2021 WWE Draft
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|2021 WWE Draft|
|Date(s)||October 1–4, 2021|
NXT (outgoing only)
The 2021 WWE Draft was the 16th WWE Draft produced by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE between their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. The two-night event began with the October 1 episode of Friday Night SmackDown (in Baltimore, Maryland) and concluded with the October 4 episode of Monday Night Raw (in Nashville, Tennessee), with SmackDown airing on Fox and Raw on the USA Network. Unlike previous drafts, in which results took effect immediately, the results of the 2021 draft did not go into effect until the October 22 episode of SmackDown.
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. The 2021 draft was WWE's 16th draft and was officially announced during the September 13 episode of Raw. It was scheduled to occur during the October 1 and October 4 episodes of SmackDown and Raw, respectively, with SmackDown airing on Fox and Raw on the USA Network.
2021 draft rules
The rules of the 2021 draft were revealed by WWE correspondent Megan Morant on Twitter during the day before the first night of the draft on October 1. Over 60 wrestlers (including tag teams) were eligible to be drafted across the two nights, with half being eligible the first night and the other half eligible the second night; however, no draft pools were revealed for which wrestlers were eligible for each night. Tag teams were counted as one pick unless Fox or USA Network officials (who were promoted as draft decision makers)[a] specifically only wanted one member of the team. Wrestlers from NXT were also eligible to be drafted to either Raw or SmackDown, while any non-NXT wrestlers who were not drafted became (kayfabe) free agents and could sign with the brand of their choice. Unlike previous drafts, in which results took effect immediately, results of the 2021 draft did not become effective until the October 22 episode of SmackDown, the night after the Crown Jewel pay-per-view.
Night 1: SmackDown (October 1)
There were four rounds of draft picks during night 1 of the 2021 draft. Unlike previous drafts in which Raw received three picks and SmackDown only received two, both brands had two picks each round. WWE officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville announced the draft picks.
- One stable was split up as a result of the first night: Austin Theory was drafted to Raw while his Way stablemates, Johnny Gargano, Dexter Lumis, Candice LeRae, and Indi Hartwell, remained on NXT.
Night 1 supplemental picks (October 1–2)
These picks were announced on October 1 via WWE's social media accounts and on the October 2 episode of Talking Smack.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Post-draft brand||Role|
|Akira Tozawa||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler|
|Alpha Academy |
(Chad Gable and Otis)
|SmackDown||Raw||Male tag team|
|Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez||SmackDown||Raw||Male tag team|
|Drake Maverick[d]||NXT||Raw||Male wrestler|
|Drew Gulak||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler|
|John Morrison||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler|
|Mustafa Ali||Raw||SmackDown||Male wrestler|
|Nia Jax||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler|
|Toni Storm||SmackDown||SmackDown||Female wrestler|
|Zelina Vega||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler|
- One tag team was split up as a result of the supplemental draft: Mace was drafted to SmackDown while his tag team partner T-Bar remained on Raw.
Night 2: Raw (October 4)
There were six rounds of draft picks during night 2 of the 2021 draft. Like the first night, both brands had two picks each round. WWE officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville again announced the draft picks.
|Rnd.||Pick #||Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Post-draft brand||Role||Brand pick #|
|1||1||Becky Lynch||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler |
SmackDown Women's Champion
|1||2||The Usos |
(Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso)
|SmackDown||SmackDown||Male tag team |
SmackDown Tag Team Champions
|1||3||The Hurt Business |
(Bobby Lashley with MVP)[e]
|Raw||Raw||Male wrestler and manager||2|
|1||4||Sasha Banks||SmackDown||SmackDown||Female wrestler||2|
|2||5||Seth Rollins||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||3|
|2||6||King Nakamura and Rick Boogs||SmackDown[f]||SmackDown||Male tag team |
Intercontinental Champion (Nakamura)
|2||7||Damian Priest||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler |
United States Champion
|3||9||AJ Styles and Omos||Raw||Raw||Male tag team||5|
|3||10||Shayna Baszler||Raw||SmackDown||Female Wrestler|
|3||11||Kevin Owens||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler||6|
|3||12||Xia Li||NXT||SmackDown||Female wrestler||6|
|4||13||The Street Profits |
(Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
|SmackDown||Raw||Male tag team||7|
|4||14||The Viking Raiders |
(Erik and Ivar)
|Raw||SmackDown||Male tag team||7|
|4||15||Finn Bálor||SmackDown||Raw||Male wrestler, first-ever WWE Universal Champion||8|
|5||17||Karrion Kross||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler||9|
|5||18||Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo||Raw||SmackDown||Male tag team||9|
|5||19||Alexa Bliss||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler||10|
|6||22||Ridge Holland||NXT||SmackDown||Male wrestler||11|
|6||23||Gable Steveson||Free agent||Raw||Male wrestler||12|
|6||24||Sami Zayn||SmackDown||SmackDown||Male wrestler||12|
- One stable was split up as a result of the second night: Xia Li was drafted to SmackDown while her Tian Sha stablemates, Boa and Mei Ying, remained on NXT.
