2019 WWE Draft: Superstars Raw and SmackDown Must Pick After Night 1
The first half of the 2019 WWE draft saw some major moves as Raw and SmackDown picked apart the roster in a fight for dominance.
Moves such as Raw women's champion Becky Lynch remaining on Monday nights were obvious, while trades like Braun Strowman to SmackDown weren't quite as easy to predict.
Now, with the second pool of talent up for grabs on Monday, certain picks have become crucial in order for the brands to maintain stability by having the right number of the champions, a variety of Superstars and enough star power to draw attention to USA and Fox.
Here are some must-pick scenarios for Raw and SmackDown before the draft goes down.
It's self-explanatory that the SmackDown women's champion has to go to the blue brand. If Bayley were to go to Raw, WWE would have to figure out some convoluted way for her to drop the title.
Since Charlotte Flair just won and lost that title within the span of one week, it would be absurd to swap it again. That type of hot-potato booking makes a mess out of something that doesn't need to be so chaotic.
Simply put, if WWE planned for Bayley to be on SmackDown, giving her the title proves she has to be picked by Fox. However, if the idea is for her to go to Raw, she never should have won the belt back from Flair.
SmackDown: Charlotte Flair
In order to make sure Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch do not start feuding with each other again, they have to remain on separate brands.
They can't coexist as the top two babyfaces on any one brand, as WWE likes both too much to leave either on the sidelines. But the two have had more than enough matches together over the past year, and fans need some variety.
With The Man on Raw, The Queen has to stay on SmackDown. There, she can be the top babyface, finish her feud with Bayley before moving on to Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans and others.
Raw: Raw Tag Team Champions
Depending on how the Raw Tag Team Championship match goes between Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. The Viking Raiders, those belts must remain on the red brand.
The red brand was one step ahead of the game by drafting The Viking Raiders on Friday, as it's safe to assume they'll win the titles given their track record of dominance.
But if Ziggler and Roode retain the belts somehow on Monday night, Raw will have to pick both in the draft just to keep the championship from going to SmackDown, which would make no sense.
If Erik and Ivar become the new champions early enough in the show, though, Ziggler and Roode could be split.
Raw: Seth Rollins; SmackDown: Brock Lesnar
Both brands need a world champion, so whoever gets Seth Rollins should not be allowed to pick Brock Lesnar.
The Beast Incarnate should stay on Fox to keep the sports-oriented feel of that program focused around the former UFC heavyweight champion.
As a counterpoint, Rollins staying on Raw wouldn't just be to offset Lesnar, either. The universal belt is outfitted in red leather; if SmackDown snatched that title, a new blue version would have to be created.
The concept of "Monday Night Rollins" would also be negated, and he would be separated from fiancee Becky Lynch.
SmackDown: Rey Mysterio
Assuming Lesnar stays on SmackDown, Rey Mysterio should go to the blue brand to help keep their feud going.
The Master of the 619 is also integral to the Cain Velasquez setup, as he seems to be acting as his manager and mouthpiece of sorts.
If Mysterio was with the red brand, it would force crossover appearances leading up to Crown Jewel, which is something WWE should steer clear of following this reinvigorated brand split via the draft.
In the past, the veteran has been more directly tied to SmackDown than Raw, having won his first world title there and becoming synonymous with the blue brand.
The only downside to Mysterio going to SmackDown would be that every masked luchador would be on the same show. But while that means there's less variety on Raw, the benefit trade-off could be some sort of partnership or mentor role between Mysterio and The Lucha House Party.
Raw: The Miz
Fox and USA seem to be working in tandem at the moment, but that isn't going to last forever. Sooner or later, it will be less about helping WWE overall and more about focusing on each network's particular programming above all.
The Miz is in an interesting situation. He has more of a tie to the USA Network due to his "Miz and Mrs" show, which appears to be going strong.
While it wouldn't be the end of the world for Fox to allow The Miz to promote that show, it would still be an advertisement for another network. If The A-Lister stays on USA, though, there would be no such issues.
There will also be more time for Miz TV segments with Raw running for three hours per show, rather than trying to find time to cram it into a two-hour edition of Friday Night SmackDown.
SmackDown: Shinsuke Nakamura
As soon as The O.C. was declared part of the Raw roster, Shinsuke Nakamura became a necessary pick for SmackDown.
AJ Styles holds the United States Championship while Nakamura is the intercontinental champion. Since no matches have been announced that offer a chance for a SmackDown star to win either belt before the draft is over, the only way to balance the midcard titles is for The Artist to stay with the blue brand.
The Intercontinental Championship could well change hands before Survivor Series on November 24 if WWE wishes to set up Styles against a babyface in the traditional champion vs. champion match.
For now, though, Nakamura has to stay with SmackDown to ensure one brand doesn't hold both belts.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.