Features

TJR: WWE Draft 2021 Reactions For New Raw Roster

The 2021 WWE Draft is complete. While it’s always a bit confusing with the way WWE conducts it, when we reach the end of it, there’s a clear picture of who goes where. What I’m going to do is run down every name on the Raw roster in alphabetic order while giving my opinions on them. Smackdown will be in a separate post. I just think it’s better to separate them. There are 37 male wrestlers on Raw and 14 female superstars. That doesn’t count undrafted free agents.

I’m probably going to use words like “hope, hopefully, potential” a lot because I hope the best for everybody and there’s a lot of potential for good things on the WWE roster…if everybody is used right. One thing I can predict is everybody will not be used right. That’s just how it goes.

As a reminder, the new rosters don’t take effect until Friday, October 22, which is one day after WWE Crown Jewel. Until then, these wrestlers can appear on the show they used to be on and in some cases, both brands.

 

RAW MALE ROSTER

* AJ Styles

The 44-year-old Styles is still one of the best wrestlers in the world. He proved it recently in singles matches against guys like Randy Orton and Riddle. I think putting him in a tag team with Omos has been smart in terms of keeping his body fresh, but I would love to see a renewed push for Styles. Whether he’s a heel or a face, the crowd always reacts to Styles and I think if he was in the main event scene again, it would be a welcome sight.

* Akira Tozawa

Tozawa is a good worker that is capable of a lot more than he’s given on Raw. Mostly he’s just there as 24/7 Title comedy segments. I wish he was doing more, but I doubt things change for him.

* Angelo Dawkins

The Street Profits are one of WWE’s better tag teams. Dawkins is more of the power guy while Ford is more the showman of the team. I think if they were broken up, most people would assume Ford would be the bigger star, but Dawkins is no slouch in the ring. He can really go too. Anyway, it wouldn’t shock me if the Street Profits are pushed to the moon again and get the Tag Team Titles one more time.

* Apollo Crews

The Nigerian “prince” with the fake accent had a good run on Smackdown as a heel Intercontinental Champion. I think he’ll do fine as a midcard heel on Raw and maybe team with Commander Azeez sometimes as well.

* Austin Theory

There’s a lot to like about Theory as a 24-year-old that is a building block for WWE’s future. The next few years can be used to build him up as a midcarder, most likely as a heel, and if all goes well maybe he can get to that next level. One of the issues in WWE is they have an older wrestler. There aren’t that many guys in their 20s on Raw or Smackdown, but Theory is one of them. The comedy stuff he did with Johnny Gargano in NXT was fine for there. I just hope he moves on from that and is a more serious wrestler on Raw.

* Big E (WWE Champion)

The WWE Champion is locked in as a top babyface on Raw and I think Big E will likely have a long title reign. There are a lot of guys he could feud with as a top guy whether it’s a fellow babyface like Edge, Kevin Owens or Finn Balor or one of the heels like Seth Rollins, AJ Styles and of course former WWE Champion Bobby Lashley too. There are others as well. I think WWE has done a good job surrounding Big E with a lot different opponents on Raw. He’s going to succeed as champion too. I like him a lot.

* Bobby Lashley

Lashley has had the best run of his career in his mid-40s because the booking has been strong, but more importantly he got better as a wrestler. I think his pairing with MVP has worked so well and putting the Hurt Business back together is a smart move too. Lashley will likely remain and heel in the upper card that could certainly getting back into the WWE Championship picture at some point.

* Cedric Alexander

The Hurt Business should have never been broken up, so putting them back together is a great thing for Alexander’s future. Yes, he’s going to take some beatings while Lashley avoids them (like Goldberg on Raw), but that’s better than not being on the show at all. Maybe Alexander and Benjamin will get a Tag Team Title push on Raw again.

* Chad Gable

I think this is a better spot for Gable than Smackdown because it was tough for another heel tag team to break out on Smackdown while The Usos are there. Now that they are on Raw, Gable & Otis can be the top heel tag team since the main competition is Roode/Ziggler and Alexander/Benjamin. Both of these teams have been champions before while Gable/Otis have not. I like the idea of Gable/Otis getting a big heel championship push on Raw.

