5 Wrestlers to Watch After the WWE Draft

5 Wrestlers to Watch After the WWE Draft

With Triple H promising to "change the game" with the current WWE Draft that began this past Friday on Smackdown, there's a lot at stake for the future momentum of the company. Shaking up rosters is nothing new, however, when its been done in the past, the game never really changed. It was just more of the same mediocre storytelling with names shuffling around.

This time there is a new World Heavyweight Championship title that will get an immediate major storyline on RAW to determine its new flag bearer. Meanwhile, the hottest storyline in the company, The Ultimate Destruction of Roman Reigns and the Bloodline, remains on Smackdown. With these two anchors in place to kick off a new season of WWE, there's a lot of work needing to be done to determine the mid to upper card storylines.

A great thing about the Attitude Era that's currently lacking, was the storylines and vignettes that existed for the mid card group. We found joy in Mark Henry and Mae Young's romance, or when the Big Boss Man pulled dastardly pranks on The Big Show and Al Snow (RIP that dog.) The draft wipes the slate clean to begin with a fresh creative approach on multiple levels.

However, this draft got off to a bizarre start. They did 4 rounds of live "drafting" on Friday's Smackdown, and then made further draft announcements on a internet show on Saturday. While a few picks made sense, the hierarchy of talent and how it was "drafted" felt strange. Of course kicking it off by drafting The Bloodline and Cody Rhodes first and second overall, respectively, made sense. They are the hottest commodities going post Wrestlemania. But on the flip side, we got the NXT Women's Champion and Women's Tag Team Champions being drafted in the first 4 rounds before the company's biggest female sensation, Rhea Ripley?

We've got a trio on Smackdown called "Hit Row" that has really struggled to get over, yet they are selected before Seth Rollins, Austin Theory, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, The Usos, Finn Balor, Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez, and the 4 of the 5 guys we're going to discuss below? If you're trying to stage a pro sports oriented draft, shouldn't you be securing the actual top talent in the early rounds, and take flyers on the NXT level talent later on?

What are the stakes for the draft other than just placing people on new shows? Should there be some level of competition between the brands in how they perform? You could easily track growth of the shows for a year. That would be a legit way to make the draft feel important by who got the right mix of talent and created the best storylines with them. Who are the actual decision makers behind each brand who are supposedly pulling the strings to decide these picks? Giving some authenticity to an authority group in charge of each brand, as they are a sports (entertainment) franchise, would help.

Instead we get a handful of creative office guys in HHH, HBK, and former wrestlers like JBL and RVD just reading a handful of names off without much fanfare aside from Michael Cole slobbering over himself with each pick. 

If changing the game is what this is all about, it feels like they could have done more to make this draft feel like a pretty big deal in who they selected and where. It's awesome that Shinsuke Nakamura is back, but getting chosen before U.S. Champion (and future pillar of the company), Austin Theory? Seth Rollins has been one of the select few carrying the company on his back, and the fans appreciate that. You can tell they are eager to see him get a big time world title run, given his exceptional work of building other important talent the past couple years. But we're gonna select Chelsea Green and Sonya Deville instead. Help me make sense of that, when stacking the top of each brand roster should dominate the early rounds of the draft.

Not having your top-20 current name brand wrestlers, who the company revolves around, selected with the first 20 picks, cheapens the whole process of supposedly making this draft different than the rest. 

The draft is all fluff and bullshit of course, and just a means to an end. Seth will get his flowers eventually and Theory will continue to work his way into the World Title picture. But at least have the fluff and bullshit make better sense and have purposeful intent. They talked a big game with the draft, but the execution feels like it always has. Given the talent reset that comes with it, make the actual draft feel like there are true stakes involved for each brand. 

Rant over. Here are 5 guys who the 2023 WWE Draft will hopefully give a boost.

5. Chad Gable

The former U.S Olympian has really found a nice groove as a performer in the ring and on the mic. As the leader of the Alpha Academy, he's formed a fun and entertaining tag team with big Otis. They've had a solid mid card run that feels like it could be coming to an end. Even though they were drafted together to RAW, Otis is flirting with a new Chris Farley Chippendale posing as a male model gimmick, with the Maximum Male Model group. If he fully gets seduced by the radiant Maxxine Dupri, this character should bear some fruit. Everyone loves a fat guy who unabashedly and earnestly believes he's sexy, and flaunts it. Otiise, as his new character is called, is going to become a quentissential sports entertainer with every jiggly giration and "OH YEEEEAAAH" he roars out.

Part of this is to maximize Otis' big comedic potential. The other piece is that Gable is a mini Kurt Angle ready to pick that gimmick back up and run with it. Angle has recently gone on record as saying he'd like to come in and manage Gable as a heel. Gable has the same smarmy "I'm better than everyone" schtick down, and just needs to pour gas on it. He's one of the best they have in the ring, so its time to build him in the mold of Angle mixed with Benoit. He's noticeably been bulking up a bit as of late to be primed for a singles showcase. Now he needs the creative for him to hit.

4. Karrion Kross

A favorite of Triple H, Kross was one of the first of his former proteges who was brought back onto the main roster when he assumed creative control. There's a lot to like with Kross. He's got great size, a good look, intensity, and trained in MMA techniques. Accompanying him is one of the most beautiful women in wrestling in Scarlett Bordeaux. But something is still missing with his connection to the audience.

I'd like to see him shave his head again, as he looks more menacing that way. Pro wrestling currently lacks a wild and intense bald ass kicker. See Goldberg and Austin. It was a formula for success in the past. I'm not comparing Kross to either of those two, but there's a tried and true visual look space available for him to stand out. Looks good bald? check. Can give you crazy, maniacal eyes? check. Can make great wildin' out angry expressions? check. Makes their wrath believable? check.  Ryback not withstanding, this has been a method for printing money in the past. Kross is the perfect guy to pick this up and attempt to run with it.

