The 2013 Bleacher Report Wrestling Draft
Congratulations, you’ve won the lottery!
More exact, you’ve won $500 million. You don’t ever have to work again, and you love wrestling. So naturally, you’re going to start your own company.
Due to a variety of outside factors, you’re able to draft any wrestler, male or female, in the world from any company for your own startup.
Who would be your top 10 choices in order?
This question was posed to 12 Bleacher Report wrestling writers. They were allowed 10 picks each and asked to take the wrestler’s age, drawing ability and history of injuries into account. Ideally, you want someone who will be around for years and make your company a success.
Once drafted, the wrestlers were given a point scale (a first draft choice was worth 10 points, a second draft choice was worth nine points. This went all the way down to a writer's 10th pick, which was worth one point).
The totals were added up to help create a wide variety of talent from across the globe. There were 46 different wrestlers drafted, and not one single talent was chosen on everyone’s list.
Here are the wrestlers ranked in the order that Bleacher Report writers would take them to start their own company.
Contributing Writers: The Doctor Chris Mueller, Big Nasty, Travis Taylor, Colin I. McAndrew, Seth Guttenplan, Ryan Dilbert, Mike Chiari, Bryan Haas, Giulio Romano, David Levin, Chris Featherstone @cravewrestling, Andy Soucek
John Morrison: 1 Point
First up, we start out with the eight men who were only able to land a single 10th-place spot in voting. Let's begin with a familiar face:
John Morrison has been out of WWE for a couple years now, but he's still young and looks to have remained in phenomenal shape.
He's a high-flyer with incredible athletic skills, and has loads of untapped potential. If he were still employed by WWE, he would surely be placed higher in the draft.
Morrison never had the chance to be a lead babyface in WWE, but he just may have it in him. His flashy in-ring work would help set the tone for a new company.
Mr. Anderson: 1 Point
In 2007, Anderson may have been an overall top-10 pick. He's fallen off the radar a bit in TNA, and has been turned heel-to-face-to-heel more times than one can count.
At 36, he should still have a few years left in him to turn things around.
Perhaps in a new environment with some new talent to work with, he could regain his motivation with the right push.
"The A**hole" still has it.
Michael Elgin: 1 Point
Elgin is a standout in ROH, where he is delivering crisp, athletic matches. He could be one of the top stars in the company soon, that is if TNA or WWE don't snatch him up first.
He's a bit smaller than the average wrestler, but he uses that to his advantage. He possesses great strength with a wicked moveset that is comparable to a young Taz.
Bringing him into a new wrestling company means you're going to get at least one great match on the card every night.
Curtis Axel: 1 Point
Axel is finally getting the push that was expected of him. If you brought him in to your company, you could even live out most fans' dreams of renaming him as Joe Hennig.
Steve Corino: 1 Point
Unfortunately, Corino never got a run in WWE or WCW (even though the company signed him shortly before they went out of business) in his heyday.
He did have a great run in ECW and is still a valuable asset to ROH. His in-ring work is proudly old-school, which helps him stand out from anyone else.
There are a variety of roles that Corino could play in a new company, from wrestler to commentator to on-air authority figure.
James Storm: 1 Point
A disappointing showing for Storm, who at one point looked poised to be a breakout star in TNA.
Through some bad booking, he's cooled off considerably. Still, when he's on, he's one of the best talkers in all of wrestling.
Storm also appeals to a Southern base, which WWE and TNA inexplicably don't even try to cater to. With the right promoter backing him, he has the potential to be the top babyface of a new company.
Cody Rhodes: 1 Point
If you're looking for a talent that is sure to be around for years to come, Cody Rhodes would be a solid choice.
He has years of experience, a legendary last name and he's still only 27 years old. While he may not ever become a main eventer, he could be a solid mid-carder for at least the next decade. That's an important role to play for any wrestling company.
Kevin Steen: 1 Point
ROH loyalists have been singing the praise of Kevin Steen for years, and with good reason. He's a fantastic talker, which allows him to generate some serious heat with the fans.
Perhaps due to his physique, neither WWE nor TNA has ever bit on him. That doesn't mean he couldn't be used effectively as the focal point of a new roster, though.
