The WWE Draft of 2023 will take place across the 29th of April episode of Smackdown and the 2nd of May episode of Monday Night Raw, with Chief Content Officer Triple H looking to shake things up coming out of Wrestlemania season.
After taking the reins of WWE creative following Vince McMahon’s resignation just days before last July’s SummerSlam Premium Live Event (PLE), Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque will look to start a new era with this year’s WWE Draft.
Announced by Triple H during the post-Wrestlemania Smackdown on April 9th, the upcoming WWE Draft will feature “every single superstar eligible”, meaning we will almost certainly be seeing NXT call-ups to the company’s main roster along with the splitting of a couple of tag teams.
It has been over a year and a half since we last saw the WWE Draft, with no 2022 edition taking place after the 2021 installment held on the 1st and 4th of October, which saw the then Universal Champion Roman Reigns being selected to Friday Night Smackdown with the first pick.
An important factor of the WWE Draft sees a refreshment of the main roster, with superstars switching brands, pathing the way for feuds not otherwise able to be seen.
Below are The Inner Sanctum’s predictions for the top three Raw and Smackdown picks in the 2023 WWE Draft.
Monday Night RAW
Gunther has been a revelation ever since his main roster debut alongside fellow Imperium member Ludwig Kaiser in April of 2022.
After being signed by the company in 2019, The Ring General made his mark early on, holding the now-defunct NXT UK Title for a record-setting 870 days.
He would then move over to the Blue Brand where he quickly became WWE Intercontinental Champion after defeating the high-flying Ricochet.
His current reign of over 300 days has seen him defeat the likes of Braun Strowman, Rey Mysterio and Shinsuke Nakamura on TV, as well as Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania 39, which was labelled as the match of the event by many in the wrestling community.
Gunther has made himself a household name during his time on the main roster as part of Friday Night Smackdown, putting on great match after great match.
These performances have made fans believe that there are very few people on the Smackdown roster who we could see realistically beat the ‘Ring General’.
Drafting him to Monday Night Raw would see the Austrian be given some great opponents, these could include the likes of AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa, with all being seen as realistic choices to dethrone the Intercontinental Champion.
LA Knight has had a bit of a topsy-turvy start to life as a main roster superstar, after debuting as the CEO of Maximum Male Models under the name Max Dupri on the May 20 episode of Friday Night Smackdown.
After working alongside Ma.cé, Mån.sôör and on-screen sister Maxxine Dupri for the first few months of his Smackdown career, he dropped the Maximum Male Models and reverted back to his LA Knight name on the October 7th edition of Smackdown.
Ever since leaving the Modelling agency and working as his own individual, the ‘Megastar’ has become incredibly popular amongst the WWE Universe at least.
However, after his lackluster feud with Bray Wyatt and missing out on Wrestlemania 39, it is unknown where he sits with the company’s creative team.
It’s clear LA would benefit from a change of scenery and get stuck into some new feuds, and a move over to Monday nights would do that for him. YEAH!
Montez Ford, alongside Angelo Dawkins, has been one of the best tag teams of the past few years as The Street Profits, having amazing rivalries with the likes of The Usos and Alpha Academy, while collecting all the gold along the way.
However, following The Usos’ dominant reign with the Unified Tag Team Championship belts, its been hard for The Street Profits to really shine on the main roster.
Although The Street Profits have been in a bit of a rut, a commonality for most tag teams in the division for the past few months, Montez Ford has made a name for himself individually.
Being placed in the 6-man Elimination Chamber match for the US Title at this year’s Elimination Chamber PLE, alongside Johnny Gargano, Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins and US Champion Austin Theory, it was Ford that stole the show.
His performance in the US Title Chamber match included an incredible frog splash from the top of the cage, really proved to the WWE Universe as well as those running the show, that he can compete at a high level as a singles competitor.
For that reason, The Inner Sanctum believes it’s time that The Street Profits were split up in this year’s draft, with Montez Ford going to Monday Night Raw and Angelo Dawkins seeing himself get drafted over to Friday nights.
