On the heels of last week’s blockbuster announcement, the WWE Universe is still buzzing over the imminent brand extension. Shane McMahon would confirm the rumors on this past Monday Night Raw stating, “there will be unique superstars from both Raw and SmackDown” setting the internet ablaze. Magazine and sports websites – among them Forbes, FOX Sports, and Inquisitr – posted “mock” drafts to both the delight and chagrin of wrestling fans. As Keeping It Real Sports joins the fray, we want to offer our predicted brand extension with a few twists.
3 Things to Note (HINT: TAKE NOTES)
(1) The Date
While WWE reminds its ‘universe’ of SmackDown’s first live airing for Tuesday, July 19th, the date of the brand extension has yet to be determined. Considering this historic date, it would be remiss for anyone to mark their calendar for the July 18th edition of Raw. On the surface, it makes sense. The brand extension would take place on the Raw prior to SmackDown officially going live, and six days before WWE’s next PPV event, Battleground. Hereby (and depending on where the superstars get drafted), many rivalries and championship pursuits would culminate at the event. Recently, there are reports suggesting for a July 11th draft special.
However, WWE should hold off on its forthcoming draft for the July 25th Raw. While we’re not suggesting SmackDown to move its inaugural live episode, the night of the brand extension should ultimately begin the road to SummerSlam. Keep in mind, WWE has been using phrases like “shakeup” and “New Era”, so why not reset the composite landscape of WWE and immediately usher in fresh storylines. In addition, the July 19th SmackDown can be promoted as the final televised program to feature the entire roster – a promotion that could please the USA Network executives who have been unhappy with the show’s low ratings.
(2) The Broadcast
On March 25th, 2002, WWF broadcasted its first brand extension on Raw, the focal point of TNN’s primetime schedule. Due to time restriction, each brand’s general manager (Ric Flair for Raw and Vince McMahon for SmackDown) would only “select” ten superstars and/or teams. A non-televised “draft lottery” dispersed the rest of the roster. Needless to say, WWE Network would have been very useful at the time.
In the 14 years since the initial draft, WWE has gone through many changes with its television broadcast and video production. In 2012, the three-hour format would become a staple of Monday Night Raw. Although argued by wrestling fans, the extra hour will prove to be useful for the brand extension as it will allow for ten more selections. Mathematically, if 20 picks were covered for a two-hour broadcast, it will take three hours to select 30 superstars. Thus, each brand will be able to choose 15 of the company’s biggest names on the telecast.
Since 2014, the WWE Network has modernized accessibility to its everflowing multimedia content. Also, it’s provided WWE with an innovative alternative to present a live broadcast such as NXT and the annual WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. In 2016, WWE Network should provide live coverage of the events surrounding the brand extension. During the Raw-Pre Show, the McMahon siblings may announce their refurbished announce teams or conduct interviews regarding their possible draft selections.
Following the televised brand extension, the Network would continue with two more distinct drafts – the “Women’s Division Draft” for the female talent and the “Supplement Draft” that will determine the new homes for the unselected male superstars. The follow-up drafts could even be proctored by Mr. McMahon himself, ala the NFL’s Roger Goodell. WWE Network’s involvement in the draft-related festivities will undoubtedly boost subscribers.
(3) The Sibling Rivalry
In storyline, Vince McMahon and Ric Flair hated each other. They had equal share of the company, and would do anything to destroy their counterpart’s reputation. The inaugural draft would only add more fuel to the fire as both co-owners would try to select the best superstars for their brand. During the draft, it was obvious that Mr. McMahon’s decision-making was based on dismantling Flair’s brand than actually improving his own show. When “The Nature Boy” selected Bubba Ray Dudley, McMahon responded by breaking up the legendary tag team and took D-Von Dudley. Later, Flair would take WWF European Champion William Regal. Instead of drafting a bigger star, McMahon would draft Maven in order to secure the WWF Hardcore Championship away from Flair. Many of the draft selections were solely made out of spite.
