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The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Draft, (formerly known as the WWE Draft Lottery) is a process used by WWE (professional wrestling promotion) to provide new brand competition and to refreshen its rosters. The Draft was first used during the brand extension of 2002, though it was officially incepted and used in 2004. Since the inception of the process, it has been referred to as the Draft Lottery (2004-2005) and the Draft (2007–present). Starting in 2005, the draft took place during the month of June; however, the 2009 WWE Draft and 2010 WWE Draft took place during April.
On May 25, 2016, it was announced that due to SmackDown moving to Tuesdays and to a live broadcast starting July 19, necessitating a brand extension, WWE announced that the draft would be coming back. On June 20, 2016, it was announced that the 2016 WWE Draft will be taking place on July 19, 2016 (Smackdown's Live Premiere) on the USA Network.
Impact on championships
Whether a champion keeps their championship after being drafted is unpredictable:
During the 2005 Draft, the WWE Champion John Cena was drafted from SmackDown! to Raw and kept his championship. General Manager Theodore Long announced that a new SmackDown! Championship was to be created but the idea was abandoned when the World Heavyweight Champion Batista was drafted to SmackDown! from Raw, bringing the title with him. During the 2007 Draft, the ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley was stripped of the title after being drafted to Raw. During the 2008 Draft, Matt Hardy was drafted to ECW with his WWE United States Championship, Triple H was drafted to SmackDown with his WWE Championship, and Kane was drafted to Raw with his ECW Championship.
|2002|| Raw |
|After acquiring World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), the WWF split its roster into two distinctive wrestling brands, Raw and SmackDown!. WWE CEO Linda McMahon announced that WWE co-owners Ric Flair and Vince McMahon would draft superstars to Raw and SmackDown! respectively. The Rock was acquired by SmackDown! as the first overall pick, and The Undertaker was acquired by RAW as its first pick in the draft.|
|2004|| Raw |
|To remain active with the WrestleMania XX tagline of "Where it all begins again", WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced a draft lottery, as he stated it was time for a "new WWE" and "it's time to shake things up again". Each general manager received six picks.|
|2005|| Raw |
|Unlike previous draft lotteries which occurred on one night, this draft lottery took place over the month of June. Each general manager received five random picks. During the draft, SmackDown! was left without a world champion after Raw drafted John Cena, who at the time held the WWE Championship. SmackDown! announced plans to create their own world championship, but abandoned them when they acquired Batista from Raw, who at the time held the World Heavyweight Championship.|
|2006||ECW||As part of the launch of the ECW brand, WWE allowed ECW representative Paul Heyman to draft one superstar from each of the Raw and SmackDown! brands.|
|Was the first ever tri-branded draft lottery, where all three of WWE's brands took part in the draft. Unlike previous drafts where the general managers were able to randomly select their draftee, matches took place between representatives of each brand and the winner received a draft pick. The draft was announced by Shane McMahon on May 28, and took place on June 11 on a special three-hour episode of Raw.|
|Was the second consecutive draft where draft picks were determined by matches. During the draft, three championships switched brands due to the champions switching brands. The draft was announced by Vince McMahon on May 26, and took place on June 23 on a special three-hour episode of Raw.|
|On February 11, 2009, WWE announced via their website that the 2009 Draft would take place on the April 13, 2009 edition of WWE Raw. The draft consisted of tri-branded matches with the winner of the match's brand earning a pick. A total of 12 wrestlers were drafted on television. A supplemental draft was announced for April 15, in which a total of 24 wrestlers were drafted.|
|The Richmond Coliseum confirmed that it would serve as the venue for the 2010 WWE Draft, which was held live during an episode of Raw on April 26, 2010. The draft consisted of interpromotional matches with the winner of the match's brand earning a pick. A total of 8 wrestlers were drafted on television. A supplemental draft was announced for April 27, in which a total of 13 wrestlers were drafted. It was also the first draft without ECW after its cancellation.|
|On November 27, 2010, WWE announced via their website that the 2011 Draft would take place on the April 25, 2011 edition of WWE Raw.|
|On May 25, it was announced that the main roster would be once again be divided with SmackDown moving to a live broadcast on Tuesdays, starting July 19. It was later confirmed that the WWE draft would be taking place on the live Smackdown on July 19.|