman Reigns
Did you ever go into a fantasy football draft saying “I’m not taking this guy unless he falls to a value spot.”? That was the case here. I had ZERO intention of taking Roman Reigns AT ALL… If you’ve ever read my Raw reports, you know my feeling on the Reigns baby face character. And if you haven’t read my Raw reports, A. READ THEM! and B. I hate Reigns in his current role. But at pick #11, I consider that a value for someone who has been pushed in the main event for the better part of the last couple of years. He would return from this suspension in a total heel role. YES, I would listen to the people, because I’m one of them. He’s proven that he can have decent matches with the right opponents, and his smug gestures and attitude will assist him just fine in a role the crowd has already deemed upon him… A heel.
#12 – Finn Balor – Smackdown
With Smackdowns sixth pick, Shane McMahon selects Finn Balor! Balor is one of the top grapplers in NXT and has basically rose that brand to it’s current state. I look for Balor to bring that same sort of credibility and amazing action to Smackdown each and every Tuesday. He may be small in stature but he can work with anyone and will be a great competitor and a force to be reckon with on Smackdown.
13. New Day
This was our first of three “Tag Team Rounds”. I don’t consider New Day the future, but they are the now, and you need some of that too. Not only the tag team champions, but they’re established, they’re over, and they can work when they want to be taken seriously. What better way to start a brand tag division than with the Champs?
#14 – The Club (Anderson and Gallows) – Smackdown
With Smackdowns seventh pick, Shane McMahon selects the combination of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows the Club! They are one of the top tag teams in the world and they will be bringing their intense style to Smackdown every Tuesday night. They have a lot to bring to the table but the question remains, will they be able to dominate like they have everywhere else they have been? Only time will tell.
15. Samoa Joe
My Smackdown Commissioner friend scared me into making this pick next, but it’s not very far off from where I would have taken Joe anyway. With some of the bigger NXT stars headed to Smackdown, it was time I grabbed myself a solid peace of NXT talent. Now this is also where the FANTASY comes into play, because I don’t see Joe getting drafted in the real draft on Tuesday due to NXT obligations as champ. BUT, in a perfect world, Joe is someone who has spent years on top for a variety of promotions, is a known commodity, and can immediately be plugged into the upper card without being questioned.
#16 – Alberto Del Rio – Smackdown
With Smackdowns eight pick, Shane McMahon selects Alberto Del Rio! Del Rio is a ring veteran and a multiple time World Champion. He will fit right in with the talent and other superstars here on Smackdown. He brings an aggression with him that very few talents have. His in ring ability and technical prowess is the reason Alberto Del Rio will be heading to Smackdown.
17. Dolph Ziggler
This is where things start to tier off. Now it’s time to take some risks and start drafting not only for the future, but to fill out the card with solid talent beyond the main event/upper card level. Not to say Ziggler is a risk or doesn’t deserve a high spot, but based off of what WWE has done to his value and credibility it may take a bit to work Dolph back to where he was, if that’s even possible. I like him enough to take that chance, I welcome Dolph Ziggler to the roster and would do everything in my power to gain back his momentum.
#18 – Baron Corbin – Smackdown
With Smackdowns ninth pick, Shane McMahon selects ‘The Lone Wolf’ Baron Corbin! Corbin is relatively new to the wrestling business but his raw strength and power will be a huge asset as he makes his way through the Smackdown roster. He has a bright future and is something that Smackdown can build upon going forward.
19. Chris Jericho
This one is simple. Chris Jericho fell to 19. He doesn’t move as fast as he used to, he’s not setting the world on fire, but when you can take Chris Jericho in the tenth round you’re doing pretty good. Jericho is a solid name, talent, pretty good heel promo, and you know he’s going to at least try and entertain you to his best ability. Credibility and a solid hand. To not take Jericho at #19 would make me a stupid idiot face. Chris Jericho heads to Raw.
#20 – Sami Zayn – Smackdown
With Smackdowns tenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Sami Zayn. Zayn has been all over the world and has worked with some of the best talents in the business. With the vast experience he brings to the table, it will only be a matter of time before Sami Zayn is climbing the ranks of the Smackdown brand.
