|2019 WWE Draft|
|Date(s)||October 11–14, 2019|
NXT (outgoing only)
205 Live (outgoing only)
The 2019 WWE Draft was the fourteenth WWE Draft produced by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE between their Raw and SmackDown brands. Returning to its original name (the "WWE Draft") and a traditional draft format, it was the second draft of 2019, following April's Superstar Shake-up. The draft began on the October 11 episode of Friday Night SmackDown (in Paradise, Nevada) and concluded on the October 14 episode of Monday Night Raw (in Denver, Colorado), with SmackDown airing on Fox and Raw on the USA Network. It was the first draft in which the brand's television networks were presented as having an influence over WWE's drafting decisions.
2019 was the first year in which WWE held two drafts during the same calendar year. This was because of the issues of the Wild Card Rule introduced with April's Superstar Shake-up and also because of SmackDown's move to Fox in October—Raw and SmackDown were both previously on the USA Network. Over 70 wrestlers (both singles competitors and tag teams) from the Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and 205 Live rosters were eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, including all Raw and SmackDown champions. Most draft picks were announced on the live broadcasts of SmackDown and Raw, while supplemental picks were announced afterwards via WWE's website. In storyline, wrestlers who were not drafted to either brand became free agents and could sign with the brand of their choosing. The Wild Card Rule also ended with this draft, although a similar but stricter interbrand rule, the Brand-to-Brand Invitation, was implemented in May 2020.
The WWE Draft is an annual process used by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE while a brand extension, or brand split, is in effect. The original brand extension occurred from 2002 to 2011, while the second and current brand split began in 2016. During a brand extension, the company divides its roster into brands where the wrestlers exclusively perform for each brand's respective television show, and the draft is used to refresh the rosters of the brand divisions, typically between the Raw and SmackDown brands.
In April 2019, WWE held the Superstar Shake-up, which was the promotion's 13th draft which had a nontraditional format in which drafting decisions were made behind the scenes rather than on-screen. Shortly after the Shake-up, WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon introduced the Wild Card Rule, in which up to four wrestlers would be allowed to appear on the opposing brand's show by invitation for one night only with unsanctioned appearances penalized. Following this, however, the Wild Card Rule's stipulations were not enforced; the rules were immediately broken, with numerous wrestlers freely appearing on both shows weekly without any penalties, blurring the lines between the Raw and SmackDown brands. With SmackDown's move to Fox in October and Raw remaining on the USA Network (part of Comcast's NBCUniversal), WWE decided to hold a second draft for 2019 to definitively split the two brands. The draft was announced to occur on the October 11 and 14 episodes of SmackDown and Raw, respectively. Returning to its original name (the "WWE Draft") and a traditional draft format, personalities from Fox and NBCUniversal were scheduled to appear; the first time that television networks were presented as having an influence over WWE's drafting decisions. The Wild Card Rule also ended with this draft.
The picks were presented by personalities associated with Fox Sports and NBCUniversal properties, including Fox MLB analyst Alex Rodriguez, Saturday Night Live's Michael Che and Colin Jost (who both performed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 35 earlier in 2019), Mr. Robot's Christian Slater, Fox NFL lead commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Fox MLB analysts Kevin Burkhardt and Frank Thomas, Fox NFL Sunday's Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, and Tony Gonzalez, NFL analysts Ronde Barber, Charles Davis, Chris Spielman, and Daryl Johnston, Fox NFL Kickoff's Charissa Thompson, Michael Vick, and Peter Schrager, Big Noon Kickoff's Rob Stone (a former WWE 24/7 Champion), Brady Quinn, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and Urban Meyer, Fox College Football analyst Joel Klatt, Dulé Hill from USA's Psych and Suits, James Roday from Psych, Marcus Lemonis from CNBC's The Profit, Margaret Josephs and Melissa Gorga from Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Rodney Harrison and Chris Simms from NBC's Football Night in America, and Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe, and Kyle Martino from Premier League Live.
The rules of the draft were posted on WWE's website on October 10. The list of eligible wrestlers was posted the same day. Over 70 wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and 205 Live rosters, as well as tag teams, were eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, including all Raw and SmackDown champions (although holders of the 24/7 Championship and WWE Women's Tag Team Championship were eligible to be drafted, they could appear on any brand until they lost their respective titles).
