SmackDown vs. Raw: Which Brand Won the 2020 WWE Draft?
The 2020 WWE Draft has achieved its goal in shaking up the rosters—some for the better, others for worse.
While there are technically still plenty of free agents left to find a home, including big players like Andrade and Becky Lynch, the bulk of the trades are locked in.
Since most of the dust has settled, we now have a better idea of what shape the brands are, the problems which could come up and the feuds worth looking forward to.
Let's compare the new Raw and SmackDown rosters and see which show came out the winner of this year's draft!
A Note on the WWE Draft's Permanence
Before making a full judgment call on the rosters, it's important to remember that none of this is set in stone with no flexibility to ever change.
WWE has proven that even something as big as the draft means nothing for any particular week if the writers choose to break the very rules they've established.
For instance, there have been around a dozen crossovers between rosters in this past month, despite how the Brand-to-Brand Invitational was stated to be once every quarter.
Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose were drafted to Raw just two weeks or so before the draft itself and Braun Strowman was fighting on Raw Underground just for the sake of it.
Throughout this past year, Apollo Crews and others were traded between rosters with the flimsy excuse that they were lingering trade options left on the table.
This means at any point, anyone can move between rosters if WWE feels the need to shift things and wants to balance things out. Just because one brand is severely lacking in any department doesn't mean they won't just obtain more Superstars from the other show or pull wrestlers from NXT.
Keep this in mind, as even the most secure rosters right now could fall apart easily and the most problematic areas could have easy solutions if WWE bothers to put in the effort.
Full List of Roster Moves
In order of their announcement, here are the picks that were made between the brands:
- Drew McIntyre
- The Hurt Business (Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, MVP and Shelton Benjamin)
- AJ Styles
- Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
- Mandy Rose
- The Miz and John Morrison
- Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods
- Dana Brooke
- Angel Garza
- Humberto Carrillo
- Drew Gulak
- Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado
- Bray Wyatt
- Randy Orton
- Charlotte Flair
- Braun Strowman
- Matt Riddle
- Jeff Hardy
- Retribution (Mace, Mustafa Ali, Reckoning, Slapjack and T-Bar)
- Keith Lee
- Alexa Bliss
- Lacey Evans
- Nikki Cross
- Titus O'Neil
- Peyton Royce
- Akira Tozawa
- Riddick Moss
- Arturo Ruas
- Roman Reigns
- Seth Rollins
- Sasha Banks
- Bianca Belair
- Jey Uso
- Dominik and Rey Mysterio
- Big E
- Shorty G
- The Street Profits
- Daniel Bryan
- Kevin Owens
- Lars Sullivan
- King Corbin
- Sami Zayn
- Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura
- Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
- Apollo Crews
- Aleister Black
- The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott)
- Billie Kay
- Zelina Vega
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 could be announced over the new few days. However, others in this scenario in the past have been ignored for months, particularly if they're on the inactive roster for an injury.
In most cases, it seems WWE keeps these names on the sidelines because there are no set plans for them, so they are left free to move wherever they would be better suited once they're ready to be used.
Without knowing where they ultimately will end up, the following names have been ruled out of the judgment of who won this draft, as either brand would be stronger by picking up more names.
- Becky Lynch
- Big Show
- Bo Dallas
- The Forgotten Sons (Jaxson Ryker, Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake)
- Ivar of The Viking Raiders
- Jimmy Uso
- Jinder Mahal
- Mercedes Martinez, aka Retaliation of Retribution
- Mickie James
- Mojo Rawley
- Ronda Rousey
- Samoa Joe
- Sonya Deville
Things were looking dire for SmackDown at one point in the draft when Raw had triple the Superstars in its women's division.
Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, Alexa Bliss and others were heading to Monday nights while the blue brand only had Bayley, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair for several rounds.
Toward the end of the trades, SmackDown picked up the slack and nearly evened things up with a grand total of 10 compared to Raw's 13.
However, Raw has an ace up its sleeve with Raw Underground. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir have competed there multiple times and weren't factored into this draft.
