2019 WWE Draft
|2019 WWE Draft|
The 2019 WWE Draft logo.
|Date(s)||October 11 and 14, 2019|
NXT (outgoing only)
205 Live (outgoing only)
The 2019 WWE Draft was the fourteenth WWE Draft produced by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE between their Raw and SmackDown brands. Returning to its original name (the "WWE Draft") and a traditional draft format, it was the second draft of 2019, following April's Superstar Shake-up. The draft began on the October 11 episode of Friday Night SmackDown (in Paradise, Nevada) and concluded on the October 14 episode of Monday Night Raw (in Denver, Colorado), with SmackDown airing on FOX and Raw on the USA Network. It was the first draft in which the brand's television networks were presented as having an influence over WWE's drafting decisions.
2019 was the first year in which the WWE held two drafts during the same calendar year. This was because of the issues of the Wild Card Rule introduced with April's Superstar Shake-up and even more so because of SmackDown's move to FOX—Raw and SmackDown were both previously on the USA Network. Over 70 wrestlers (both singles competitors and tag teams) from the Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and 205 Live rosters were eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, including all Raw and SmackDown champions. Most draft picks were announced on the live broadcasts of SmackDown and Raw, while supplemental picks were announced afterwards via WWE's website. In storyline, wrestlers who were not drafted to either brand became free agents and could sign with the brand of their choosing. The Wild Card Rule also ended with this draft.
In April 2019, WWE held the Superstar Shake-up, a draft between WWE's brands with a nontraditional format in which drafting decisions were made behind the scenes rather than on-screen. Shortly after the Shake-up, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon introduced the Wild Card Rule, in which up to four wrestlers would be allowed to appear on the opposing brand's show by invitation for one night only with unsanctioned appearances penalized. Following this, however, the Wild Card Rule's stipulations were not enforced, with numerous wrestlers freely appearing on both shows weekly without any penalties, blurring the lines between the Raw and SmackDown brands. With SmackDown's move to FOX in October and Raw remaining on the USA Network (part of Comcast's NBCUniversal), WWE decided to hold a second draft for 2019 to definitively split the two brands. The draft was announced to occur on the October 11 and 14 episodes of SmackDown and Raw, respectively. Returning to its original name (the "WWE Draft") and a traditional draft format, personalities from FOX and NBCUniversal were scheduled to appear; the first time that television networks were presented as having an influence over WWE's drafting decisions. The Wild Card Rule also ended with this draft.
The picks were presented by personalities associated with Fox Sports and NBCUniversal properties, including Fox MLB analyst Alex Rodriguez, Saturday Night Live's Michael Che and Colin Jost (who performed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 35 earlier in 2019), Mr. Robot's Christian Slater, Fox NFL lead commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Fox MLB analysts Kevin Burkhardt and Frank Thomas, Fox NFL Sunday's Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, and Tony Gonzalez, NFL analysts Ronde Barber, Charles Davis, Chris Spielman, and Daryl Johnston, Fox NFL Kickoff's Charissa Thompson, Michael Vick, and Peter Schrager, Big Noon Kickoff's Rob Stone (former WWE 24/7 Champion), Brady Quinn, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and Urban Meyer, Fox College Football analyst Joel Klatt, Dulé Hill from USA's Psych and Suits, James Roday from Psych, Marcus Lemonis from CNBC's The Profit, Margaret Josephs and Melissa Gorga from Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Rodney Harrison and Chris Simms from NBC's Football Night in America, and Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe, and Kyle Martino from Premier League Live.
2019 draft rules
The rules of the draft were posted on WWE's website on October 10. The list of eligible wrestlers was posted the same day. Over 70 wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and 205 Live rosters, as well as tag teams, were eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, including all Raw and SmackDown champions (although the WWE 24/7 Champion and WWE Women's Tag Team Champions were eligible to be drafted, they still defend their respective titles across the brands).
