WWE Draft 2023

Image courtesy - WWE.com

The WWE draft is an annual event where the WWE roster is split between the two major brands, WWE Raw and SmackDown. Even the superstars from NXT are included in the draft and may be assigned to one of these two brands. The draft is designed to shake up the WWE landscape and create new storylines and rivalries. It is a highly anticipated event by fans and wrestlers alike, as it can have a significant impact on the direction of their careers.

The 2023 WWE draft is the 17th edition of the draft and will air as a two-night event beginning with the April 28 edition of SmackDown and concluding on the May 1 episode of RAW.

WWE draft history

After the highly acclaimed Monday Night Wars came to an end, WWE bought its rival WCW in 2001. Not only did the promotion buy its rival’s assets and programs, but it also hired most of the talents of WCW at the time. Throughout the year, more and more former WCW stars started joining WWE and the promotion also saw a rise in the number of wrestlers coming from its developmental brand OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling).

This led to a significant increase in WWE’s roster size within a span of a year. To adequately give time to its talents, the promotion decided to split its roster in half and make a superstar exclusive to either RAW or SmackDown.

Image courtesy - WWE.com

The Rock was the first-ever superstar to get drafted when he was selected by SmackDown as their number-one pick followed by The Undertaker who became RAW’s number-one pick. WWE would then go on to organize the event annually and it also added ECW in 2006 upon the brand’s revival. The brand was active in the draft before its eventual retirement in 2010.

WWE discontinued the draft after the 2011 edition because it decided to remove the brand extension and merge both RAW and SmackDown. In 2012, NXT was created and had a dedicated roster. It led to RAW and SmackDown being called the main roster of the WWE.

WWE re-introduced the brand extension in 2016. This time, however, SmackDown was given only two picks for every three picks by its Monday counterpart. The reason was that SmackDown being a two-hour show didn’t require a roster as big as RAW, which is three hours long. The draft has been organized annually ever since with the exception of 2021 when the process was not held. Also, there were two drafts held in 2019 - one in April and the other in October. While no star is drafted into NXT, the superstars from the Black and Gold brand can be drafted into either RAW or SmackDown.

2023 Draft

SmackDown - April 28 draft

Superstar(s)Former brand Picked by
The Bloodline
(Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa with Paul Heyman)
Cody RhodesRawRaw
Bianca BelairRawSmackDown
Becky LynchRawRaw
The Street Profits
(Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
(Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci)
Matt RiddleRawRaw
Bobby LashleyRawSmackDown
Drew McIntyreSmackDownRaw
The O.C.
(AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and "Michin" Mia Yim)
The MizRawRaw
Damage CTRL
(Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky)
Shinsuke NakamuraSmackDownRaw
Alba Fyre and Isla DawnNXTSmackDown
Indi HartwellNXTRaw

SmackDown Lowdown Draft April 29

Superstar (s)Former brandPicked by
Apollo CrewsNXTRaw
Candice LeRaeRawRaw
Chelsea Green and Sonya DevilleRaw (Green)
SmackDown (Deville)
Dexter LumisRawRaw
Hit Row
(Ashante "Thee" Adonis, B-Fab, and Top Dolla)
JD McDonaghNXTRaw
Lacey EvansSmackDownSmackDown
Maximum Male Models
(ma.çé and mån.sôör with Maxxine Dupri)
The Viking Raiders
(Erik and Ivar with Valhalla)
Zoey StarkNXTRaw

RAW draft - May 1

Superstar(s)Former brand Picked by
Rhea RipleyRawRaw
Austin TheoryRawSmackDown
Seth "Freakin" RollinsRawRaw
Charlotte FlairSmackDownSmackDown
Kevin Owens and Sami ZaynRaw (Owens)
SmackDown (Zayn)
The Usos
(Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso)
The Judgment Day
(Finn Bálor, Damian Priest, and Dominik Mysterio)
Latino World Order
(Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde, and Zelina Vega)
Liv Morgan and Raquel RodríguezSmackDownRaw
The New Day
(Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
The Brawling Brutes
(Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch)
Trish StratusRawRaw
Karrion Kross with ScarlettSmackDownSmackDown
Ronda Rousey and Shayna BaszlerSmackDownRaw
LA KnightSmackDownSmackDown
Braun Strowman and RicochetSmackDownRaw
Bronson ReedRawRaw
Pretty Deadly
(Elton Prince and Kit Wilson)
Alpha Academy
(Chad Gable and Otis)
Rick BoogsRawSmackDown
Katana Chance and Kayden CarterNXTRaw
Cameron GrimesNXTSmackDown