21. Sasha Banks – Raw
With Raw being 3 hours one thing I knew I needed was variety. And that means a solid Women’s Division. My initial gut feeling here is if I can get just two of the top 4 or 5 ladies between WWE and NXT that I can make that happen. My feeling was I needed to establish this division with a real statement. Sasha Banks IS the future of the Women’s Division, and that plays a bigger factor for me than mid-card men. The BOSS is drafted to kick off the Women’s roster on Raw.
#22 – Rusev – Smackdown
With Smackdowns eleventh pick, Shane McMahon selects Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute brings the intensity and power to dominate inside the squared circle. He is hated by most and that makes him a great asset to the Smackdown roster. He makes a great villain and the boo love to hate him. We need people like that here and there is no one better in that role currently than Rusev.
23. Enzo & Cass – Raw
This round was our second of three Tag Team rounds. I took New Day first because they’re the champs, and they’re established, and I assume they might have gone to Smackdown if I hadn’t. And while I fear Vince’s fetish for big men will see these two separated when the real draft takes place, in my world I KNOW that Cass is only over because of Enzo’s character. Before showing up on Raw, Cass only had one line like Billy Gunn. Vince has heard people cheer Cass so I THINK Vince believes the guy is over on his own. We’ll see how fast that sinks or swims if they go that route. As a fan looking in, I know these two need each other, at least for now. And you can get a good year-long run at the very least with them. New Day is my #1 face team heading in, but Enzo & Cass are a close 2nd. And you can’t.. teach.. that.
#24 – American Alpha – Smackdown
With Smackdowns twelfth pick, Shane McMahon selects the tag team of American Alpha. This is one of the best young tag teams in the business. They have great chemistry as a team and can bring it inside the ring. They are what you want for your tag team division and that is why they are heading to Smackdown.
25. Neville – Raw
Did you forget about Neville? On the cusp of a decent push, Neville fell to an injury at the worst time, WrestleMania season. But he’s back working dark matches and could be back on TV as soon as this week. Very talented in the ring, never a loss for having an entertaining match, Neville makes up part of a very talented mid-card with aspirations of more.
#26 – Apollo Crews – Smackdown
With the thirteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Apollo Crews! He may not be over quite yet and that’s okay, but Apollo Crews has one of the brighest futures in the business. He is a joy to watch inside the ring and, with the right booking, can do wonders for the Smackdown brand. Will be a future stud one day in the WWE.
27. Bubba Ray Dudley – Raw
This was a steal for me. Another “value pick”. Much like Reigns, I had no interest in going after Bubba Dudley, but when he fell this far, why the hell not? I know most think of the Dudleys as a novelty act, doing jobs and working preshows for the last 8 or 9 months… But remember he was the lead heel in TNA not all that long ago. Yes, I know it’s only TNA. But Bubba has proven for 20 years that he knows how to get heat… REAL heel heat. And we’re reminded of that every few months when they let Bubba cut a heel promo. He makes the best of every opportunity he gets. Not a giant fan myself, but I can’t deny what he could do for the roster as a singles heel. I’d lay off drafting D-Von and let him go to Smackdown just so people don’t have a constant reminder with them on the same show. And when Bubba gets stale, boom, you trade for D-Von and bring back the Dudley Boyz for one final nostalgic run.
#28 – Charlotte – Smackdown
With the fourteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Charlotte! Charlotte will be the foundation of Smackdowns Women’s division. She is gifted in the ring and has the ability to cut a great promo when needed. Her heel tactics make her hated and that is half of the battle. Having her go up against the rest of the women selected will make for great matchups and she will be a big part of the Smackdown brand.
29. Paige – Raw
Like I said, I wanted at least 2 of the top 4 or 5 ladies for my Women’s Division. With women starting to come off the board, it was time to make sure I acquired a solid hand to work with Sasha. Paige hasn’t been given much by way of opportunities to have a good match or angle since the NXT girls arrived, but let’s not forget how good she was prior in the ring. Plus with the Women’s champion presumably traveling to both brands, I can always bring in Charlotte as needed. So technically I have access to three of the top ladies up to this point.
