What Is The WWE Draft And How Does It Work?

WWE Draft

The WWE Draft returns on April 28th for the first time since 2021.

On the April 7th episode of Friday Night SmackDown, WWE’s Chief Content Officer Triple H took to the ring to announce the Draft was returning.

In a promo in which he celebrated the company’s record-breaking success at WrestleMania 39, The Game stated the Draft will be the biggest ever before adding that every WWE Superstar will be eligible indicating that NXT stars will be included, declaring it will “truly change the game.”

Following his announcement, it was confirmed that the Draft is set to begin on the April 28th episode of SmackDown in Corpus Christi, TX, and will conclude on the May 1st episode of Raw in Fort Worth, TX.

What Is The WWE Draft?

The WWE Draft is an event that allows Superstars from Raw and SmackDown to be drafted to the opposite brand.

It was first introduced in 2002 when the company announced its first-ever brand split. Following the acquisition of WCW and ECW, the promotion saw its roster double in size and in an attempt to create its own competition divided the talent between two rival shows airing on different TV networks.

The Draft has been repeated on a yearly basis to refresh its programming, introduce new matches and provide further championship opportunities to the performers. In 2012, the company unified its two main titles the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship to create the WWE World Heavyweight Championship thus ending the brand split in the process.

In 2016, SmackDown Live debuted on USA Network and the brand split along with the Draft was reintroduced. Once again WWE Superstars and for the first time NXT Stars were picked to exclusively appear on rival brands. The following year the Draft was renamed the Superstar Shake-up and changed things up. In place of a traditional Draft, the brands’ commissioners and general managers made their trades behind the scenes. This concept continued until 2019 when Friday Night SmackDown debuted on FOX and the WWE Draft returned to its original format. In 2022, WWE did not conduct a Draft.

How Does The WWE Draft Work?

Simply put the WWE Draft is the exchange of Superstars from one brand to another with brand representatives taking it in turn to choose the talent they want on their show. Each brand gets a set number of picks, however, for every two draft picks by SmackDown, Raw receives three due to being a three-hour show while SmackDown is two.

The event is conducted over two nights, taking place live on Friday Night SmackDown and then two days later on Monday Night Raw. Those not picked on the live broadcasts are announced via WWE’s website and social media channels.

Tag teams are considered as a single unit and can be drafted together. However, if a brand only wants one member of a team, they can be individually drafted.

Champions are also eligible to be drafted, however, brand-specific titles such as the Raw and SmackDown Women’s and Tag Team Championships must stay on their respective brands. For example, in 2021, the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch was drafted to Raw, and Raw Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair was picked for SmackDown. This left the two champions holding the opposite titles to their show. To resolve the situation WWE had the rivals exchange the title belts.

Full List Of Wrestlers Available For The 2023 WWE Draft

Ahead of the show, WWE has released the full list of Superstars who are eligible to be drafted, and on which night.

Interestingly, Roman Reigns and Solo Siko are listed as The Bloodline, while The Usos are listed separately. Meanwhile, Rhea Ripley is listed separately from Judgment Day.
The New Day is also listed as Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston despite speculation linking Big E with a return. However, this doesn’t mean that the former World Champion won’t make a surprise appearance.

There is no word on who will be called up from NXT, talents from WWE’s third brand are listed as “Select NXT Superstars.”

Interestingly Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss are both missing from the list as their respective absences continue.

WWE Draft Night One – SmackDown

  • Becky Lynch
  • Bianca Belair
  • Bobby Lashley
  • Candice LeRae
  • Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville
  • Cody Rhodes
  • Damage CTRL (Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai)
  • Dexter Lumis
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Edge
  • Hit Row (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis w/ B-Fab)
  • Imperium (Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci)
  • Lacey Evans
  • Matt Riddle
  • Maximum Male Models (Mace, Mansoor & Maxxine Dupri)
  • Mustafa Ali
  • Natalya
  • Omos (w/ MVP)
  • Shinsuke Nakamura
  • The Bloodline (Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa)
  • The Miz
  • The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Michin)
  • The Street Profits
  • The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar w/ Valhalla)
  • Select NXT Superstars

WWE Draft Night Two – Raw

  • Akira Tozawa
  • Alpha Academy (Otis & Chad Gable)
  • Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo
  • Asuka
  • Austin Theory
  • Baron Corbin
  • Braun Strowman & Ricochet
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Bronson Reed
  • Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Dana Brooke
  • Elias
  • Emma
  • Johnny Gargano
  • Judgment Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio)
  • Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett)
  • Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
  • LA Knight
  • Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez
  • Nikki Cross
  • Piper Niven
  • Rhea Ripley
  • Rick Boogs
  • Riddick Moss
  • Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler
  • Seth Rollins
  • Shotzi
  • Tamina
  • Tegan Nox
  • The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland & Butch)
  • The LWO (Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde & Zelina Vega)
  • The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)
  • The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso)
  • Trish Stratus
  • Xia Li
  • Select NXT Superstars

You can follow all of the action from the 2023 WWE Draft live with Inside The Ropes.