RAW Talk - May 1

Superstar (s)Former brandPicked by
Akira TozawaRawRaw
Dana BrookeRawRaw
Grayson WallerNXTSmackDown
Indus Sher
(Jinder Mahal, Sanga, and Veer Mahaan)
Johnny GarganoRawRaw
Los Lotharios
(Angel and Humberto)
Nikki CrossRawRaw
Odyssey JonesNXTRaw
Piper NivenRawRaw
Riddick MossSmackDownRaw
Tegan NoxSmackDownRaw
Xia LiSmackDownRaw

Free Agents after the draft

Superstar (s)Former brand
Baron CorbinRaw
Brock LesnarFree agent
Cedric Alexander and Shelton BenjaminRaw
Dolph ZigglerRaw
Mustafa AliRaw
Omos with MVPRaw
Von WagnerNXT
Xyon QuinnNXT

WWE Draft - First pick of every draft

YearRAW First PickSmackDown First PickOverall First Pick
2002The UndertakerThe RockThe Rock
2004Shelton BenjaminRené DupréeRené Duprée
2005John Cena Chris BenoitJohn Cena
2006--RVD (ECW)
2007King BookerThe Great KhaliThe Great Khali
2008Rey MysterioJeff HardyRey Mysterio
2010John MorrisonKelly KellyKelly Kelly
2011Rey MysterioJohn CenaJohn Cena
2016Seth Rollins Dean AmbroseSeth Rollins
2017Apollo CrewsByron SaxtonApollo Crews
2018Jinder MahalThe MizJinder Mahal
2019The MizFinn BalorThe Miz
2019Becky LynchRoman ReignsBecky Lynch
2020Drew McIntyreRoman ReignsDrew McIntyre
2021Big E Roman Reigns Roman Reigns
2023Cody RhodesRoman Reigns and Solo SikoaRoman Reigns and Solo Sikoa

WWE Draft 2023 Info - Date, Where to watch?

The 2023 edition of the annual WWE draft was held as a two-night event starting from the April 28 edition of Friday Night SmackDown and concluded on Monday Night Raw on the 1st of May.

Both the weekly shows will be held in the state of Texas - SmackDown in Corpus Christi and RAW in Fort Worth. On April 7, 2023, the edition of SmackDown Triple H announced that every superstar on the roster is on the list and can be drafted to either of the two brands.

The two-night event can be viewed on their respective channels. SmackDown airs on Fox while RAW airs on the USA Network in the United States. Viewers elsewhere can view the draft at the same place they watch these weekly programs.

How does the WWE draft work?

The draft typically takes place over several days and involves a series of picks between the two brands. Each brand takes turns selecting wrestlers from a pool of available talent until both rosters are filled.

Wrestlers who are not selected in the draft become free agents and can be signed by either brand in the weeks following the event. The purpose of the draft is to create competition between the two brands and to keep the storylines fresh and exciting for fans. The draft is also used to move wrestlers between brands in order to create new matchups and rivalries.

Some drafts are not as large as others. While the 2002 and 2016 drafts had superstars being assigned brands, other drafts merely had them changing brands.

When is the next WWE draft?

The latest WWE draft was the 2023 draft which took place on April 28 (SmackDown) and May 1 (RAW). The next draft is not announced as of yet.

Can NXT Superstars be drafted into RAW or SmackDown?

Yes. While NXT is not considered for assigning superstars in the draft, it has been used as a talent pool in the same. NXT superstars have been included in the draft from the 2016 draft, which was also the first draft after the introduction of the NXT Championship in 2012.

Finn Balor was the first superstar to be drafted from NXT when he was chosen as RAW’s number three pick in the 2016 draft. American Alpha were the first players to go from NXT to SmackDown via the WWE draft.


What happens if a champion is drafted to another brand?

If drafted to another brand, the champion takes the title with him to that brand in most cases. However, for brand-exclusive titles like RAW and SmackDown Tag Team titles, a champion can only hold the belt of that particular brand which results in a title swap

Are there any restrictions on which brand a superstar can be drafted to?

A superstar can only be drafted to either RAW or SmackDown.

Can superstars be traded after the draft?

Yes. Superstars swapping brands between two consecutive drafts is a common occurrence in WWE.

What are some of the biggest draft picks in WWE history?

The Rock being drafted to SmackDown is usually considered very big because it was the first-overall pick. Moreover, Triple H and John Cena being drafted to SmackDown in 2004 and 2005 respectively is considered some shocking picks given their loyalty to RAW upto that point.

How does the draft impact WWE storylines and rivalries?

The draft brings a sudden twist in storylines and rivalries, and sometimes a halt too, because it causes the two parties to perform on different nights.