#30 – Bayley – Smackdown
With the fifteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Bayley! Bayley is great in the ring and she connects with her fans. She is the perfect counter to the antagonist in Charlotte. Pitting those two together will make Smackdowns Women’s division the best on cable TV.
31. Zack Ryder – Raw
This is a guilty pleasure of mine going way back. Much like most of Ryder’s fans, I shook my head at the ridiculous burial of him after he got over, when they had Kane break his back for like 6 weeks straight. Then I got pissed all over again with the nonsensical one day reign as IC Champ after this year’s Mania… They build Ryder back up again for a US Title match at this week’s PPV, but then job him out to Sheamus in 2 minutes on Raw… Nothing ever makes sense with Ryder booking. Had this draft been before Mania, I’ll admit Zack would be much lower for me, but when I saw he could still get the fans to buy him as a player, I was sold. So let’s take a flyer on Ryder and see what we can do. Woo Woo Woo…. You Know It.
#32 – Asuka – Smackdown
With the sixteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Asuka! Asuka is the wild card of the Women’s Division. You never know where she is coming from. However, she is excellent in the ring and can make for great feuds with the likes of Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch. Smackdown has quite the collection of Women for their Women’s Division.
33. Luke Harper – Raw
Harper’s been out so long with the injury that he may not be in many people’s minds, but can you deny the talent this guy has displayed since coming to the WWE? I believe guys like Rowan and Strowman are interchangeable, replaceable, not entirely “needed” to aid in the Wyatt Family quest, but Luke Harper is by far the most talent wrestler in the group. The Wyatt Family has been stagnant since Harper’s injury, some part due to crappy writing and Wyatt’s own injury, but also because without Harper, they’re down to one guy in the group that can put on a passable match. Harper makes the Wyatt Family almost as much as Bray, and he’s just a hell of a worker to boot. I would have drafted him higher, but figured he may drop this low due to injury. My Raw will wait for him to heal, and when he does….. RUN!
#34 – Austin Aries – Smackdown
With the seventeenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Austin Aries! The greatest man on earth falls to the 34th pick but that doesn’t make him any less of a player. He is one of the best wrestlers in the game and can work any sort of style that you want him to. He has the ability to put on great matches and will really help build the Smackdown brand.
35. The Usos – Raw
Drafting Team three of three… I drafted two baby face teams and initially intended for American Alpha to fall in this spot… But NOOOOOO… Those bastards at Smackdown took my Alpha pick… And so I go with the Usos. Granted, WWE hasn’t done crap with the Usos in months and have essentially killed all their momentum, but this makes a perfect time for the twins to get a heel run. Sick of being looked over for all the new era teams, the Usos would make a great heel team with some solid matches. Don’t forget how good they had been in the ring prior to this year’s lackluster push.
#36 – The Revival – Smackdown
With the eighteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects the tag team of the Revival! The Revival are throwback technicians that remind me a lot of the Brainbusters. They are technical wizards and they work well with any type of team. They will be able to put on classics with the other two teams drafted to Smackdown, the Club and American Alpha.
37. The Miz – Raw
Remember when I talked about only drafting certain guys on value picks? Well, for me, the Miz is more along the lines of one of those guys where you say “I’m not drafting that guy no matter how far down he falls”… But I guess Ted DiBiase is right, EVERYBODY has a price. The Miz’s price for me is #37 overall. And that’s only for two reasons. One, he’s been relevant since post Mania and is taken somewhat seriously again. And the other reason is, and this is the main reason, he holds the IC TITLE. With Smackdown drafting the U.S. Title with Rusev, and assuming Ryder doesn’t win it at the PPV, Raw needed a mid-card title. I essentially drafted the IC Title here, but the Miz makes perfectly fine mid-card filler once I get the belt off of him.
