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The 2021 WWE draft will be a two-night event starting Friday night on SmackDown and carrying over to Raw on Monday.
Every year, the draft is done a little differently. Sometimes, rosters are split into two pools to pick from on those two nights to split up the bigger stars, with supplemental picks happening on social media and WWE programming.
However, if this was a single-night draft, what would the layout likely be where there is no split and all the top talent is up for grabs from the start?
Let’s take a look at the current rosters and try to determine how WWE will likely balance out the picks, where they’ll go and which Superstars would be in the top 30 in a special mock draft.
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No. 1 to Raw: Charlotte Flair
Raw typically gets the first pick and it’s hard to imagine they’ll take Roman Reigns away from SmackDown. It would be a statement to make Charlotte Flair the first pick, and WWE loves giving The Queen accolades.
No. 2 to SmackDown: Roman Reigns
Fox would most likely urge WWE to keep The Tribal Chief on SmackDown. He’s the biggest star and the Universal Championship belt is still blue, even though that could change back to red if need be.
No. 3 to Raw: The New Day
It’s tough to pick between this trio and Flair for the top choice. If it were up to this writer, The New Day would be the top overall pick. Making sure Raw keeps Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods is a top priority.
No. 4 to SmackDown: Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch is the SmackDown women’s champion, and if that title—along with her popularity—doesn’t justify her being a top pick, what else does The Man have to do to be in the top four?
No. 5 to Raw: Bianca Belair
It would be interesting to see a steal in the first round. Bianca Belair can’t stay on SmackDown if she’s going to lose to Lynch and run out of upward momentum. Moving to Raw gives her a chance to face Flair down the line and be the top woman on the red brand. This would be a big pick.
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No. 6 to Raw: Bobby Lashley (and possibly MVP, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin)
It appears The Hurt Business reformed on Monday night. Whether that sees the stable drafted as a unit remains to be seen. If so, WWE will probably bring them all in at the same time to make this quicker.
Bobby Lashley is too big a star to go outside the top 10. Sixth might be a stretch with some other champions still up for grabs, but WWE drafts based on star power and not necessarily titles.
No. 7 to SmackDown: Drew McIntyre
Raw stole Belair, so SmackDown steals Drew McIntyre. He has to be in line to feud with Reigns in the future, and he’s in the same situation as Lashley as too big a star to wait for another round.
No. 8 to Raw: RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle)
As tag team champions, Randy Orton and Riddle can be drafted together. This is a major pick for Raw as it not only keeps the tag team titles on the brand but also two huge names in one pick. Riddle is a Superstar rising to the main event level and Orton is a future Hall of Famer.
No. 9 to SmackDown: Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks’ return at Extreme Rules puts her back in the spotlight. She is again in title contention and has no right being drafted outside the top 10. Making sure she’s picked early like this also ensures she doesn’t look like a third wheel in the Belair vs. Lynch situation for the SmackDown women’s title.
No. 10 Overall to Raw: Damian Priest
Virtually no one has as impressive a win-loss record this year as Damian Priest, who has only lost four matches. He’s the United States champion and getting him in the top 10 would signify he’s someone to keep watching.
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No. 11 to Raw: AJ Styles and Omos
Securing AJ Styles is a must for Raw, and also being able to get Omos in the same pick is a bonus. Since they are seemingly back in the Raw Tag Team Championship hunt, it makes sense to keep them on the red brand.
No. 12 to SmackDown: Seth Rollins
Edge most likely won’t be drafted to either roster as WWE should keep him as a free agent to float between the two brands to fit whatever feud he wants to do next, but Seth Rollins should stay put. If WWE needs someone to feud with Reigns, he can be turned babyface and that’s a marquee match ready to go.
No. 13 to Raw: Karrion Kross
Younger talent like Karrion Kross need to be picked early enough so fans know they’re prospects worth investing in. There are still some names who may go before him, but the idea of an unlucky 13th pick is fitting for him.
No. 14 to SmackDown: Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley
SmackDown can steal two former Raw women’s champions and the women’s tag team titles in one pick. These two should go to the blue brand as they’re fresh opponents for Lynch.
No. 15 to Raw: The Street Profits
If Belair goes to Raw, The Street Profits should follow so Montez Ford is on the same traveling schedule as his wife. This pick could be held off, but it’s nice to finish a round with it for the buzz it would create.
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No. 16 to Raw: Keith Lee
Under his new Bearcat moniker, Keith Lee seems to be finally back on track for a push. If he goes too late into the draft, it will diminish his value. Just shy of the halfway point of the top 30 is a proper spot, though.
No. 17 to SmackDown: The Usos
While this position might seem low for the SmackDown tag team champions, this would be only the seventh pick for the blue brand. Reigns can try to pull the strings to make them higher on the list, but there are bigger stars who take priority.
No. 18 to Raw: Shayna Baszler
WWE has been giving The Queen of Spades a mean streak lately. If she’s being built for something big, she should go rather high up in the draft. Maybe that will restore some of the credibility she’s lost in the past year and a half on the main roster.
No. 19 to SmackDown: Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs
The Intercontinental Championship doesn’t have the same luster it once did, but it’s still one of the most important titles in WWE. Holding that should grant Nakamura and Boogs a decent spot on this list. And SmackDown should want to make sure it keeps this belt on the brand.
No. 20 to Raw: Sheamus
The Celtic Warrior came up short in two attempts to win the United States Championship, but he’s always in the title hunt with just a random win here and there. He’s also a former multi-time world champion and has crossed nearly everything off his list, so he’s undeniably still a major star.
