The 2020 WWE Draft is in the books. Big stars like The Fiend and Seth Rollins switched brands, altering each show's main-event scene. Several other men and women of WWE also changed sides to help freshen things up. But even though a lot of stars moved addresses, the divisions are not left in equal shape.
Both tag team divisions are thin due to the breakup/separation of several teams like Heavy Machinery, Angel Garza and Andrade, and Rollins and Murphy. Some female WWE Superstars changed brands, but the ceilings aren't as high for those that joined RAW. The likes of Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler will make it hard for any other women to advance higher up the ladder.
The main goal of any Draft is to replenish the cupboard. That certainly happened in some regards in this year's WWE Draft. Which show won out and which brand has the edge in certain divisions? Here are the grades for each show and its divisions following the 2020 WWE Draft. The grades will obviously change one way or another after a week or two of shows with the new rosters.
#8 WWE SmackDown Tag Team Division Grade: C+
Teams: Street Profits (Champions), Dolph Ziggler/Bobby Roode, Cesaro/Shinsuke Nakamura
The three main teams drafted by SmackDown are all great duos. The problem is that the new Champs, The Street Profits, will have already faced the other two teams after the season premiere of SmackDown on FOX.
There could be some other teams formed with new draft picks, but with the likes of Heavy Machinery broken up, there is a slight void of teams. Perhaps Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake return sometime soon to help add depth. Depending on the direction for the Mysterios on SmackDown, they could also challenge for the titles once Rey is 100% healthy.
The main reason why so many teams broke up prior to the WWE Draft was so that certain stars could be moved. Otis is on SmackDown while Tucker is now on RAW. Angel Garza and Andrade are done as a team but still may both end up back on RAW.
For SmackDown, perhaps teams will be formed from the likes of Shorty G, Kalisto, Apollo Crews, and others. But on paper, the tag team divisions in WWE - and especially on SmackDown - are extremely thin.
#7 WWE SmackDown Mid-Card Grade: B+
Notable WWE Superstars: Big E, Jey Uso, Dominik/Rey Mysterio, Otis, Murphy, Kalisto, Shorty G, Lars Sullivan, King Corbin, Sami Zayn (Intercontinental Champion), Apollo Crews, Aleister Black
SmackDown's mid-card before the WWE Draft main focussed on Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, King Corbin, Sheamus, and Matt Riddle. Sami Zayn returned and it instantly upped the caliber of the division and feuds now available to book. Styles wasn't on the Blue brand for long and he was immediately moved back to RAW during the Draft. All of the names mentioned with Styles moved to RAW except for King Corbin and Zayn.
The Blue brand added the Mysterios, Murphy, Lars Sullivan, Apollo Crews and Aleister Black, making SmackDown's mid-card much better than how things were before the Draft. Black could move up the card as needed, whereas Zayn will elevate anyone he works with. Perhaps WWE pursues giving Otis an Intercontinental Championship program instead of a Money in the Bank cash-in.
Jey Uso is currently in a main-event feud over the Universal Championship with Roman Reigns and he'll drift back into the mid-card after that. The other big name that can help solidify WWE on Friday nights is Big E. He could work on moving up by putting down some mid-card heels before moving up the main-event spot that he deserves. SmackDown is better off with a good blend of veterans and stars that have joined the main roster over the last two years.
#6 WWE SmackDown Women's Division Grade: B-
Notable WWE Superstars: Bayley (Champion), Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, Carmella, Riott Squad, Natalya, Billie Kay, Zelina Vega, Tamina
It made sense for a lot of female WWE performers to move to RAW since many have battled Bayley and Sasha Banks all year. For most of Bayley's reign, she's defeated stars like Naomi and Carmella once and Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans several times. WWE even made that a plot point during Cross' last title shot, asking her what would be different this time against Bayley.
While Bayley, Banks, Carmella, and Tamina remain, the only notable additions were Bianca Belair and the Riott Squad. Ruby Riott has long been more of a potential future Champion as opposed to what Liv Morgan has shown in WWE. Belair could easily challenge for the title at any point between now and WrestleMania.
Outside of those changes and a heel Carmella, the cupboard in the women's division lacks hearty ingredients. Billie Kay is better suited as a comedy act or team member. Zelina Vega is feisty and good on the mic but is smaller than most of the women she'll be facing in WWE.
Natalya is a WWE veteran, but she's had her time as Champion. She has switched brands and allegiances so many times that it's hard to get excited about her direction. For those reasons, adding Peyton Royce and/or keeping Alexa Bliss would have helped things. Bliss could have challenged Banks when/if she wins the title because they have a lot of history. She's attached to the Fiend now, so that move was off the table.
#5 WWE SmackDown's Main Event Grade: B-
Notable WWE Superstars: Roman Reigns (Universal Champion), Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens
Having Seth Rollins move brands was a huge deal since he's been on RAW since the original brand split in 2016. Will he start calling himself the Friday Night Messiah now? Daniel Bryan has also been synonymous with the Blue brand and is a ready-made challenger/feud when needed. He also brings out the best in his opponents.
Kevin Owens has switched brands a few times, but he's great at any role he plays. He has feuded with the other stars in the main event and he'll likely also enter into another feud with Sami Zayn at some point.