The rules of the draft were the following:
The drafting pool was divided between the broadcasts of both shows, with up to 30 picks allotted on SmackDown and 41 on Raw. Any remaining picks from the respective draft pools were announced on WWE's website. Undrafted wrestlers (those not selected on the shows or announced via WWE.com) immediately became free agents and could sign with the brand of their choosing.
There were four rounds of draft picks during Night 1 of the 2019 draft. WWE's Chief Brand Officer (CBO) Stephanie McMahon announced the draft picks for each round. Representing Raw, Universal Champion Seth Rollins' disqualification win over SmackDown's representative, Roman Reigns, earned Raw the first draft pick of the night.
|Rnd.||Pick #||Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Post-draft brand||Role||Brand pick #|
|1||1||Becky Lynch||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler
Raw Women's Champion
|1||2||Roman Reigns||SmackDown||SmackDown||Male wrestler||1|
(AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson)
|Raw||Raw (Gallows and Anderson were later released, signed with Impact Wrestling)||Male stable
United States Champion (Styles)
|1||4||"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler||2|
|1||5||Drew McIntyre||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||3|
|2||6||Randy Orton||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||4|
|2||7||Sasha Banks||Raw||SmackDown||Female wrestler||3|
|2||9||Braun Strowman||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler||4|
|2||10||Bobby Lashley||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||6|
|3||11||Alexa Bliss||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler||7|
|3||12||Lacey Evans||Raw||SmackDown||Female wrestler||5|
|3||13||Kevin Owens||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||8|
(Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
|Raw||SmackDown (were later released, signed with All Elite Wrestling)||Male tag team
SmackDown Tag Team Champions
|4||16||The Viking Raiders
(Erik and Ivar)
|Raw||Raw||Male tag team||10|
|4||17||Lucha House Party
(Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado)
|4||18||Nikki Cross||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler||11|
(Otis and Tucker)
|SmackDown||SmackDown||Male tag team||8|
(Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
|NXT||Raw||Male tag team||12|
Eight additional picks were announced on WWE's website on October 13. Except for Apollo Crews, who was slated to be a part of the Night 2 pool, all wrestlers selected had initially gone undrafted during Night 1.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand|
|Apollo Crews||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
(Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel)
|SmackDown||Male tag team||SmackDown (Axel was later released)|
|Drew Gulak||205 Live||Male wrestler||SmackDown|
|EC3||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw (was later released)|
|Eric Young||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw (was later released, signed with Impact Wrestling)|
|Heath Slater||Raw||Male wrestler||SmackDown (was later released, signed with Impact Wrestling)|
|Sin Cara||SmackDown||Male wrestler||Raw (was later released)|
There were six rounds of draft picks during Night 2 of the 2019 draft. WWE's CBO Stephanie McMahon again announced the draft picks for each round. Number one Raw draft pick and Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch defeated SmackDown representative Charlotte Flair, who replaced SmackDown draftee Sasha Banks (who was not medically cleared to compete), to earn Raw the first draft pick of the night.
|Rnd.||Pick #||Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Post-draft brand||Role||Brand pick #|
|1||1||Seth Rollins||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler
|1||2||Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman||Raw||SmackDown (Lesnar's contract was expired)||Male wrestler and manager
WWE Champion (Lesnar)
|1||3||Charlotte Flair||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler||2|
|1||4||The New Day
(Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods)
|1||5||Andrade with Zelina Vega||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler and female manager||3|
|2||6||The Kabuki Warriors
(Asuka and Kairi Sane)
|SmackDown||Raw (Sane later left WWE)||Female tag team
Women's Tag Team Champions
|2||7||Daniel Bryan||SmackDown||SmackDown||Male wrestler||3|
|2||8||Rusev||SmackDown||Raw (was later released, signed with All Elite Wrestling)||Male wrestler||5|
SmackDown Women's Champion
|2||10||Aleister Black||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||6|
|3||11||Cedric Alexander||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||7|
|3||12||Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn||SmackDown (Nakamura)||SmackDown||Male wrestler and manager
Intercontinental Champion (Nakamura)
|3||13||Humberto Carrillo1||205 Live||Raw||Male wrestler||8|
|3||15||Erick Rowan||SmackDown||Raw (was later released)||Male wrestler||9|
|4||16||Buddy Murphy||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||10|
|4||17||Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode||SmackDown (Ziggler)||SmackDown||Male tag team2||7|
|4||18||Jinder Mahal||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||11|
|5||21||Samoa Joe||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||13|
|5||22||The Miz||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler||9|
