The WWE Draft went off on Tuesday’s Smackdown with little creativity, few surprises, if any, and no Brock Lesnar. Perhaps the WWE’s top draw and biggest box-office attraction, Brock Lesnar was drafted eighth overall as a second-round selection of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley for the RAW brand.
As the Inquisitr reported earlier on Thursday, Lesnar was originally penciled in to become the first overall selection in the draft, but he slipped for obvious reasons due to his two failed drug tests while training and competing for UFC. Lesnar’s decisive victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200 was a feather in the cap for Vince McMahon and the WWE at the time, and they planned to capitalize on that momentum, knowing Brock would turn his full attention to sports entertainment.
Plans internally wavered over the last several weeks in regards to using Lesnar on the draft show this past Tuesday. Obviously, they decided against bringing him in to work the show, but according to Daily Wrestling News, that was not a direct result of his failed drug tests. It became clear as the draft went along, that using him may have been a waste of one of his appearances, and with Paul Heyman not booked to appear, it made that much more sense.
As noted, Lesnar was scheduled to be the top pick in the draft, with that decision coming in the wake of his win over Hunt on July 9. It is unclear if he would have appeared on the show in light of being picked first, but that is moot now. As is the fact that Seth Rollins was slotted to go third, with John Cena rounding out the top four. It appears Dean Ambrose went where he was always going to go, second overall. It should be noted that all the aforementioned participants ended up on the brand they were planned to land on.
It is worth mentioning that despite all the negative publicity surrounding Lesnar currently, he will not be suspended by the WWE, but the failures may result in him never competing in UFC again. This means his match with Randy Orton at SummerSlam will go on as planned, in what will most certainly be one of the top three matches on the marquee.
However, here is where things get a little interesting as it pertains to that match. As many fans noticed, while Brock Lesnar was drafted to RAW, his SummerSlam opponent Randy Orton, was selected by Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as an exclusive superstar to Smackdown. It’s been noted on several occasions leading up to the draft and brand extension, that the goal this time around is to maintain two distinct rosters, with very little, if any, crossover.
Lesnar was originally scheduled for one August appearance on RAW, but the WWE isn’t advertising him until SummerSlam. Randy Orton is set to return from a 10-month absence this Sunday at Battleground, where he’ll begin to lay the groundwork for that match. However, without a scheduled appearance for Lesnar, and the two drafted to separate brands, the feud that fans have anticipated for 14 years will have very little actual in-ring buildup, and perhaps, no angle built into it.
Generally, with Lesnar’s limited schedule, Paul Heyman is used to help sell his client’s match, displaying his abilities to stand toe-to-toe with any other superstar on the mic. But Heyman, who was not listed among those eligible for the draft, had his contract expire recently, and it is unknown whether there are plans in the works to re-sign him. WWE is clearly banking on The Viper and vignettes to sell this showdown, but things change daily, so this is a situation certainly worth monitoring.
[Image via WWE]