After much hype, the WWE Draft came and went and, in so many ways, it was all that fans expected it to be. This draft wasn’t short on surprises or stunning behind the scenes decisions.
During the lead-in to virtually every previous draft, WWE commentators reminded fans that factions and tag teams could be forced apart, that long-time rivals could never set foot in the same ring again. In short, nothing’s off the table. Unlike some past editions, however, the 2016 draft more than delivered on those fronts.
Here are the most surprising, most interesting and worst decisions from the 2016 draft.
Most Surprising Decision: Zayn and Owens Can’t Escape One Another
With the draft coinciding with the build to Battleground, one of the biggest talking points to come from Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens’ upcoming match at the pay-per-view was the chance that it’d be their last meeting. In fact, both men have said on more than one occasion that they won’t be able to proceed with their careers until they’ve rid themselves of one another.
Getting drafted to the same, exclusive brand sort of throws a wrench in that, huh? On one hand, Zayn and Owens have proven time and again that their matches alone are worth the price of admission. On the other hand, the two being saddled down with one another and unable to advance their careers is more than a storyline – it’s a legitimate concern. Only time will tell how this one plays out.
Most Interesting Decision: Splitting up The Club
The Club have been one of the central-most parts of WWE programming since reuniting a few months back. The fact that their lone two rivalries as a unit came against Roman Reigns and John Cena is a testament to the hopes the WWE seemingly had for this group. As such, it came as a shock to many when they were broken up. But it may not be the end of the group. Or, at least, not all of it.
AJ Styles may be left to sink or swim, but Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were drafted onto a Raw roster that brought in another one of their former leaders in Finn Balor. Remember, Balor was the original head of the group in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Fans will be watching the next few episodes of Raw with great interest to see if the Club is out of commission or simply under new management.
Worst Decision: Cesaro to Raw
The WWE made a number of head-scratching decisions throughout its first draft in half a decade. They left Becky Lynch to captain a paper-thin women’s division on SmackDown Live. They also split Braun Strowman from his Wyatt Family cohorts. But perhaps the biggest err came in sending Cesaro to Raw.
See, Raw enjoyed three picks for every two SmackDown Live got and, thus, was able to construct a stronger roster. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Owens, Zayn, Balor and Sheamus will all call Raw home.
That’s not to say that SmackDown Live is necessarily weak or lacking in star power, but it’s certainly not as deep. After the top four or five names, there’s just the Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio among the more proven commodities. Daniel Bryan talked on Monday of how he saw SmackDown Live as the determined underdog destined to break the fabled glass ceiling. In many ways, he was talking about himself.
And, in many ways, he was talking about Cesaro.
Like Bryan, Cesaro is fiercely popular. Like Bryan, Cesaro is one, if not, the WWE’s best in-ring workers. Like Bryan, he’s spent some time stuck in a spot that many feel he’s above. On SmackDown Live, Cesaro would’ve had the chance to shatter the glass and compete at the top of cards regularly. With the strength of the Raw roster, however, that doesn’t seem nearly as likely for the Swiss Superman on the red brand.