Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The draft... happened: a few underwhelmed thoughts
Despite much ballyhoo about WWE trying to make Smackdown as strong as Raw, the action of the night really didn't bring that out. Raw seemed programmed to the future with Zayn, Cesaro, Owens and Balor all in strong places while Smackdown feels like it will have to be built around Ambrose, Styles, Wyatt and Cena simply because the roster isn't very deep beyond them. Orton could be a wildcard but he likely will be looking few live events, similar to Cena's new schedule. That especially makes Smackdown an incredibly weak touring brand.
The NXT signings were mostly underwhelming. Balor went high and should get a massive main roster push. American Alpha should be the focus of the Smackdown tag division going ahead, although if that comes with no title belts who knows how important that will really feel. Nia Jax feels way too soon. Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Mojo Rawley could all work on the main roster, but none really feel like they've accomplished enough in NXT to make the call-ups sensible. Other NXT veterans like Tye Dillinger would be more sensible, while Austin Aries, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode have already showed they can be main event players. However one shimmer of sunlight: it does seem likely we will see the Hype Bros finally start a strong run on Smackdown, though whatthey can accomplish is anyone's guess.
Of course, the real question of the future will be built around the writers. Raw continues with the same writer it has had for quite some time, a man without a real good sign of knowing how to freshen things up. Smackdown looks to be in the charge of Ryan Ward, former NXT head writer, which could mean a stronger simpler booking method for the show. More storylines built around strong athletic competition seems sensible, but without so many of the superstar NXT alum like the aforementioned Zayn, Cesaro, Owens and Balor, it feels more like rehabilitation for older stars (Dolph Ziggler) and continued Ward pet projects (Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews.)
Next week, we will see with the beginning of a new era for the two brands. Here's hoping they give us the future WWE deserves with the talent it now possesses.