* Commander Azeez

We know Vince McMahon likes utilizing the big guys, so Azeez could get a monster push at any times. I don’t know if it’s going to happen any time soon because of how limited he is in the ring, but he can still get screen time as an ally of Apollo Crews. He’s fine in that role.

* Damian Priest (WWE United States Champion)

I’m intrigued about Priest’s future. Priest has been booked very well as an upper midcard babyface that hasn’t lost a singles match all year. If you don’t know much about him then you’d be surprised to learn he is 39 years old, but even as an older guy, he feels fresh since he’s only been on Raw for less than a year. Do they go all the way with him and push him to that WWE Championship level? It might happen. Priest is also a Latino star, which is something WWE likes a lot. I hope he has a meaningful feud for the US Title soon and if he drops it, maybe that’s when the big push happens.

* Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler is a reliable veteran that can put on good matches with anybody, work in a tag team with Robert Roode and also get a mild push sometimes. I don’t know if WWE sees him as a top guy or close to that anymore, but he still brings a lot of value as a guy with 15+ years of experience and the ability to do it all.

* Dominik Mysterio

Dominik is like Austin Theory as a guy with a bright future, who is also 24 years old. Teaming him with his dad Rey Mysterio was smart although I think WWE blew it by not having them win the Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania and then they weren’t even on the WrestleMania card. Anyway, Dominik is a good athlete with natural charisma that keeps getting better. I would prefer it if he didn’t turn heel on his dad, but it wouldn’t shock me if it happens.

* Drake Maverick

The former NXT superstar is back on Raw as a comedy 24/7 Title chaser. It’s not a good gimmick at all. I think he would be a great manager for somebody that needs the boost.

* Edge

Edge is the second-oldest regular wrestler on Raw since he turns 48 years old later this month. There might only be another year or two left for him, so I hope he makes it count with some meaningful storylines with younger talent. I have liked the feud with Seth Rollins since there’s been a long-term build leading to great matches. I’d love to see what Edge can do against the likes of AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Keith Lee, Bobby Lashley and even WWE Champion Big E. There are a lot of intriguing matchups for the Edgester, who I first saw wrestling in person in the indies about 25 years ago. It’s been a long road, that’s for sure.

* Finn Balor

I commented in my Raw review that it was strange that he went 15th on Monday considering he was just in the main event of the last PPV. I don’t know why it took them so long to place him, but there he was. Anyway, I think he can thrive on Raw as a babyface the fans are always going to root for and the “Demon” persona works well too. Maybe he can get to that top-level where he wins the WWE Championship like he won the Universal Championship five years ago. I don’t know if it will happen, but it would be cool if it did. And yes, give me that feud with AJ Styles, please.

* Gable Steveson

The most surprising pick of the entire draft is probably Gable Steveson just because the 21-year-old Olympic Gold Medalist hasn’t had a match in WWE yet. We know he’s still at the University of Minnesota completing his senior season of NCAA Wrestling and WWE is also going to set up a wrestling ring near his home so he can train to be a WWE superstar as well. That’s all well and good, but I didn’t think he would be in this year’s draft. Maybe he’ll be ready in a few months. It’s up to him. Anyway, I hope things turn out well for this young man who is as much of a blue-chip prospect as anybody in WWE.

* Jaxson Ryker

They tried pushing Ryker months ago as a singles babyface after repeated wins over Elias, but the fans just didn’t care. I think he’s better suited for a tag team. I just don’t see Ryker as a major star or anything like that.

* John Morrison

Morrison is similar to Ziggler as a talented veteran that always has good matches and can fill a number of different roles. Since his alliance with The Miz ended, that’s an obvious feud that should happen when Miz is back from Dancing with the Stars. Maybe Morrison will get back to being a midcard champion in WWE like he has been in the past, but I’m not sure if he’ll ever get past that at this point in his career.

* Karrion Kross

It’s easy to like Kross as a heel with a bright future, but it’s tough for some fans to look past the stupid mask he wears on his way to the ring as well as those weird-looking suspenders. When he was in NXT, he was booked like a killer heel and a guy that was believable in everything he does. Since he’s been on Raw, he has won more than he’s lost, but he doesn’t have that same aura about him. I’m optimistic that things will turn out well for him.

