Over the years, the WWE Draft has become a key event in the wrestling world, fostering new storylines and rivalries. As we approach the 2023 Draft, it's fascinating to look back at the inaugural Draft and the first wrestler to be chosen.
The first WWE Draft, the Draft Lottery, occurred on March 25, 2002. This event was organized due to WWE's acquisition of WCW and the incorporation of ECW talents. The move aimed to accommodate a diverse pool of wrestlers, leading to the brand split between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown.
While Vince McMahon controlled SmackDown, Ric Flair was responsible for Monday Night Raw as a kayfabe co-owner.
On March 25, 2002. @VinceMcMahon @RicFlairNatrBoy had their 1st #WWE Draft Lottery: http://t.co/xuj9CdumWd pic.twitter.com/iEOoZXijrs — Lorenzo Dozier | Team Awesome | Spider-Renzo (@TeamAwesome418) March 25, 2014
First WWE Superstar Drafted
The honor of being the first-ever WWE superstar drafted went to "The Great One" – The Rock.
As a leading figure during The Attitude Era, The Rock was selected for SmackDown, which up until that point, had been managed by a single Creative team. However, with the brand extension, McMahon established a second Creative team to focus on the development of SmackDown.
After a brief hiatus, the Rock returned to SmackDown in June 2002, becoming the number-one contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship. In a historic move, he claimed the WWE Championship for the seventh time by defeating The Undertaker and Kurt Angle in a Triple-Threat match at Vengeance.
The Rock's addition to SmackDown infused the blue brand with fresh energy, elevating its status from a secondary show to a must-watch event. Understanding the importance of The Rock's selection in the 2002 Draft, Vince McMahon took precautions to maintain harmony among top talents.
He granted Ric Flair immunity from being drafted, effectively preventing potential ego conflicts and ensuring a smooth transition during this historic brand split. As we anticipate the 2023 WWE Draft, it's exciting to see how far the event has come since its inception in 2002.
The first Draft paved the way for a new era in professional wrestling, and the 2023 edition promises to deliver more thrilling matches and captivating storylines for fans to enjoy.