Vince McMahon and WWE got the world interested and excited about their product. People were wondering where their favorite Superstar would go or if their favorite tag team would be split up. All the discussion after the draft took place was about who had the better roster.
With the brand-extension draft, most fans expected SmackDown to be the show looking toward the future. With Shane McMahon talking about change, and Daniel Bryan all about wrestling, one would think SmackDown would want to have most of the up-and-comers with a bright future. One would be wrong.
Smackdown picked the big names that everyone already knows near the top of the draft. John Cena and Randy Orton. Two of the top names in professional wrestling on the same show. AJ Styles, who may be the most talented wrestler on the planet, was chosen by SmackDown, but he is 39 years old. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just not something most fans expected.
The point with SmackDown is that the show is supposed to be new. A new night of the week, a new commissioner and GM; a new era, if you will. But then ended up with the same old Superstars fans have seen for years.
Raw was the show that picked more Superstars with their best years ahead of them, rather than behind. There are a number of veterans on both shows of course, but Raw has a group with more potential. The list of names Raw has that can be world champion in the future that have not already been is impressive.
Finn Balor can be a heel or face world champion and sell a bunch of merchandise. Kevin Owens can have a great feud with any one of the top stars on Raw for the championship. Sami Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the company and can have similar success to Daniel Bryan. Rusev with Lana by his side is a credible opponent for anyone. Cesaro is true wrestling talent, who fans want to see succeed. Big E may have reached his plateau as a tag team wrestler, but after The New Day is finished, he will have opportunities for success. And Big Cass, with or without Enzo Amore, is destined to do great things in the WWE.
As compared to only a few names on SmackDown who could have that same distinction. AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, and possibly Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews. Those two have a lot of work to do if they want to be considered world champion material.
And while SmackDown does have proven stars, it has no midcard there to help put people over. Baron Corbin has recently proven beating Dolph Ziggler means nothing. Beating Kane means nothing. Beating Zack Ryder means nothing. In the tag team division, American Alpha is the focus, but beating The Usos every week will not amount to anything positive.
If Apollo Crews is to be built up on SmackDown, he will have to beat a heel like Bray Wyatt. But Wyatt still needs to be built up as well. The guys that need to become stars have to beat other guys that need to become stars.
Raw has people like Sheamus and Chris Jericho that have been kept strong enough to have their losses mean something. They also have more low-card Superstars that have held championships. Big Show, Mark Henry and Jack Swagger are former world champions. Raw has a team like Gallows and Anderson that can rebuild themselves after a loss, so beating them won’t be as costly.
The women on Raw have more potential as well. Sasha Banks and Charlotte still haven’t had a singles match on the main roster yet. Paige has taken a backseat to the women of NXT, but she is still the youngest woman on the main roster. Nia Jax and Dana Brooke have work to do, but the ability to get better is there. SmackDown should expect improvement from Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss and Carmella. The other half of their division has already peaked.
Even the Raw commentary team has more potential with Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. Everything has been set up to make Raw into the more exciting, new and improved show. And SmackDown will be the same show on a new night.