With more than 895 episodes, WWE SmackDown has been a staple of sports-entertainment primetime television since its debut in August, 1999.
The 2nd-longest-running episodic prime-time program (behind only WWE Monday Night Raw, at 1,222 episodes), WWE announced it was movingSmackDown from its USA Network Thursday timeslot to a new LIVE Tuesday night 8-10 p.m. timeslot on July 19, 2016, re-branding the program as WWE SmackDown Live.
This transition would also be coupled with a historic storyline event on forSmackDown Live’s first episode – The WWE Brand Extension Draft, where all WWE Superstars would be “drafted” by WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown Live management to exclusively join their brand going forward.
In order to make the WWE Universe aware of SmackDown Live’s new weekly broadcast time, as well as the importance and significance of the WWE Draft, WWE’s social and digital teams launched a massive awareness campaign in the weeks leading up to the show’s premiere, in addition to providing extensive and exclusive coverage of WWE Draft Night proceedings – both from on-air and behind-the-scenes sources.
WWE Brand Extension Draft coverage began on WWE Digital and Social Media six weeks ahead of the event itself with an announcement by Shane and Stephanie McMahon, then the storyline Co-General Managers of WWE Raw, breaking the news of SmackDown moving to a LIVE Tuesday timeslot.
Initial content focused on educating fans on the importance of the Draft. Videos were posted to WWE.com, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube looking at pivotal moments in Draft history like “Top 10 Draft Day Shockers” and “Every No. 1 WWE Draft pick”.
WWE.com created a Fantasy Draft experience, which allowed users to divide WWE’s stable of Superstars to build their own Raw and SmackDown rosters and share them on social media.
Since the Draft coincided with the USA Network premiere of SmackDown LIVE, countdown graphics were created for WWE.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Fans stayed engaged on WWE.com through a series of polls asking questions like, “Who would be your first Draft pick?” and “Which NXT Superstar would you take in the WWE Draft?”
Socially, fans were asked which brands they thought their favorite Superstar would be drafted to. Graphics were created showing Superstars with both Raw and SmackDown themes and pushed across Facebook, Twitter, and Talent Social Pages.
WWE Superstars discussed the upcoming WWE Draft on special Facebook Live Q&As on their respective Facebook Pages.
Key moments and matches from past WWE Drafts were also posted natively to the WWE SmackDown Facebook page leading up to the Draft.
Draft coverage began early in the day with video interviews with Superstars as they arrived to the arena. These were immediately shared across all platforms.
A Snapchat Live Story, which was sponsored by Jolly Rancher, gave fans a unique look at what was going on behind the scenes on Draft Day.
An hour before SmackDown LIVE’s premiere, a live preshow was distributed across YouTube, Facebook, WWE.com, WWE App and WWE Network. This show featured backstage interviews with WWE Superstars as well as Draft analysis from WWE commentators.
During the Draft, real-time highlights were shared on Facebook and Twitter, while WWE.com provided live coverage with results, photos and video. Exclusive backstage photos were also shared to Instagram throughout the night, as well as video and photos from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. -- the home of WWE NXT, where six NXT Superstars were eligible to be taken by the two brands.
As Superstars were drafted, Superstar Facebook avatars were immediately changed to reflect the brand they were drafted to while separate brand pages were created on WWE.com.
Draft coverage continued when the show went off the air, with exclusive backstage videos shared across all platforms.
Videos were published to WWE’s Digital channels the day after the Draft, looking at Superstar reactions to the WWE Draft on social media as well as the night’s most shocking moments.
Round No. 1
1. Seth Rollins - Raw
2. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose - SmackDown Live
3. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte - Raw
4. AJ Styles - SmackDown Live
5. Finn Bálor - Raw from NXT
Round No. 2
6. Roman Reigns - Raw
7. John Cena - SmackDown Live
8. Brock Lesnar - Raw
9. Randy Orton - SmackDown Live
10. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day - Raw
Round No. 3
11. Sami Zayn - Raw
12. Bray Wyatt - SmackDown Live
13. Sasha Banks - Raw
14. Becky Lynch - SmackDown Live
15. Chris Jericho - Raw
Round No. 4
16. United States Champion Rusev (with Lana) - Raw
17. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (with Maryse) - SmackDown Live
18. Kevin Owens - Raw
19. Baron Corbin - SmackDown Live
20. Enzo & Big Cass - Raw
Round No. 5
21. Gallows and Anderson - Raw
22. American Alpha - SmackDown Live from NXT
23. Big Show - Raw
24. Dolph Ziggler - SmackDown Live
25. Nia Jax - Raw from NXT
Round No. 6
26. Neville - Raw
27. Natalya - SmackDown Live
28. Cesaro - Raw
29. Alberto Del Rio - SmackDown Live
30. Sheamus - Raw
Round No. 7 (announced during WWE Draft Center Live on WWE Network)
31. Golden Truth - Raw
32. The Usos - SmackDown Live
33. Titus O'Neil - Raw
34. Demon Kane - SmackDown Live
35. Paige - Raw
Round No. 8
36. Darren Young (with Bob Backlund) - Raw
37. Kalisto - SmackDown Live
38. Sin Cara - Raw
39. Naomi - SmackDown Live
40. Jack Swagger - Raw
41. The Ascension - SmackDown Live
Round No. 9
42. The Dudley Boyz - Raw
43. Zack Ryder - SmackDown Live
44. Summer Rae - Raw
45. Apollo Crews - SmackDown Live
46. Mark Henry - Raw
47. Alexa Bliss - SmackDown Live from NXT
Round No. 10 Picks
48. Braun Strowman - Raw
49. Breezango - SmackDown Live
50. Bo Dallas - Raw
51. Eva Marie - SmackDown Live
52. Shining Stars - Raw
53. The Vaudevillains - SmackDown Live
Round No. 11
54. Alicia Fox - Raw
55. Erick Rowan - SmackDown Live
56. Dana Brooke - Raw
57. Mojo Rawley - SmackDown Live from NXT
58. Curtis Axel - Raw
59. Carmella - SmackDown Live from NXT
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