An agile big man with a huge indy fanbase.
-Colin I. McAndrew
Karl Anderson: 2 Points
"The Machine Gun" has had limited exposure in America outside of ROH and PWG. But he's a tough, no-nonsense wrestler, the kind that every roster needs.
His offense looks crisp, and he has a unique look that we don't see enough of today. If you're going to draft a relative unknown to mold as your own, Anderson should be one of your top picks.
I still don’t know why Karl Anderson is not a star in the United States. He’s phenomenal.
Kazuchika Okada: 2 Points
Don't let Okada's goofy run in TNA fool you (when he essentially played Kato from The Green Hornet); he has some serious skills inside of the ring.
He's a standout in NJPW and could make a huge splash stateside with the right company featuring him. Okada is only 25 and could bring in fans who crave some thrilling athleticism in their wrestling.
Damien Sandow: 2 Points
It's been a long road for Sandow to join WWE, but he's there now, and he's fantastic.
The 30-year-old is one of the most entertaining characters in the company, and he's a solid hand in the ring as well. It would be interesting to see what he could do if he became a little less goofy and a bit more serious.
Bray Wyatt: 2 Points
Wyatt has just made one of the most anticipated WWE debuts in recent memory, and things are off to a solid start.
Guys like Chris Jericho are predicting big things for him, and it's hard to disagree. He's a good big-man worker, and he plays his character to perfection.
At 26, he could have a very long and successful career ahead of him.
Samoa Joe: 3 Points
Joe is one of the sadder entries on this list. Out of all the votes tallied, he only got a single one.
With the right push, he would have been a big star.
After years of start-and-stop pushes, changes in management and a little weight gain, no one in TNA has been able to take full advantage of his skills.
But with the right amount of motivation and character direction, Joe could still be a killer and a moneymaker.
Alex Shelley: 3 Points
Shelley has a very dry, sardonic sense of humor that stands out from the normal over-the-top wrestling comedy. He was also half of one of the best tag teams of this generation.
He deserves the chance that he didn't receive in TNA.
I always saw Shelley as a young Chris Jericho. While you may not build a company around him, he would be a solid choice to pick as your heel secondary champion.
Gail Kim: 4 Points
Kim has consistently been an entertaining part of TNA programming ever since she returned to the company.
What makes her so great is that she has such a passion for wrestling. Her matches against Kharma and her recent pay-per-view match with Taryn Terryll were among the best televised women's matches in years.
Her character has only gotten better since her return, and she could be the focus of any women's division in wrestling as a face or a heel.
The best pure female wrestler on the planet.
AJ Lee: 4 Points
What wrestling company couldn't use a dose of craziness?
AJ has been one of the most entertaining acts in the business over the past couple years. She's small, but she makes up for it with her personality. Even if you didn't want to feature her as a full-time wrestler, she's shown she is valuable as a valet.
Her mere presence draws a reaction (sometimes much more favorable than one would expect).
Eddie Edwards: 4 Points
While the other half of The American Wolves went undrafted, Eddie Edwards got some love.
Edwards has years of experience in the indies and Japan, which would bring a unique style to your roster. He could be pushed as a Cruiserweight-style wrestler, or take on the big men and chop them down to size as an underdog.
The former ROH champion deserves his shot in the spotlight and would be a worthy addition to any roster.
Willie Mack: 4 Points
Willie Mack has yet to make the big time, but don't be surprised to see him picked up eventually.
He's currently a standout in PWG with his distinct look, entertaining personality and surprising amount of flashy moves for a man his size. The future is bright for this 26-year-old.
Now, it's time for the countdown to truly begin...
24th Pick: (Tie): Bully Ray: 5 Points
To those not watching TNA, Bully Ray may seem like a strange draft pick. He’s best known as tag team wrestler, and he’s 41 years old.
To those watching TNA, they can see why he would be a worthy addition to your roster. Right now, Bully is the best heel in all of wrestling. No one cuts as convincing and hateable promos as he does. He's a blast to watch.
Bully is also in the best in-ring shape he’s ever been in, which should give him a few more years as wrestling's best jerk.