In 2016, the sibling rivalry of Shane and Stephanie McMahon will be taken to the next level as they decide the fate of WWE’s loaded talent pool. Mr. McMahon will officially announce that Shane O’Mac will permanently run Raw, while the SmackDown duties have been handed down to Stephanie. At Battleground, a match among two superstars – one represented by Shane and the other by Stephanie – will determine who has the first pick of the brand extension. Although this match will be won by Shane’s representative, Mr. McMahon will announce that Stephanie will have the second and third pick of the draft (with the following picks going one-by-one). Furthermore, all current champions will be eligible for selection.
Elements of the 2002 draft will be on full display as each sibling will look to decimate each other. Now with the rules and scheduling in place, let the fun begin…
#1 – Raw selects… ROMAN REIGNS
As a result of taking Reigns, Shane secures the future face of the company and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship becomes exclusive to Raw.
#2 – SmackDown selects… JOHN CENA
#3 – SmackDown selects… SETH ROLLINS
In response, Stephanie takes “The Face” and “The Man” in Cena and Rollins, respectively. The duo will now make SmackDown a legitimate competitor to WWE’s flagship show.
#4 – Raw selects… BROCK LESNAR
#5 – SmackDown selects… THE UNDERTAKER
Shane McMahon does not want the WWE Universe to forget that “any active superstar is eligible for the draft” and therefore selects Lesnar (with Paul Heyman). Following the same declaration, Stephanie makes The Undertaker exclusive to Tuesday nights.
#6 – Raw selects…DEAN AMBROSE
With Ambrose heading to Raw, who knows if he’ll renew his rivalry with Brock Lesnar or start a new one with his best buddy who happens to be champion.
#7 – SmackDown selects… THE WYATT FAMILY
#8 – Raw selects… THE CLUB
#9 – SmackDown selects… THE NEW DAY
After agreeing to not disband any major stable, Stephanie increases the roster by four with one pick taking Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman, and the injured Luke Harper. Intrigued by the move, Shane takes all three members of The Club featuring the leader AJ Styles and the newly crowned WWE Tag Team Champions, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Stephanie selects the former champions, The New Day who are now #1 Contenders for the titles.
#10 – Raw selects… KEVIN OWENS
#11 – SmackDown selects… SAMI ZAYN
The McMahons will fan the flames of this decade-long rivalry by separating Owens and Zayn. KO is also the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, and is ready to pounce on the first opportunity to claim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
#12 – Raw selects… CHRIS JERICHO
#13 – SmackDown selects… THE MIZ
#14 – Raw selects… RUSEV
Once again, “Raw is Jericho” as Y2J will stay exclusive to Monday Nights. But speaking of former Intercontinental Champions, Stephanie brings the I-C title to SmackDown by taking The Miz (including the beautiful Maryse). Feeling handcuffed by the pick, Shane selects the WWE United States Champion, Rusev.
#15 – SmackDown selects… RANDY ORTON
Randy Orton makes his return, following Stephanie’s selection. It will be interesting to see how Orton will deal with former rivals, John Cena and Seth Rollins under the blue banner.
#16 – Raw selects… CESARO
#17 – SmackDown selects… APOLLO CREWS
#18 – Raw selects… ENZO & BIG CASS
#19 – SmackDown selects… SHEAMUS
Cesaro, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass all join Raw, as Shane views them as major ingredients of the New Era. Stephanie takes Crews with the knowledge of Shane’s adoration for his talent. She also picks Sheamus, a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion who she claims will become champion again. Before dropping a bombshell, Shane mentions his next pick is coincidently an Irish-born champion and will be the next big superstar in WWE.
#20 – Raw selects… FINN BALOR
In a shocking move, Shane takes the first NXT superstar who will now join the likes of AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Cesaro on the Raw roster. Only time will tell if Balor crosses paths with his former Bullet Club running mates, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. After throwing a complete fit, Stephanie recollects herself and follows with a surprise pick of her own.
