RAW’s #40 pick is… ZACH RYDER
Andrew: Woo woo woo. Mr. Long Island Iced Z has been in an identity crisis these days, but he is a locker room veteran, his music is still tight, and he works perfectly as a decent jobber to the stars. A win here or there on Superstars wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.
SMACKDOWN’s #40 pick is… ENZO AMORE
Ben: Never seen him, but I need tag teams and I know he and Colin Cassady have paired up.
RAW’s #41 pick is… C.J. PARKER
Andrew: I have only seen his heelish environmentalist act a few times, so I feign ignorance. I just wish this was the character Pamela Anderson played on “Baywatch” instead, but alas.
SMACKDOWN’s #41 pick is… MR. McMAHON
Ben: In round 41 why wouldn’t I take him? Great to pop the occasional rating, plus I need a McMahon, right?
RAW’s #42 pick is… BRANDI
Andrew: Many know her as the wife of Cody Rhodes, but Brandi has been doing a good job as a ring announcer for NXT for a while now. I wanted a ring announcer, and although I like Justin Roberts, I wanted to break in a new voice, and Lillian Garcia doesn’t have much time left. Plus, she has learned some wrestling in between, so if the announcing doesn’t work out, another Diva!
SMACKDOWN’s #42 pick is… JUSTIN ROBERTS
Ben: While Andrew went with NXT ring announcer Brandi, I decided rather than try to groom another Diva, I’d stick with the experienced and polished Mr. Roberts for the time being.
RAW’s #43 pick is… ZEB COLTER
Andrew: He is more over than Jack Swagger, but the former Dutch Mantell is such a wealth of knowledge as a historian and trainer to the stars that I just had to take him this late. It is never too late to pick a good old fashioned manager.
SMACKDOWN’s #43, #44, and #45 picks are… EL TORITO, DIEGO, & FERNANDO
Ben: The most important part of this act to get, in all seriousness, was Torito, as he’s the gimmick and could still have value alone, but I really wanted the full Los Matadores package. Given some seasoning and work, they could be a solid lead tag team ala the Usos at some point.
RAW’s #44 pick is… HORNSWOGGLE
Andrew: Ben got the best little person in WWE in El Torito, so I went with the next best one…and also the only other one they have. Meh. At least he has a movie coming out that I can pimp every now and then.
RAW’s #45 pick is… BRAD MADDOX
Andrew: His general manager role on Raw alongside Vickie Guerrero flopped and his sideways verbal delivery never caught on with fans. I don’t think he ever had much to offer as an actual wrestler, so let’s try him out in miscellaneous roles like the pre-show and backstage interviews.
RAW’s #46 pick is… NATALYA
Andrew: She is a tough girl who can work an okay match and is the most experienced Diva on the roster. She also has a great personality and can team up with hubby Tyson Kidd inter-gender tag matches at times. Win-win.
SMACKDOWN’s #46 pick is… CHARLOTTE
Ben: I really wanted Natalya, a proven veteran who can have great matches with just about anybody and has the added bonus of Total Divas exposure, but Riche snatched her from me. As a consolation, I’ll take Charlotte, who has only shown flashes of her dad’s greatness on the mic, but is already pretty solid in the ring, plus I’m guaranteed the occasional “Nature Boy” cameo.
RAW’s #47 pick is… MASON RYAN
Andrew: He flopped with Nexus in 2011, but the Welsh big guy is back in NXT trying to build himself back up again. Let’s try this one more time.
SMACKDOWN’s #47 pick is… R-TRUTH
Ben: Wow, can’t believe Truth fell so far, this was a steal. My inclination would be to turn him heel and see if that weird energy from 2011 can’t be recaptured, but if that doesn’t work, he’s a solid mid-card babyface.
RAW’s #48 pick is… THE GREAT KHALI
Andrew: Purely for comedy segment filler and a stepping stone for the next heel monster.
SMACKDOWN’s #48 pick is… JINDER MAHAL
Ben: As we were getting to the last holdouts, I figured why not complete 3MB and give Heath Slater another potential tag team partner.
RAW’s #49 pick is… TAMINA SNUKA
Andrew: Not the most talented or even the most experienced Diva, but the most intimidating of them all from a physical standpoint. I can see a few nice outings between her and Natalya or Emma on lesser shows.
SMACKDOWN’s #49 pick is… VICKIE GUERRERO
Ben: Her act has worn a little thin and she likely doesn’t have much mileage left, but Vickie’s a heat magnet and could be beneficial for an up and coming heel.
RAW’s #50 pick is… ROAD DOGG JESSE JAMES
Andrew: No need to wrestle anymore unless the Authority needs a goon. This is basically for the sake of filling match time or managerial roles in a tight squeeze.
SMACKDOWN’s #50 pick is… ALICIA FOX
Ben: If you’ve seen Alicia Fox on Total Divas or its after show with Renee Young, she’s got a pretty fun personality, so I’d take her out of the ring and see if she can be used elsewhere.
RAW’s #51 pick is… BILLY GUNN
Andrew: I just wanted the New Age Outlaws together just in case. Nothing more.
SMACKDOWN’s #51 pick is… JTG
Ben: Hey, I like JTG.
RAW’s #52 and final wrestler pick is… CURT HAWKINS
Andrew: A buddy of a lot of the older boys in the back who still has something to prove and will never complain about his place on the card.
SMACKDOWN’s #52 and final wrestler pick is… EVA MARIE
Ben: Totally unproven in the ring, but known by a largely untapped audience from Total Divas and able to draw heel heat simply by existing, glad to get Eva with my final pick.
