WWE officially confirmed during this week's Monday Night Raw that the annual WWE Draft will begin on the Oct. 1 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, followed by the Oct. 4 episode of Raw. If this year's draft follows the format of the past two years every star on both rosters will be eligible to be drafted, meaning that most of the picks will be spent keeping stars on their respective brands. The biggest moves from the 2020 draft included Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, The Mysterios and Kevin Owens going to SmackDown, while AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Bray Wyatt and Jeff Hardy went to Raw.
WWE's most recent brand split between Raw and SmackDown was introduced back in 2016, though the current version of the Draft was brought in back in late 2019 after SmackDown moved to FOX.
Many of the stars who were selected in last year's Draft are now gone from the company, as WWE has released more than 50 active wrestlers since the beginning of 2021.
"I don't know that there's one explanation for it," WWE president Nick Khan said regarding those releases in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani. "I think ultimately what's looked at is, is this person — for us — going to move the needle now, or in the imminent future. So, by the way, we had a tryout, a two-day tryout in Las Vegas which ended yesterday. Which Triple H, and Johnny Laurinaitis, and Bruce Prichard were all across, as were the rest of us. We've signed over a dozen new talent coming out of that tryout. And I'm not suggesting, "Oh that's why we cut the other talent." But we're always looking for what's next. We live in the present, we live in the future. We don't live in the past. So when people leave, and they move on with their life and their careers? That's good by us. For us, it's what works for us and our product at that moment in time, and again, what's gonna work down the road. And largely in part the existing roster is based on that."
The Draft will begin days after WWE's next pay-per-view, Extreme Rules. You can see the full lineup for the show (so far) below:
- WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. "The Demon" Finn Balor
- SmackDown Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair
- Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Alexa Bliss
- United States Championship: Damian Priest vs. Sheamus