08th Oct2020

The Nerdly WWE Fantasy Draft 2020

by Chris Cummings

It’s that time again. I mean, this happens from time to time when WWE are wanting to shake up their television programming and this year is no different. As we enter into Autumn, WWE have announced a new WWE Draft will take place, beginning this Friday, the 9th of October, on WWE Smackdown.

So, as is customary with many sports, I thought we here at Nerdly would jump into the “fantasy draft” game, and pick who we’d put where. Now, I’m treating this as an almost-complete overhaul of talent, with everyone being an option to be drafted EXCEPT for current reigning, defending champions. So, Bayley won’t be eligible as she’s the Smackdown Women’s Champion, and Drew McIntyre won’t be eligible as the WWE Champ, and Damien Priest, the NXT North American Champion, also won’t be able to be drafted, and so on, and so forth. All champs are off limits, otherwise… anything goes. I’m also going to go with ten drafts per roster. This gives RAW, Smackdown and NXT ten picks each. Brands CAN choose to draft factions or tag teams both as a whole or by taking just one member (which I always think is odd, but I’ll stick with WWE rules for that one). I won’t be including NXT UK or 205 Live (unless said 205 Live talent appears on one of the other shows, such as “Swerve” Scott appearing a lot on NXT), because I don’t think they’ll be included in the actual draft anyway. Now, normally they’d follow this up by drafting people afterwards on WWE.com, but I won’t do that part. I’ll leave that up to your imagination, dear reader. I also want to mention that this draft might take a little bit of “expelling your disbelief”. I want each show to feel unique and not just swap people around willy-nilly. I don’t want to swarm NXT with main event guys from Smackdown and RAW, and I don’t want to strip NXT of most of the talent that make the brand feel different, so it’s taken a lot of thought, and some of the drafts may seem “too small” or “random” when other big names are going undrafted. That’s just how I chose to do this, because I wanted the balance to be right.

So, let’s’ get going shall we? The first ever Nerdly WWE Draft.


KEVIN OWENS. (Moving from RAW).

This pick would be a good and positive step to begin the draft, and I’d love to see Kevin Owens, one of the most talented performers in WWE, getting that spotlight as the “first guy drafted”. Moving him to Smackdown, I’d have him immediately enter into a feud over the Universal Championship with Roman Reigns. Owens as the “Stone Cold” style bad-ass babyface, and Roman as the new arrogant but ballsy heel. This would be an entertaining feud and place Owens where he should be, at the top of the card.


RICOCHET. (Moving from RAW).

Ricochet has been grossly underutilized since moving from NXT to Monday Nights, so I think this would help reinvigorate and rebuild the real-life superhero. He’s hugely talented and could be a major star, so I think another run in NXT would be a good idea. Sell him back to the audience with some great matches again. Like Owens, I would introduce Ricochet into the main event picture on NXT straight away. A guy who has returned from the bowels of RAW to show what he’s capable of on the brand he debuted on. I firmly believe that it would only take a week or two for people to accept and believe in Ricochet as a main-level player, if he was booked well.


THE FIEND (BRAY WYATT). (Moving from Smackdown).

This would be a big pick and shake things up a fair bit. I like the idea of making RAW and Smackdown feel very unique from one another, like NXT feels different from both shows, and having the character of The Fiend on Monday Nights would really help set that tone. He’d obviously jump into a rivalry with the WWE Champion, Drew McIntyre, and the new show could offer some new opportunities for opponents, also. I think having The Fiend on RAW would make RAW seem more important right away, while Smackdown has Roman on top, so they’re going to be fine. Let him in.


JOHNNY GARGANO. (Moving from NXT).

The heart and soul, you may say, of NXT, this would be a shocking draft, but it would help to introduce one of the best wrestlers in the company to a wider audience. Smackdown has a chance to be a great wrestling show, so having Gargano there would go a long way to ensuring that it reaches that level again. Perhaps Johnny Wrestling could even be angry at being drafted away from his playground of NXT, and use this fury to continue his heel-run as an aggressive and cheating bad-guy. Booking-wise, I’d have Johnny involved in the Intercontinental Title scene initially, a scene that I would build up as much more important than it has been in recent years.



