WWE Draft: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns on Raw as John Cena and Dean Ambrose head to Smackdown

A new era of the WWE dawned on Monday night Raw

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The New Era can truly begin now that the WWE draft 2016 is over, writes Ryan Dilbert for Bleacher Report.

On Tuesday night, Raw and SmackDown both selected wrestlers with the ability to be household names in the near future. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan nabbed AJ Styles for the blue brand; Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley picked up Kevin Owens for WWE's marquee show.

And while WWE had its missed opportunities during the draft, there were ample signs that the company is serious about highlighting its future as much as its past. 

Company golden boy and 15-time world champ John Cena didn't go until the seventh pick. Finn Balor went higher than Brock Lesnar; Sami Zayn went off the board before Chris Jericho.

The draft was sometimes logical with Raw and SmackDown's authority figures selecting top talent. At times, though, the train went off the rails.

The televised portion of the draft saw the McMahons and their respective general managers make a total of 30 picks on the air. After SmackDown ended, both shows added 30 more names exclusively on WWE Network.

John Cena is drafted to Smackdown in the WWE Draft (WWE)

Raw, being an hour longer than SmackDown, had three picks for every two for Shane and Bryan's show. That led to Raw often getting two consecutive selections.

That's partly why the red brand won the night in overall talent, but SmackDown still ended up with an intriguing roster.

The following examines how WWE benefited its shows and Superstars with a detailed review of how the draft went down and the makeup of the rosters. Grades are based on the impact and wisdom of each pick.

Raw televised Draft picks and grades

Overall Pick No Superstar Grade Notes
1 Seth Rollins A Expected pick with relationship to Stephanie, huge potential as centerpiece of marquee show.
3 Charlotte A+ Big boost to women's division for Charlotte to go before Roman Reigns, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, etc.
5 Finn Balor A+ Drafting an NXT star this early boosts the prestige of that brand, gives Balor instant momentum.
6 Roman Reigns B+ Reigns' suspension clearly pushed him down the pecking order, will struggle to beat out Balor as top babyface.
8 Brock Lesnar B+

Raw is logical place for Lesnar, part-time status takes away from the pick's impact.

10 The New Day A- Provides strong base for tag team division, going higher than Rusev, The Miz speaks to tag title's importance.
11 Sami Zayn A Much higher spot than expected, helps paint him as more than a midcarder.
13 Sasha Banks A- Allows for Banks-Charlotte rivalry to continue, gives women's division second cornerstone.
14 Chris Jericho C Short-term addition with Jericho likely to return to music before long, missed opportunity to highlight an emerging star in New Era.
16 Rusev B- Would have helped U.S. title's prestige to have Rusev go higher.
18 Kevin Owens C- Surprising move to keep Owens and Zayn on same brand after upcoming climactic match, too low of a spot for him.
20 Enzo Amore and Big Cass A Will help boost tag team division, Amore will shine in prominent spot on Raw.
21 Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson C+ Splits up The Club, removes group's best asset, helps make Raw the go-to show for tag team action.
23 Big Show D Has zero momentum after long TV absence, draft spot could have been used to boost emerging star instead.
25 Nia Jax A- Adds variety to women's division, relatively high draft spot creates buzz around NXT star.
26 Neville A- A returning Neville will be a fun addition to strong Raw roster, drafting him here creates a bit of buzz for him.
28 Cesaro B- A returning Neville will be a fun addition to strong Raw roster, drafting him here creates a bit of buzz for him.
30 Sheamus C+ Has unfortunately become an afterthought at this point, unexciting addition to most fans, will be dependable bruiser opponent for many.

SmackDown Televised Draft Picks, Grades

Overall Pick No Superstar


2 Dean Ambrose A SmackDown nabs WWE's top champion, allows him to build name outside of relationship with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
4 AJ Styles A Helps establish Styles as a top-tier star, gives SmackDown one of the best fresh faces.
7 John Cena A+ Gives SmackDown major star power, keeps Styles-Cena feud alive.
9 Randy Orton B+ Underappreciated star who will help put over emerging talent, surprising that SmackDown is bringing aboard both Cena and Orton, who were the faces of a previous era.
12 Bray Wyatt A- Good position to pick him up, a potential cornerstone for SmackDown moving forward, opens the door for a number of feuds.
14 Becky Lynch B+ Now given space to be top babyface, so far has little competition in division.
16 The Miz C Gives SmackDown a second titleholder, hurt by Daniel Bryan's reluctance to pick him, low spot for intercontinental champ.
18 Baron Corbin B Surprisingly high spot boosts a newcomer from NXT, adds to feel of SmackDown as "B" show.
22 American Alpha A- Exciting addition to tag team division, smart call-up, good spot to increase attention around team.
24 Dolph Ziggler B- Has potential to be major player for SmackDown, although low draft spot suggests more of a midcard position.
27 Natalya B+ Allows Lynch-Natalya feud to continue, can be workhorse of division, higher-than-expected spot.
29 Alberto del Rio B+ Will be a backbone of the show from an in-ring standpoint, lacks momentum.

Raw Draft Picks Made on WWE Network

31. The Golden Truth

33. Titus O'Neil

35. Paige

36. Darren Young

38. Sin Cara

40. Jack Swagger

42. The Dudley Boyz

44. Summer Rae

46. Mark Henry

48. Braun Strowman

50. Bo Dallas

52. The Shining Stars

54. Alicia Fox

56. Dana Brooke

58. Curtis Axel

SmackDown Draft Picks Made on WWE Network

32. The Usos

34. Kane

37. Kalisto

39. Naomi

41. The Ascension

43. Zack Ryder

45. Apollo Crews

47. Alexa Bliss

49. Breezango

51. Eva Marie

53. The Vaudevillains

55. Erick Rowan

57. Mojo Rawley

59. Carmella

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