|5||23||Akira Tozawa1||205 Live||Raw||Male wrestler||14|
|5||24||King Corbin||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler||10|
|5||25||Shelton Benjamin||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||15|
|6||26||Rey Mysterio||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||16|
|6||27||Shorty Gable1||SmackDown||SmackDown||Male wrestler||11|
|6||28||Titus O'Neil||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||17|
|6||30||Liv Morgan||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler||18|
Ten additional picks were announced on WWE The Bump and via WWE's website on October 16. With the exception of Cesaro, who was slated to be a part of the Night 1 pool, all wrestlers selected had initially gone undrafted during Night 2.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Role||Post-draft brand|
|Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder||Raw||Male tag team||Raw (were later released, signed with Impact Wrestling)|
|Dana Brooke||Raw||Female wrestler||SmackDown|
|Drake Maverick||205 Live||Male wrestler
205 Live General Manager
|SmackDown (was later released, resigned in NXT)|
|Fire and Desire
(Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville)
|SmackDown||Female tag team||SmackDown|
(Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)
|SmackDown||Female tag team||Raw|
|Luke Harper||SmackDown||Male wrestler||SmackDown (was later released, signed with All Elite Wrestling)|
|Mojo Rawley||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw|
|No Way José||Raw||Male wrestler||Raw (was later released, signed with Impact Wrestling)|
|Sarah Logan||Raw||Female wrestler||Raw (was later released)|
Following Night 2 on the premiere episode of Backstage on October 15, WWE's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Triple H announced a trade between Raw and SmackDown. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were traded to SmackDown in exchange for future draft pick considerations. Some more trades were made the following year.
|Trade #||Brand (from)||Wrestler(s)||Role||Brand (to)||Date||Notes|
|1||Raw||Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross||Female tag team||SmackDown||October 15, 2019||Traded to SmackDown in exchange for future draft pick considerations.|
|2||Raw||Mojo Rawley||Male wrestler||SmackDown||March 13, 2020||Traded to SmackDown due to his relationship with National Football League player Rob Gronkowski, who appeared for the brand and hosted WrestleMania 36.|
|3||SmackDown||Apollo Crews||Male wrestler||Raw||April 6, 2020||Traded to Raw as his SmackDown contract was about to expire.|
|4||Raw||AJ Styles||Male wrestler||SmackDown||May 22, 2020||Traded for Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.|
|5||SmackDown||Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode||Male tag team||Raw||June 22, 2020||Traded for AJ Styles.|
|6||SmackDown||Mustafa Ali||Male wrestler||Raw||July 20, 2020||After a seven-month hiatus, Ali returned on Raw, but no details were given for why he switched brands.|
|7||SmackDown||Mandy Rose||Female wrestler||Raw||September 12, 2020||As part of The Miz and John Morrison's scheme to steal Otis' Money in the Bank contract, Miz convinced management to trade Otis' on-screen girlfriend Mandy Rose to Raw.|
|8||SmackDown||Dana Brooke||Female wrestler||Raw||September 28, 2020||Traded to Raw to team with Mandy Rose. They debuted and defeated Natalya and Lana.|
Several wrestlers were made free agents due to injury, inactivity, or not being drafted during their draft pool. The chart is organized by date.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Reason for not being drafted||Subsequent status||Date||Notes|
|Aiden English||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||205 Live (was later released)||October 15, 2019||English had been doing commentary for 205 Live since January with no appearances on SmackDown. After the conclusion of the draft, his WWE.com profile was updated to 205 Live. On April 15, 2020, English was released from his WWE contract due to a cost-cutting measure.|
|Lio Rush||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||NXT (was later released)||October 15, 2019||Rush had been performing on NXT since mid-September and won the NXT Cruiserweight Championship two days prior to the draft. After the conclusion of the draft, his WWE.com profile was updated to NXT. On April 15, 2020, Rush was released from his WWE contract due to a cost-cutting measure.|
|Alicia Fox||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Released||October 17, 2019||Fox's last match was in April and she made a brief appearance during Raw Reunion in July. On October 17, Fox's WWE.com profile was quietly moved to the alumni section, signaling her release from the company.|
(Akam and Rezar)
|Raw||Undrafted during their draft pool (Night 2).||Raw (was later released)||October 17, 2019||AOP signed with Raw as free agents after the draft. Following a six-month hiatus, however, AOP was released by the company on September 4, 2020.|
|Lana||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Raw||October 28, 2019||Lana and her husband Rusev had been inactive for a couple of months, but returned on Raw a few weeks before the draft; however, Lana betrayed Rusev and began a (storyline) love affair with Bobby Lashley, who was drafted to Raw (as was Rusev). Her own move to Raw was confirmed on October 28.|
|Paige||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to neck surgery.