The rules of the draft were the following:
- Up to 30 picks were allotted on the October 11 SmackDown, while up to 41 picks were allotted on the October 14 Raw.
- For every two draft picks for SmackDown, Raw received three picks (due to SmackDown being a two-hour show, while Raw is three hours).
- Tag teams counted as one pick unless FOX or USA specifically only wanted a single member from the team as their pick.
- Any undrafted wrestlers became free agents and could sign with the brand of their choosing.
The drafting pool was divided between the broadcasts of both shows, with up to 30 picks allotted on SmackDown and 41 on Raw. Any remaining picks from the respective draft pools were announced on WWE's website. Undrafted wrestlers (those not selected on the shows or announced via WWE.com) immediately became free agents and could sign with the brand of their choosing.
SmackDown (October 11)
There were four rounds of draft picks during Night 1 of the 2019 draft. WWE's Chief Brand Officer (CBO) Stephanie McMahon announced the draft picks for each round. Representing Raw, Universal Champion Seth Rollins' disqualification win over SmackDown's representative, Roman Reigns, earned Raw the first draft pick of the night.
|Rnd.||Pick #||Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand||Brand pick #|
|1||1||Becky Lynch||Raw||Female wrestler
Raw Women's Champion
|1||2||Roman Reigns||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown||1|
(AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson)
United States Champion (Styles)
|1||4||"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown||2|
|1||5||Drew McIntyre||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||3|
|2||6||Randy Orton||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||4|
|2||7||Sasha Banks||Raw||Female wrestler||SmackDown||3|
|2||9||Braun Strowman||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown||4|
|2||10||Bobby Lashley||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||6|
|3||11||Alexa Bliss||Raw||Female wrestler||Raw||7|
|3||12||Lacey Evans||Raw||Female wrestler||SmackDown||5|
|3||13||Kevin Owens||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||8|
(Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
|Raw||Male tag team
SmackDown Tag Team Champions
|4||16||The Viking Raiders
(Erik and Ivar)
|Raw||Male tag team||Raw||10|
|4||17||Lucha House Party
(Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado)
|4||18||Nikki Cross||Raw||Female wrestler||Raw||11|
(Otis and Tucker)
|SmackDown||Male tag team||SmackDown||8|
|4||20||The Street Profits
(Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
|NXT||Male tag team||Raw||12|
Night 1 supplementary picks
Eight additional picks were announced on WWE's website on October 13. Except for Apollo Crews, who was slated to be a part of the Night 2 pool, all wrestlers selected had initially gone undrafted during Night 1.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand|
|Apollo Crews||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
(Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel)
|SmackDown||Male tag team||SmackDown|
|Drew Gulak||205 Live||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
|Eric Young||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw|
|Heath Slater||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
|Sin Cara||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw|
Raw (October 14)
There were six rounds of draft picks during Night 2 of the 2019 draft. WWE's CBO Stephanie McMahon again announced the draft picks for each round. Number one Raw draft pick and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch defeated SmackDown representative Charlotte Flair, who replaced SmackDown draftee Sasha Banks (who was not medically cleared to compete), to earn Raw the first draft pick of the night.