We will now switch pole position for choosing the announcers as Ben will get the first pick and Andrew will follow afterwards. Who will be the voices of Raw and Smackdown?
SMACKDOWN selects… JOSH MATTHEWS
Ben: Sticking with my overall strategy for this draft, I went with youth over experience here. If you watch the pre or post shows for Raw and SmackDown on WWE Network, Josh Matthews has become a polished pro, and I thought he was great when he was doing regular play-by-play as recently as last year. I think he can grow into the role as lead announcer quite handily and doesn’t carry any of the stigmas Michael Cole currently has.
RAW selects… MICHAEL COLE
Andrew: I get second crack at the announcers, and I have to go with the man who has been the voice of the WWE for quite a few years now in Michael Cole. He has his fair share of doubters and can be repetitious on many occasions, but he does a better job as a lead man than he might ever get credit for just because he ain’t JR or Gorilla. I just cannot listen to Raw without their lead man in the booth.
SMACKDOWN selects… WILLIAM REGAL
Ben: Since I didn’t pick Michael Cole, I saw no need to break up his natural chemistry with JBL, and instead decided for a clean slate, bringing Regal up from NXT; I think he could both mentor Matthews nicely and bring a fresh voice to the announcing with the solid storytelling it’s been lacking.
RAW selects… JBL
Andrew: I feel really fortunate that I got Cole’s best announcing partner JBL to pair up with Cole on Raw because I thought for sure Ben was going to take him. Although his work has not been as consistent as in 2006 or 2007, he can still play a mean devil’s advocate at times and is genuinely funny. No one complains about his work.
SMACKDOWN selects… ALEX RILEY
Ben: Again, going to the Network/NXT combo, A-Ry has grown into a very competent heel analyst and could make for a cool three man booth with Matthews and Regal or head up the B-team.
RAW selects… BYRON SAXTON
Andrew: After watching NXT for a while, I am impressed with Saxton’s work in all departments. It is no wonder that he seamlessly does Main Event announcing, backstage interviews, or any other segment the company asks him to do. This is his calling, and he is my next in line as the lead guy after Cole. He can also host the pre and post-shows without a problem.
SMACKDOWN selects… SCOTT STANFORD
Ben: Among the more underrated talented WWE has on the payroll, Stanford can walk the line between being fun and informative and is the perfect utility player for the announce team.
RAW selects… BOOKER T
Andrew: Ben already got the awesome William Regal and the underrated panelist Alex Riley, so I took Booker T just because he’s got the “Fave Five” and is the least annoying of the former wrestlers turned WWE talking heads available. Sorry, King, but it’s time to hang up the headphones.
MONDAY NIGHT RAW DRAFT ORDER
1. Daniel Bryan, 2. Brock Lesnar, 3. Triple H, 4. Randy Orton, 5. Paul Heyman, 6. Bray Wyatt, 7. Dean Ambrose, 8. Kofi Kingston, 9. Sami Zayn, 10. Alberto Del Rio, 11. C.M. Punk, 12. Luke Harper, 13. The Undertaker, 14. Stephanie McMahon, 15. Cody Rhodes, 16. Erich Rowan, 17. Jimmy Uso, 18. Jay Uso, 19. Kane, 20. Corey Graves, 21. Renee Young, 22. Mark Henry, 23. Adam Rose, 24. Aiden English, 25. Goldust, 26. Jack Swagger, 27. Camacho, 28. Fandango, 29. Emma, 30. Ryback, 31. Curtis Axel, 32. Mojo Rawley, 33. Tyson Kidd, 34. Summer Rae, 35. Brie Bella, 36. Evan Bourne, 37. Titus O’Neill, 38. Naomi, 39. Oliver Grey, 40. Zach Ryder, 41. C.J. Parker, 42. Brandi, 43. Zeb Colter, 44. Hornswoggle, 45. Brad Maddox, 46. Natalya, 47. Mason Ryan, 48. The Great Khali, 49. Tamina Snuka, 50. Road Dogg, 51. Billy Gunn, 52. Curt Hawkins
ANNOUNCERS: Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton, Booker T
FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN DRAFT ORDER
1. John Cena, 2. Cesaro, 3. Roman Reigns, 4. Batista, 5. Sheamus, 6. Seth Rollins, 7. Dolph Ziggler, 8. The Big Show, 9. Paige, 10. Adrian Neville, 11. Bad News Barrett, 12. The Rock, 13. Hulk Hogan, 14. Rey Mysterio, 15. Lana, 16. Alexander Rusev, 17. Big E, 18. The Miz, 19. Konnor, 20. Viktor, 21. Damien Sandow, 22. Rob Van Dam, 23. Tyler Breeze, 24. A.J. Lee, 25. Christian, 26. Brodus Clay, 27. Sin Cara, 28. Xavier Woods, 29. Bayley, 30. Drew McIntyre, 31. Heath Slater, 32. Justin Gabriel, 33. Nikki Bella, 34. Santino, 35. David Otunga, 36. Darren Young, 37. Bo Dallas, 38. Layla, 39. Colin Cassady, 40. Enzo Amore, 41. Mr. McMahon, 42. Justin Roberts, 43. El Torito, 44. Diego, 45. Fernando, 46. Charlotte, 47. R-Truth, 48. Jinder Mahal, 49. Vickie Guerrero, 50. Alicia Fox, 51. J.T.G., 52. Eva Marie
ANNOUNCERS: Josh Matthews, William Regal, Alex Riley, Scott Stanford