Tonight, we’ll see the 2021 WWE draft commence, on Friday Night SmackDown.
While the annual draft can be seen as an overt push for ratings, it does offer the world’s leading wrestling promotion to shake up their product.
Wrestlers from both Raw and SmackDown may find themselves switching brands, with the odd NXT call-up thrown in for good measure.
Many fans will agree that the draft is badly needed this time around, especially on Monday Night Raw, which has been quite stale for several months now.
Some superstars are better off staying put. With them featuring prominently on their brand, having a consistent run of matches, and even holding gold in some cases.
However, with such a packed roster, some talented individuals have been lost in the shuffle, and are in desperate need of some fresh surroundings.
So, that’s what we’re going to be diving into today.
What Raw and SmackDown superstars need to be involved in this year’s draft? Who on the NXT brand is ready to jump ship?
Well, the Big Kick Off has you covered with our predictions for the 2021 WWE draft.
We’ll be only mentioning three from each brand.
So, we’d love to hear who you guys think should change allegiances this year, by shouting them out in the comment section below.
Who Should Move to Raw?
A year on from his move to SmackDown in the previous draft, and KO desperately needs a return to the red brand.
The Canadian was featured heavily around the latter end of 2020, and during WrestleMania season.
He reignited his feud with Universal Champion, Roman Reigns to round out last year. And squared off with his mortal enemy Sami Zayn at WrestleMania, with a cameo appearance from Logan Paul.
As of late, he’s been struggling to insert himself into any sort of central role on the card. Most notably involving himself in a mid-card feud, with Happy Corbin.
If booked correctly, the man can be a regular face in any main event scene. A switch to Raw, which has a longer runtime, could give Owens more room to breathe, and most importantly, find him something meaningful to get his teeth into.
The ‘Swiss Superman’ had a stellar start to his 2021.
He entered a feud with Seth Rollins in February, climaxing with him beating the megastar at WrestleMania 37.
Seth’s former Shield stablemate, and current Universal Champion, Roman Reigns was next for Cesaro. Finally propelling the long-underutilised star to top billing.
Ultimately, Cesaro was unsuccessful on his pursuit for gold. And it’s highly unlikely he’ll be getting another top push on SmackDown for the foreseeable.
So, why not switch him back to Raw?
He could continue to turn heads with excellent matches against Damien Priest, AJ Styles and Riddle, if they all remain on Raw, of course.
We’d even love to see him link back up with Sheamus, who’s been exceptional as of late. It’s about time The Bar opens back up for business and go after those tag team titles.
The grass certainly does look greener in the case of, Cesaro.
The Irishman made his return to main roster television in July, after a solid second run with the NXT Championship.
He burst onto the SmackDown roster, to act as a fresh challenger for Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.
Like both Owens and Cesaro on this list before him, Balor couldn’t snatch the belt from the dominant champion.
While we didn’t see a full on smiling babyface Balor. We did see elements of his former self on the main roster, including ‘The Demon’, who was beating by Reigns, at Extreme Rules.
It may be best for Balor to transition away from that awkward match ending and find his ruthless NXT form on Raw.
A return to his tweener character on Monday nights would overjoy fans of the Bray native. A potential lengthy run with a secondary title would do him the world of good.
Who Should Move to SmackDown?
Thankfully, Baszler eventually got the f*ck away from Nia Jax and is ready to show what a killer she obviously is.
Now it’s time to switch her to SmackDown and put her back to basics.
Shayna doesn’t need an overly cartoonish character. She’s a legitimate badass, and a seriously tough competitor. Having her around goofy storylines does her no favours. She would have more value on SmackDown, which has somewhat of a work rate feel to it.
As the woman herself said in a recent tweet, “take these handcuffs off of me and watch what happens.”
McIntyre was one of the highlights of WWE’s pandemic era, over on Monday nights.
He had an excellent run with the WWE Championship, but ever since losing the title to Bobby Lashley, he’s failed to find his feet in the hunt to reclaim the gold.
He’s easily one of the wrestlers that needs a move in the draft the most.
Drew is still a huge marquee name and would be a massive asset to the blue brand.
The possibility of seeing him and Universal Champion Roman Reigns clashing is mouth-watering, especially when you remember their elite encounter at Survivor Series, last November.
Of course, we seen McIntyre confront WWE Champion Big E, on last weeks edition of Raw. But we could see those two behemoths face off on the special draft episode this Monday, with Big E picking up the win, and sending the Scotsman on his way.
Drew would instantly become the top babyface on his new brand, a role in which he’d excel in.
The WWE fanbase hasn’t really seen Asuka since the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, back in July.
It was first believed that the Japanese superstar was dealing with an injury, but the woman herself squashed those rumours. Shockingly, the creative team of WWE seemingly have no ideas for one of the best talents in the company.
If she is fit and healthy, swiftly move her over to SmackDown, and kickstart her momentum.
With Champion Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks around, the SmackDown Women’s Champion scene is covered for heels, but the arrival of Asuka, and the former champ Bianca BeLair would pad out the babyface side.
Even away from that, Zelina Vega, Toni Storm, Liv Morgan, and Naomi, all find themselves on that brand before the first night of the draft. Plenty of potential rivals for Asuka to show who’s boss.
Who Should Leave NXT?
The NXT show has undergone a major rebrand. Everything from the logo, lighting, staging and wrestlers on the show are brand, spanking new.
We’ve already seen an influx of new faces enter the fray, leaving the NXT roster extremely bloated. As WWE look to focus on younger, bigger stars, that could make a huge impact in the future.
This has seen reported names like Austin Theory, Aliyah and the Hit Row faction all expected to leave WWE’s third brand in this upcoming draft.
However, one name that hasn’t got a mention, when talking about stars leaving NXT 2.0 is, LA Knight.
The man is super charismatic, exceptional on the microphone, and a dab hand in the ring.
Since losing the Million Dollar Championship to Cameron Grimes, Knight has tasted defeat constantly.
He’s the sort of personality that Vince McMahon should take to instantly, and to see him mix it up on the Raw brand would be money.
Another name tipped to leave NXT 2.0 is New Zealand’s, Dakota Kai.
She’s been with the brand since 2017, and in her latter year has been aligned with the now NXT Women’s Champion, Raquel Gonzales, with the pair gelling into a fantastic heel duo.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a relationship built to last, and following Gonzales winning her title at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, tension began to arise between the two athletes.
The hostility concluded with both Kai and Gonzales battling for the women’s title, at NXT TakeOver 36, with Kai falling short on the night.
It’s evident to see that Kai’s NXT tenure has come to its natural end, and a place on either Raw or Smackdown seems to be on the horizon.
If we had our way, she’d be destined for Raw, to offer up a fresh challenge for the likes of Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Rhea Ripley, and Mia Yim, once she gets released from that horrific Reckoning gimmick.
Another female athlete that deserves a spot on the red brand is, Io Shirai.
While she’s one half of the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions with partner, Zoey Stark. You could still have her briefly bounce between the two brands, while holding up her end of that team.
Raw is crying out for a fresh injection of star power, especially in its women’s division, and that’s something Io has by the boat load.
Not bringing her onto Raw’s flagship show would be a badly missed opportunity at this stage.
She can work brilliantly as both heel and face, giving her a real unique versatility factor. Plus, the woman oozes charisma, and is one of, if not the best wrestlers that WWE have on their books.