Whither the WWE Draft. A double-edged sword it has always been for the WWE, especially this year.
On one hand, it’s an awesome way to generate a two-night event on both RAW and SmackDown and an even better way to reset the roster. After all, we can all agree that RAW could use a breath of fresh air after the past month or two of SmackDown kicking its ass week after week.
Yet, on the other hand, this year’s draft comes in the midst of the build-up to the Hell in a Cell PPV in two weeks. Moving superstars around before the PPV might signal a way for feuds to end or for storylines to just disappear. It looks like that even though draft choices are announced, they don’t go into full effect until after the PPV. So there, it’s good news and bad news in some cases. We’ll break down night one below in our SmackDown recap. Still, we’ll get more over social media over the weekend and then on night two on Monday Night RAW.
Overall, for night one, here’s how it went down as The Draft takes our Star of the Week spot this week.
- Asuka, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke defeated Natalya, Lana & Zelina Vega
- Seth Rollins & Murphy defeated Dominik Mysterio & Humberto Carrillo
- Exhibition Match: Braun Strowman vs. Keith Lee ended in double count-out
- 24/7 Championship: Drew Gulak defeated R-Truth / R-Truth defeated Drew Gulak
- Bobby Lashley & Shelton Benjamin defeated Ricochet & Apollo Crews
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax defeated The Riott Squad
- Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler defeated Drew McIntyre & The Street Profits
There were some bright spots, but for what seems like every Monday night for a month, RAW is disjointed and not clicking on all cylinders like its NXT and SmackDown counterparts. The main event was very good, as it should be with the talent in it. But, most did not. The two women’s tag team matches did little to impress. A good idea with Lee vs. Strowman was poorly executed. And, do we really need more 24/7 title changes between the same three guys? At least, Mustafa Ali got a spotlight!
Disciple, I am not – Thankfully, we’ve finally gotten to the stage of the Seth Rollins and Murphy relationship where Murphy has decided to not take The Monday Night Messiah’s message any longer. Now, with Aalyah Mysterio by his side, he’s ready to take Rollins down. Got to wonder who Seth will get now to replace him. After all, the Messiah needs his minions. BTW: What is the WWE’s fascination with kendo sticks?
Ali, the leader – RETRIBUTION has a leader now and his name is Mustafa Ali. A curious decision by WWE to have Ali, who’s been blowing in the wind the past few months with no real direction, but this one puts him squarely out front of one of their bigger angles. We know he has the skills in the ring, does he have them on the mic as the leader? I’m interested enough to find out and that’s a good thing considering RETRIBUTION was a laughing stock just two weeks ago.
Lee vs. Strowman – An exhibition match? WTF is that?! What a waste of our time. Especially with the draft starting this Friday on SmackDown, it makes no sense to do things like this and worse yet, end them in double count-outs. This only solidifies that Lee or Strowman are moving to move this feud along. Now, having said all that, the spot off the ramp was pretty cool.
- Tommaso Ciampa defeated KUSHIDA by DQ
- Drake Maverick & Killian Dain defeated Ever-Rise
- Austin Theory defeated Leon Ruff
- Dexter Lumis defeated Austin Theory
- Ridge Holland defeated Danny Burch
- Shotzi Blackheart defeated Xia Li
- Ember Moon & Rhea Ripley defeated Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
Capitol Wrestling Center – Triple H was right, this is a game changer! Getting NXT out of Full Sail and into the revamped Performance Center complete with a combination of live fans and the Thunderdome experience is an absolutely home run. Looks amazing. Sounds real, loud and LIVE. Well done!
Three’s a crowd:
KUSHIDA vs. Ciampa – Loved the opening match between KUSHIDA and Tommaso Ciampa! That is up until the point where The Velveteen Dream needlessly interfered. I get it, their feuding, but let’s not bow down to the lowest common denominator. Have him attach AFTER the match. DQ finishes are lazy, especially in this day and age. The new attitude of KUSHIDA is really awesome to watch and I’m looking forward to a rematch between these two or if they want a triple threat with a clean finish. Even the new look works for KUSHIDA with the jeans. Gives him an EDGE.
Ready to Fight:
Ember vs. Io: What’s better than Io Shirai getting ready to take on the returning Ember Moon? Well, how about adding Rhea Ripley and Dakota Kai to the mix! And speaking of additions. That was a pretty sweet video re-introduction of Toni Storm to the NXT American audience. Things are looking up for the women’s division in NXT, a division that was already one of the best going in the biz! A welcome sight to see Moon getting over in the main event too after battling all the back, missing over a year, from that Achilles injury. There’s a good moon a rising folks!
