So, Seth Rollins was top pick in the company draft last night, July 19th, surprising absolutely no one, especially not any of the dirtsheets who had already covered to death why Seth would be the first pick, no matter who had it. When it came down to it, it was erstwhile Authority mother Stephanie McMahon who took him under her somewhat bitter and warped wing, rather than the comforting big brother of Shane McMahon, but if WWE are really determined to keep Seth heel, then it makes sense to put him back with the woman he worked best with in his first solo heel run.
What was more interesting, and less of a sure thing, was how his fellow Shield members were drafted. Seth was pick one, overall and for Raw, and he was quickly followed by the obvious choice in Dean Ambrose, WWE Champion and the current face of the company, as the second pick overall, and the first for the new SmackDown Live show. Clearly it makes sense for the champion to be picked first, but we all knew that Steph was going to take her boy, and that therefore Shane would be taking our face champion. There’s speculation, with Dean’s title now being called simply the WWE Championship, that Raw will now take on the World Heavyweight Title in its place, and the two belts will run on different rosters, meaning the top guy of each side has some gold to show off, rather than contesting the main prize only four times a year at the joint PPVs.
Roman Reigns came into the draft at pick number six, after Charlotte and Finn Balor for Raw, and AJ Styles for SmackDown. Clearly his suspension has pushed him out of the top five, which is interesting, but it’s also worth noting that Mick Foley said it was his idea, not Stephanie McMahon’s. What this means for Seth and Roman, one can’t be sure; whether they’ll be fighting for the same title, or if Roman will have to take a lesser stand after the suspension and with the crowd reaction to him being what it is.
What is clear is what it means for Dean. Since the breakup of The Shield, Seth Rollins has been his own man, Roman Reigns has been his own man, but Dean has always been one or both of two things – Seth’s enemy, and Roman’s friend. Moving him to SmackDown on his own gives him a chance to get away from the shadows of the two men who have been considered more marketable than him, and to stand on his own. He’ll have no issues doing this, as his character work has always been solid, and he’s a joy both on the mic and in the ring, but it’s great to see him be given the space to do so, and tells us that someone was thinking this draft through properly, at least for the first few picks.
Even if Dean’s title run ends abruptly at Battleground – and I don’t think it will – if there’s a new belt to be introduced, he doesn’t have the same sort of competition on SmackDown as he would on Raw, and I think that’s going to suit him down to the ground. What will be interesting is to see if AJ Styles wants to contest for top spot with him. That would be a hell of a feud, and something a lot of fans would love to see, as much as we might mourn that we’re not getting Seth vs. AJ.
Whatever we think of the draft, we’re stuck with it now, so best to make the best of it, hedge our bets, and try to work out what the future holds. Let’s see how this goes down.