Quick Takes: WWE Raw vs. SmackDown Draft, Bryan vs. Reigns, Eva Marie and More
With the 2020 WWE draft officially in the books, it's time for fans to look ahead to what could be an exciting future for Raw and SmackDown.
Both brands picked up some notable names with Seth Rollins, Rey Mysterio, Bray Wyatt and AJ Styles all switching shows, among others. Despite questionable execution here and there, this year's installment of the draft was fairly eventful on the whole and left Raw and SmackDown with stacked rosters.
There may be more changes coming to the WWE landscape with Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter confirming rumors this past week that Eva Marie has re-signed with the company. Despite being away for over four years, however, she isn't needed in either of the Raw or SmackDown women's divisions at the moment.
Marie joins the many Superstars who either will be returning soon or have already returned, including Daniel Bryan. The multitime WWE world champion resurfaced on Friday's SmackDown and teased feuding with Seth Rollins, and as great of a program as that could be, all roads must lead to him re-entering Universal Championship contention and rekindling his rivalry with Roman Reigns.
In addition to all of that, Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara appear to be taking their heated feud to the next level over in AEW, while Lana is the new No. 1 contender for the Raw Women's Championship. This week's Quick Takes will explore each of these topics and attempt to predict what could be next for them.
Raw vs. SmackDown: Which Brand Got the Better of the 2020 WWE Draft?
All things considered, the 2020 WWE draft did an efficient job of shaking up the SmackDown and Raw rosters and giving fans plenty of fresh feuds and matchups to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead.
The first major move of the draft saw Seth Rollins make the move over to SmackDown. Joining him at the top of the card will be Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, King Corbin, Kevin Owens, Aleister Black, Sami Zayn, Lars Sullivan, universal champion Roman Reigns and—for now—Jey Uso.
Raw also made out pretty well by taking some of the blue brand's biggest names such as Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, Matt Riddle, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy and The New Day. They're joined by Raw staples Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Keith Lee and The Hurt Business.
Better yet, for the first time in many years, neither brand was overwhelmingly dominated in the draft. WWE tends to stack one show with star power and deplete the other more often than not, but it's safe to say that wasn't the case this year.
Of the two shows, the slight edge may have to be given to Raw because of the depth they have in virtually every division, specially the women's. Raw kept Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler and Asuka while adding Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans to their ranks.
SmackDown's women's division is highlighted by Sasha Banks, Bayley and Bianca Belair, but no one else is remotely close to being on their level. Then again, similar to in 2016, SmackDown could benefit from having less women so each of them are afforded more television time and character development.
A case can be made for either brand getting the better of the 2020 WWE draft, but the only way to find out which show is superior is seeing how they make the most of who they have from here on out.
WWE's Recent Booking of Lana Lacks Logic
Despite the draft sending Superstars to separate shows, WWE held a dual-branded Battle Royal in the main event of Monday's Raw anyway to determine a new No. 1 contender for Asuka's Raw Women's Championship.
Of all the women who could have reigned supreme and actually benefited from it, Lana was booked to be the surprise victor after not winning anything of any kind since January. Worse yet, she wrestled every week on Raw since August 31 and lost every time before the Battle Royal.
In other words, fans have zero reason to think that Lana has any sort of a chance of beating Asuka for the title next week on Raw, begging the question of why WWE is doing the match in the first place.
Lana has shown minimal improvement in the ring over the years and should be nowhere near contention for the championship. Asuka may manage to get a passable matchup out of her on Monday night, but it doesn't excuse the months of bad booking Lana has endured prior to this point, including the several times she's been needlessly put through a table at ringside.
Much like with Friday's "season premiere" of SmackDown, WWE is looking to load up Monday's Raw as much as possible. While a Raw Women's Championship defense is undoubtedly an attraction, Lana was the wrong choice for the spot, even if it does prove to be a one-off.
Between Zelina Vega and now Lana, it's time for Asuka for start facing more credible competition such as Shayna Baszler, Alexa Bliss and Naomi.
Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara Must Culminate at the Hardy Compound
Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara have been feuding on and off since Hardy's AEW arrival in March. Their heated rivalry seemed to culminate in that unfortunate mess of a Last Man Standing match at All Out in August when Hardy was legitimately hurt but found a way to win, anyway.
However, it's possible the promotion didn't want to end the story on such a sour note, or that the plan was always for it to continue past the pay-per-view. Either way, all signs point to them having one more match at Full Gear, this time at the Hardy Compound.
Soon after Hardy made his highly anticipated AEW Dynamite debut, the promos he was cutting from his home indicated that a cinematic match at the Hardy Compound between himself and either Chris Jericho or Guevara was in the works. It never came to fruition as they went in a different direction with the program instead.
Hardy is credited for holding some of the very first cinematic matches in both Impact Wrestling and WWE. His return to the Hardy Compound is long overdue, and Guevara is the perfect person for him to wage war with.
Considering Hardy has never lost on his own turf, it will be interesting to see who will come out on top. Guevara needs an important win after months of losing whenever it has mattered most, and this could be how it happens.
Why Eva Marie Isn't Needed Back in WWE's Women's Division
After making an abrupt exit from WWE in 2017, Eva Marie is finally on her way back, per a report from Cultaholic which was later confirmed by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. This is despite neither of WWE's women's divisions on Raw or SmackDown needing her right now.
To her credit, Marie did show some signs of improvement from when she debuted in 2013 to her NXT run in 2015. She returned to the main roster in late 2016 with a ton of heat but never had a chance to make her re-debut in the ring before taking time off to film a movie and then leaving the company all together the subsequent summer.
She might be able to pick up right where she left off, but the biggest difference between now and when she left in 2017 is that WWE's women's divisions have grown exponentially. Raw boasts a ton of female star power coming out of the draft, and although SmackDown would be a better landing spot for her, there are other women who should be focused on ahead of her.
Even NXT, where she once contended for the top title in late 2015, is packed at the moment and thus that also wouldn't the best fit for her. Her role could become clearer once she returns as it may very well not involve wrestling whatsoever and instead see her serve as a manager, an authority figure or something else.
That said, the timing is certainly questionable, especially since she has been largely removed from the wrestling world in recent years.
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan Will Be the Ultimate Universal Title Feud
From the early days of The Shield to their scuffles last year on SmackDown, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns have found each other on opposite sides of the ring on multiple occasions over the course of their careers in WWE.
Their chemistry as opponents has never been anything less than stellar, though their next match is bound to be even more special given the recent roll Reigns has been on as a heel. Now that Bryan is back from his hiatus, it's only a matter of time before they wage war again.
Bryan made no mention of The Big Dog in his return promo Friday night, but that should be the direction he heads in eventually. It's been close to a year since he was last in contention for the coveted prize, and the history he has with Reigns speaks for itself.
In the meantime, he can settle his score with Sami Zayn over the Intercontinental Championship from WrestleMania season or start a new feud with Seth Rollins, which was teased on SmackDown.
Fans' disdain of Reigns can be traced all the way to his 2015 Royal Rumble victory, a match many members of the WWE Universe wanted Bryan to win. The self-proclaimed Tribal Chief can blame the boos he's endured over the years on him and become an even more hated heel than he already is.
From Jey Uso to Rey Mysterio to Big E, there are a plethora of opponents for Reigns to work with between now and WrestleMania 37. Assuming The Rock won't be available for the event, Reigns vs. Bryan could be next year's headlining attraction for the universal title on The Grandest Stage of Them All if they tell the story properly and both men continue to gradually build momentum up until then.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.