Dexter & Ridge – It seems like we got a pair of NXT bad asses, one good, one bad. Dexter Lumis and Ridge Holland are taking no prisoners these days. Holland has his sights set a bit higher after his attack on Adam Cole at NXT:TakeOver 31. Or should we say HAD his sights set on Adam Cole. After trying to catch Danny Burch from his over the top rope leap after their match, Holland got stretchered out with ankle, knee and tendon injuries. Tough break there for a guy who was about to get a big break. It would’ve been nice to see Holland and Lumis team up at Halloween Havoc in a spin the wheel, make the deal match.
Short stuff – What’s up all the short matches? Austin Theory with a pair of them, plus Holland, Lumis and Shotzi Blackheart all went less than four minutes. Seems like a bit of forced stuff trying to get everyone in there instead of quantity.
Indi & Xia – Nice piece of work by Indi Hartwell, sending the Garganos a big screen tv so they can watch her helping out Candice LeRae during the #1 Contenders Battle Royale. Looks like Candice may have a new pet. As for Xia, what was in that letter from Boa? Hmmmmmm….. sure seemed upset.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Big E defeated Sheamus
Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle defeated The Miz & John Morrison
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks defeated Bayley by DQ; Bayley retains title
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day defeated Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura to win the titles
The Fiend defeated Kevin Owens
DAMN – That Falls Count Anywhere match between Big E and Sheamus was everything I wanted it to be. Physical as hell. Fun and messy. Weapons-filled with kendo sticks (of course), duct tape, cars, flour & eggs and cars (of course). Plus, the right guy went over! And how about the welts and the marks and the blood left all over Sheamus’ pale white body. Felt that even through the TV!
Roman ups the stakes – Not only do we get Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso, part 2 in a Hell in a Cell match, but this time, for the first time ever, it’ll be an I Quit match too! Roman is making sure that if he beats up his cousin again, he’ll have to say it to the Tribal Leader’s face.
Fiendish Friday Night Fight – Kevin Owens against The Fiend in his first match on SmackDown was exactly what we expected. Two guys that don’t exactly look like they should be able to do what they do, but they do and giving us our money’s worth in a main event while they do it. Have to hope that these two, along with Alexa Bliss, end up on the same show after night 2 of the WWE Draft so we can see it again!
The Draft, Night 1:
What they got right:
Seth Rollins moving to SmackDown – The Monday Night Messiah gig was getting old. Will it get new life on Friday night’s? Or will Rollins join up or take on old friend Roman Reigns and the Universal Championship?
The Miz & John Morrison to RAW – The Miz on USA Network makes perfect sense considering his two shows there including Miz & Mrs. that returns next month. Plus, the two were getting stale and becoming pushovers on Friday night.
Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston to RAW – This will bring some new energy to Monday nights, along with some fun. They should’ve brought all 3 members of The New Day to RAW though.
What they got wrong:
AJ Styles – He must really not like Paul Heyman, right? Why trade him to SmackDown a few months ago only to draft him back? Makes little sense.
Rey & Dominik Mysterio to SmackDown – Once Seth Rollins said he was glad to not have to see the Mysterios again, you knew they were getting drafted to Friday nights. Too bad, the paternity storyline is tired! Murphy joins them too after a Saturday morning draft announcement.
Breaking up The New Day – Hated it. For obvious reasons, the trio of Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston should stay together on the same show. Sometimes, you just don’t have to change things. And oh yeah, what about those new titles that Woods & Kingston just won? They said titles go with the superstars, so….??? Makes me think The Street Profits are headed to Friday night and a switch of champions could be in the offing.
Broetry in motion:
Jeff & Matt together again – No, it’s not a Hardy Boys reunion, but Riddle & Hardy looking good with a win over The Miz & Morrison before a returning Lars Sullivan beat up both teams. The Friday night Freak is back to terrorize the WWE. Here’s hoping he stays for a bit longer this time. We’ll have to wait until Monday night to see where he gets drafted to on night two of the WWE Draft.
Bayley – Brilliant move by Bayley, getting herself disqualified in order to keep her title against Sasha Banks. The aftermath was better than the match as the two former besties tried to get the best of each other with that vaunted chair. Up next, Hell in a Cell for these BFFs.
Welcome back, it’s a New Day!
Woods & Kofi return – Xavier Woods missed almost a year with an Achilles tendon injury. Kofi Kingston missed almost three months with undisclosed injuries at Extreme Rules: Horror Show. Both are back to take over the tag team division and it was oh so good to see the Dynamic Duo back together while Big E takes out Sheamus. Kinda cool to see them get right back at it with a title victory over the SmackDown Champs, Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura. Can you say 9-time Champs!
I love having Halloween Havoc to return on NXT the Wednesday before Halloween. I love even more that it will be hosted by Shotzi Blackheart. Now, just give me a night of Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal and I’ll be ecstatic!
Hell in a Cell PPV – Updated Card:
- WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton
- Universal Championship Hell in a Cell I Quit Match: Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso
- SmackDown Women’s Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
Coming up this week:
WWE Superstar Draft – Night 2
Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
The New Day’s Farewell Match: The New Day vs. Sheamus, Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
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