A return to the character they were building in NXT, would be a welcome change from his current suave, sociopathic, modern day Bond villain vibe. Instead, give us a gladiator barbarian from the not too distant dark future, destroying and taking what is his. Scarlett remains his post apocalyptic queen doing little heel shit, like Sensational Sherri would do to help win matches. No silly mask like Vince tried doing with him either. Just let his physicality and intensity drive the character.

Now that he's back on Smackdown, I'm not sure where they pivot. He could get lost in the shuffle, especially if an NXT upstart like Grayson Waller or Cameron Grimes steps up and makes an impact. I'm hoping we see Kross find his groove because with Reigns, Theory, Edge, Sheamus, AJ Styles, and LA Knight on the Blue Brand, there's enough top talent for him to find good programs with. The character needs an overhaul though to breakthrough, because the program he was thrust into on his return with Drew McIntyre fell flat. If business doesn't pick up, he might be destined to become part of a tag team experiment.

3. Damian Priest

Priest has all the tools to be an upper tier wrestling superstar, but has found himself in limbo as the Judgement Day faction kind of lost its way prior to Wrestlemania. Balor had to finish his program with Edge, while Ripley was getting her own individual push to the moon, destined to become women's champion. Then there was the Mysterio Family Feud that needed to unfold, along with building Dominic Mysterio as a comedic prison bitch heel everyone loved to boo and laugh at. All of this left the group's leader out in the cold for Wrestlemania.

His only appearance was on Raw the next night to start beef with hip hop artist Bad Bunny at ringside, and set up an upcoming match at Backlash on May 6th. A cash grab match with two Puerto Ricans doing battle at an event in Puerto Rico. I hope John Matrix does a run in on his way to Val Verde. Anyway, this storyline is a one off at best.

Priest really needs to move away from this faction, and find his own character. He's big, menacing, but also has a charm to him. He's like a bad ass Lenny Kravitz. He should be a part of the upcoming tournament to decide the new World Champion, and seeing him get to the finals against a Rollins or Rhodes would be fun.  Getting a cool babyface Priest, and tough-as-nails Gunther program would be a nice place to get to later in the year. Priest feels like a guy who's almost there, but needs to step up and grab the brass ring.

2. LA Knight

Here's a dude who's been getting the Chris Jericho in WCW treatment. A stud who owns whatever TV time he gets, and has the audience wanting more, but not getting it. At 40 years old, Knight is on the tail end of the peak prime years of a main event talent. However, seeing him get over big now on the biggest weekly wrestling show on TV, is a testament to the work he's put into a career in the Indies, Impact, and the NWA. While he's late to arrive, he's here melting the mic on a weekly basis while being a solid performer in the ring.

If hard-working, but lauded small screen actor Alan Rickman can get his first starring role in Die Hard as Hans Gruber at age 41, then springboard that into an illustrious film career, give Knight (and the fans) a solid main event run for a couple years. Now back on Smackdown, a feud going into SummerSlam or Survivor Series where he can dethrone Theory for the U.S.Title would be a treat. He's like an Attitude Era character living in his own space. Capitalize on that! YEEEAAAH!

1. Montez Ford

As one half of the entertaining Street Profits tag team, the husband of WWE Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair has established himself as one of the company's best athletes, who brings a ton of charisma and good looks. Ford and his partner Angelo Dawkins were drafted to Smackdown in the early rounds. After shitting on some of the early round selections, this one I'm on board with.  Ford is so elite athletically, he makes "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka jumping off the top turnbuckle look average. The peak height he can reach for a perfectly executed frogsplash is otherwordly. My man runs, jumps, and somersaults over the turnbuckle and out onto the floor like its a warm up routine.

While getting in amazing high flying offense, he's also adept at selling great for his opponents. His face and body are always visually expressive to help take you on his journey through the good and the bad in the ring. It helps connect to the audience on TV. He knows how to make the dance work with the proper ebb and flows, and when to hit the high spot. Ford is also solid at working the crowd to get them fired up. He could be what Apollo Creed coming to life as a pro wrestler would be.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I could see Ford adapting Hogan's "Hulk up", but instead of all the fist pumping and shaking, he starts dancing around while getting punched, and it fires him up. Which, in turn gets the crowd amped like "Ahh Shit! 'Tez is dancing. You done fucked up now!" Not the same routine like Hulk. Mix it up with different dancing each time. Then he just overwhelms with a big athletic move set, and hits a monster high-flying finisher. Gets up after the count and plays to the crowd, who's already going crazy. The stage is set for this guy to become a PG-13 Superstar!

With a movie star name and good looks, and an excitable energy on the mic, I want to see Montez Ford come into his own as a singles performer. All the tools are there as a future face of the franchise. He's been getting a lot of singles opportunities as of late, highlighted by his inclusion in the WWE Elimination Chamber match. His spot here was one of the coolest and most daring parts of the show.


It feels like WWE is beginning to figure out its almost time to unleash him, and we'll see the break up of the Street Profits soon. How they get there should be interesting given Ford's babyface wife is also on Smackdown while being the RAW Champion. Dawkins is no slouch and needs a plan too, yet keeping tabs on Ford's development and creative storytelling could be one of the biggest things to come out of this draft. If they get it right, all wrestling fans will want that smoke.

Which wrestlers do you see benefitting most by the WWE Draft, and why? Throw your thoughts down below in the comments

Thanks for stopping by!

Matthew McMahon                                                                   

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