This was a tough one, because Dom is involved in a big RAW angle with his family, Murphy and Seth Rollins. However, that story has been going on for a while now, so I figure it’s time for Domink to have a change of scenery. Moving to NXT would allow the son of Rey Mysterio a chance to get out on his own and show what he can do with the NXT roster. He’d fit in well, with a chance to work with veterans and other new talents. He’s had a fun initial run on RAW, and so no one would yet expect a move for him. I think this would be interesting, and maybe we’d even see his family members appear once in a while too.


THE NEW DAY. (Moving from Smackdown).

The most decorated modern tag team in wrestling, this would be a heck of a pick for RAW. Having former WWE Champion Kofi Kingston as well as up-and-coming main event talent Big E and the hugely charismatic and popular Xavier Woods on your team is never a bad thing. Once all of the guys are healthy, I’d have Kingston and Woods in tags, and Big E continue his singles run that began recently on Smackdown. I like the idea that these guys can go out on their own and do different things but remain a unit. I’d keep them together for a long time yet.


RHEA RIPLEY. (Moving from NXT).

Rhea has been off TV for a while, so this would cause a bit of a buzz, and she’s known enough from her feud with Charlotte Flair that people would feel like this is a big deal. It is. Ripley is a fantastic talent and seeing her move to a new show with a choice of new rivalries would be very cool. You could, really, have her as a heel or babyface, but have her as that destructive punk that became a huge star in NXT last year. She’d be the first woman drafted, too, so it would give her a chance to brag, and the announcers a chance to put her over even more as a mega-star in the making that every brand wants on their roster.


NIKKI CROSS. (Moving from Smackdown).

A jerk-response from NXT having lost one of their big female stars, drafting Nikki Cross, a former two-time WWE Women’s Tag Champion, away from Smackdown, would make sense. It would also allow Nikki to jump into the furious and exciting NXT Women’s Title scene. She never won the big one in NXT, so this could be big for her career, and it would also allow her to work on the same brand as her former Sanity stable-mate and real-life hubby, Killian Dain. I would, I’d think, eventually put the two together as an on-screen heel force, too. Cross is great, and needs more of a platform to prove it.


ALEXA BLISS. (Moving from Smackdown).

Bliss and Cross are now on separate brands, which refreshes them both a little, with them being together a lot over the last couple of years. It also keeps RAW involved in the drafting of top women in WWE, and keeps Alexa and The Fiend on the same show, so we can continue that intriguing storyline involving the two. That’s what I’d do here, but also have Alexa jump right into a rivalry with RAW Women’s Champion Asuka, perhaps with Alexa picking up her fourth RAW Women’s strap. Let her in.


ANDRADE. (Moving from RAW).

Andrade has potential to be a massive star in WWE, and he’s shown how good he is over his time in NXT and on RAW. I would move him away from random tag-teams, though, and have “El Idolo” return to his singles roots. I like the idea of him making his way to the main event, too. He is charismatic and stunning in the ring, so give him a mouthpiece and have him as a highlight of the show. He works better as a heel, so keep him in that role, too. It’s surely a matter of time before he becomes a much bigger star, so why not do it while he’s healthy and only thirty years old. This also continues to build Smackdown as “the wrestling show” that we knew it as back in the early 00s.


SHORTY G. (Moving from Smackdown).

Some may be scratching their noggin’ here, because why would you choose Shorty G when Seth Rollins is still available. The only problem there is that I want NXT to still feel like NXT, so I would want to avoid guys who would have to be major players immediately, thus taking away chances from some of the other folks. With this draft I would have Shorty G scrap the awful name and gimmick and become Chad Gable once again. A serious, smarmy and brilliant pro-wrestler with Olympic amateur roots, he could be a big-time player in NXT and he would be in this situation. Have him trash his “main roster” run, insult the management, “shoot” on being forced to look like a fool, and have him wrestle rings around people again. He should be a big time player, and if I were drafting and booking… he would be. Oh, and bring back “Ready, Willing and Gable”, because it was cool.


HEAVY MACHINERY. (Moving from Smackdown).