#38 – Tye Dillinger – Smackdown
With the nineteenth pick, Shane McMahon selects Tye Dillinger! Dillinger is the Perfect 10 of the wrestling business right now and will make a great asset to the Smackdown roster. He is an up and coming star in the making and with the right feuds and progression can be a top guy in the WWE quickly.
39. Undertaker – Raw
The final round and this guy is still available? An overlook on the part of Smackdown? Perhaps, perhaps not. I had no intentions of taking Taker much earlier than this because he’s really only around for Mania season and doesn’t help my plans for a good 10 months of the year. And who knows how many more years we’ll even get out of him. But still he’s the Undertaker, and that one WrestleMania angle every year is a HUGE part of the show. So rather than picking one of a half dozen other names I had jotted down right here, I asked myself what’s more important, An Undertaker WrestleMania angle once a year, or filler to round out my card? I think that question answers itself.
#40 – Becky Lynch – Smackdown
With the twentieth pick, Shane McMahon selects Becky Lynch! She has a great rapport with the crowd and is a pretty big baby face currently. I feel as if she would work better as a heel and can work well with the other Women on the roster.
ROUNDING OUT RAW….
While the parity draft was only scheduled to go 20 rounds, I figured the roster would be a little bit larger than that, so I went ahead and drafted for another 5 rounds. This is more of a “honorable mention” type list of guys I would have grabbed over the next 5 rounds for RAW. The last 4 picks are based off of assuming Smackdown wouldn’t take the person(s) listed in the slot prior to each of my picks.
Pick 41. The Big Show. – I think he has one last run as a serious monster heel.
Pick 43. Kalisto – No interest in the Lucha Dragons team, Kalisto offers some good action. Even though I’d keep them both faces, I’d love to see him work with Neville.
45. Mauro Ranallo – Let’s not forget how important an announcer is. Ranallo is not only professional, he makes things sound interesting, important… exciting even. Ranallo sells the product in the ring, and doesn’t just go through the motions like Michael Cole.
47. Rowan & Strowman – In the interest of picking a team every 6 or so picks, I went with a team here. Grabbed these two simply to fill out the Wyatt Family.
49. Jerry Lawler – This is an instance where I wouldn’t have even thought to take him if it weren’t for recent situations. No, I’m not talking about the arrest situation, I’m referring to how Lawler has turned his announcing career around since teaming with Ranallo. Mauro is more like a Jim Ross announcer and it does two things for the King. It seems to make Jerry more comfortable and he’s not just phoning it in, he has someone to play off of like the good old days. The other thing is I think Ranallo has inadvertently forced Jerry to up his game and enjoy the product again. The announce team is important to me, and I need these two together. Michael Cole is an advertising robot (to no fault of his own), and JBL is just used to spout old facts (many times wrong) and act as Vince’s verbal bully as he relates all of Vince’s negative comments to bury people on commentary. And NOBODY wants Byron Saxton, even though they continue to groom him as the next Michael Cole.
RAW GM THOUGHTS….
The Smackdown roster, created by my cohort in crime xStat32x, proved to be very interesting from the early goings. Smackdown was definitely drafted in vision as the future of the business. Lots of solid picks early with established stars and then the blending of tons of new younger talent fresh out of NXT. With my show, Raw, being the three hour show, I had planned for more variety including a solid Divas division. I knew as long as I had any two of Sasha, Charlotte, Paige, Bayley, Asuka, that I had a good ground to build on. And I did grab Sasha early, and Paige once Charlotte was taken. With Charlotte as champ, I figure she can always travel to Raw. I figured I could build the rest of my Divas division under those ladies. But Smackdown had other plans! SD came in and took a whole mess of talented ladies to give me a good running. I like that competition. Smackdown would be promising with the proper people writing the show to get the young guys going the right way.
I got pretty much everyone I was hoping to grab for Raw and scooped up a few value picks as well. As mentioned, I would have liked to have grabbed a Bayley, Asuka, or a Becky Lynch for a third top lady, but SD got the better of me in that division.
Hope you guys enjoyed our little mock fantasy WWE Draft. Let’s see how close the real WWE comes to drafting these rosters.
What are your thoughts on how we did? Let us know below!