#21 – SmackDown selects… SAMOA JOE
The current NXT Champion is now a member of the SmackDown roster, but will soon vacate his championship due to the promotion. The title match will be decided on NXT in a Gold Rush Tournament culminating at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II.
#22 – Raw selects… THE DUDLEY BOYZ
#23 – SmackDown selects… BIG SHOW
#24 – Raw selects… ALBERTO DEL RIO
#25 – SmackDown selects… THE USOS
#26 – Raw selects… LUCHA DRAGONS
#27 – SmackDown selects… BARON CORBIN
#28 – Raw selects… DOLPH ZIGGLER
Following back-to-back draft announcements, Shane and Stephanie together select former champions to load up the mid-card and tag team divisions. With their heated rivalry wrapping up, the McMahons finally separate Corbin and Ziggler from tearing each other apart.
#29 – SmackDown selects… NEVILLE
Another returning superstar is drafted to SmackDown as “The Man That Gravity Forgot” represents Stephanie’s last pick on the televised part of the superstar draft.
Before we reveal the final selection, let’s take it back to last night’s Battleground which emanated from Washington, D.C. During the event, WWE aired three vignettes about U.S.A. and what makes it the greatest country in the world. The trio of video packages would feature a visual collage of patriotism, and end with the word “homecoming” posted with a different roman numeral – “XXV”, “XXX”, and “III” before fading to black.
At the very beginning of this booking adventure, it was advised to take notes. “XXV” means the date of the brand extension, the 25th of July. “XXX” represents the 30th pick of the draft, conveniently awarded to Raw. Unlike the numerical messages, “III” is not a roman numeral. In fact, “III” is the letter “I” literally tripled. Now back to Raw, live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…
#30 – Raw selects… KURT ANGLE
In a night full of shock and excitement, the CONSOL Energy Center erupts as Kurt Angle makes a phenomenal return to WWE. The Olympic Gold Medalist will look to bring his “Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence” back to Raw as the final pick of the brand extension.
WWE BRAND EXTENSION: MOCK DRAFT RESULTS
GM Shane McMahon
#01 – Roman Reigns
#04 – Brock Lesnar
#06 – Dean Ambrose
#08 – The Club
#10 – Kevin Owens
#12 – Chris Jericho
#14 – Rusev
#16 – Cesaro
#18 – Enzo & Big Cass
#20 – Finn Balor
#22 – The Dudley Boyz
#24 – Alberto Del Rio
#26 – Lucha Dragons
#28 – Dolph Ziggler
#30 – Kurt Angle
#32 – Mark Henry
#34 – Titus O’Neil
#36 – Tyson Kidd
#38 – The Hype Bros
#40 – The Ascension
#42 – BreezeDango
#44 – Heath Slater
#46 – Curtis Axel
#2 – Becky Lynch
#4 – Paige
#6 – Nikki Bella
#8 – Bayley
#10 – Tamina
#12 – Carmella
#14 – Summer Rae
#16 – Lana
Jerry “The King” Lawler
GM Stephanie McMahon
#02 – John Cena
#03 – Seth Rollins
#05 – The Undertaker
#07 – The Wyatt Family
#09 – The New Day
#11 – Sami Zayn
#13 – The Miz
#15 – Randy Orton
#17 – Apollo Crews
#19 – Sheamus
#21 – Samoa Joe
#23 – Big Show
#25 – The Usos
#27 – Baron Corbin
#29 – Neville
#31 – Kane
#33 – Ryback
#35 – Darren Young
#37 – The Vaudevillians
#39 – The Shining Stars
#41 – Golden Truth
#43 – Jack Swagger
#45 – Bo Dallas
#1 – Charlotte
#3 – Sasha Banks
#5 – Natalya
#7 – Dana Brooke
#9 – Naomi
#11 – Emma
#13 – Alicia Fox
#15 – Rosa Mendes