Did Raw or SmackDown Win the 2021 WWE Draft?

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2021

Did Raw or SmackDown Win the 2021 WWE Draft?

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The 2021 WWE draft has all but concluded, after giving Raw and SmackDown the opportunity to freshen up the rosters for the next year.

    Some major moves were made, with Raw women's champion Charlotte Flair moving to SmackDown in exchange for her SmackDown counterpart, Becky Lynch. Drew McIntyre has switched to the blue brand, and a number of NXT call-ups have joined the main roster.

    Now that much of the dust has settled, it's time to decide which brand fared best in this year's draft.

Updated Post-Draft Rosters

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In alphabetical order:

    Raw

    • AJ Styles and Omos
    • Akira Tozawa
    • Alexa Bliss
    • Alpha Academy
    • Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez
    • Austin Theory
    • Becky Lynch (with the SmackDown Women's Championship)
    • Bianca Belair
    • Big E
    • Bobby Lashley and MVP
    • Carmella
    • Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin
    • Damian Priest
    • Dana Brooke
    • Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
    • Dominik and Rey Mysterio
    • Doudrop
    • Drake Maverick
    • Edge
    • Finn Balor
    • Gable Steveson
    • Jaxson Ryker
    • John Morrison
    • Karrion Kross
    • Keith "Bearcat" Lee
    • Kevin Owens
    • Liv Morgan
    • Mia Yim
    • Nia Jax
    • Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley (with the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship)
    • R-Truth
    • Reggie
    • RK-Bro
    • Seth Rollins
    • T-Bar
    • Tamina
    • Tegan Nox
    • The Miz
    • The Street Profits 
    • Veer
    • Zelina Vega

               

    SmackDown

    • Aliyah
    • Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo
    • Cesaro
    • Charlotte Flair (with the Raw Women's Championship)
    • Drew Gulak
    • Drew McIntyre
    • Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss
    • Hit Row 
    • Jeff Hardy
    • Jinder Mahal and Shanky
    • Mace
    • Mansoor
    • Mustafa Ali
    • Naomi
    • Natalya
    • Ricochet
    • Ridge Holland
    • Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman)
    • Sami Zayn
    • Sasha Banks
    • Shayna Baszler
    • Sheamus
    • Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs
    • Shotzi
    • The New Day
    • The Usos 
    • The Viking Raiders 
    • Toni Storm
    • Xia Li

Remaining Free Agents

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Several Superstars are still left without a home and are considered free agents.

    Some were left out of the draft due to injuries which have rendered them inactive, while others are likely in a creative wasteland where WWE is waiting on a new storyline for them.

    The Raw commentary team mentioned that a continuation of the draft may happen on NXT Tuesday night, so that may offer further answers.

    The following is a list of free agents who could shift the balance in a successful draft between Raw and SmackDown:

    • Asuka (injured)
    • Bayley (injured)
    • Davey Boy Smith Jr.
    • Elias 
    • Eva Marie (injured)
    • Lacey Evans (pregnancy leave)
    • Lince Dorado
    • MVP (injured)
    • Slapjack 
    • Sonya Deville (authority figure)
    • Titus O'Neil

Tag Team Divisions

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The advantage in the tag team division is currently with SmackDown after the draft, but only just.

    As it stands, Raw has eight active tandems:

    • AJ Styles and Omos
    • Alpha Academy
    • Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez
    • Dirty Dawgs
    • The Hurt Business
    • The Mysterios
    • RK-Bro
    • The Street Profits

    SmackDown has nine, in theory:

    • Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo
    • Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss
    • Hit Row
    • Jinder Mahal and Shanky
    • Mansoor and Mustafa Ali
    • The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
    • Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs
    • The Usos
    • The Viking Raiders

    While it's unclear if Jinder Mahal and Shanky will continue to team together, separating them from Veer at least gives SmackDown that option, while Raw only has one part of that trio.

    SmackDown also has a potential reunion of The Bar, with Cesaro and Sheamus now on the same brand once again.

    Granted, Raw has more Superstars and can form tag teams out of nothing, but it does have an issue with new arrivals Dominik and Rey Mysterio, who have been butting heads lately. There's a good chance they will feud with each other eventually.