|Unaffiliated||October 28, 2019||Was manager of The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) prior to inactivity. Returned on the October 28 episode of Raw to resume her position, but was betrayed by the team. She then took a contributor role for WWE Backstage that premiered on November 5. She also appeared on SmackDown on March 20, 2020 to announce the SmackDown Women's Championship match for WrestleMania 36.|
|Matt Hardy||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.||Raw (his contract was later expired, signed with All Elite Wrestling)||November 25, 2019||Returned on the November 25 episode of Raw in a match against Buddy Murphy. Was briefly moved to SmackDown in early January 2020, but returned to Raw later that same month, before letting his contract expire in March.|
|Sheamus||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to concussion.
|SmackDown||November 29, 2019||On the November 29 episode of SmackDown, Sheamus appeared in a vignette announcing that he would be returning to in-ring competition. Following weeks of vignettes, he made his return on the January 3, 2020 episode, attacking Shorty G.|
(Konnor and Viktor)
|Raw||Were not in either of the draft pools.||Released||December 8, 2019||Last appeared in April. On December 8, The Ascension were released from the company.|
|Maryse||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to maternity leave.
|SmackDown||December 13, 2019||Was manager of her husband The Miz prior to inactivity, who was drafted to SmackDown during the draft. Made her first post-draft appearance with Miz in a pre-recorded segment that was shown on the December 13 episode of SmackDown.|
(Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso)
|Raw||Were not in either of the draft pools.
Were inactive due to Jimmy's DUI arrest/charges that were incurred in July.
|SmackDown||January 3, 2020||Returned during the January 3, 2020 episode of SmackDown, saving Roman Reigns from an attack by King Corbin and Dolph Ziggler.|
|Big Show||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to hamstring injury.
|Raw||January 6, 2020||Returned on the January 6, 2020 episode of Raw as Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe's mystery partner in a six-man tag team match against Seth Rollins and AOP (Akam and Rezar).|
|Naomi||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.||SmackDown||January 31, 2020||Last appeared in July. Returned at the 2020 Royal Rumble in the Women's Royal Rumble match before making her return to SmackDown on the January 31, 2020 episode of SmackDown to confront SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley.|
|Ruby Riott||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to shoulder injury.
|Raw||February 3, 2020||Returned on the February 3, 2020 episode of Raw and attacked her old Riott Squad stablemate Liv Morgan.|
|Jeff Hardy||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to leg injury.
|SmackDown||March 13, 2020||On the March 3 episode of WWE Backstage, Hardy confirmed that he had been backstage during SmackDown tapings the past few weeks, and had been cleared to return. He then had his return match on the March 13 episode, defeating King Corbin.|
|Nia Jax||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to knee injury.
|Raw||April 6, 2020||Returned on the April 6, 2020 episode of Raw in a match against Deonna Purrazzo.|
(Epico Colón and Primo Colón)
|SmackDown||Were not in either of the draft pools.||Released||April 15, 2020||Last appeared in February 2019. They were working for World Wrestling Council while still under contract with WWE until April 15, 2020, when they were released from their WWE contract due to a cost-cutting measure.|
|Maria Kanellis||Raw||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to maternity leave.
|Released||April 15, 2020||Was involved in a storyline with her husband and 205 Live wrestler Mike Kanellis and the identity of her unborn child's father just prior to the draft. On November 30, 2019, Maria provided an update on her pregnancy, confirming she was on maternity leave, however, she was released alongside her husband on April 15, 2020 due to a cost-cutting measure.|
|Mickie James||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive from performing due to leg injury.
|Raw||August 10, 2020||Was doing commentary for Main Event during her recovery. Returned on the August 10, 2020 episode of Raw in a backstage interview and competed in her first match in over a year the following week against Natalya.|
|Ember Moon||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to ankle injury.
|NXT||October 4, 2020||Was appearing on WWE Backstage as a contributor until production halted in June 2020. On the November 19, 2019 episode, she stated she would be out of action for an indefinite period of time. Returned at NXT TakeOver 31 confronting NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai after her successful title defense against Candice LeRae.|
|Lars Sullivan||SmackDown||Was not in either of the draft pools.