This would be a pick mostly as a way for RAW to obtain Otis, because I would have the team break-up fairly soon after their RAW debut, with Tucker becoming a pissed-off villain, and Otis continuing on as a lovable good-guy. This reunites Otis and Mandy Rose, too, so you could do more with that if you wanted to. It was fun, so why not? This would also bring the “Money in the Bank” briefcase to RAW, so once a heel champion is on top (The Fiend, maybe?) you could have Otis teasing a cash-in in his own comedic and silly way. I would try, though, to have Otis much more serious once the matches start, with him being odd and daft out of the ring, but a monster once the bell rings. A shake-up of this team is needed, and I’d like to see what each of them could do with a little tweak to their characters. Why not do it with the draft?


CANDICE LERAE. (Moving from NXT).

Another woman being picked is a positive thing, because WWE needs to keep featuring their talented women on a big scale and show how much each brand wants to have the best women’s division. Candice is a veteran and has been doing some incredible stuff in NXT over her time there, especially with Io Shirai. This would also be a strategic draft, putting Candice on Smackdown alongside her husband Johnny Gargano. They could appear on-screen together like they have in NXT, which has been a lot of fun, and it enhances Smackdown’s women’s division a lot too, because Lerae is phenomenal.



I know Ivar is currently injured, but once he’s better this team can continue their dominance on the brand that they had the most success on. I think it’s fairly obvious that Erik and Ivar haven’t had the correct opportunities on RAW, so put them back in NXT and have them reinvent themselves again. A new look (in-keeping with the viking style) and going back to the names of Hansen and Rowe would be a start. NXT doesn’t have that many tag-teams right now, so having the former War Machine back in the fold would be huge. These guys are fantastic, and I want to see them do what we all know they can do. I feel like NXT is the best place for them.



Kross, again, is currently injured, but Scarlett and he could still appear on RAW in filmed vignettes and in-ring interviews, helping to build him up to a wider audience until he’s healed up. I didn’t feel like he fit that well in NXT personally, but I feel like he would fit on RAW as a monster heel. You could have him involved in darker storylines with other RAW talents like The Fiend (who was drafted earlier) and Aleister Black (if he remains on RAW, that is). Scarlett would also add another woman to the RAW roster, and I’d use her in the ring too. She hasn’t been used as a wrestler on NXT TV, but she’s capable of having some fine matches, so why not have her do that? This would be an interesting draft pick, that’s for sure.


RETRIBUTION. (Moving from RAW).

Okay, so Retribution hasn’t been around that long, and they’ve only just really been named as a “Raw Exclusive” faction. Still… Smackdown has lost The New Day and Heavy Machinery, so gaining a big faction of men and women would be good for them. The faction, consisting now of Ali (who was revealed as the leader very recently), T-Bar (Dijakovic), Mace (Dio Madden), Slapjack (Shane Thorne), Retaliation (Mercedes Martinez) and Reckoning (Mia Yim), would bring a whole new array of talent to Smackdown. I would, eventually anyway, have each member use their previous names (except maybe Mace and Slapjack) because I think they could become bigger stars if they weren’t under these odd pseudonyms. Ali is main-event calibre, and so is Dijakovic, so build this crew up to be dominant, and show how good many of them are in the ring. Heck, put some titles on them, and have Mercedes and Mia challenge for the Women’s Tag straps.


ANGEL GARZA. (Moving from RAW).

I went back and forth on this one, but decided it could be a good thing for Garza now that NXT is a third main-roster brand. He’s done some fun stuff on RAW in a tag-team with Andrade, but I’d like to see Angel Garza more as a singles guy again. He has so much talent and unteachable charisma, that he could eventually be a main event talent. I’d like to see him in the North American Title picture, though, maybe jumping into a triple-threat feud over the belt with Champion Damien Priest and someone like Cameron Grimes (who I would keep in NXT). Having Angel as the tweener who is lovable but cheats his way to victory would make him an eventual fan favourite, ala Eddie Guerrero.


KING CORBIN. (Moving from Smackdown).

Corbin has been on Smackdown for a while now, and has done pretty much all he can with the King gimmick. I’d have him drafted but perhaps book him into an angle in which he is stripped of his royal prowess (perhaps by having someone else win a new King of the Ring?) and have him as a more unhinged and down-and-out character, rough and delusional. I think Corbin has enough self-aware comedic ability and charisma to make a weird remix of this character work. He needs something new, so why not have him in a role that would gain attention, be something fresh, and also allow for a feud with someone who took his kingdom from him. More on that later (hey, it’s a fantasy draft, I have to fantasy book, too!).