* Keith “Bearcat” Lee

Lee is in a similar boat as Kross as a former NXT Champion that should be doing better. Sadly, Lee lost several months this year due to a heart issue, but he’s doing better now and I’m hopeful that he will have a big year whether he’s a heel or a face. I don’t mind the “Bearcat” name either. Keith Lee is a plain, basic name, so he needs a nickname.

* Kevin Owens

I liked a lot of what Kevin Owens did on Smackdown as a babyface that feuded with Roman Reigns for several months, but then they put him against Sami Zayn, which was fine and felt repetitive too. Maybe now on Raw, he can have a fresh start whether he stays in a babyface role or goes back to being a heel. Owens also apparently has a contract coming up soon, so he could end up leaving WWE altogether early next year. I don’t know what he’ll do, but I sincerely hope that he is utilized the right way.

* Montez Ford

The Street Profits remain one of my favorite tag teams, so I’m glad they are together. Maybe this will be the last year before the split happens and if that’s the case then Ford is a guy to keep an eye on as a breakout star because he can do it all. It made sense for him to be on Raw since his wife Bianca Belair will be one of Raw’s top stars.

* MVP

MVP is mostly a manager that is sometimes a wrestler these days. That’s fine because he’s a terrific talker that has played a big role in Bobby Lashley turning his carer around.

* Omos

The big man Omos is still so green, yet WWE is going to keep featuring him because it’s hard to find people that are 7’4” (or whatever his real height is) like him. I joke with people that he’s going to headline multiple WrestleManias against Bron Breakker, but I don’t know if it is a joke because I think WWE management really likes this guy. The key thing is will he be able to sell in a longer match and make it look good? When The Undertaker did the no-selling thing early on it was fine, but the reason he got to be great is because he would sell for the smaller guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. If you don’t sell, that’s going to make it tough moving forward. Anyway, I can see Omos turning on Styles to make Omos more of a heel and Styles into a face. I don’t know when. It could be a few months.

* Otis

The more serious version of Otis has been different than the grunting, Chris Farley-impersonating Heavy Machinery version. Otis doesn’t smile, he just kicks ass and does what Chad Gable tells him to do. I could see him getting a monster singles although maybe the team will get tag team gold first.

* R-Truth

I mentioned earlier that Edge was the second-oldest wrestler on the active roster. That’s because R-Truth is the oldest at 49 years old even though he’s about 35 or so. Truth seems to be the guy that only cares about the 24/7 Title and nothing else anymore. I would love to see him in a tag team to help a younger talent out, but I guess WWE is content to have him where he is.

* Randy Orton (RAW Tag Team Champion)

The Viper turned face this year simply because he is now friends with Riddle. Orton can turn heel at any point as we know, but I think it’s cool that he is in that veteran babyface role at this point in his career. The story with Riddle is working. Will it last forever? Of course not, but if they take their time and do the split in a few months then it can lead to WrestleMania with Orton in the heel role. That’s what I assume is going to happen anyway. It goes without saying that Orton is a guy WWE can push to the top at any time and the fans will buy in since he’s a legend.

* Reggie (WWE 24/7 Champion)

Reggie is an athletic guy that does some great flips when people chase him for the 24/7 Title. I don’t know how well he could do in a regular wrestling match or even if he’s trained to do that. He’s there to do flips and carry the comedy 24/7 Title. It’s not that interesting to me.

* Rey Mysterio

It’s amazing how good Rey still is at 46 years old considering the many knee surgeries he’s had and other ailments that have sidelined him. Rey doesn’t wrestle as much as he used to, but any time he’s featured in singles action he shines, just like in tag team matches. Rey is obviously tied to his son Dominik, so we’ll either see Dominik turn on his legendary father soon or maybe they get back in the tag team title picture. I just hope Seth Rollins doesn’t try to gouge Rey’s eye out like the last time they were on Raw.

* Riddle (RAW Tag Team Champion)

Riddle is one of the “newer” guys in WWE that I can see being elevated to main event level in the coming years. The fans like Riddle a lot, the guy is awesome in the ring, he has a character that is unique since he says “bro” a lot as the biggest stoner in WWE and I just think he is somebody that WWE should get behind. Whether it happens, I don’t know. Riddle and Orton will be tied together as a team until it ends, then I assume Orton goes heel and off they go from there.