As mentioned on the mid-card slide, what could really improve this grade is if Big E is truly pushed as a main-event star in WWE. He has all the tools and will be looking to have an identity all his own while still staying true to the New Day. The group is separated, but they will likely still maintain some similarities. If Big E starts getting huge title shots, it will not only open up several feuds, but it will also provide WWE with some good storylines. Kofi had to wait more than a decade for a single shot at a major WWE title. Can Big E rise above being mostly a tag team guy for the better part of the last decade? Of course, he can, but it all comes down to how far WWE is willing to push him.
#4 WWE RAW's Tag Team Division Grade: B
Notable WWE Teams: Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, The New Day (Champions), The Miz and John Morrison, Hurt Business, RETRIBUTION
Like SmackDown, the RAW tag division has a few pairings that have already held gold this year in WWE. Unlike the Blue brand, however, WWE RAW has two big factions that should have tag teams gunning for the belts some time soon. How long is it before Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin enter the division? Which stars from RETRIBUTION will represent the group in tag team tussles?
Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado add some depth to the division, but they'll likely just be fodder for the rest of the groups. The Miz and John Morrison are underrated and great at their roles.
There could be some new/temporary teams formed after the draft, just like SmackDown. Will Matt Riddle and Jeff Hardy team up some more? Will Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo, and Angel Garza be strictly singles stars following the roster swaps? And what will become of Tucker and Erik, two stars that have primarily been parts of tag teams? Depending on which stars get pushed, we could see a team or two form from the mid-card stars on RAW.
#3 WWE RAW's Mid-Card Division Grade: B-
Notable WWE Superstars: Hurt Business (Bobby Lashley, US Champion), Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo, Angel Garza, Matt Riddle, Jeff Hardy, Elias, Sheamus, R-Truth (24/7 Champion), RETRIBUTION
The mid-card on RAW essentially stayed the course. It did lose Aleister Black, Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews, and Murphy while also keeping Garza, Ricochet, Carrillo, The Hurt Business, and R-Truth. The stars towards the bottom of RAW, like Drew Gulak, Tucker, Erik, Dabba-Kato, Titus O'Neil, Akira Tozawa, and Arturo Ruas, could form teams or be relegated to 24/7 title chases. How far can Dabba-Kato go in WWE outside of RAW Underground?
RAW did add Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Matt Riddle, and Elias, but the Sheamus/Hardy feud was overdone and took up too much screen time. Elias has been on both shows, whereas Riddle is a wildcard. With Lashley holding the US title, he'll likely have to put back challenges from Riddle, Hardy, and possibly RETRIBUTION.
The biggest question is what WWE will do with Ricochet, Garza, and Carrillo. They are all clearly talented performers but have been secondary pieces in their latest feuds. Ricochet is supposed to be done with MVP and Co. but is that truly it? Where do real-life cousins Carrillo and Garza go post-draft? There are some good, young stars to carry the brand, but one hopes WWE doesn't rely too much on Hardy and Sheamus again.
#2 WWE RAW's Women's Division Grade: B+
Notable WWE Superstars: Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, Asuka (Champion), Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, Naomi, Shayna Baszler/Nia Jax (WWE Women's Tag Team Champions), Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, Lana, Mia Yim
One could look at RAW's Women's Division in two ways. The first is that it will clearly be ruled over by Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler. They are either monster heels or favorites of WWE management. It will be hard for anyone to move up and become RAW Women's Champion. That doesn't mean that many of the women won't challenge for the title, but they'll likely be unsuccessful due to the top four women on Monday nights.
The second way to look at the division is that it has a lot of depth. RAW added Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, and Naomi. They also have Royce, who should have moved to the Blue brand instead. There's also the team of Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. The depth is certainly a strength for Monday nights as it has the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions. That's likely why so many notable names switched brands.
We also don't know what will become of Becky Lynch if she comes back, although her fiance, Seth Rollins, is now on SmackDown. Having Ember Moon go back to NXT instead of joining RAW or SmackDown hurts SmackDown mostly while helping an already stacked NXT division. What became of Chelsea Green and Vanessa Borne? Are they still members of NXT or the main roster? How long will it be until Mia Yim has a few matches under her belt? She obviously adds to the great depth.
#1 WWE RAW's Main Event Grade: A-
Notable WWE Superstars: Drew McIntyre (WWE Champion), Braun Strowman, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt, Keith Lee
Most of the big names added to RAW are heels, which likely sets things up for Drew McIntyre to retain over Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell. The Scottish Psychopath has feuds with AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, and 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt that could feasibly carry him until early next year.
However, if Orton happens to win the title at the next PPV, then some stars will need to turn face. Keith Lee could challenge Orton since he already has a victory over the Viper. That's partially why Lee is mentioned here instead of in the mid-card.
Adding The Fiend and Styles was good enough, but Strowman would be a huge challenge for McIntyre. All of the stars in the RAW main event scene, except for Lee, have already held a major Championship in WWE. The Limitless One could even challenge his friend since they haven't had a definitive end to any of their previous matches. RAW is certainly set up for some good feuds atop the brand and is clearly above SmackDown in terms of viable main-event stars that can carry the brand. If Edge returns later this year, that only increases the grade.