SmackDown vs. Raw: Which Brand Won the 2019 WWE Draft?
The 2019 WWE Draft was declared finished by Stephanie McMahon on Raw, and then, in typical fashion, it was followed by the immediate knowledge there is still more to come.
Nothing is ever truly set in stone in WWE, as the card is always subject to change. Even with something as important as determining the rosters for Raw and SmackDown, nothing should be taken as "complete."
In part, that is because there are still free agents left to be picked up and a so-called "blockbuster trade" looming that could drastically tip the scales in favor of either brand.
For now, though, the bulk of the Superstars have found their homes on the two brands, which begs the question of which one came out the winner of this year's draft.
Let's break down all the picks and assess the damage.
Full List of Roster Moves
In order of their announcement, here are the picks that were made between the brands:
- Becky Lynch
- The O.C.
- Drew McIntyre
- Randy Orton
- Bobby Lashley
- Alexa Bliss
- Kevin Owens
- The Viking Raiders
- Nikki Cross
- The Street Profits
- Eric Young
- Sin Cara
- Seth Rollins
- Charlotte Flair
- Andrade and Zelina Vega
- The Kabuki Warriors
- Aleister Black
- Cedric Alexander
- Humberto Carrillo
- Erick Rowan
- Buddy Murphy
- Jinder Mahal
- Samoa Joe
- Akira Tozawa
- Shelton Benjamin
- Rey Mysterio
- Titus O'Neil
- Liv Morgan
Friday Night SmackDown
- Roman Reigns
- Bray Wyatt
- Sasha Banks
- Braun Strowman
- Lacey Evans
- The Revival
- The Lucha House Party
- Heavy Machinery
- Apollo Crews
- Drew Gulak
- Heath Slater
- The B-Team
- Brock Lesnar
- The New Day
- Daniel Bryan
- Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn
- Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
- The Miz
- King Corbin
- Shorty Gable
List of Remaining Free Agents
Despite all those picks being made, there are still many Superstars who have yet to be designated a brand.
Some of these free agents will be the subject of announcements over the next few days; others have been ignored entirely from WWE promotional material as if they aren't even on the roster anymore.
With no official word on what to expect, it's difficult to factor these Superstars into our judgment. With the right picks, any brand could be much stronger by snatching up some of these names.
- Alicia Fox
- AOP (Akam and Rezar)
- The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)
- Big Show
- The Colons (Epico and Primo)
- Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
- Dana Brooke
- Drake Maverick
- Ember Moon
- Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville)
- The Hardy Boyz (Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy)
- The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
- Lars Sullivan
- Luke Harper
- Mickie James
- Mojo Rawley
- Nia Jax
- No Way José
- Ruby Riott
- Sarah Logan
- The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
SmackDown is in an abysmal state at the moment, with only five female Superstars on its roster in Bayley, Carmella, Lacey Evans, Sasha Banks and Tamina. There are more women on the free-agent list than on the blue brand.
What is particularly bad about the SmackDown women's division is that those five names aren't even a rock-solid crew.
Sasha Banks had to sit out this week's planned match against Becky Lynch because of an injury, and there's no telling the extent to which that will hinder her appearances.
Tamina just came back from spending most of the past 18 months on the shelf with medical issues of her own. Even at full health, she's never been treated like a top star.
Carmella is the only babyface of the bunch, even though Lacey Evans may be transitioning to fight on the side of good after teaming with Natalya on Raw. If The Sassy Southern Belle can't pull that off, there will be a massive imbalance of heels.
Meanwhile, Raw has Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, The Kabuki Warriors, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, as well as a great utility player in Natalya, an unknown entity in Liv Morgan and an underutilized Zelina Vega who can step up her game at any time.
Most of the big guns and variety is on the red brand, and there's no question over which show has the most flexibility.
SmackDown needs to pick up most of the free agents just to have a functioning roster. Even then, names like Dana Brooke and The IIconics haven't been built up enough to turn heads.
The blue brand needs Ronda Rousey to return or there won't be enough star power to last until WrestleMania 36, while Raw's only problem is to keep Flair and Lynch away from each other to avoid a feud that has been done to death.
Tag Team Divisions
With AOP, The Ascension, The Colons, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, The Hardy Boyz and The Usos still up for grabs as free agents, it's still anybody's game to finish this draft with the best set of tag teams.
At the moment, though, SmackDown is in the lead with six teams at its disposal, compared to Raw's three.
The O.C. picked a fight with The Street Profits on Raw, which could be an interesting feud going forward on Monday nights, but that leaves The Viking Raiders with no other teams to work with—a problem that will need to be corrected immediately.
The Revival have control over the SmackDown tag team titles and will have more options for feuds with The B-Team and The Lucha House Party, while Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode along with The New Day and Heavy Machinery will pose bigger threats.
All of this depends on the free agents. If Raw snatches up The Usos and AOP, it will be a much stronger division that can compete better with SmackDown.
The Hardy Boyz left a big gap in their absence and whichever roster picks them up will have a huge boost, but even the addition of Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder would help bulk out the Raw roster.
Until those free agents find a home, though, the blue brand is the only one with enough teams to have more than one feud going on.
With more overall picks, Raw had it easy in being able to select a better range of Superstars for the men's division.
The main event will include the likes of AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins, with plenty of others nipping at their heels.
Aleister Black, Andrade, Bobby Lashley, Erick Rowan, Ricochet and Rusev are all worthy of filling in main event spots and reaching the same level, too.
Even those on the midcard tier such as Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander will do their best to shine, and there's no telling if Raw will be able to grab someone like Cesaro to strengthen its roster even more.
SmackDown is not without its big names, though. Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, The Miz and King Corbin are all very valuable, assuming The Beast Incarnate doesn't take the majority of the time off.
But Raw simply has too great of a numbers advantage to not be in better shape.
For instance, Shinsuke Nakamura has already fought Ali more times than necessary, so the midcard scene will now be whittled down to Shorty Gable and Apollo Crews fighting for the Intercontinental Championship, with Heath Slater coming up short as the next in line and resident jobber of SmackDown.
If SmackDown uses a "less is more" approach by focusing on a smaller amount of matches that run longer, the roster can sustain itself for the next few months. But if any injuries happen or if WWE starts burning through feuds too fast, there won't be enough variety to keep things interesting until WrestleMania in April.
Raw soundly beats SmackDown in the men's and women's divisions, and with just two or three more tag teams like AOP and The Usos on Monday nights, it could share the tag team division honors, too.
It seems Raw will remain the A-show, if only because it has that third hour of programming that ensured more Superstars entered its ranks.
Of course, there's no telling what will happen in the future. A few months back, the Superstar Shake-up was a total mess and the Wild Card Rule came out of nowhere to offset that.
As soon as the free agents are signed and this blockbuster trade happens, everything could shift and SmackDown could find itself having a much stronger roster.
Until then, let's hope WWE has a good enough game plan for how to make these five hours of programming as strong as possible going forward and there isn't need for a further revamp of the rosters any time soon.
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.