* Robert Roode

A talented veteran wrestler. I like Roode as an ally of Dolph Ziggler since they’re a team of talented established guys that have good matches with everybody. Is he going to get a bigger push ever again? Probably not, but he’ll be okay.

* Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins

Seth is one of the biggest names in WWE and should thrive on Raw as arguably the top heel on the brand. When he was on Smackdown, he was the clear #2 heel behind Roman Reigns and now he should be in that top spot most of the time. I think a feud with Big E at some point in the next few months is likely. Seth and his wife Becky Lynch being on the same show was obvious since they have a young daughter, so they were going to want to be on the same show.

* Shelton Benjamin

Benjamin is one of the most experienced guys on the roster. It looks like his Hurt Business team with Cedric Alexander is back together and that’s probably the best thing for both. Since Benjamin and Alexander weren’t doing much in singles, it’s better for them to be in a team.

* T-BAR

I’m excited about Donovan Dijakovic in a singles role again. I don’t like the name T-Bar and hope they dump that for him, but I don’t know if they will. T-Bar is a talented big man that can have good matches with all kinds of different opponents. I loved his match with Keith Lee when they were in NXT as well as other promotions before they got to WWE. This is a guy that deserves a shot and I think if he gets a chance, he’ll impress a lot of people.

* The Miz

Even though he’s off Raw right now due to being on Dancing with the Stars, which some people might consider a big deal since it’s a popular TV show, he’s still going to be in that midcard heel role that he has been for most of his career. It’s weird to think that Miz was actually WWE Champion this year, but he was thanks to the Money in the Bank contract. Anyway, I think some of this feuds have been bad in the last couple of years although you can’t deny he’s a great talker and knows how to get heat. A feud with John Morrison seems likely when he comes back.

* Veer

I was a bit surprised when WWE chose to break up Veer, Jinder Mahal and Shanky by having Veer on his own on Raw. Veer has been impressive in some recent tag team matches where you could tell WWE wanted to feature him a lot, so I think we’ll see more of that in the weeks ahead. Whether he can really thrive on his own, I have no idea. From a physical standpoint, he looks the part, so he could do well.

 

RAW FEMALE ROSTER

* Alexa Bliss

The unique Bliss is currently off TV right now following her Extreme Rules loss to Charlotte Flair. She’s out of action with a nasal operation and I know she wants to get married soon, so I don’t know if that’s part of her break. Anyway, the one thing I am impressed with Bliss is she can always get reactions whether she was in her old heel role, the regular face character or this unique character that had a doll. She’s a good actress. She’ll always be featured when she’s around.

* Becky Lynch (SmackDown Women’s Champion)

It’s good to have Becky Lynch back even though I don’t know if every crowd wants to boo her. Regarding the Smackdown Women’s Title, she might lose it at Crown Jewel since Sasha Banks is in the match and Banks is on Smackdown, so that’s a way to get it on a Smackdown wrestler. Lynch as a heel seems weird since the fans want to cheer her although I get why she wants to be the heel when against Bianca Belair. Anyway, Lynch is arguably WWE’s top women’s wrestler, so she will have a major role on Raw moving forward. As mentioned earlier, it makes sense for her and husband Seth Rollins to be on Raw together.

* Bianca Belair

Bianca is one of the biggest stars of WWE in the present and has had a terrific year for sure. Feuding with incredible performers like Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch certainly helps. Bianca has more than held her own, she’s easy to like in terms of promos and her matches have improved as the year has gone on. I think she’s going to be heavily featured on Raw in the weeks and months ahead. Belair is already a big star that is going to get even bigger. I’m sure she’s happy that her husband Montez Ford is on the same show too.

* Carmella

Carmella was only on Smackdown since the first draft of this era in 2016. It’s weird how she kept remaining on Smackdown all this time, but she did. Since boyfriend Corey Graves is an announcer on Raw, I’m sure both are happy she is on Raw. Carmella is one of those heels that is near the title picture all the time, but hasn’t really been pushed as a champion for a few years. I doubt her role changes much. Perhaps they can put her in a team with another heel since they will need teams.