SAMOA JOE. (Moving from RAW).

Samoa Joe is currently nursing an injury but once he’s healthy and able we’ll obviously see “The Samoan Submission Machine” get back to what he does best (although he’s a damn fine announcer right now, too). Having Joe move to Smackdown is a big win for the blue-brand, and also gives Joe a new home for him to play in. The potential matches in the main event and high-midcard are saliva-inducing. From Andrade to Roman to Owens to Bryan to Riddle to an array of others, there are so many exciting new things for Joe to do once he’s back in action. Perhaps a bit late for him to be picked, but I’ll excuse that by saying it’s due to him being injured right now.


DREW GULAK. (Moving from Smackdown).

I thought Drew Gulak was finally getting the push his abilities deserve when he entered into a program with Daniel Bryan earlier this year, but it didn’t work out that way. He’s a fantastic wrestler who is also entertaining as hell as a talker, and should be in a bigger spot. I think his style suits NXT, and I could see him working matches with names like Kyle O’Reilly and Timothy Thatcher on the Black and Gold brand. However, I might be tempted to team Gulak with Oney Lorcan or even Thatcher and have them go for the tag gold for a while. That could be interesting, and be the thing that leads to one of those big singles catch-wrestling rivalries.


AUSTIN THEORY. (Moving from NXT).

Theory was on RAW for a while in a stable with Zelina Vega and Angel Garza, but went back to NXT recently. A full-time and official move to RAW could help Theory feel like a bigger deal. He’s very young (he’s only 23 years old) and I’d like to see him as that Randy Orton style young, brash and cocky new guy, like Orton was during his Evolution days. A faction would be good for him, but I’m not going to start creating new factions here. Perhaps rejoining Zelena Vega? Or maybe a tag-team? Either way, I’d build to a veteran versus new-guy rivalry with Orton, because it would be huge for Theory, who is talented, and give Randy someone new to work with. Orton has been doing some of his best work recently, so it would give Theory, win or lose, a big ole rub in the process.


REY MYSTERIO. (Moving from RAW).

With Dominik going to NXT, it feels like it makes sense for Rey to head over to Smackdown, because it gives him some new rivalries, and it would be a nice potential “final run” for Rey before he wraps up. I played with the idea of Rey going to NXT, too, but I think that’s better off happening, or Dom coming to Smackers, in a year or so. Have Dominik make a name for himself separate from his Dad, and have his Dad have a year on Smackdown, working with some great talent, on the lead up to a possible “retirement” against his son. Breaking them apart before bringing them back together for that big-time program sounds enticing to me, and I always preferred Rey on the blue-brand anyway.


THE IICONICS. (Moving from RAW).

Now, I know that WWE “split” them up as a tag-team a month or so ago, but then they appeared together again a couple of weeks later like nothing has happened, so I… like WWE apparently, don’t know what’s going on with Royce and Kay, so I’m going to just draft them together because, well… this is my article. These two are so entertaining and have yet to show their full abilities in the ring. You can have them head to NXT together, which would feel right as that’s where they began their WWE careers, but do things separate too sometimes. Sure, they could win the WWE Women’s Tag Straps or feud with other NXT teams, but I’d like to see them, especially Peyton, go for the main gold eventually. A return to NXT would be met with an excited response too, I feel. They are, after all, ICONIC!


XIA LI. (Moving from NXT).

Another talent from NXT moves to a new brand. Xia Li has improved mightily over the last couple of years. She has a great look, a great attitude, and could be a fun part of any women’s division. This would highlight her and give her a reason to enter into a rivalry upon her arrival on the brand. Only three years into her pro-wrestling career, the sky’s the limit for this agile and charismatic 32 year old, who was the first Chinese woman to be signed to a WWE deal, ever. A natural babyface, she would be a nice addition to the reshuffled RAW women’s roster.


MURPHY. (Moving from RAW).

It looks like Murphy, as the disciple to Seth Rollins, is finished. That has been a fun time, and helped to highlight the talented Aussie more. I do think, though, that if the team with Rollins is done, that a new home and playpen for Murphy would be good. He could continue part of the Mysterio angle with Rey’s daughter, Aalyah, too, as Rey would now be over on Smackdown also. He’s hugely talented in the ring, and I’d like to see him further pushed up the card into the I-C title scene, for feuds with guys like Riddle, Bryan and Sami Zayn. He has great potential and this would, due to his high-profile run on RAW recently, feel like a big “get” for Smackdown.