24th Pick (Tie): Scorpio Sky, 5 Points
24th Pick: (Tie) A.J. Styles, 5 Points
You can imagine that five or 10 years ago, A.J. Styles would have been one of the first draft picks.
In 2013, terrible booking and age are starting to catch up to his intense style.
Still, Styles can be phenomenal in the ring on any given night. At 36, his physical peak is probably behind him, but he’s a smarter worker than ever and could still be one of the top babyfaces in any company.
24th Pick: (Tie) Gunner, 5 Points
In late May, Gunner returned to TNA after months away, and he looked like an absolute beast.
A couple years ago, the company looked primed to give him a big push with a pinfall victory over Sting. It never came to fruition, though, and he languished in the mid-card before disappearing.
Upon his return, he won the tag team titles with James Storm. When he breaks out on his own again, he has the potential to be monster heel or a bada** babyface.
23rd Pick: Shaun Ricker, 6 Points
Ricker was recently signed to a WWE developmental deal and should have a very good chance at eventually joining the main roster.
Watching his promos, you can tell that he already has the confidence for a bigger stage. If you're looking for a fresh face to introduce to a national audience, Ricker could be your guy.
22nd Pick: (tie) Antonio Cesaro, 8 Points
Cesaro has been languishing a bit in WWE, but looks poised to finally receive a push again.
While he's been a solid wrestler in the company, his in-ring work was fantastic in ROH. He could be used as a top heel or as an effective tag wrestler if drafted.
22nd Pick: (tie) Sheamus, 8 Points
One of the most aggressively pushed acts in WWE over the past couple years was unable to Brogue Kick his way higher on this list. Perhaps it's his age (35) or his humor that kept most drafters away.
Sheamus does have a connection with the crowd, though, and puts on good, hard-hitting matches. Take away some of his corniness and you could have a big moneymaker.
20th Pick: (tie) The Big Show, 9 Points
No one in all of wrestling has a look as distinct as The Big Show.
In pure size, he has no equal. He is a true head-turner in real life and a seasoned veteran in the ring. Show also breathed new life into his career last summer when he turned heel and started cutting some of his best promos ever.
At 41, he may not have many years left in him, but he would lend a big name and years of experience to any roster.
20th Pick: (tie) Titus O'Neil, 9 Points
One of the greatest mysteries in all of WWE right now is why Titus O'Neil has basically been relegated to the role of a jobber.
He could be so much more. He has a great look and has been a blast on commentary whenever he's been given the chance. A babyface run could do wonders for his career by letting fans join in on the fun.
Only Vince McMahon himself knows why O'Neil hasn't received a better push. Perhaps being in a new environment, like a start-up wrestling company, would finally give him a chance to shine.
19th Pick: Big E Langston, 10 Points
Big E Langston is a young powerhouse who has a bright future as a potential top babyface in the WWE.
The company made the interesting decision to turn him heel upon his debut, but so far it's worked out. He's been protected in his pairing with AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler, and is being set up to someday break out on his own.
If you're looking into the long-term, the 26-year-old Langston would be a great pick for any start-up company.
17th Pick: (tie) The Miz, 11 Points
The former WrestleMania main eventer Miz has fallen in WWE over the past couple of years, but he has the desire to make it back to the top.
What makes Miz valuable are his strong mic skills as a heel and his passion for the business. He also brings a strong promotional effort to the table. Outside of the ring, perhaps only John Cena eclipses him in publicity work.
He does a great job of representing WWE and helps break the stereotype of what a wrestler looks and talks like.
With years left in him in the ring, Miz would be a solid pick to be one of the faces of your company.
17th Pick: (tie) Bobby Roode, 11 Points
Bobby Roode may not be the flashiest draft choice, but he's a solid one.
Roode is a natural heel who has been one of the pillars of TNA over the years. He's also been incredibly dependable without any significant time off.
As the company’s longest reigning heavyweight champion, he can be trusted in a top spot.
He's proven to be versatile as well. If you didn't want to use Roode as a singles star, you could pair him up with someone else, as he's been one of the greatest tag wrestlers of this generation.
Roode's game is well-rounded, and he could be positioned nearly anywhere on the card and not seem out of place.
