It was. Prior to Neo-Impact (which came out right at the end of December 2016), Axe Raider and Twin-Barrel Dragon were the only low-levels without a downside higher than 1650. And Ryu-Kishin had the advantage of being boosted by Power of Dark, unlike the other options.
...Why would Kaiba's level-up rewards have anything to do with a decade-old TCG-only Starter Deck? The reason it's a level-up reward here, and why it was in SKE, is because it's a Kaiba card. Incidentally, the fact you get 2 Lord of D. as level-up rewards would prove your point irrelevant anyway, since SKE only has 1.
I'm glad they're willing to do this now. (Chain Destruction's the first time it's happened outside a pick-a-gift campaign.) Though I wish some of the more basic stuff would just be added to their drops. (No reason why cards like Thousand Dragon, Eradicating Aerosol and Sonic Jammer shouldn't be grindable.)