|Rnd.||Pick #||Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand||Brand pick #|
|1||1||Seth Rollins||Raw||Male wrestler
|1||2||Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman||Raw||Male wrestler and manager
WWE Champion (Lesnar)
|1||3||Charlotte Flair||SmackDown||Female wrestler||Raw||2|
|1||4||The New Day
(Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods)
|1||5||Andrade with Zelina Vega||SmackDown||Male wrestler and female manager||Raw||3|
|2||6||The Kabuki Warriors
(Asuka and Kairi Sane)
|SmackDown||Female tag team
Women's Tag Team Champions
|2||7||Daniel Bryan||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown||3|
SmackDown Women's Champion
|2||10||Aleister Black||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||6|
|3||11||Cedric Alexander||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||7|
|3||12||Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn||SmackDown (Nakamura)||Male wrestler and manager
Intercontinental Champion (Nakamura)
|3||13||Humberto Carrillo1||205 Live||Male wrestler||Raw||8|
|3||15||Erick Rowan||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||9|
|4||16||Buddy Murphy||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||10|
|4||17||Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode||SmackDown (Ziggler)||Male tag team2||SmackDown||7|
|4||18||Jinder Mahal||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||11|
|5||21||Samoa Joe||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||13|
|5||22||The Miz||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown||9|
|5||23||Akira Tozawa1||205 Live||Male wrestler||Raw||14|
|5||24||King Corbin||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown||10|
|5||25||Shelton Benjamin||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw||15|
|6||26||Rey Mysterio||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||16|
|6||27||Shorty Gable1||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown||11|
|6||28||Titus O'Neil||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw||17|
|6||30||Liv Morgan||SmackDown||Female wrestler||Raw||18|
- 1 – Carrillo, Tozawa, and Gable originally went undrafted on Night 1, but were drafted during Night 2.
- 2 – Ziggler and Roode were Raw Tag Team Champions going into the event, but they lost the titles to Raw draftees The Viking Raiders prior to being drafted to SmackDown.
Night 2 supplementary picks
Ten additional picks were announced on WWE The Bump and via WWE's website on October 16. With the exception of Cesaro, who was slated to be a part of the Night 1 pool, all wrestlers selected had initially gone undrafted during Night 2.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand|
|Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder||Raw||Male tag team||Raw|
|Dana Brooke||Raw||Female wrestler||SmackDown|
|Drake Maverick||205 Live||Male wrestler
205 Live General Manager
|Fire & Desire
(Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville)
|SmackDown||Female tag team||SmackDown|
(Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
|SmackDown||Female tag team||Raw|
|Luke Harper||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
|Mojo Rawley||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw|
|No Way José||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw|
|Sarah Logan||Raw||Female wrestler||Raw|
Following Night 2 on the premiere episode of Backstage on October 15, WWE's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Triple H announced a trade between Raw and SmackDown. Former Women's Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were traded from Raw to SmackDown in exchange for future draft pick considerations.
|Trade #||Brand (from)||Wrestler(s)||Role||Brand (to)||Notes|
|1||Raw||Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross||Female tag team||SmackDown||Traded to SmackDown in exchange for future considerations.|
Several wrestlers were made free agents due to injury, inactivity, or not being drafted during their draft pool. The chart is organized by date.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Reason for not being drafted||Subsequent status||Date||Notes|
|Aiden English||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||205 Live||October 15, 2019||English had been doing commentary for 205 Live since January with no appearances on SmackDown. After the conclusion of the draft, his WWE.com profile was updated to 205 Live.|
|Lio Rush||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||NXT||October 15, 2019||Rush had been performing on NXT since mid-September and won the NXT Cruiserweight Championship two days prior to the draft. After the conclusion of the draft, his WWE.com profile was updated to NXT.|
|Alicia Fox||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Released||October 17, 2019||Fox's last match was in April and she made a brief appearance during Raw Reunion in July. On October 17, Fox's WWE.com profile was quietly moved to the alumni section, signalling her release from the company.|
(Akam and Rezar)
|Raw||Undrafted during their draft pool (Night 2).||Raw||October 17, 2019||AOP signed with Raw as free agents after the draft.|
|Lana||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Raw||October 28, 2019||Lana and her husband Rusev had been inactive for a couple of months, but returned on Raw a few weeks before the draft; however, Lana betrayed Rusev and began a (storyline) love affair with Bobby Lashley, who was drafted to Raw (as was Rusev). Her own move to Raw was confirmed on October 28.|
|Paige||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to neck surgery.