Carillo has fantastic chemistry with his real life cousin Angel Garza, so it’s never a bad idea to have the two of them on the same brand. Sure, you can’t have them wrestle each other or team together constantly, but it’s a good safety option to go back to when you need an entertaining high-flying grudge match. Carillo would suit tag-team action in NXT, so perhaps a new team with another smaller guy from the PC would be cool. He’s talented and looks like a classic babyface, so make the guy a heel. People love to hate guys like this, so play with that concept.



This team is very green and very new, having only been wrestling for a couple of years, but this could be a sink-or-swim challenge for the two big hoss wrestlers, who would bring their entertaining and charismatic manager, Malcolm Bivens, along with them to Monday Nights. Bivens has been in the business for over six years, so his experience as well as the experience of those on RAW would perhaps help this team to grow, if they were given short squash style matches early-on with local talent, and a run, perhaps, as lackeys or bodyguard types. They’re limited, for sure, but they suit RAW more than they suit NXT and this would add another team to the very slim RAW Tag Team Division. It may not work out, but this would introduce them to the WWE Universe in a bigger way, and at some point WWE are going to have to shoot their shot with this team.


WADE BARRETT. (Moving from NXT).

The final picks of the draft should feel big and shocking to some degree, like each brand is pulling something unique or exciting out of the bag. For Smackdown to pick Barrett would be strange and surprising. Is he a wrestler again? Is he doing commentary on the blue brand? I don’t know if Barrett has more in-ring left in him, but if he does, this could lead there, but in the meantime it would shake up the announce position, with Wade joining the ringside crew as a colour commentator. He’s a pretty big name from WWE’s past, so having him ringside could feel special.


COREY GRAVES. (Moving from Smackdown).

If you’re going to put Wade over to Smackdown, you should take someone from that announce team, and Graves was the voice of NXT for a while there, so why not move the former NXT Tag Champion back to the Black and Gold announce table? This would be a unique way to use one of the final drafts, but it also immediately paints a new look and tone for the shows. Announcers were always big parts of the programming. Look how important Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler or Michael Cole and Tazz were to the overall feel of RAW and Smackdown back in the day. Have Graves, alongside Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness (when he’s able to return to the US) bring that new feel to NXT.


JIMMY USO. (Moving from Smackdown).

Now, this is a tough one, but I wanted that final pick to be shocking, to make people talk, and this would do just that. Jay Uso has been fantastic in his singles run with Roman Reigns, so perhaps the time is now for each Uso to go their separate ways for a while and be on different brands. Jimmy being on RAW would make for a fun storyline of them reuniting sooner or later, perhaps even wrestling against each other one day, but I think this would allow Jay to keep his slot at the top of the Smackdown card, and give Jimmy a chance to shine away from his twin. Have them look different, and give Jimmy a new edge as a character we haven’t really seen him as before. Hell, he could debut on RAW and win the US Title straight away, showing how serious he is about carving out a singles legacy to go alongside his legacy as one of the best and most successful tag team workers of all time. I’d also, in the post-show draft (which I said I wasn’t going to do, but what the hell) put Naomi over to RAW too, so they don’t have to tour separately once they begin doing that again.

So there we have it. Like it or not, this is what I settled on as the Nerdly Fantasy WWE Draft of 2020. There are a few big ole picks here, like The Fiend, Rey Mysterio, Alexa Bliss and The New Day, and some smaller picks that would help to build new stars on shows that would, if done properly, feel freshened up. I liked the idea of having teams split and some new teams made, of having announcers move about to make a couple of shows feel tonally different than they did feel, and I like the idea of making guys into bigger stars upon moving to a new brand. If the draft does not do this, then why bother? You might as well use this platform to make people feel bigger and more important. Hell, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins are already massie stars, they don’t need to be drafted, really. So, this is what I landed on. Thirty men and women moving around in a fairly balanced way to change up what we see on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. So, what do you think? Who would you draft? Let us know here, or on Twitter with the hashtag #NerdlyWWEDraft.

Thanks for reading.


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