On Friday night, WWE began the annual WWE Draft on SmackDown. As expected, there were plenty of big names drafted, with some of those big names changing to new brands.
Most notable among those who switched brands was Charlotte Flair, who was drafted to SmackDown despite being the current Raw women’s champion. SmackDown’s women’s champion was not among those eligible to be drafted on Friday night, leaving it to Monday to see if SmackDown will end up with two women’s champs on the roster.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.
Night One of the WWE Draft
The first picks of the WWE Draft kicked off the show, with Raw and SmackDown each getting two picks per round rather than Raw getting an extra pick due to their three-hour structure. While both brands started by retaining their men’s champions – SmackDown taking Roman Reigns and Raw Big E – SmackDown made the first big move of the night, drafting Raw women’s champion Charlotte Flair.
Other big moves included Drew McIntyre moving to SmackDown and New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods again being moved away from Big E as the team went to Raw. The first NXT group to be drafted was Hit Row, with the entire stable drafted to SmackDown. You can see the full pick-by-pick breakdown of the draft here.
As expected, there were some big surprises in the draft. Flair’s move to SmackDown is a big deal and could be even bigger depending on how the second half of the draft plays out on Raw. There was also some controversy with New Day being pulled away from Big E for the second consecutive draft, drawing plenty of audible boos from a crowd that wants to see one of the company’s most popular acts remain together. The draft would have been more interesting if the pools of eligible talent for the night were made available ahead of the show. Grade: B-
Brock Lesnar ruins Roman Reigns’ night
Reigns came to the ring after the initial draft picks, celebrating his status as the top overall draft pick and his Extreme Rules win over Finn Balor. After Reigns and Paul Heyman turned their attention to Crown Jewel and the challenge of Brock Lesnar, Lesnar made his way to the ring, brawling with the universal champion before destroying The Usos and hitting both with F-5s as Reigns was forced to stand by and watch.
Later in the show, Lesnar interrupted a planned backstage interview with Jeff Hardy — who had just be drafted to SmackDown. Lesnar announced that he would do whatever he wants because he is now a free agent, stating several times that his status was “thanks to Paul Heyman.” Backstage, Reigns asked Heyman if he was, in fact, “good friends” with Lesnar. Reigns yelled at Heyman because the Usos had not been drafted on the first night despite the planned roster split. Reigns told Heyman to go to Raw on Monday and make sure the draft played out correctly, then told The Usos to go with and “leave him for dead” if Heyman failed.
Lesnar is the rare talent who makes every moment feel much bigger simply by being there. Getting to see him throw The Usos around was good fun and Reigns continuing to spiral knowing that Lesnar remains in his future has given a new wrinkle to his dominant character. It will be interesting to see if WWE does move Heyman away from Reigns since he’s been so important to the act but has been more important to Lesnar throughout his career. Grade: B
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Happy Corbin def. Kevin Owens via pinfall after End of Days. Corbin is now officially accompanied by Riddick Moss, who is now Madcap Moss.
- Seth Rollins broke into Edge’s house. Edge was in the ring to address Rollins’ threats from the previous week when Rollins appeared on the Tron at Edge’s home, letting himself in the house and eating Edge’s food and exploring the house. Edge called his wife and told her to not return home as she was out getting groceries with their children.
- Carmella attacked Liv Morgan before their match. Carmella rolled from the ring before the start of the match where assistants put a mask over her face. After then attacking Morgan, Carmella celebrated and left with the match not having taken place.
- The New Day & The Street Profits def. Chad Gable, Otis, Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler via pinfall.
- Sasha Banks def. Bianca Belair via pinfall with a roll-up after Becky Lynch pulled Belair’s braid. After the match, Charlotte Flair ran in to attack both women before posing in the ring with her Raw women’s championship. Becky Lynch, who was on commentary, posed outside the ring with her SmackDown women’s title.