Ranking the 10 Most Important WWE Stars on Raw and SmackDown Right Now
Following the 2020 WWE draft, there has been a shift in power on Raw and SmackDown. Some Superstars now find themselves bigger fish in a smaller pond, while others have to share more of the spotlight than before.
As always within WWE, there is a pecking order. While anything can happen and the lowliest jobber can beat a world champion on a random night, there are certain names who are valued higher than others.
More often than not, there are only a handful of wrestlers the company revolves the show around. Everyone else is left to share the remaining time and focus.
Now that most of the draft moves have been settled, let's look at the top 10 most important Superstars on the Raw and SmackDown brands.
Raw has such a strong roster that a top 20 could be made easily, with most people around the same level.
The Hurt Business, for instance, is just narrowly shy of taking a top-five spot here. That group alone boasts the United States champion, the brand's best manager and two anchors in Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander.
Retribution should play a big factor going forward, The New Day will lead the tag team division, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler are the women's tag team champions, and there is also an onslaught of singles stars worth naming.
Braun Strowman, Charlotte Flair, Keith Lee, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy and Matt Riddle are just some of the red brand's heavy-hitters now.
On SmackDown, the roster has smaller numbers but still owns quality names not able to make our top five.
Bianca Belair will be one of the most prominently featured stars in the women's division, while her husband, Montez Ford, takes charge of the tag team division alongside Angelo Dawkins as The Street Profits.
Big E is in the middle of a singles push and could have a title reign in his future. Kevin Owens and King Corbin are no slouches, and even Lars Sullivan is likely to get a win every week for the foreseeable future.
Raw No. 5: 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss
The new tandem of Alexa Bliss with Bray Wyatt may not have a clear direction at the moment, but they will be prominently featured going forward after their move to Raw.
Too much of an investment has been made in The Fiend not to make him a star player, especially with The Goddess by his side.
Even when Bliss isn't in a title hunt, she manages to keep herself from fading into obscurity through things such as her own show, "A Moment of Bliss." But with this new dark persona, she'll undoubtedly get a shot against Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship in the near future.
The same goes for Wyatt. A program with Drew McIntyre is a given, whether or not the WWE title is involved.
Be on the lookout for McIntyre and Asuka against Wyatt and Bliss in the main event of Raw sometime in the coming months.
SmackDown No. 5: Seth Rollins
The feud between Seth Rollins and the Mysterio family has been going on seemingly forever and has had far too many cringe-worthy moments, but the draft showed WWE has no plans on ending it any time soon.
Every person in the storyline moved to SmackDown, which is an indication the company values the program enough to consider it a selling point for Fox executives who may be upset so many big names left the blue brand for Raw.
While Dominik, Aalyah and Murphy are the most active players in most segments, this does ultimately boil down to revolving around Rollins and Rey, although the latter is on the shelf with an injury.
Rollins is in a tough spot on SmackDown as he can't be the top heel while Roman Reigns is around. However, it seems he'll be in the No. 2 position. That should make him the go-to villain to feud with for anyone not involved with The Big Dog.
Rollins can be either a stepping stone for someone to ascend to a universal title shot or the guy who stops their momentum. If anything happens to Reigns, he will be the one WWE slots in the world title scene as the top villain.
Raw No. 4: AJ Styles
AJ Styles was upset not to have been higher in the WWE draft, but he was still one of the first to be chosen.
The Phenomenal One was Raw's first choice in the second round on the opening night. He was prioritized over the women's tag champions, Mr. Money in the Bank, the SmackDown tag team champions and others who had every right to be high up on the list.
This shouldn't be a surprise, though. Styles is one of WWE's best talents and is never left with nothing to do. With the amount of talent he has to work with on Raw, it shouldn't be difficult for him to be a driving force on the red brand.
Since his debut in January 2016, he's held a championship just shy of half his time on the roster. He's a go-to guy to put a title on and trust he can hold down the fort.
Styles will be a prime antagonist for McIntyre, Lee, Riddle and others, and he could also turn babyface to work with the top heels. Essentially, he's a Swiss Army knife of a performer who has earned his importance.
SmackDown No. 4: Sami Zayn, Otis (tied)
Sami Zayn is not the strongest intercontinental champion of all time, and nor is Otis the most credible Mr. Money in the Bank.
However, they remain among the most important Superstars on the brand because of the accolades they possess.
Zayn will be the focal point of the B-level talent, feuding with those who aren't fighting for the Universal Championship. He'll likely work with Dominik Mysterio, Kevin Owens, Big E, Apollo Crews and others in the secondary title scene for the coming months on SmackDown.
It seems he's also starting a program with Otis, who is hovering between midcard and main event status while he holds the MITB briefcase. Technically, he could become the top champion at any moment, but WWE continues to downplay him as a threat.
It'll be hard for Otis to maintain his momentum now that he's a comedic character who has lost his straight man (Tucker) and girlfriend (Mandy Rose) to play off, but it doesn't appear his screen time will be lessened.
Both Zayn and Otis wouldn't come close to the top 10 most dangerous talents in WWE today, but since they are more storyline-driven performers and comedy is always featured on the show, they won't get lost in the shuffle.