16th Pick: Jeff Hardy, 12 Points
Hardy exploded as a top-level babyface a few years ago in WWE, and with the right push he could get back there again.
He's probably too risky for a No. 1 pick because of his past personal troubles and the damage his body has taken due to his high-risk offense. He also doesn't seem to have the passion for the business that some others in his position have had.
Even with those negatives working against him, Hardy still brings a lot to the table. Now that he's cleaned-up and clear-headed, he's often receiving the biggest reactions out of anyone in TNA.
A motivated Jeff Hardy can still do some great business.
He isn’t the same wrestler that he once was, but he is like Cena on a smaller scale in that he appeals to the women and children demographic.
15th Pick: Wade Barrett, 13 Points
The Bare Knuckle Brawler is an undervalued talent who seems destined for greater things.
He’s got the look and the poise and already has some main event experience. It’s almost a shame that there are so few wrestling companies these days, as he could already be a star elsewhere.
He has the talent to be a top heel; he just needs the opportunity.
Despite his lackluster push on WWE TV, enough writers saw something in the 32-year-old to want him on their roster. It’s hard to argue with their choice.
13th Pick: (tie) Brock Lesnar, 14 Points
Unless you want to use up a sizeable chunk of your newly won $500 million, Lesnar probably isn’t going to work many dates for you.
That doesn’t mean he can’t help you make a lot of money while he's around, though.
Lesnar is recognizable to people who don't even watch wrestling. He truly looks like one of the baddest men on the planet, and he is. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion is one of the most successful wrestlers who ever competed in WWE and would lend a big name to any new company.
While Lesnar would never agree to a full-time schedule, his body of work speaks for itself and he is essentially guaranteed to generate PPV buys.
13th Pick: (tie) Seth Rollins, 14 Points
In the talented trio of The Shield, Rollins has emerged as the best worker.
He's improved on the mic from his days in ROH, and at the age of 27, he's got years to keep improving.
It will be interesting to see what Rollins can accomplish when he's on his own. It seems that the Bleacher Report writers feel he'll do just fine.
You can imagine that a couple years down the road, Rollins will get a chance to be a Jeff Hardy-type babyface. As a face, he'll be able to let loose and be flashier in the ring. And you can imagine the female audience falling for him. If he's anywhere near as successful as Jeff was for WWE, he will end up being a great pick.
11th Pick: (tie) Paul Heyman, 16 Points
Paul Heyman may not be a guy you’d want competing in a wrestling ring, but there’s perhaps no one you would want more in a backstage role.
Even if he wasn’t used in a creative capacity, Heyman is a phenomenal talker. Perhaps the best in the entire business. Through his words, he can help get almost any talent over.
He’s proved time and time again that he’s a star-maker, which is vital to any wrestling company.
Heyman is an impeccable judge of talent and would serve me well as my talent relations manager behind the scenes. However, he is also an amazing talker and would do the play-by-play on-air commentary.
11th Pick: (tie) Magnus, 16 Points
For far too long, Magnus has been overlooked in TNA, and he’s only 26.
He appears on the verge of a big push now, and hopefully the company doesn’t screw it up. TNA desperately needs a fresh face as a top star, which is something Magnus could deliver for them, or any company.
Based on his age, look and charisma, Magnus should not go unnoticed on anyone's list to draft.
Has the potential to be one of the greatest of all time with the right direction. Incredible look, good on the mic, very good ring work.
- Bryan Haas
10th Pick: Chris Jericho, 18 Points
Jericho has been a professional wrestler for over 20 years now and still ranks among the best in the business.
He is incredibly versatile in that he can be equally successful as a heel or face. His promos remain among the best, and he is a solid hand in the ring.
It may be hard to get him to commit to a full-time schedule, but when he's around, there are very few who are better at working with younger talent.
He would be a respected locker room leader and help groom the future of any roster.
9th Pick: Austin Aries, 19 Points
When you look at feel-good stories in professional wrestling, Austin Aries’ journey comes to mind.
Just a couple years ago, he was debating retirement.
He had a small run in TNA and enjoyed success in Ring of Honor, but a big run in the business escaped his grasp. After a failed tryout for WWE Tough Enough, he contemplated leaving wrestling altogether.