- One tag team was split up as a result of the second night: Ridge Holland was drafted to SmackDown while his tag team partner Pete Dunne remained on NXT.
Night 2 supplemental picks (October 4)
These picks were announced on the October 4 episode of Raw Talk.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Post-draft brand||Role|
|Dana Brooke||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler|
|The Dirty Dawgs |
(Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode)
|SmackDown||Raw||Male tag team|
|The Hurt Business |
(Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin)
|Raw||Raw||Male tag team|
|Jaxson Ryker||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler|
|Jinder Mahal and Shanky||Raw||SmackDown||Male tag team|
|Liv Morgan||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler|
|Mia Yim||Raw||Raw||Female wrestler|
|The Miz||Raw||Raw||Male wrestler|
|Tegan Nox||SmackDown||Raw||Female wrestler|
- One stable was split up as a result of the supplemental draft: Veer remained on Raw while his stablemates, Jinder Mahal and Shanky, were drafted to SmackDown.
- Two tag teams were split up as a result of the supplemental draft: Tegan Nox was drafted to Raw while her tag team partner Shotzi remained on SmackDown, and Tamina was drafted to Raw while her tag team partner Natalya remained on SmackDown.
|Trade #||Brand (from)||Wrestler(s)||Role||Brand (to)||Date||Notes|
|1||Raw||Big E||Male wrestler||SmackDown||January 28, 2022|
|2||SmackDown||Mustafa Ali||Male wrestler||Raw||April 25, 2022|
|3||Raw||Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez||Male tag team||NXT||June 7, 2022|
|4||Raw||Liv Morgan||Female wrestler||SmackDown||July 2, 2022||Raw's Liv Morgan is the 2022's Ms. Money in the Bank. Cashed in the contract on the same night and defeated SmackDown's Ronda Rousey to win the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship after Rousey had successfully defended the title against Natalya, thus transferring to the SmackDown brand.|
Several wrestlers were made free agents due to injury, inactivity, or simply not being drafted despite being an active member of the rosters. Free agents can (kayfabe) sign with the brand of their choosing. The chart is organized by date.
|Wrestler(s)||Pre-draft brand||Reason for not being drafted |
|Brock Lesnar||Raw[g]||Contractual provision||Free agent||October 1, 2021||During night 1 of the draft, Lesnar announced that he was a free agent (implying it was due to a deal arranged by Paul Heyman), thus is eligible to appear on any brand.|
|Lucha House Party |
(Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado)
|Raw||Were not drafted on either night||Released||November 4, 2021||Last appeared on the September 13, 2021, episode of Main Event. On November 4, both Dorado and Metalik were released from their WWE contracts.|
|Eva Marie||Raw||Was not drafted on either night||Released||November 4, 2021||Last appeared on the September 27, 2021, episode of Raw. On November 4, Marie was released from her WWE contract.|
|Shane Thorne||SmackDown||Was not drafted on either night||Released||November 18, 2021||Last wrestled a dark match on the September 24, 2021, episode of SmackDown. On November 18, Thorne was released from his WWE contract.|
|Maryse||Raw||Was not drafted on either night||Raw||November 29, 2021||Last appeared on the April 12, 2021, episode of Raw. Returned alongside her husband, The Miz, who was also returning after participating in Dancing with the Stars.|
|Ronda Rousey||Free agent||Inactive after WrestleMania 35||SmackDown||January 29, 2022||Rousey made a shocking return in Royal Rumble 2022 women's royal rumble match and won the royal rumble match by last eliminating SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair. She challenged Charlotte in WrestleMania 38 for the SmackDown Women's Championship. She lost to Flair in WrestleMania 38.She again challenged Flair an "I Quit Match" for the SmackDown Women's Championship in WrestleMania Backlash 2022. In WrestleMania Backlash, she defeated Flair and won the championship.|
|Elias||Raw||Was not drafted on either night||Raw||April 4, 2022||Last appeared in a pre-taped vignette on the August 23, 2021 episode of Raw. Returned with a new gimmick, that of Elias' younger brother, Ezekiel .|
