With a WWE roster split announced, here’s your first 2016 WWE mock draft

WWE announced Wednesday that it is revamping SmackDown as a live show that will feature a unique roster starting in July, which means fans could potentially see the return of the WWE Draft. 

Back in 2002 following the death of WCW, WWE split its roster across Raw and SmackDown (The Rock was the No. 1 overall pick), and annual drafts were held to shake up the shows annually from 2004 to 2011. Raw and SmackDown rosters eventually merged and the number of championships was reduced – but with one of the deepest rosters in years, a brand split could finally make for two compelling shows each week. 

So how should WWE divide its stars? We went through the roster one by one, assuming that WWE’s goal is to make Raw and SmackDown equally watchable and do comparable ratings. Part-timers like Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker have been excluded along with injured stars without a return date, and tag teams count as a single pick. 

Stephanie McMahon feuded with her brother over control of Raw, which ended with Vince McMahon forcing his children to work together on the show. Stephanie and Shane have been (almost too) friendly since, but splitting the pair up and turning Raw vs. SmackDown into a competition seems like a wise move.

SmackDown is the show trying to catch up, which is why Shane falls to second despite being more over with fans than his sister. In general, Shane is the lead "New Era" figure in WWE while Stephanie represents the establishment, and their roster choices will reflect that. 

Reigns’ title will be on the line at Money In The Bank, but it seems probable that he keeps it given how WWE has built his character over the last few months. The new franchise player goes to the franchise show. 

Taking John Cena off Raw would be a bold move for WWE to make – Cena was famously drafted by SmackDown in 2011 but switched to Raw later in the show – but at this point in his career it seems like a move Cena would be willing to make. This is a 15-time world champion who spent an entire year elevating the United States title. Having him anchor SmackDown will drive a huge amount dedicated Cena fans to the show

Rollins and Reigns are just starting what could be a long feud, and even if the pair only wrestle each other at pay-per-views, they should be on the same show. Given how hot Rollins is right now, it’s hard to see him moving off Raw. 

It’s tempting to put Styles on the same show as Reigns given how well they work together, but now that Styles has been shoved out of the title picture by Seth Rollins, WWE could distance him from the champion. Styles-Cena matches could be similarly epic.

It seems likely that Charlotte will remain the champion for the foreseeable future after emerging victorious from a feud with Natalya and picking up a bodyguard in Dana Brooke, so she’s naturally the first female wrestler on the board.

Sasha Banks has been missing from action and is rumored to be recovering from a head injury, but WWE is using her to promote the change to SmackDown. Banks is incredibly popular and should get a shot to lead her division on SmackDown. 

Whichever show gets The New Day essentially hits the jackpot, but we think WWE will stick its star tag team on the show with the best ratings (at least for now). 

Kevin Owens has been arguably the best part of WWE programming this year. He consistently delivers in the ring, on the mic, in the commentator’s chair, and even on Snapchat

Ambrose goes to Raw to keep the former Shield intact and keep him close to the WWE title. 

If Zayn and Owens aren’t on the same show WWE will have made a horrible, horrible mistake.

This is a bit of an upset pick. Paige has been unfortunately shuffled out of the forefront of the women’s division, but a roster split should give her more airtime. Also…

… we’re keeping recent NXT stars together on SmackDown, which means Becky Lynch joins Sasha Banks. Give them 15 minutes every week, please. 

The Miz is probably too low on this list given that he’s the Intercontinental champion, but he’s constantly on the verge of losing it. He very well may drop the belt at Money In The Bank before a draft ever happens.

Who will Rusev beef with now that he’s the United States champion? Captain America John Cena is the best bet, so we’re putting the Bulgarian Brute on SmackDown. 

Someone’s got to wrestle The New Day.

Another injured star on the verge of a comeback, Bray Wyatt was just starting to gain momentum before suffering a calf injury in April. We really want to see Wyatt work with some of the new arrivals from NXT, and it only makes sense for the rest of the Wyatt family to be on the same show. 

Orton is set to return shortly from a long absence according to Vince McMahon, but it’s unclear how WWE will use Orton once he returns. Prior to his injury he was allied with Reigns and Ambrose, and though that storyline is long forgotten, we’ll put Orton into the WWE title picture on Raw. 

The fractured Club storyline is just getting started, so Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson be on AJ Styles’ show. 

No. 21 – Raw: Dana Brooke

No. 22 – SmackDown: The Dudley Boyz

No. 23 – Raw: Cesaro

No. 24 – SmackDown: Baron Corbin

No. 25 – Raw: Apollo Crews

No. 26 – SmackDown: Darren Young

Brooke will land wherever Charlotte does, and Cesaro goes to Raw to balance the Intercontinental title field between the shows. Finally, the [awful] Darren Young promos with Bob Backlund have to be leading somewhere, right?

No. 27 – Raw: Natalya

No. 28 – SmackDown: Eva Marie 

No. 29 – Raw: Sheamus

No. 30 – SmackDown: The Vaudevillains

No. 31 – Raw: Dolph Ziggler 

No. 32 – SmackDown: Summer Rae

No. 33 – Raw: Chris Jericho

No. 34 – SmackDown: The Big Show

No. 35 – Raw: The Usos

No. 36 – SmackDown: The Shining Stars

No. 37 – Raw: Kalisto and Sin Cara

No. 38 – SmackDown: GolDango

No. 39 – Raw: Whatever the combinations of Goldust, R-Truth, Tyler Breeze and Fandango are called at the time

No. 40 – SmackDown: Mark Henry

No. 41 – Raw: Jack Swagger

No. 42 – SmackDown – Titus O’Neil

No. 43 – Raw: Kane

No. 44 – SmackDown : The Social Outcasts

Balor’s WWE debut has been rumored for weeks and he could become the new leader of The Club now that AJ Styles has split with Gallows and Anderson. He’ll probably join the main roster sometime soon, in if he does he’ll be a top pick. 

No one knows how long Shinsuke Nakamura will remain in NXT, and with Balor soon to depart the Japanese superstar could carry the show with Samoa Joe while the next crop of talent develops. Nakamura has the talent and charisma to  be main eventing WWE pay-per-views, though, and will hopefully be on national television sooner rather than later. 

Bayley dropped her title to Asuka just before WrestleMania, and Asuka seems primed to go on a long dominant run in the NXT women’s division. Bayley’s ready to make the jump, but it’s unclear when her debut will happen. Asuka’s main roster debut is further off, but like Nakamura, she’s an incredible performer who will be a fan-favorite for a long time to come.