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Major WWE Shakeups Following Talent Draft, Firing at SmackDown

(CBSNY/CBS Local) -- The deck has been reshuffled, and all pieces are in place for WWE following the promotion's second talent draft of the year and a major shakeup in the hierarchy of one of its major shows. Rosters are now locked in for both the RAW and SmackDown brands following a two-night televised draft and supplemental picks announced online the less than 48 hours later.

RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch became the first overall pick in the draft and will headline the Monday night show along with real-life fiancé and Universal Champion Seth Rollins, who was the top pick on the second night of the draft.

SmackDown, meanwhile, will be headlined by Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.

In theory, the wildcard rule allowing Superstars to float between the two shows has been stricken from the books. However, there are still loose ends to tie up before the dust settles, including the feud between "Monday Night" Rollins and Bray Wyatt, who was the second overall selection of the Friday night brand.

Following a confusing match at Hell In A Cell and Rollins subsequently burning down the Firefly Fun House this week, the champ and "The Fiend" are set to square off on Halloween at Crown Jewel. Whether the October 31 clash in Saudi Arabia will actually be the blow-off match for the two is unclear.

Other loose ends following the draft include the fates of a handful of high-profile names who have yet to be assigned to a brand. Among them are former tag team champions Matt and Jeff Hardy (The Hardy Boyz), as well as Jimmy and Jey Uso (The Usos).

Jeff Hardy has been out of action since May, when he underwent surgery to repair an ailing knee. At the time, WWE pegged the recovery to take six to nine months. Although he has been out of the ring, the popular 42-year-old Superstar has not been absent from headlines. Hardy was arrested earlier this month for driving while intoxicated in his home state of North Carolina. The arrest marked his second alcohol-related offense in less than three months and third overall since June 2018. He has a lengthy history of substance abuse dating back to his first stint in WWE, which began more than two decades ago.

Similarly, the Usos have been MIA since Jimmy Uso's latest arrest for drunk driving in July. The arrest comes five months after he was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction following an alcohol-fueled encounter with police. The July incident led to the former tag team champions being removed from the SummerSlam card because Jimmy Uso was reportedly denied entry to Canada, where the show was being held. He was previously arrested for DUI in 2011 and 2013.

WWE has not commented on either situation, beyond saying both Hardy and Uso are responsible for their own actions.

Meanwhile, the future of former Women's Champion Naomi, who is married to Jimmy Uso, is also unknown, as she too is among the Superstars who went undrafted. WWE has no creative plans for any of them at this time, according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer.

Interestingly, the recently signed Cain Velasquez, who will face Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel, also went undrafted.

The majority of other Superstars still twisting in the wind are either sidelined with injuries or have been absent from TV for an extended period of time, including Nia Jax, Mickie James, Ruby Riott, and Sheamus.

Elsewhere, it also appears that the reunion of Erick Rowan and Luke Harper will be short-lived, as Rowan is headed to RAW while Harper is among the late additions to the Friday night roster.

And former Women's Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were "traded" to SmackDown after originally being drafted to RAW for what essentially is a player (or two) to be named later.

>>READ: Latest from the world of Pro Wrestling

It wasn't just the rosters shaken up this week, as a major change was made behind the scenes of SmackDown. The company has terminated Eric Bischoff as Executive Director of the show after just over three months on the job and two weeks on a new network. Vince McMahon confidante Bruce Pritchard has been tapped to replace him.

Bischoff was largely hands-off in terms of the scripting storylines, according to multiple reports. His dismissal though is being used to reassure stockholders that steps are being taken to shore up slumping ratings. The show shed more than a quarter of its viewers in its second week on network TV, according to Sports Illustrated.

In other news, Mike Kanellis, who has been on TV recently but was not drafted, has requested his release just three months after signing a lucrative five-year extension with WWE. The deal is worth a reported $2.5 million, but Kanellis has grown increasingly frustrated by his role in the company. He recently has been involved in a humiliating storyline portraying a perennial loser whose wife, Maria Kanellis, cheated on him and became impregnated by another man whose identity we may never know.

Maria Kanellis is denying rumors that she too is looking to exit the company. In a statement posted to her social media accounts, she says that that she has not requested her release but is supporting her husband's decision.

It's unclear whether WWE will grant Mike Kanellis' request. Luke Harper also publicly lobbied for his release in recent months but was denied and was recently brought back as part of a storyline involving his partner Rowan, Roman Reigns, and Daniel Bryan.

Here is a look at the full draft results.

Night 1 on SmackDown

1st Round

  • RAW: Becky Lynch
  • SmackDown: Roman Reigns
  • RAW: The O.C.
  • SmackDown: "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt
  • RAW: Drew McIntyre

2nd Round

  • RAW: Randy Orton
  • SmackDown: Sasha Banks
  • RAW: Ricochet
  • SmackDown: Braun Strowman
  • RAW: Bobby Lashley

3rd Round

  • RAW: Alexa Bliss
  • SmackDown: Lacey Evans
  • RAW: Kevin Owens
  • SmackDown: The Revival
  • RAW: Natalya

4th Round

  • RAW: The Viking Raiders
  • SmackDown: Lucha House Party
  • Raw: Nikki Cross
  • SmackDown: Heavy Machinery
  • RAW: The Street Profits

Night 2 on RAW

1st Round

  • RAW: Seth Rollins
  • SmackDown: Brock Lesnar
  • RAW: Charlotte Flair
  • SmackDown: The New Day
  • RAW: Andrade (with Zelina)

2nd Round

  • RAW: The Kabuki Warriors
  • SmackDown: Daniel Bryan
  • RAW: Rusev
  • SmackDown: Bayley
  • RAW: Aleister Black

3rd Round

  • RAW: Cedric Alexander
  • SmackDown: Shinsuke Nakamura
  • RAW: Humberto Carillo
  • SmackDown: Ali
  • RAW: Erick Rowan

4th Round

  • RAW: Buddy Murphy
  • SmackDown: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
  • RAW: Jinder Mahal
  • SmackDown: Carmella
  • RAW: R-Truth

5th Round

  • RAW: Samoa Joe
  • SmackDown: The Miz
  • RAW: Akira Tozawa
  • SmackDown: King Corbin
  • RAW: Shelton Benjamin

6th Round

  • RAW: Rey Mysterio
  • SmackDown: Shorty Gable
  • RAW: Titus O'Neil
  • SmackDown: Elias
  • RAW: Liv Morgan

Supplemental Draft


  • EC3
  • Eric Young
  • Mojo Rawley
  • No Way Jose
  • Sarah Logan
  • Sin Cara
  • The IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay)
  • Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins


  • Apollo Crews
  • The B-Team
  • Cesaro
  • Dana Brooke
  • Drake Maverick
  • Drew Gulak
  • Fire & Desire (Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose)
  • Heath Slater
  • Luke Harper
  • Tamina

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.

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