|Lacey Evans||Raw||Inactive due to maternity leave||SmackDown||April 8, 2022||Last appeared on the February 15, 2021, episode of Raw. Returned in a pre-taped vignette on SmackDown.|
|Asuka||Raw||Inactive due to a hand injury||Raw||April 25, 2022||Last appeared at Money in the Bank. Returned interrupting a fellow returning superstar Becky Lynch.|
|Titus O'Neil||Raw||Was not in drafted on either night||WWE Global Ambassador||July 18, 2022||Last appeared at Wrestlemania 37 on April 10, 2021. Returned on the July 18, 2022 episode of Raw and announced he was a WWE Global Ambassador.|
|Bayley||SmackDown||Inactive due to torn ACL||Raw||July 30, 2022||Last appeared on the Summer 2021, episode of SmackDown. Returned at SummerSlam aligned with the returning Dakota Kai and the main roster debuting Iyo Sky to confront Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair after she successfully retained her title against Becky Lynch.|
During the draft, Raw drafted SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch while SmackDown drafted Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair. Neither lost their respective championship before the October 22 episode of SmackDown, the night that the draft results went into effect. The day of the show, WWE announced that Flair and Lynch would exchange titles to keep the championships on their respective brands. In turn, Lynch became the Raw Women's Champion while Flair became the SmackDown Women's Champion.
Also during the draft, SmackDown drafted NXT North American Champion Isaiah "Swerve" Scott as part of his stable, Hit Row. Swerve claimed he would be taking the title to SmackDown, however, on the October 12 episode of NXT 2.0, Swerve lost the championship to Carmelo Hayes, thus keeping the North American Championship on NXT before the draft results went into effect on October 22.
On November 4, 2021, WWE released several wrestlers due to budget cuts. Mia Yim, Hit Row's B-Fab, Nia Jax, Karrion Kross, and Keith Lee were among those who were released, without a single appearance post-draft. Among those not drafted who were released included Eva Marie and Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado). Several NXT wrestlers were also released, including Franky Monet, Oney Lorcan, Ember Moon, Jeet Rama, Katrina Cortez, Trey Baxter, Zayda Ramier, Jessi Kamea, Harry Smith, and Kross' real-life fiancé, Scarlett, who served as Kross' on-screen manager when Kross was still in NXT and she was expected to eventually join Kross on Raw. On November 18, the remainder of Hit Row, John Morrison, Tegan Nox, Shane Thorne, Drake Maverick, and Jaxson Ryker were also released. Not long after, Jeff Hardy would be released on December 9 after being sent home from a live event tour and refusing rehab.  On December 29, Toni Storm requested and was immediately granted a release from her contract.  On 24 February 2022, it was reported that Cesaro and WWE had failed to agree on new contract terms and that he had quietly left WWE when his contract expired, ending his 11-year tenure in the company.
- Although WWE claims the draft picks are conducted by officials of the Fox and USA networks, the results are predetermined by WWE as the draft is a storyline.
- Despite being listed as a free agent on WWE.com, Edge was referred to as a SmackDown wrestler during the Draft broadcast.
- Despite being listed as a member of the Raw roster on WWE.com, Madcap Moss was referred to as a SmackDown wrestler during the Draft broadcast.
- While listed as a member of the NXT roster on WWE.com at the time of the Draft, Drake Maverick had been appearing on the Raw program since September 6, 2021.
- MVP was not announced to have been drafted along with Bobby Lashley on the broadcast, but was officially confirmed on WWE's social media platforms to have been drafted with Lashley.
- Despite being listed as a free agent on WWE.com, Rick Boogs was referred to as a SmackDown wrestler during the Draft broadcast.
- While listed as a member of the Raw roster on WWE.com at the time of the Draft, Brock Lesnar had been appearing exclusively on the SmackDown program without having officially joined that brand after returning at SummerSlam in August 2021.
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