He returned to TNA, though, and thankfully, the company invested in him. Aries can talk, he can wrestle and he doesn’t feel like a WWE castoff. Much like CM Punk, he also has a loveable cockiness that is hard to pull off.
If you’re looking for someone to provide great matches night-in and night-out, Aries could be that man for your company.
The quintessential heel and someone who sells like few others.
8th Pick: Kurt Angle, 20 Points
Angle is a surprise entry in the top 10 due to his age and injuries, but there's little doubt that he's still one of the best wrestlers in the world.
In October, he'll be taking his rightful place as the second entrant in TNA's Hall of Fame. That doesn't mean he's ready to hang it up, though. Angle doesn't have an ounce of quit in his body. There's perhaps no one tougher in all of wrestling than him, so expect to see him in the ring for some time.
Angle would be a valuable asset to any roster, as there would be no one better than him for a wrestler to improve his craft simply by watching. He could also be valuable in an on-air role due to his entertaining personality and the tremendous amount of respect he's received over the years.
He does it better at 44 than most do at 24.
7th Pick: Roman Reigns, 22 Points
If you believe in The Shield, you should believe in Roman Reigns’ potential as a future star.
Already impressive at the age of 27, Reigns has years to work his way up to the main events. As a high draft pick, he wouldn't be a bad choice to groom as the top babyface or heel for a wrestling company.
With a tremendous lineage (cousin of The Rock, brother of Rosey, son of Sika) and impressive athletic abilities, you'd be foolish not to be interested.
A heartthrob, and could be the best heel in wrestling in five years.
6th Pick: Randy Orton, 31 Points
While's he's been around for over a decade, Randy Orton is still only 33 years old. When motivated, he's still putting on great matches with a variety of opponents.
There are very few people in all of wrestling who get bigger pops than Orton does whenever he walks out to his music. He's a valuable asset as a babyface or a heel, and could easily be pushed as the biggest star in a new company.
I know Randy Orton is a risk because of his past Wellness Policy violations, but Orton has proved his staying power and I don't think we've seen his peak yet.
5th Pick: Dean Ambrose, 42 Points
Within a few years, Dean Ambrose has the potential to be the top heel in the business.
Ambrose came into the WWE with a huge amount of hype from hardcore fans. Somehow, he's been able to live up to those lofty expectations.
There are very few people who seem as poised and confident as him on the mic. The best part is, Ambrose is only 27 years old.
I chose Dean Ambrose as my No. 1 because his age, durability and drawing power make him the most well-rounded superstar with the most potential. He is a future world champion in WWE.
4th Pick: Dolph Ziggler, 45 Points
There is no one in all of wrestling who makes his opponents look as good as Dolph Ziggler does.
The man sells like no one’s business, and like Ric Flair, he makes his adversary look like a million bucks.
WWE has yet to fully get behind Ziggler, so he would still feel fresh in a top spot in a new company. There's perhaps a lot of money left to be made with him as a full-fledged babyface.
Ziggler is one of the most naturally gifted athletes in all of wrestling right now, which makes The Show-Off feel right at home as the No. 4 pick.
3rd Pick: John Cena, 80 Points
This is where we hit the big-time, and find the top three wrestlers that nearly every writer wanted on their roster.
Whether you love him or hate him, John Cena is one of the best choices to draft to start your own wrestling company.
Yes, many fans do despise him, and yes, he’s 36, but he is sure to make you a ton of money.
Once drafted, you could go the safe route and have him as your top babyface. Or, you could mix things up and turn him heel. Either way, he’s going to bring you a lot of name recognition and sell a lot of merchandise.
Cena also has an unparalleled public relations work ethic. He does charity events, talk shows and autograph signings like no one’s business.
With his passion for the sport, he should be around for years to come.
2nd Pick: Daniel Bryan, 82 Points
Does Daniel Bryan deserve to be the No. 2 pick in a wrestling draft?
All signs point to "yes."
It's doubtful that even a few months ago Bryan would have placed this high in the draft. He's breaking out, though, and with the right push could be a true superstar.
