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.
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.|
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
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
41. The Ascension
43. Zack Ryder
45. Apollo Crews
47. Alexa Bliss
51. Eva Marie
53. The Vaudevillains
55. Erick Rowan
57. Mojo Rawley
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