Montez Ford has the ability and pedigree to make it big time as a singles competitor and in a few years’ time, it would not be out of the imagination to see the WWE Title be put around the high-flyer’s waist.
- Strikers keen to meet the challenge of the hot hot Heat in WBBL final
- No-brainer: David Warner’s replacement should be a given
- Brisbane aiming for top spot in Suncorp clash
- Rising defender Olivia Lewis departs the Vixens
- ‘They’ve worked really hard to keep the core group the same’: Katie Mack on Adelaide’s consistency
Friday Night Smackdown
Austin Theory has had a bit of a resurgence ever since Triple H took over creative duties last year, turning Theory from the typical selfie-loving millennial to a grizzled young man who is worthy of champion status.
After winning the Money in the Bank ladder match at last year’s MITB event, Theory was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as it was unlikely he would ever successfully cash in on the Undisputed WWE Champion Roman Reigns.
Although Austin Theory ended up losing his briefcase cash-in against Seth Rollins for the United States Championship in November, he would eventually win the title just three weeks later in a triple-threat match against Rollins and Bobby Lashley at Survivor Series.
In his reign as US Champion, Theory has retained against the likes of Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, and even defended his title in the aforementioned Elimination Chamber Match. Earlier this month he defeated John Cena at Wrestlemania 39.
His run as champ seems to be drawing the same fate as Bianca Belair’s time as Raw Women’s Champion, having not enough worthy competitors to face that he hasn’t faced already, but a move over to the blue brand would see a much-needed change up of competitors for Theory to defend his US Title against.
Rhea Ripley has had the year of her career, taking out the Women’s Royal Rumble match, sending her on her way to an eventual victory over Charlotte Flair to grab hold of the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Australia’s own Rhea Ripley has been one of the most popular superstars amongst the WWE Universe ever since the rise of the Judgement Day coming out of Wrestlemania 38.
Ripley has stood out from the rest of the women’s division, as it looks like she could genuinely go head-to-head with anyone, male or female, in the company, something nobody has been able to say about anyone since Chyna in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Being the only current champion in the faction, Rhea Ripley is now seen as the leader of the Judgment Day, which includes former WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor and former US Champion Damian Priest.
After dethroning Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship just a few weeks ago at Wrestlemania 39, Rhea has not been a part of any long-term feuds, however, she is currently scheduled for her first championship defence at Backlash against Puerto Rico’s own Zelina Vega on May 6th.
If 2023 is anywhere near as good of a year for Rhea Ripley, then fans of ‘Mami’ will be in for a treat, as she looks to start a dominating reign as Smackdown Champion with no end in near sight.
Similarly to Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair who is expected to be drafted to Raw because of the title she currently holds, Rhea Ripley is almost guaranteed first pick for Smackdown in this year’s WWE Draft.
The American Nightmare was a sure thing to break Roman Reigns’ almost-1000-day Universal title run at Wrestlemania 39, but was left wondering where it all went wrong after being defeated at the hands of the Head of the Table and The Bloodline.
Rhodes was on a winning streak heading into the show of shows, beating the likes of Chad Gable, Baron Corbin, Solo Sikoa, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins in his last match before his nine-month hiatus following a torn pectoral muscle in early 2022.
Coming out of his Wrestlemania defeat, Cody Rhodes has entered a feud with Brock Lesnar after The Beast attacked him from behind prior to a tag team match-up against The Bloodline, a match that we will see main event May’s Backlash PLE in Puerto Rico.
Many members of the WWE Universe have speculated the Wrestlemania defeat and subsequent beatdown from Lesnar on the Raw after Mania is a part of the adversity Rhodes needs to work through before finally forcing the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship out of the hands of the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns.
Cody Rhodes would benefit from being drafted to the same brand in which Roman Reigns is drafted, which will seemingly be Friday Night Smackdown following Triple H’s announcement of a new World Heavyweight Championship on Monday Night Raw.
That being said, The Inner Sanctum predicts Cody Rhodes to be drafted to Friday Night Smackdown, meaning possible feuds with Karrion Kross, Bray Wyatt and a plethora of superstars who will find their way drafted to the blue brand following this year’s WWE Draft.
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