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The 2021 WWE draft is set to go down October 1 and 4, with every Superstar eligible to be traded between Raw and SmackDown, and some talent being called up to the main roster from NXT.
If the past few years are any indication, this can either be a great way to gain new and exciting matches or a total disaster with both brands somehow looking worse than they did heading into it.
Let’s focus on the positive side of things and examine some of the Superstars who should find a new home, starting with the names WWE Raw should pick up.
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Before mentioning our trade ideas, it’s important to preface the list with a few notes to avoid confusion.
This is a list of just who Raw should pick up, rather than including SmackDown. As such, it can be assumed Superstars from the red brand will be traded to its counterpart to balance things out. And an article on the blue brand’s choices will follow next week.
We should also point out that one or two draft moves can influence everything. This entire list could be different if WWE decides to swap just Big E and Roman Reigns.
It’s going to be assumed that all the champions will stay where they are, if only to give our list some foundation to work around.
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Aliyah has been in the NXT system since 2015. To be that long in developmental without being released means WWE sees something in her worth the investment but doesn’t yet feel she is ready for the main roster.
In July, though, she turned on The Robert Stone Brand and hasn’t been seen since.
She’s still in NXT, though, which means she’s likely been put on the sidelines until the draft can move her to a new home.
With an extra hour of television to fill each week, Raw should have more Superstars than SmackDown, so Aliyah is the first of many women on this list worth putting on Monday nights to bolster numbers.
Realistically, there’s a chance the 26-year-old may be more on the enhancement-talent side of things and would balance out someone like Dana Brooke as a heel who could lose to set up people like Alexa Bliss, Doudrop and others.
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Once Becky Lynch beats Bianca Belair at Extreme Rules, The EST of WWE will be in a conundrum. Without regaining the SmackDown Women’s Championship, she could be left with nothing to do for months.
That’s not good enough for her, and it would be no fun watching her fight Lynch for five months and keep trading the belt back and forth purely because nobody else is on the same level.
To spoil a pick for SmackDown, Rhea Ripley should move away from Charlotte Flair since WWE has made it clear The Nightmare is not going to beat The Queen clean any time soon. To balance her out, Belair should move to Raw.
Coinciding with The EST’s move, The Street Profits should go with her. It’s customary for married couples to stick together.
Plus, if The Street Profits fail to beat The Usos at Extreme Rules on Sunday, they’ll be in the same rut of having nowhere to go. At least on Raw, there’s a chance of new rivalries.
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A switch to Raw would open up more opportunities for Baron Corbin.
The further he can spread his wings, the more fans can see just how great of a heel he is. He’s managed to make every version of his character get significant heat over the years, but he’ll never be in championship contention while he’s on the same brand as Reigns.
Moving to the red brand means he can finish his feud with Big E, duke it out with Damian Priest, have matches with John Morrison and Riddle, start something new with Keith Lee and more.
The 24/7 Championship also seems to be permanently on Raw, too, and The Lone Wolf’s comedic abilities make that an avenue worth exploring.
Perhaps he would also be the right man to feud with the next person on our list…
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With the NXT 2.0 reboot, there’s a good chance Cameron Grimes doesn’t have much of a home there. Thankfully, he’s reached a level where he’s ready for something bigger.
Over the past year, he has become one of the most engaging characters in all of WWE. Whether a scoundrel heel or a lovable goofball, he’s consistently entertaining.
Raw needs more variety to fill its three hours, and a guy like Grimes can break the monotony.
If he carries on his “rich” gimmick that saw him capture the Million Dollar Championship and partner up with Ted DiBiase, a byproduct of that could be a feud with Corbin. That may be the means to start him off on Raw, with the two feuding over who has more money.
Could you not see him meshing well with The Miz, R-Truth and The New Day or driving Jinder Mahal up a wall?
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The Four Horsewomen should always be split evenly over the main roster. No brand should have three members as SmackDown currently has with Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.
Not knowing when Bayley will be ready to return to action makes it hard to judge if she should be drafted or put into free-agent status, but she should move to Raw for two reasons.
