Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 FDH Lounge WWE Mock Draft

By Rick Morris

Fellow FDH Lounge Dignitary Jake Digman had the great idea for a mock draft to coincide with the WWE’s upcoming “brand extension.”  Here is the actual show itself:





Here’s a record of what transpired.  Both of us wanted to take Smackdown in honor of our friend Ryan Ward, the new head writer of the show, but I deferred to Jake since the idea for this segment was his.  We flipped a coin to see who would start and I won.  We were each going to take our General Manager first, knowing that we were locked in with Stephanie McMahon as Raw Commissioner and Shane McMahon as Smackdown Commissioner.  Seeking that Dario Cueto kind of vibe from Lucha Underground, I wanted someone that I thought could be sufficiently smarmy to pull off the role and, looking at the sidelined talent, I selected Tyson Kidd for Raw GM.  Jake countered with HHH, envisioning him actually as a babyface GM, and, in so doing, ended up with an extra useable wrestler to boot.

We drafted 20 regular rounds, where we explained our picks a bit and then progressed to a “speed round” for the last part.  I made 40 picks for Raw and Jake made 35 for Smackdown since Raw has (unfortunately) the extra hour of programming to fill.  In fairness, I made my last five picks at the end.  Unlike the 2002 draft, we used a common-sense standard of who could be drafted together.  Tag teams, manager-wrestler combos and factions need not be split up, but they could be – and a few were.

I am happy with both of the rosters selected as I feel that we both applied a lot of creativity to the process and each came up with a very intriguing landscape.  We are soliciting the opinion of fellow FDH Lounge Dignitary Kyle Ross to determine a winner, based on all of the usual money-drawing potentialities (gate, PPV, merch, ratings) as well as his sense of who got better value from their picks.

Here’s how it progressed, with a brief explanation as to each show’s creative structure following the draft:

1 Raw: The Club

1 Smackdown: Seth Rollins

2 Raw: Finn Balor

2 Smackdown: Samoa Joe

3 Raw: John Cena

3 Smackdown: Roman Reigns

4 Raw: Dean Ambrose

4 Smackdown: Kevin Owens

5 Raw: New Day

5 Smackdown: Sasha Banks

6 Raw: Cesaro

6 Smackdown: Shinsuke Nakamura

7 Raw: Lana & Rusev

7 Smackdown: American Alpha

8 Raw: The Revival

8 Smackdown: Charlotte & Dana Brooke

9 Raw: Enzo & Big Cass

9 Smackdown: Sami Zayn

10 Raw: Bayley

10 Smackdown: Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar

11 Raw: Luke Harper (separate from the Wyatt Family)

11 Smackdown: Usos

12 Raw: Chris Jericho

12 Smackdown: the rest of the Wyatt Family

13 Raw: Alberto Del Rio

13 Smackdown: Maryse & The Miz

14 Raw: Bubba Ray Dudley (separate from D-Von Dudley)

14 Smackdown: Bobby Roode

15 Raw: Hideo Itami

15 Smackdown: Apollo Crews

16 Raw: Neville

16 Smackdown: The Undertaker

17 Raw: Kalisto (separate from Sin Cara)

17 Smackdown: Asuka

18 Raw: Dolph Ziggler

18 Smackdown: Austin Aries

19 Raw: Sheamus

19 Smackdown: Becky Lynch

20 Raw: Nia Jax

20 Smackdown: Zack Sabre, Jr.


21 Raw: Paige

21 Smackdown: Tamina

22 Raw: Alexa Bliss

22 Smackdown: Tessa Blanchard

23 Raw: Carmella

23 Smackdown: Zack Ryder

24 Raw: Coach Backlund & Darren Young

24 Smackdown: No Way Jose

25 Raw: Rhyno

25 Smackdown: Kane

26 Raw: Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa

26 Smackdown: Kota Ibushi

27 Raw: Titus O’Neil

27 Smackdown: Baron Corbin

28 Raw: Social Outcasts

28 Smackdown: Golden Truth

29 Raw: Rich Swann

29 Smackdown: Andrade Almas

30 Raw: Jack Swagger

30 Smackdown: Eric Young

31 Raw: The Vaudevillains

31 Smackdown: Breezango

32 Raw: Nikki Bella

32 Smackdown: Cedric Alexander

33 Raw: Eva Marie

33 Smackdown: Mojo Rawley

34 Raw: Big Show

34 Smackdown: Emma

35 Raw: Alicia Fox

35 Smackdown: Tye Dillinger

36 Raw: Natalya

37 Raw: Summer Rae

38 Raw: Jack Gallagher

39 Raw: The Brian Kendrick

40 Raw: David Otunga

Interestingly, both of us would have gone Club-Balor with our first two picks, albeit Jake would have put them in a big feud and I would put them together as the Bulletproof Balor Club (albeit with Balor breaking off eventually and utilizing the Demon character as he did in NXT as a major face), the anchor heel stable of Raw – hopefully letting them run completely wild like their NWO ancestors 20 years ago.  To keep the “too sweet” guys from being “too cool” as heels, I selected Sheamus to be their “heater,” since he shares Irish heritage with Balor. 

I picked Harper and Bubba as fresh big-time heels on the singles side of Raw and used my last pick of Otunga to fill a role I’ve always liked, the Heyman-like agent character who doesn’t so much represent a stable as he does clients who have a common interest through him.  It’s a way to create a second heel group possibly consisting of the likes of Del Rio, Jericho, Harper, Bubba, Show or others.  With Cena edging towards elder statesman status on the face side, Ambrose and Cesaro start as the 1 and 1A full-time faces and contenders for the world title match at WrestleMania 33.  Ziggler and O’Neil are next in line (with Neville as the brand’s white-meat babyface), along with possibly a turned heel from that deep side of the roster.

On Smackdown, Jake went from envisioning Joe as his franchise face to picturing him as enforcer for his own franchise heel group, possibly known as The Bloodline, along with Reigns and the Usos.  As such, his initial thought that Rollins would start as a heel went out the window as well, with his formidable talents helping to anchor the face side.  Owens, Wyatt, Miz and a host of longtime TNA greats help to carry the heel side.  As with Raw, the full-time face side is a bit thinner, allowing for a big push right off the bat for Rollins, Nakamura and Zayn.  The freedom to use HHH, Undertaker and Lesnar with this roster is advantageous, although of course the company only has full freedom to use the former whenever they want.

Raw probably has an edge right off the bat with merch sellers, while Smackdown probably has a better and deeper women’s division.  Smackdown’s tag team scene has less depth, but that could actually be an advantage in terms of having more freedom to assemble teams as needed. 

NXT was picked over heavily, which will not happen to this extent in the “real draft,” since there is a vested interest in keeping them in good shape in the near term.  Notable undrafted wrestlers, who would be candidates to go back to NXT, be released or accept another form of employment other than active wrestling, include Naomi, Rosa Mendes, Mark Henry, D-Von Dudley, Sin Cara, Primo & Epico & The Ascension.  Naomi in particular would seem like a gimme to become the next NXT Women’s Champion as the division rebuilds itself on the fly after we raided it.

This segment was a tremendous amount of fun, as Jake is as sharp of a booking competitor as you could want in a scenario like this.  Regardless of who Kyle judges the winner, these are two rosters with a metric ton of possibilities, demonstrating that the company made a wide decision allowing for their deep crop of excellent young workers to achieve their full potential through two mostly-separate promotions.

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