After SmackDown moved to FOX from the USA Network last October, WWE organized a fresh draft to split the rosters once again, which was the first draft since the 2016 Brand Split Draft.
Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff were appointed as the Executive Directors of RAW and SmackDown shortly before the draft took place, in a move which was seen to tackle the disastrous ratings on both shows at that time.
It majorly stemmed from the highly infamous Wild Card Rule, which allowed wrestlers to appear on both the shows.
The draft took place on the second episode of SmackDown on FOX and continued on RAW the next week, and saw personalities from FOX and USA Network represent the two brands.
However, the two Executive Directors had a draft of their own before the original draft, to ensure they get to pick their favored talents, as per the latest report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
“When the new rosters were being put together before SmackDown went to FOX, and when Eric Bischoff was still in charge, there was a legitimate draft or trade or negotiations between the two regarding talent.”
Heyman reportedly had several names he wanted on his brand, including Aleister Black, Andrade, Charlotte Flair, and Zelina Vega. These four individuals were reportedly moved to RAW for Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt, who found a home on Friday nights. Buddy Murphy was another name Heyman wanted on his brand.
Bischoff didn’t last long on the SmackDown brand and was replaced by Bruce Pritchard. Heyman had a longer run, but RAW’s recent decline in ratings coupled with rumors of a spat with Vince McMahon led to his departure from the lead role earlier this month.