Those two, along with Briana Brandy, Emily Andzulis and anyone else brought in for those spots are essentially backup members of the Raw roster who can become full-fledged signings at any time to boost the brand's numbers.
Raw also has the Women's Tag Team Championship titles on Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, although they do have the freedom to move between all three brands.
Since SmackDown already has less wrestlers in general and one of them is Tamina, who typically spends more time on the inactive list than being a key player, Raw wins this division, too.
Tag Team Divisions
To no surprise, since Raw has more overall Superstars, there are more options in the tag team scene than SmackDown.
There are only four currently active tag teams on the blue brand right now, although even one of those has an injured member.
Once Rey is able to return to action, he and Dominik form one duo. They are accompanied by The Street Profits, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, and Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.
Since Jimmy Uso has no brand yet, he may end up on SmackDown along with Jey to reform The Usos, but that's an unknown, just like Erik being on Raw with the chance the injured Ivar goes there and reforms The Viking Raiders. They cancel each other out.
SmackDown's three viable and one half-injured teams pales in comparison to what Raw has to offer.
The Hurt Business and Retribution both have four members who could tag at any moment, allowing considerable flexibility.
There's also The Miz and John Morrison, Lucha House Party's Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa's ninja clan and The New Day's Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.
Technically, Keith Lee and Matt Riddle aren't a tag team, but they've partnered up enough in the past that WWE could put them together on a regular basis, too.
That makes this an 8-5 split in favor of Raw without even factoring in the different tandems of Retribution and The Hurt Business. Raw easily wins this side of the draft.
That third hour that allows Raw to get one extra pick per round was particularly beneficial when it came to the men's division, especially with massive group choices like Retribution and The Hurt Business gaining four Superstars per shot.
The biggest problem SmackDown has is a lack of babyfaces who could realistically challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship.
For the most part, once this feud with Jey Uso is finished, Kevin Owens will have to hold down the fort.
Daniel Bryan has been inactive for months, Rey Mysterio is injured, Otis is more of a joke than a serious Mr. Money in the Bank and the handful of others are lower on the totem pole.
It will be hard to convince fans that Apollo Crews, Dominik Mysterio or Murphy can beat The Tribal Chief. Even Big E would need a massive boost to get past the hurdle of being just another challenger guaranteed to lose. They're more on Sami Zayn's Intercontinental Championship level.
Everyone else is a heel. Aleister Black, King Corbin and Seth Rollins will likely be stepping stones for faces to beat on their way toward losing to Reigns.
SmackDown also has Lars Sullivan, who is a risky acquisition. Due to injuries, scandals and other problems behind the scenes, his time on the main roster has been a total bust and there's no telling if things will improve.
In comparison, Raw has a healthy abundance of fresh opponents for Drew McIntyre to face, including Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, AJ Styles and Retribution.
There are plenty of midcard to upper-midcard heels and faces like Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Jeff Hardy, Ricochet, The Miz and John Morrison and so on. Randy Orton is still there doing the best work of his career in years, and there's an entirely separate league with Raw Underground that offers more opportunities for talent like Dabba-Kato and Arturo Ruas to grow.
Hands down, there's no question which brand is better off with the male Superstars. This one isn't even close.
With a clean sweep, Raw destroyed SmackDown this year in the draft.
There isn't a single area the red brand should theoretically struggle with, while SmackDown has a few glaring problems right out of the gate.
In a few months, Friday nights will be nothing but repeats of the same couple pairs working against each other unless there's an influx of talent from NXT set to help replenish the ranks.
Reigns doesn't have a strong enough group of challengers, at least two more tag teams would make a big difference and the women's division can't exist solely on Banks vs. Bayley forever while we wait for Belair to ascend the throne.
If SmackDown is hit with some COVID-19 spikes or injuries, even a handful of absentees can ruin the show for weeks or months, while Raw has more than enough padding to be comfortable.
Here's hoping WWE has plans in place to make sure this doesn't happen and wasn't just prioritizing the flagship show without giving much thought to the issues SmackDown will deal with post-draft.
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.