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.com's Fantasy Draft simulator   allowed the WWE Universe to draft their own Raw and SmackDown Live rosters, then share those rosters on Twitter or Facebook. 

WWE.com's Fantasy Draft simulator allowed the WWE Universe to draft their own Raw and SmackDown Live rosters, then share those rosters on Twitter or Facebook. 

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.

 WWE Superstars  Seth Rollins  and  Dean Ambrose  were chosen as  Raw  and  SmackDown   Live' s No. 1 overall selections in the 2016 WWE Brand Extension Draft as part of the premiere of  WWE SmackDown Live  July 19, 2016.

WWE Superstars Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were chosen as Raw and SmackDown Live's No. 1 overall selections in the 2016 WWE Brand Extension Draft as part of the premiere of WWE SmackDown Live July 19, 2016.


Seth Rollins, WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, Women's Champion Charlotte, AJ Styles and NXT's Finn Bálor found their new home in the first round of the WWE Brand Extension Draft.

The face of NXT changed forever during the 2016 WWE Draft, as Finn Bálor, American Alpha, Nia Jax, Mojo Rawley, Alexa Bliss and Carmella were chosen to join the rosters of Raw and SmackDown Live.

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.


15-time World Champion John Cena reacted to being drafted to SmackDown Live on WWE Draftcenter on WWE Network.

Finn Balor rises from WWE NXT to being drafted with the No. 5 pick to WWE Raw. He reacted live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, courtesy of WWE Draftcenter on WWE Network.

Was it an accidental oversight? WWE Superstar Heath Slater gets left alone and in the dark after not being drafted by either Raw or SmackDown Live, as seen during WWE Draftcenter's post-Draft analysis on WWE Network.

The 2016 WWE Brand Extension Draft changed the WWE landscape forever. WWE Superstars went to their social media channels to have their say about getting picked to Raw and SmackDown Live.

Cesaro gives his honest opinion about being drafted to Raw, courtesy of WWE Network and WWE Draftcenter.

After the WWE Draft, WWE summed up the night with a "What You Need to Know..." video about the top picks for Raw and SmackDown Live.


"The Lunatic Fringe" Dean Ambrose becomes SmackDown Live's No. 1 draft pick, taking the WWE World Championship with him to Team Blue.

  • The WWE Brand Extension Draft was the most-socially active episode ofSmackDown in WWE history, with more than 279,000 social mentions. This was 360% larger than the previous record for SmackDown (77,258 mentions on Jan. 29, 2015), and 663% of the average SmackDown social mention total (36,624).
  • The WWE Brand Extension Draft episode of WWE SmackDown Live was Nielsen Social’s No. 1 most social program for July 19, with 320% more social activity than the night’s 2nd place program, Pretty Little Liars(FreeForm, 87,110 mentions).
  • The hashtag #WWEDraft was a Worldwide No. 1 and No. 2 Trend on Twitter during the program’s airing.
  • WWE had more than 13.5 million video views across Facebook, YouTube and WWE.com on the day of the Draft.
  • The Live-streamed WWE SmackDown Live Pre-show (streamed on Facebook Live and YouTube) received more than 1.2 million views.
  • More than 300,000 rosters were created in WWE.com’s Fantasy Draft experience with users spending roughly 50% more time on site.



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

Heath Slater