Firstly, she and Banks could use some time apart.
Secondly, she can easily switch to a babyface role again. Fans would get behind her in a heartbeat to take down someone like Flair. However, if she is needed to remain a heel, she can generate heat with just one promo.
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Carmella moving to Raw checks a few things off the list.
She would be back on the same touring night as her significant other, Corey Graves, which makes things easier for them.
If she and Bayley are both heel or babyface at any particular time, the reunion of BayMella could be useful in the women’s tag team division.
Carmella’s gimmick of calling herself the most beautiful woman in WWE is far from the most risque thing WWE has done, but if it ever decided to start pushing those boundaries again, the 10-11 p.m. time slot on cable is easier to do that in than SmackDown’s air time on Fox.
Raw could use more heels, too, especially if some move in the draft, such as Nia Jax and/or Shayna Baszler.
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Io Shirai’s tag team with Zoey Stark came out of left field and has had more than enough time to find its footing but hasn’t.
Not enough effort has been put into this Odd Couple trope of a tag team, so they should drop the belts to Toxic Attraction and go their separate ways.
Once that happens, there’s nothing left for Shirai to do in NXT. She’s won both championships, held the primary title for one of its longest reigns and is far too good to be relegated to the veteran people can beat to make a statement.
The Genius of the Sky is more than ready to lock horns with the bigger names in WWE. She’s proved she can beat Charlotte Flair and would be one of the prime candidates to feud with her.
In order to get to must-see feuds such as Asuka and the other Horsewomen, she has to make the jump to the main roster, so it might as well be Raw.
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Mia Yim hasn’t been seen since Retribution disbanded, but it can be assumed she’d no longer use that awful name, Reckoning.
She should go back to showcasing her natural talents. She is another strong performer who could rise the ranks on Raw easier than SmackDown due to the extra hour’s ability to incorporate potentially one more match per week for the women’s division, at least.
It’s also likely to remain the home of her fiance, Keith Lee. Naturally, if he moves to SmackDown, she should be considered to go there, too.
However, Yim vs. Flair is a feud that hasn’t been explored, so that’s something WWE could easily get a month or two out of and is worth considering by the creative team.
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Pete Dunne’s best chance to win the NXT Championship just slipped through his fingers in the Fatal 4-Way on the launch of NXT 2.0 last week.
Now, it’s getting hard to believe he’s ever going to reach that mountain top.
Dunne might not be the one to beat Big E, but it’s a fresh match compared to continuing to feud with Tommaso Ciampa and Kyle O’Reilly. Plus, he can start on a lower rung of the ladder, contending for the United States Championship, revisiting his feud with Priest temporarily.
There wasn’t any closure with The BroserWeights, so let’s see Dunne vs. Riddle, too.
Feuds with Lee, Grimes, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, as well as a series of matches against Morrison and AJ Styles, would all be fantastic.
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Moving Scarlett to Raw is a no-brainer and should have happened already. Karrion Kross is lost without her, looking ridiculous in his mask and suspenders.
Not only does she bring back one of the key visual components to his entrance, which was arguably the coolest part of Kross, but it also means another woman is added to the red brand.
While WWE hasn’t had her in a single match yet, it’s not as though she can’t do it. The 30-year-old spent years competing on the indies and places like Impact Wrestling.
Scarlett would also provide a nice rival for Alexa Bliss or even a tag team partner for her.
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Splitting up a tag team in Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox isn’t good for the women’s division, but they have won multiple contenders’ matches and WWE still won’t pull the trigger on their title shot. That has to be for a reason, and it’s starting to look as though the company just doesn’t have as much stock in them as a unit as originally thought.
If that’s the case, they’re better off separating during the draft. And Shotzi going to Raw makes more sense than Nox.
Assuming Rhea Ripley goes to SmackDown, Shotzi should stay away to avoid having two punk-rock badasses on the same brand, especially if Toni Storm stays on Friday nights, too.
Shotzi also has a different aesthetic to the likes of Aliyah, Belair, Carmella, Doudrop, Shirai and others on our list.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.