The WWE Draft is a method in which the promotion allocates its Superstars between the two brands: Raw and SmackDown, to freshen up their roster. In 2016, wrestlers from NXT and in 2019, wrestlers from 205 Live were involved in the draft. From 2017 to May 2019, the draft was known as the WWE Superstar Shake-up. The WWE draft 2019 is scheduled to take place on October 11 and 14 episodes of SmackDown and Raw.
- WWE Draft History
- ECW Inclusion
- List of drafts
WWE Draft History
In 2002, the then-World Wrestling Federation conducted its first draft to segregate WWE roster between the two brands, Raw and SmackDown. Overall, sixty superstars were drafted save for Undisputed Champion Triple H and Women’s Champion Jazz as they defended their respective titles on both brands. The other champions, however, were eligible to be drafted. In the draft, Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam and European Champion William Regal were drafted to Raw while Tag Team Champions Bily Gunn and Chuck Palumbo, Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri and Hardcore Champion Maven were drafted to SmackDown.
Later that year, the WWF was renamed to WWE and soon afterwards, the European and Hardcore titles were merged into the Intercontinental title. The Undisputed Championship moved to SmackDown and was renamed the WWE Championship after Brock Lesnar signed a deal with the blue brand. Raw then created the World Heavyweight Championship to make it the red brand’s top title. The Women's Championship also became a part of Raw with no SmackDown counterpart. SmackDown then established the WWE Tag Team Championship as the equivalent to the World Tag Team Championship, and on July 2003, they brought back the United States Championship as it’s the mid-card title.
In 2004, the next draft took place on Raw where the General Managers of both brands drafted Superstars randomly with the help of two separate machines in the form of a lottery. Every on-screen WWE personnel were eligible for the draft which included commentators, injured wrestlers, and even general managers.
The third draft took place in June 2005 and involved both the brand and took place for nearly four weeks. The picks were made on both brands and were selected at random. Like the second draft, all on-screen WWE employees were involved. During the draft, WWE Champion John Cena was drafted to Raw and kept his championship. General Manager Theodore Long considered creating a new championship for the blue brand but the idea was scrapped when Batista brought the World Heavyweight Championship with him when he got draft picked for SmackDown.
In 2006 when ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) was revived as a third brand, superstars from Raw and SmackDown were drafted to ECW and the ECW Heavyweight Championship was brought back as the brand’s sole title.
The drafts took place for the subsequent years for the three brands until early 2010 when it was decided that ECW would be disbanded. So, the 2010 draft only included Raw and SmackDown. Unified Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd & David Hart Smith (The Hart Dynasty).
In 2012, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced the creation of a new developmental brand called NXT. The first few seasons of NXT were in a game-show format after which it got converted into a brand of its own and introduced championships exclusive to the brand.
In December 2013, the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship were unified, retiring the latter and continuing former, which became known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until mid-2016, when it was renamed back to WWE Championship. The Divas Championship that was introduced in 2008 was put off in early 2016 and replaced by a new WWE Women's Championship.
Also, to this day, only three female champions have been drafted in history: Divas Champion Maryse, Women’s Champion Melina, and Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair.
List of drafts
|2002||March 25||Raw, SmackDown|
|2004||March 22||Raw, SmackDown|
|2005||June 6–30||Raw, SmackDown|
|2006||May 29||ECW, Raw (outgoing only), SmackDown (outgoing only)|
|2007||June 11||Raw, SmackDown, ECW|
|2008||June 23||Raw, SmackDown, ECW|
|2009||April 13||Raw, SmackDown, ECW|
|2010||April 27||Raw, SmackDown|
|2011||April 25||Raw, SmackDown|
|2016||July 19||Raw, SmackDown, NXT (outgoing only)|
|2017||April 10–11||Raw, SmackDown|
|2018||April 16–17||Raw, SmackDown, NXT (outgoing only)|
|2019||April 15–May 8||Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live, NXT (outgoing only)|
|2019||October 11–14||Raw, SmackDown, NXT (outgoing only), 205 Live (outgoing only)|