When Bryan was fired from WWE a few years ago, he was at the top of Paul Heyman's list when he was in negotiations to join TNA. It would have been a great choice then and an even better one now.
At 31, Bryan could be the babyface centerpiece for any promotion for years to come. His size shouldn't be looked at as a detriment, and he could be pushed as an underdog who overcomes the odds.
Bryan is like a mix of Punk and Cena. He’s incredible in the ring, but he is also able to connect with all types of fans.
Perhaps the best all-around ring performer in the pro wrestling business right now.
1st Pick: CM Punk, 86 Points
The Bleacher Report writers have spoken: CM Punk is their No. 1 draft pick in 2013.
Punk, Bryan and John Cena were all close to taking the top spot, but just like in real life, Punk fought tooth and nail to claim his "Best in the World" moniker.
Punk appeals to adult males and Internet fans like no other wrestler does. He's the perfect counterpoint to John Cena's PG-style wrestling. Best of all, Punk's legions of fans would gladly follow him to any new wrestling company, which would immediately give you a solid base to build from.
Punk's strengths are numerous: His promos are believable and filled with emotion, his in-ring work is superb and he possesses the intangible "it" factor that is so hard to come by.
In the eyes of many fans, Punk can do no wrong, which makes him the best choice for starting a new company.
Can carry the load of a company on his shoulders. Does not shy away from that responsibility. Perhaps the best “talker” in the business. Works incredibly well as both a heel and a face.
To close things out, here are some of the prominent men and women in wrestling who were unable to secure a single vote.
Undertaker: One of the all-time greats, but through age and a string of injuries, his career is winding down fast. He could probably only give you less than 10 matches before retirement. Age 48.
Sting: "The Icon" couldn't persuade any of the drafters to pick him up as a wrestler. Perhaps TNA should rethink who they focus their big storylines on. Age 54
Kane: For a guy closing in on 50, Kane is pretty solid in the ring. He's still popular, but probably won't be around to work full-time a few years from now to help build an up-and-coming organization. Age 46.
Davey Richards: An ROH standout and former champion who just wasn't able to pick up any points. Age 30.
Hulk Hogan: Sorry, brother; even as an on-air authority figure, no one was willing to bite on the most heavily featured act in TNA. Age 59.
Brooke Hogan: Likewise, the most featured female in all of TNA was unable to secure a single pick. Perhaps nepotism and wrestling aren't a great mix. Age 25.
HHH: With Hunter's marriage to Stephanie, it would be fascinating to lure him away from WWE. But even if you could, due to his age and lack of matches these days, he'd be a risky pick. Age 43.
Ryback: A bit of a surprise for the lack of love for Ryback. He's improved on the mic over the past year, and has the look that screams "professional wrestler." WWE never went all in with him, though, which has damaged his stock in the eyes of fans. This would make anyone think twice before bringing him in. Age 31.
Kaitlyn: The top female babyface in WWE has stumbled a bit in character development, but perhaps in future years she'll be able to secure some votes. Age 26
The Rock: If you had $500 million to spend, you'd probably need a big chunk of that to get The Rock to commit to any sort of deal. Age 41.
Mark Henry: Henry may be the best actor in all of wrestling right now, but he's also in his 40s and has gone through an incredibly high amount of injuries. If he was healthier over his career, or a few years younger, he'd be a great pick. Age 42.
Vickie Guerrero: You'll have to excuse the writers for not picking her up despite her being one of the most heavily featured acts in WWE. Age 45.
Mickie James: James is having a career renaissance in TNA after years of a lackluster babyface run. Had her turn happened earlier, she could have picked up some votes. Age 33.
Rob Van Dam: RVD's TNA run was absolutely mediocre. Perhaps a rejuvenated Van Dam could be still be an asset to WWE, but his in-ring style is not one that ages well for a full-time roster spot. Age 42.
Again, a great thanks to all of the Bleacher Report writers who helped out on this list: The Doctor Chris Mueller, Big Nasty, Travis Taylor, Colin I. McAndrew, Seth Guttenplan, Ryan Dilbert, Mike Chiari, Bryan Haas, Giulio Romano, David Levin, Chris Featherstone @cravewrestling