Raw No. 3: Asuka
In a perfect world, Asuka would be at least No. 2 for Raw, if not the most important. After all, Becky Lynch was the top star in all of WWE for a good year when she held the title.
However, points are deducted from The Empress of Tomorrow given how WWE just doesn't focus on her as much in comparison.
When the belt eventually goes to Charlotte Flair, it will get a boost in prominence. It's sad to say, but it's true.
In recent weeks, though, Asuka has been more of an important character on paper rather than in practice.
As the Raw women's champion, she's what nearly all elements of the women's division funnel toward. Even Jax and Baszler got together as a result of both wanting a shot at her title.
If there is only one feud going on for Raw's women's division at any given moment, it should include Asuka. WWE might not give her as much to do as Lynch had in the same position, but as champion and one of the best the division has to offer, The Empress defaults into a very important role.
SmackDown No. 3: Daniel Bryan
Having just made his return after several weeks away, Daniel Bryan is already a more important part of SmackDown than its midcard champion, the Money in the Bank briefcase holder and its No. 2 villain.
Not only is he a future Hall of Famer, former multi-time champion and one of the most beloved Superstars in WWE, he's also the most solid figure to build around for the coming months.
Realistically, Reigns will hold the Universal Championship heading into WrestleMania 37 and WWE will look to bring in a big name to spike some interest. If The Rock vs. Reigns can happen, for instance, it will be the company's top priority.
But if you eliminate The Rock, Goldberg, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and other guest stars from the equation, Bryan becomes the de facto top challenger for the title.
There is no bigger name or better opponent for The Big Dog. As great as Owens, Big E and others on SmackDown are, they pale in comparison to Bryan's overwhelming support from fans.
As such, from now until a more concrete plan is in place for The Show of Shows March 28 next year, Bryan should be racking up wins, building momentum and gaining steam as the man fans hope will ascend to the throne.
Raw No. 2: Randy Orton
Few wrestlers have had a better year than Randy Orton. He has been on fire with the resurgence of The Legend Killer character.
This Sunday at Hell in a Cell, he may even take things to a new level by capturing the WWE Championship from Drew McIntyre.
Regicide is up his alley. Orton has won more world titles than anyone save for Ric Flair, John Cena and Triple H. It can certainly happen and would boost him to the top spot on Raw.
If he doesn't, there's a chance The Viper will take some time off. But rest assured, he will return and pick up where he left off—especially if Edge is fit again and able to reignite their feud ahead of WrestleMania 37.
SmackDown No. 2: Bayley, Sasha Banks (tied)
For better or worse, the SmackDown women's division has entirely revolved around Bayley and Sasha Banks as a unit over the past two years. They cannot be separated on this list as they depend on each other.
Bayley by herself has no direction, since WWE's entire goal for months has been to tease the split between The Golden Role Models. She has needed The Legit Boss by her side as the other half of the equation.
And the two will be locked inside Hell in a Cell on Sunday, fighting over the top prize on Friday nights.
If an entire year of them competing as the sole focus on SmackDown, along with going over to Raw to eat up the spotlight there, wasn't enough to convince you how important they are, look at the draft.
Sixty-nine Superstars were drafted before SmackDown received any women other than Banks, Bayley and Bianca Belair. That means WWE figured those three were good enough to sustain the entire show until the tail end of the draft when the stragglers were sorted.
Clearly, when WWE was figuring out the trades, they were prioritized and the women's division as a whole beyond them was put on the back burner, which is astounding.
Whether Bayley stays champion or drops it to Banks this Sunday, they will keep feuding for a while and whoever holds the gold will keep it through WrestleMania season.
Raw No. 1: Drew McIntyre
You can't win the Royal Rumble, beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36 and hold the WWE Championship for all this time without being the most important Superstar on Raw.
Drew McIntyre is sitting pretty right now as the face of the brand. He stands above everyone else on the roster and there is no question about that.
Assuming the Scot is able to defeat Randy Orton once more at Hell in a Cell on Sunday and retain his title, his status will be strengthened even more. In fact, the draft may have given us clues that's what is to come.
There is an abundance of heel talent for McIntyre to feud with post-Orton. Over the coming months before and on The Road to WrestleMania, he will likely be half the top storyline alongside AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Retribution and more.
If he loses to Orton, they will simply swap places and he'll become the No. 2 most important. That's still an amazing spot to be in.
SmackDown No. 1: Roman Reigns
Over the past five years or so, no one has been WWE's biggest priority on a more consistent basis than Roman Reigns.
Whether he was cheered or booed, the company was adamant he was the guy of this era. Now, it seems he's actually come into his own with arguably the best version of his character. The Tribal Chief stuff has been amazing.
There is no question Reigns will be the pinnacle of importance for SmackDown going forward. He's the Superstar at the top of the card who will headline WrestleMania 37 and many other events.
Just look at Hell in a Cell. Despite McIntyre and Orton feuding for months and the Bayley-Banks story going back several years in setup, Reigns is featured on the poster alongside Jey Uso.
If there is one name Fox likely refused to let go of in the draft, it's Reigns. He will remain the key wrestler on the blue brand and stand tall at the end of most shows.
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.