Last week, we finished up our ranking of Raw's draft picks, and today, we will focus on evaluating SmackDown's picks #29-#16. As a reminder, the criteria for this topic will be based on if the wrestler was able to improve their standing on the card or provide any quality stories/matches since the July 16th draft. I used our article on the WWE Draft as a source and will only include those who were drafted or picked up just afterwards.
#29) Curt Hawkins – The definition of "Dead on arrival," Hawkins was introduced by giving out facts similar to the better known "Chuck Norris facts," but lamer. Hawkins never really got over with fans, and even with this reboot, it was fairly obvious he still wasn't going to. After a ton of delays, he finally debuted and honestly, nobody really cared, since then, he's been used as talent enhancement and shows up very sporadically on TV.
#28) The Vaudevillians – Oh boy, fair to say their main roster call-up has been a total disaster with the only heat coming when Enzo got legit hurt in their match. Since the draft, they've lost pretty much every match they've been in. Most recently, there was a battle royal for a spot in the Rumble and Gotch/English were both out in seconds! Total makeover is in order with these two.
#27) The Ascension – See the Vaudevillians (minus the whole Enzo thing).
#26) Erick Rowan – WWE initially teased an on/off relationship with Bray Wyatt with Rowan eventually sticking by his side, I mean, what else is he going to do? Tearing his rotator cuff, Rowan has been out since October, thus keeping him in the low tier of these rankings.
#25) Eva Marie – Eva only lasted a month in before getting a 30-day suspension for failing WWE's wellness policy (failed to supply proper paperwork in time) and hasn't been back, thanks to acting in a couple movies. When she was around, her storyline was pretty interesting as she continued to delay wrestling due to fake injuries or being stuck in traffic. With a knack of getting heat from the crowd, she isn't going to rise much higher without getting back on WWE TV.
#24) Kane – His main story so far was Randy Orton betraying him as Orton surprisingly joined the Wyatt Family. Aside from that, it's been a bunch of random appearances that really hasn't impacted much. I can't believe WWE doesn't have a backstage role for him, with so much talent on SmackDown, Kane just gets lost in the shuffle.
#23) Apollo Crews – Even though he had a so-so NXT run, it felt like WWE was expecting more from Crews, but he went from being in the initial six-pack challenge to determine the number one contender for the WWE Champions to losing a lot. Baron Corbin basically setup his entire foundation on crushing Crews week after week to the point where Apollo was just taken off TV to give him a breather. Clearly, he has talent in the ring, just needs something more (maybe, a win?) to move up the rankings.
#22) Breezango – A fun tag team, WWE has leaned them a bit too far into the comedic roles though where they aren't taken seriously at all now. Thought they could be a heel team that would challenge for the title, but that doesn't seem to be the case right now.
#21) Kalisto – See Apollo Crews, and just add in "Good lucha things" promo.
#20) Naomi – Not having a storyline and an injury that has kept her out for months lands Naomi down in the rankings. On the plus side, she returned last week and developed one of the best entrances in the WWE.
#19) Natalya – Easily the most uninteresting of the women since the brand split, for whatever reason WWE continues to work her heel, and she's just not very good at it. Her gimmick would literally switch from week to week as crazy cat lady, to annoying soccer mom who enforces the rules, to "Do you know who my Uncle is?" Now that she's feuding with Nikki, things have turned around as she's stuck to just being aggressive and mouthy.
#18) Carmella – WWE did Carmella wrong by separating her from Cass and Enzo, and at first, it was a disaster with crowds giving her zero reactions, since she cut promos that were pretty similar to her old buddies. Turning her heel was not only a surprise, but Carmella was able to switch over pretty smoothly, having a solid (and lengthy) feud against Nikki Bella. Despite being one of the more despicable heels on the roster, the reactions haven't really improved, maybe WWE thinks that will change with James Ellsworth by her side?
#17) Hype Bros – I realize many people out there can't stand the Hype Bros, but they've done a solid job just hanging as contenders in the tag division while also decent getting reactions from the live crowds. Obviously, the team took a major hit when Zack Ryder went down with a knee injury, which will keep him out for months. Mojo just recently gained entry into the Royal Rumble through a battle royal on SmackDown, so it's clear WWE is trying to keep Mojo afloat until Ryder's return.
#16) The Usos – After being on SmackDown for nearly two months, the Usos finally snapped and turned heel by beating the hell out of American Alpha. It was a much needed turn that has done wonders for Jimmy and Jey as they ditched the paint and brought a much harder (yet, still realistic) attitude to the ring. The only reason they aren't higher is an injury to Jey has kept them off TV for quite some time (although, they were one of the lumberjacks last week). Whenever they return, I expect them to get right back in the title hunt, especially with Slater/Rhyno and The Wyatt Family having issues.
That's it for now, see you back here next Thursday for #15-#1!
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