* Dana Brooke

It’s weird to think that Dana has been part of WWE for nearly a decade, but she did sign in 2013. I think she has improved in a lot of areas in the last couple of years, yet she can’t seem to break through due to some of the other women being so talented. I thought her team with Mandy Rose might win tag team gold and then it just ended with Mandy going to NXT. Maybe a team with Doudrop would work for her? I don’t know. I doubt she ever gets a massive singles push.

* Doudrop

I think Doudrop is a weird name and I’m not sure if she can overcome that, but she looks different than the others, so that will allow her to stand out. She has fun with it, that’s for sure. I think there’s a genuine likability there. Maybe she’ll reach the singles title picture. I think for now it might be best to put her in a tag team and go for some gold that way.

* Liv Morgan

I hope Liv Morgan wins the Women’s Royal Rumble in January. Just want to get that out there first. The fans love this woman and really want to see her do well. She has such a bright future, she has charisma, she is likable, and she has worked so hard to improve in the ring. I think if she was on Smackdown she could have reached that next level while on Raw it’s going to be hard with Bianca Belair on the same show since Belair will get pushed as a face too. It would be cool if Morgan could break through. I know it would make a lot of fans happy.

* Mia Yim

Use Mia Yim! I don’t understand why or how WWE has been reluctant to use this talented woman. Yim is engaged to Keith Lee, so when he was dealing with heart issues, she was there to support and I get that. However, Keith is back and I want to see Mia getting more TV time in the coming weeks. She’s so talented in the ring. I think she’s got a unique look too. Just give her a chance.

* Nia Jax

Nia Jax is out with an injury after Shayna Baszler attacked her. I don’t know how long she’ll be out. I figured she wouldn’t get drafted like other injured wrestlers that are free agents, but for whatever reason, she got picked to be on Raw. Jax is better off as a heel although she had success a few years back as a face, so she could be in either role.

* Nikki A.S.H. (WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion)

Good for Nikki working hard and succeeding as this “Almost A Super Hero” character. Once again she’s another likable babyface character the people can rally around. I don’t know how far the gimmick is going to go in terms of pushing her to the top again, but as a Tag Team Champion, she’s doing just fine.

* Rhea Ripley (WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion)

Rhea Ripley

I must admit I’m a little surprised that Ripley is on the same show as Bianca Belair just because I think they had similar journeys as babyface title contenders earlier in the year and they won their titles at WrestleMania. Now they are on the same show. Is Ripley going to go heel to become a rival of Belair or will she be behind Belair as a babyface? I don’t know. I just hope Rhea doesn’t get lost in the shuffle whenever she loses the tag team titles. She’s good already, but she also has got a bright future.

* Tamina Snuka

Tamina is the oldest women’s wrestler in WWE at 43 years old. There have been times for years now where they had nothing for her to do, so I am happy that she became a Women’s Tag Team Champion with Natalya earlier this year. I don’t really get why WWE felt the need to separate them as champions, but here we are.

* Tegan Nox

Nox and Shotzi were a fun, easy to like tag team that was brought to Smackdown a few months ago and now they are separated. Why? I don’t get it. Yes, Nox and Shotzi are both talented wrestlers, but once again I wonder how certain wrestlers are going to break through considering the women at the top of the division. Maybe Nox finds a new partner. I don’t know what the plan is here.

* Zelina Vega

The shortest woman on WWE’s roster is Zelina Vega, who finally got a win on Smackdown recently to give her one win this year. Vega is mostly just a heel that’s there to put over faces. I think her sometimes tag team with Carmella could work out fine if they are given a fair shot as a tag team.

The full listing that WWE posted is below.

===

Final Thoughts

I think they did a good job of beefing up the men’s side of the roster. They have a lot of potential main event guys on both the heel/face side, so a lot of interchangeable parts in terms of feuds they can do down the road. It also means the midcard is stronger too. I just hope they book less rematches than they have done in the last year. On the women’s side, there’s a lot of depth, but as I noted in some cases it may be hard for some women to break through. I hope they are able to create some tag teams for the women because there’s a lack of actual female teams right now.

That’s all for the Raw roster. This was nearly 5,000 words. I wrote way more than I thought, so that’s why Smackdown and Free Agents will be posted tomorrow. Then might have a summary of the whole thing.

Thanks for reading.

More Features