Was inactive due to knee injury.
|SmackDown||October 9, 2020||Returned on SmackDown during Night 1 of the 2020 WWE Draft attacking Matt Riddle, Jeff Hardy, The Miz, and John Morrison after a tag team match between them.|
Two weeks after the draft, WWE held its pay-per-view event Crown Jewel. At the event, although the two had been drafted to separate brands, Raw draftee Seth Rollins defended the Universal Championship against SmackDown draftee "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in a falls count anywhere match that could not be stopped for any reason; this was a rematch from Hell in a Cell, which was a Hell in a Cell match that ended by referee stoppage. The Fiend defeated Rollins to win the Universal Championship, and the title was subsequently transferred to the SmackDown brand, resulting in SmackDown having both the Universal and WWE Championships. This was quickly fixed, however. Also at Crown Jewel, SmackDown draftee Brock Lesnar retained the WWE Championship against Cain Velasquez, and following the match, he was attacked by Raw draftee Rey Mysterio, who was in Velasquez's corner. On the following night's episode of SmackDown, Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman explained that since Lesnar and Mysterio were on two separate brands, they could not challenge each other. Heyman then declared that they were quitting SmackDown and transferring to Raw with the WWE Championship in order for Lesnar to seek revenge against Mysterio; a No Holds Barred match between the two was subsequently scheduled for Survivor Series.
Although the Wild Card Rule had ended with the 2019 draft, the theme of the next big pay-per-view, Survivor Series, has been brand supremacy since 2016, which would see the brands invading each other's shows in the build up to the event. Prior to the draft, WWE's developmental territory NXT was promoted to being WWE's third major brand and it was subsequently added to the 2019 Survivor Series brand competition. This in turn resulted in wrestlers from the three brands invading each other's shows to build matches for the event. In a media call for NXT TakeOver: WarGames, WWE COO and NXT head Triple H said that viewers would see definitive brand division following Survivor Series.
Following the draft, Drake Maverick announced that although he had been drafted to SmackDown, he would still be serving as the General Manager of the 205 Live brand; however, he stepped down from the position in April 2020 to return to in-ring competition. NXT General Manager William Regal was announced to take over the managerial duties of 205 Live in addition to NXT; Maverick was also moved to NXT in the process. Maverick, however, was then released from his WWE contract due to a cost-cutting measure but signed a new contract after competing in the interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament. Just after the draft, Shorty Gable's ringname was shortened to Shorty G, while just before Survivor Series, Ali returned to using his previous ringname of Mustafa Ali. On December 8, WWE announced the releases of free agents The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), who had been inactive for several months, Raw wrestler Sin Cara, and SmackDown wrestler Luke Harper. Cara had requested his release in November, while Harper had requested his back in April, but was denied at that time. Free agent Matt Hardy returned to Raw in late November, but was then quietly moved to SmackDown in early January for unexplained reasons before being moved back to Raw later that same month. Hardy then allowed his contract to expire in March due to creative differences. In April 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE released several talent due to budget cuts as a result of the pandemic. These included WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, Rusev, the aforementioned Drake Maverick, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Heath Slater, Eric Young, Rowan, Sarah Logan, No Way Jose, Mike Chioda, Mike Kanellis, Maria Kanellis, EC3, Aiden English, Lio Rush, The Colóns (Primo and Epico), Curtis Axel, and Cain Velasquez, as well as many other behind-the-scenes employees.
In May 2020, WWE initiated the Brand-to-Brand Invitation, in which wrestlers are allowed to appear and wrestle on an opposing brand "four times a year", or once every quarter (this excludes an appearance to setup the match, as seen with the respective Raw and SmackDown tag team champions to set up their interbrand match for the September 14, 2020 episode of Raw). Although somewhat similar to the abolished Wild Card Rule, the rules of the Brand-to-Brand Invitation have been followed more strictly.