    And there's always a chance Styles and Omos split, while a feud between Riddle and Randy Orton feels inevitable as we move closer to WrestleMania 38.

    Winner: SmackDown

Women's Divisions

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    Credit: WWE.com

    SmackDown didn't do much to boost its women's division during the draft.

    Of the 10 women listed on the blue brand, five were already there, while the others comprise Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler and three NXT call-ups.

    Flair is a big get, obviously, and Baszler's turn to becoming a destructive heel will ensure she plays second fiddle to The Queen.

    The NXT arrivals are unproven in many respects. Aliyah's been getting lapped in the chase for main roster promotions in recent years, B-Fab has only wrestled twice and is nowhere near ready for major  responsibilities, and Xia Li isn't bringing Tian Sha with her.

    Raw, on the other hand, snatched up everyone who is more seasoned and polished.

    While SmackDown can say it got Flair and Baszler, Raw has taken Lynch, Belair, Carmella, Morgan, Tamina, Nox and Zelina Vega.

    Mia Yim is fresh, as is Nox, which counterbalances the NXT additions to SmackDown. Doudrop hasn't been on Raw long enough to become tiresome, either.

    If the red brand loses a few people to injuries, there are enough to hold down the fort. If Flair alone falls victim to some inactivity, SmackDown is working with just a handful of names, and some aren't trustworthy yet on such a big platform.

    Winner: Raw

Men's Divisions

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    Look at Raw getting the leg-up on SmackDown already!
    Look at Raw getting the leg-up on SmackDown already!Credit: WWE.com

    Both brands suffer from a lack of major star power in their men's divisions. There aren't enough options for Big E or Roman Reigns to face to sustain a full year without going into rematches.

    Unless WWE is able to quickly boost some names to the next level, 2022 may be a year when even more attention is put on just a few wrestlers while part-timers are brought in for pay-per-views.

    However, WWE has never lacked for talented people. Wrestlers such as Ricochet won't seem like a credible threat to Reigns right now, but he will be if WWE uses him correctly. The potential is there to make both rosters amazing, so long as the company puts in the effort.

    Raw has only eight more men on the roster than SmackDown. Considering how four are essentially just running around with the 24/7 Championship (Tozawa, Maverick, R-Truth and Reggie), Kevin Owens is likely leaving WWE in January when his contract expires and Edge is only a part-time performer, which whittles the numbers down further.

    MVP is more of a manager. Jaxson Ryker's not doing too much. Veer may be lost without Mahal and Shanky and it's doubtful he'd make a big splash in the singles division on his own.

    If you remove the tag team specialists, the red brand appears to be losing a lot of talent quickly, but doing the same to SmackDown has an even greater effect.

    Garza and Carrillo, The Viking Raiders, Mansoor and Ali, Shanky, The Usos and others are great, but they don't have much weight in the singles division right now.

    For the most part, SmackDown's big guns are Corbin, Cesaro, McIntyre, Hardy, Ricochet, Reigns, Zayn, Sheamus and Nakamura. Half of those would be closer to United States Championship level on Raw when standing next to Lashley, Styles, Priest, Balor, Kross, Lee, Riddle, Orton, Mysterio, Rollins and so on.

    Steveson could be a big player to come. T-Bar has more upward mobility than Mace. Austin Theory is already off to a good start and could be someone to watch out for, too.

    This win ultimately goes to Raw, as SmackDown could use another two or three established big names.

    Winner: Raw

The Verdict

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    Credit: WWE.com

    With a 2-1 score, Raw edges the victory in this year's draft. It's not a total blowout, as SmackDown does have a healthier tag team division, but there is far more variety on the red brand.

    It's hard to imagine SmackDown isn't going to be running short of challengers for Reigns and Flair by the time WrestleMania 38 has concluded, if not before then. The stretch from April through October could be a bumpy ride for Fox.

    Here's hoping WWE shuffles the deck again with some trades over time to avoid letting the new rosters grow stale. Plenty of Superstars could jump from NXT to Raw or SmackDown to help with an influx of talent.

    For now, Raw lost some good people, but it should bounce back much easier than SmackDown, which appears to be the place where WWE has sent people who are without much of a solid direction other than bowing to Reigns and Flair.   

                  

    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.

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