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No. 21 to Raw: Sami Zayn
No longer is there a conspiracy against Sami Zayn that will keep him down. He’s been one of the most entertaining talkers on SmackDown, which typically means WWE will want to bring him to Raw and maximize the amount of time he can get on the microphone.
No. 22 to SmackDown: Finn Balor
The Demon failed to dethrone The Tribal Chief at Extreme Rules, but fans should still be buzzing about his performance. Finn Balor is likely to remain a big player on SmackDown even if he focuses more on the Intercontinental Championship and non-title feuds.
No. 23 to Raw: The Miz
As long as Miz and Mrs is on USA, The A-Lister should stay a member of the Raw roster. Once his time on Dancing with the Stars has concluded, he’ll be back on Monday nights ready to host another episode of Miz TV.
Going toward the latter end of the top 30 makes sense. He’s not a top priority right now, but he’s important in the grand scheme of things.
No. 24 to SmackDown: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy wants a match with Reigns and is one of the most viable options left to have a one-off title bout against The Tribal Chief. A change of scenery would be good for The Charismatic Enigma, though, particularly as he had more success on SmackDown prior to being moved to Raw in the last draft.
Not putting him in the top 30 downgrades his clout if he does get that match with Reigns, and he needs to go at least somewhere around this spot.
No. 25 to Raw: Aliyah or Xia Li
Aliyah has been absent from NXT since splitting from The Robert Stone Brand in July, while Xia Li also hasn’t been seen with Tian Sha in some time. Perhaps this is an indication one or both of them have been waiting on a main roster call-up.
If so, announcing it as a televised pick instantly gives them a major boost. Some fans don’t watch NXT and won’t be familiar with them, but they will immediately become names to pay attention to with this spotlight.
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No. 26 to Raw: Alexa Bliss or Eva Marie
Alexa Bliss is reportedly set for sinus surgery, according to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com, which could see this spot go to Eva Marie instead.
Bliss is undoubtedly the bigger star of the two, but it might be best to hold off on any move until she has returned.
Eva Marie doesn’t need to be in the top 30, but WWE knows she will get boos when she’s announced and sometimes that heel heat is the goal even at the expense of leaving the likes of Natalya and Toni Storm lower in the draft.
No. 27 to SmackDown: Baron Corbin or Kevin Owens
Both Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens deserve to be among the top-30 picks, but they may be fighting over one spot.
KO has been linked with a move away from WWE when his contract expires in January, and his position in the draft could be an indication of how negotiations are going.
If talks are on the negative side, look for Corbin to get this spot. If it’s a bargaining chip to keep Owens, The Lone Wolf can always be among the supplemental picks.
No. 28 to Raw: Jinder Mahal, Veer and Shanky
There are still some big names left in the draft at this point, but Jinder Mahal is a former WWE champion and taking him along with Veer and Shanky removes three spots from supplemental draft material that would need to be covered.
It wouldn’t be surprising at all for someone else to get this spot, but it all depends on who is moving to Raw and who is staying.
No. 29 to SmackDown: Dominik and Rey Mysterio
Enough attention has been put on the Mysterios that they shouldn’t go undrafted and relegated to bonus coverage. Rey is a multi-time world champion and a legend of the ring. In previous years, he’d be in the top 15.
Now that he seems to be heading toward a feud with son Dominik, they should be drafted together. Maybe this can even be a point of contention with the younger Mysterio being told he wouldn’t have been picked so high if he wasn’t part of a package deal with his father.
No. 30 to Raw: Mansoor and Mustafa Ali
While there are still some big names not in the top 30, WWE might want to keep them as supplemental picks via other company media channels.
Mansoor and Mustafa Ali being drafted as a tag team has already been given attention on Raw. Putting the former in the spotlight will give him more momentum heading into Crown Jewel, where he’s always a featured player.
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As you’re going through this list, you’re likely wondering why a few names weren’t mentioned, but they were kept off the top 30 for just cause.
Asuka and Bayley, for example, are injured. Inactive roster members frequently sit out the draft, rather than get sent to a particular roster. The same might apply to Nia Jax after the attack from Shayna Baszler on the Sept. 20 edition of Raw.
Inactivity also excuses Elias, who hasn’t been seen since vignettes of his return randomly stopped airing several weeks back.
Riddick Moss has just moved over to SmackDown. He can’t be considered a true partner with Baron Corbin just yet, so he can be announced as a supplemental pick elsewhere on WWE’s media channels.
That goes for other missing names on this list, such as Ricochet and Naomi. Not everyone can be in the top 30, but everyone will find a home on the roster eventually and be announced either on SmackDown, Raw or the supplemental WWE avenues.
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- Charlotte Flair
- The New Day
- Bianca Belair
- Bobby Lashley (and The Hurt Business)
- Damian Priest
- AJ Styles and Omos
- Karrion Kross
- The Street Profits
- Keith Lee
- Shayna Baszler
- Sami Zayn
- The Miz
- Aliyah or Xia Li
- Alexa Bliss or Eva Marie
- Jinder Mahal, Veer and Shanky
- Mansoor and Mustafa Ali
With all this in mind, here are our top 18 picks for Raw:
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- Roman Reigns
- Becky Lynch
- Drew McIntyre
- Sasha Banks
- Seth Rollins
- Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley
- The Usos
- Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs
- Finn Balor
- Jeff Hardy
- Baron Corbin or Kevin Owens
- Dominik and Rey Mysterio
SmackDown doesn’t get the same number of draft picks as Raw, so these are our 12 selections for the blue brand:
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.