Raw Reaction: Fiendish Delight
By Ryan Satin
The Raw and SmackDown rosters were solidified Monday night during the conclusion of the WWE Draft.
Draft choices made after the show were as follows:
● Lana to Raw
● Natalya to SmackDown
● Riddick Moss to Raw
● Riott Squad to SmackDown
● Arturo Ruas to Raw
● Billie Kay to SmackDown
● Erik to Raw
● Tamina to SmackDown
● Zelina Vega to SmackDown
Now that you’re caught up, let’s unpack the biggest takeaways from the October 12, 2020 edition of Raw.
1. Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss switch brands together
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss wasted no time making their presence felt after being drafted back to Raw.
This, no doubt, made for the coolest visual of the night.
I’ve had trouble connecting with the Bliss and Wyatt storyline up to this point, but their re-introduction on Raw made me see the light.
Alexa played her part perfectly here, which established she and Bray as a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully this move means the former Women’s champion is getting the chance to dive head first in this new direction and go all in on the Fiend madness.
Bliss has the chops to pull it off like Wyatt, and being on Raw allows WWE the ability to add more edge to the pairing. Leaning into that edge more heavily will continue to give Wyatt new purpose after moving on from the Universal title.
This will keep "The Fiend" busy for a few months until he eventually sets his sights on Randy Orton.
Bliss’ next appearance should take place in the Firefly Fun House in order to establish a distinct line between her two personalities – the happy-go-lucky version of her character that lives in the Fun House like Bray, and the twisted version influenced by "The Fiend" in the ring.
2. Pros and cons of the WWE Draft
The WWE Draft is always a good way to shake things up on both shows.
SmackDown brought in new top stars like Seth Rollins, The Street Profits, Kevin Owens and Rey Mysterio, while keeping Bayley, Daniel Bryan, Sasha Banks and Sami Zayn.
Raw retained marquee names in Drew McIntyre, Asuka, Randy Orton and The Hurt Business, but also added AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Jeff Hardy, Matt Riddle and Sheamus to its roster.
These changes create interesting new matchups on both nights, therefore the goal of the draft was accomplished, but the drama of it all is lost without seeing dueling authority figures battle it out for a better roster.
Same goes for lack of instant reactions from the Superstars switching nights.
Having the whole thing feel like an aggressive game of chess between brand representatives is a much better viewing experience than each draft pick being happily announced in a corporate manner by one person.
Authority figures drafting for their respective brands additionally helps to make sense of a group or tag team being split up like New Day and Heavy Machinery.
It isn’t logical for a network to intentionally split a group or team when they’re allowed to maximize the value of their picks by keeping them intact. This move being done by a heel commissioner or general manager, on the other hand, is much more believable.
If the return of authority figures doesn’t happen by next year, which wouldn’t bother me at all, the format of the Draft could use a makeover in some way to fix this problem.
Some fans also don’t appear to enjoy the talent being split into separate draft pools each night. Everyone who is available to be drafted should be up for grabs from the jump.
3. New Day and Street Profits swapping title belts
Wrestling historians tracking belt lineage might get a headache over this, but it had to happen once The Street Profits were drafted to SmackDown as Raw Tag champions.
I see no issue with a simple trade.
The Raw Tag Team titles on SmackDown and the SmackDown Tag Team titles on Raw for any period of time would’ve been silly. Eventually they’d have to go back on their respective brands, and the work it would’ve taken to get there would not have been worth it.
No use in dragging the whole thing out when the entire point of the WWE Draft is to freshen things up on each show.
Obsessing over the two teams not “winning” their respective titles is fruitless.
Elias returned on Monday by attacking Jeff Hardy, then got officially drafted to Raw.
● With a “concert” now scheduled for Monday, a segment which relies heavily on crowd reactions, it’ll be interesting to see if WWE can continue to make them enjoyable for viewers at home when done in front of the virtual ThunderDome audience.
● Andrade went undrafted on night two of the WWE Draft, both on TV as well as in the supplemental draft picks afterward. This is a head-scratching decision on the surface. Hopefully there’s a long-term plan in place here meant to re-establish El Idolo as someone who could one day challenge for the WWE or Universal Championship.
● Raw this week featured two fantastic matches in Kevin Owens vs. Aleister Black and Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy. All five competitors have been on fire lately in the ring.
● Lana gets a title shot next week on Raw.
Yes, you read that correctly.
"The Ravishing Russian" earned a shot at Asuka’s Raw Women’s title next week after winning a battle royal in sneaky fashion.
This might not be the popular consensus amongst hardcore fans, and Twitter will likely come at me for saying it, but I’m intrigued to see how a singles match between Asuka and Lana plays out next week. WWE could have something interesting up their sleeves.