|Raw||October 28, 2019||Was manager of The Kabuki Warriors prior to inactivity. She returned on the October 28 episode of Raw to resume her position, only to be betrayed by The Kabuki Warriors. She has also taken a contributor role for WWE Backstage that premiered on November 5.|
|Matt Hardy||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Raw||November 25, 2019||Returned on the November 25 episode of Raw in a match against Buddy Murphy.|
|Sheamus||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to concussion
|SmackDown||November 29, 2019||On the November 29 episode of SmackDown, a vignette was shown announcing that he would be returning to in-ring competition, though at an unknown date.|
(Konnor and Viktor)
|Raw||Were not in either of the draft pools.||Released||December 8, 2019||Last appeared at WrestleMania 35 in April. On December 8, The Ascension, along with Luke Harper and Sin Cara, were released from the company.|
|Big Show||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to hamstring injury.
|Cain Velasquez||Free agent||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Signed with WWE just before the draft and wrestled at Crown Jewel on October 31 (as well as a house show in Mexico on November 30), but has not appeared on any broadcast since, reportedly due to a knee injury.|
(Epico Colón and Primo Colón)
|SmackDown||Were not in either of the draft pools.||Last appeared in February. Currently working for World Wrestling Council while still under contract with WWE.|
|Ember Moon||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to ankle injury.
|Appeared on the November 19 episode of WWE Backstage as an analyst and stated she would be out of action for an indefinite period of time.|
|Jeff Hardy||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to leg injury.
|Lars Sullivan||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to knee injury.
|Maria Kanellis||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Was involved in a storyline with her husband Mike Kanellis and the identity of her unborn child's father just prior to the draft.|
|Maryse||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to maternity leave
|Was manager of The Miz prior to inactivity.|
|Mickie James||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive from performing due to leg injury.
|Has been doing commentary for Main Event during her recovery.|
|Naomi||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Last appeared in July.|
|Nia Jax||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to knee injury.
|Ruby Riott||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to shoulder injury.
(Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso)
|Raw||Were not in either of the draft pools.
Inactive due to Jimmy's DUI arrest/charges that were incurred in July.
Two weeks after the draft, WWE held its pay-per-view event Crown Jewel. At the event, although the two had been drafted to separate brands, Raw draftee Seth Rollins defended the Universal Championship against SmackDown draftee "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in a falls count anywhere match that could not be stopped for any reason; this was a rematch from Hell in a Cell, which was a Hell in a Cell match that ended by referee stoppage. The Fiend defeated Rollins to win the Universal Championship, and the title was subsequently transferred to the SmackDown brand, resulting in SmackDown having both the Universal and WWE Championships. This was quickly fixed, however. Also at Crown Jewel, SmackDown draftee Brock Lesnar retained the WWE Championship against Cain Velasquez, and following the match, he was attacked by Raw draftee Rey Mysterio, who was in Velasquez's corner. On the following night's episode of SmackDown, Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman explained that since Lesnar and Mysterio were on two separate brands, they could not challenge each other. Heyman then declared that they were quitting SmackDown and transferring to Raw with the WWE Championship in order for Lesnar to seek revenge against Mysterio; a No Holds Barred match between the two was subsequently scheduled for Survivor Series.
Although the Wild Card Rule had ended with the 2019 draft, the theme of the next big pay-per-view, Survivor Series, has been brand supremacy since 2016, which would see the brands invading each others shows in the build up to the event. Just prior to the draft, WWE's developmental territory NXT was promoted to being WWE's third major brand and it was subsequently added to the 2019 Survivor Series brand competition. This in turn resulted in wrestlers from the three brands invading each others shows to build matches for the event. In a media call for NXT TakeOver: WarGames, WWE COO and NXT head Triple H said that viewers would see definitive brand division following Survivor Series.
Following the draft, Drake Maverick announced that although he had been drafted to SmackDown, he would still be serving as the General Manager of the 205 Live brand. Just after the draft, Shorty Gable's ringname was shortened to Shorty G, while just before Survivor Series, Ali returned to using his previous ringname of Mustafa Ali.
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