Breaking Down the Draft

It’s that time of year again folks, the WWE have decided Raw and Smackdown have gotten a little stale after Wrestlemania so it’s time for 30 superstars to play musical chairs and see if we can create some fresh match-ups. I could be wrong, but it seems like more wrestlers were moved than ever before (even if most of them were lesser stars) and there’s been a lot of talk about the various moves, both good and bad, so I thought why not break it all down for you all?

John Cena to Smackdown and Back

Days before Monday Night Raw when discussing the draft with a good friend of mine I made a remark about how the draft has lost impact because everybody has been everywhere and several key players just jump ship every year with the exception of John Cena and Undertaker who were a lock to remain on Raw and Smackdown respectively for the rest of their days. So imagine my shock and awe when Cena was announced as the very first draft pick, in arguably the most surprising move since he moved to Raw whilst WWE champion back in 2005. Nobody saw this coming and it’s a perfect example of those Oh My God! moments the WWE are still capable of despite this era of internet spoilers and dirt sheet gossip, so I commend them for that. But if they’d stuck with the decision I’d have declared Vince to have finally gone crazy because not having your biggest money draw on your flagship show is down right insane. Thankfully the whole mess was reversed by show’s end as Cena became the first man to be drafted twice in one evening (why on earth didn’t the GM’s try this in years past?) They created a shocking moment without actually having to follow through on it, everybody wins.

Randy Orton to Smackdown 

John Cena and Randy Orton feuded for a very, very long time a few years ago. It was a good feud, but it’s happened already, and with the company’s top two babyfaces on the same show there was only so much time until it happened again. Well as the old saying goes “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” Now the company’s top dogs each get their own yard to run around in to their heart’s content, and let’s face it, when push comes to shove, Cena edges Orton out and thus gets to keep Raw in the divorce. Making the move all the more important is the distinct lack of top level babyfaces on Smackdown, both before the draft due to Edge’s sudden retirement, and after it. Orton’s popularity is through the roof but he’s been somewhat stagnant in terms of storylines lately so a change of scenery may be precisely what the doctor ordered.

Rey Mysterio to Raw

With Sin Cara moving to Friday nights it seemed logical that Rey Rey should transfer to Raw to prevent the WWE universe from noticing that the former Mistico might be a little bit more exciting than the 2011 edition of the ultimate underdog. It seems we can’t go six months without hearing that Mysterio is fed up about something so this move could also be seen as a way to appease him as Orton’s number-two-face spot and a fresh feud with Miz just opened up nicely.

Alberto Del Rio to Raw 

There may be life left in the Battle of Mexico as Alberto Del Rio follows Mysterio to Raw in the move that surprised me the most. When Del Rio won the Royal Rumble I was convinced he’d beat Edge at Wrestlemania, and now the former champion has retired and Del Rio was booked into a match for the vacant world heavyweight title it seemed Smackdown would become the Mexican Aristocrat’s kingdom to rule. Instead Alberto will bring his act to the big time and one has to think a feud with John Cena will be on the cards at some stage, something that has transformed several good wrestlers into solid main event talents in the last several years. But with The Miz and (for the time being) CM Punk also roaming around on Monday Nights, Del Rio will have to spend some time under the radar before he can have a turn at the top.

Big Show to Raw

It feels like a long time since Big Show has been a part of the Raw brand but in actuality he’s only been a part of the blue brand for a year and enjoyed a memorable pair of unified tag team title reigns with Chris Jericho and later Miz. In fact Big Show has spent about as much time on Raw as he has Smackdown, but for whatever reason whenever I think of Show, I think of his Smackdown days so perhaps he’ll make some challenges to a certain former partner who happens to hold championship gold in 2011. But then what? Alberto Del Rio? More feuds with CM Punk and Jack Swagger? And what of his shiny new tag team title reign with Kane? The opportunity arose for the gigantic tandem to drop the belts this week and yet they retained. Strange. Time will tell in regards to what happens to the World’s Largest Athlete, and he’s always in an unusual position of dominating everyone below the main event but consistently jobbing out to the top dogs. Will things be different this time around?

Sheamus to Smackdown

Unusual that they’d relegate this move to the final move of the supplemental draft given the Celtic Warrior’s two world title reigns, and his status as both the United States champion and reigning King of the Ring. Still, this is the man that lost to John Morrison about half a dozen times last year as well as losing to Daniel Bryan and Evan Bourne. And of course who can forget his utter destruction at the hands of Triple H earlier in 2011? Sheamus has fallen a long way on Raw but with Smackdown comes a wide open landscape for him to dominate. The role of top heel is very much up for grabs and King Sheamus has to be a strong candidate to get the nod. The only problem is doing so will mean another six months of feuding with Randy Orton. Yay.

Sin Cara to Smackdown

At first it seemed Cara would be a vigilante operating outside of the draft system given his attack of Jack Swagger on Smackdown, but now it’s clear that Fridays will be his home. It make sense given the greater focus on wrestling over storylines on Smackdown and the higher proportion of hispanic viewers of the show. Most importantly it means those little slip-ups he’s prone to making can be edited out to the point he appears to be one of the smoothest operators around. It seemed only a matter of time until we accidentally saw his trampoline in shot live on Raw, but rest assured it won’t happen now.

Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre & Kofi Kingston to Raw

Three mid-card talents who have flirted with the main event in the last two years all heading to the flagship show. What does that say? Sink or swim time guys. Jack Swagger’s time as world champion has been bookended with some very low moments, including losing a feud to Santino Marella and now acting as Michael Cole’s mute coach. Drew McIntyre was touted as The Chosen One complete with the Mr. McMahon seal of approval and has shown signs of impressive intensity, but early on he was stinking up the joint, and his off-screen dramas with his wife Tiffany led to a cringe-worthy storyline with Kelly Kelly that never actually went anywhere. Kofi Kingston has collected a plethora of tag team and mid-card titles during his WWE tenure and during his feud with Randy Orton he was so over it seemed he’d cemented himself in the main event, but what happened after that? He sunk back down to the mid-card, lost the IC title and only made his way onto the Wrestlemania card as a last minute replacement in an two minute long 8-man tag match. All three men have a chance to be part of the future of the WWE with plenty going for them, but all three have fallen from grace after being pushed to the moon. The message is clear at this point: Here’s a a ticket to Raw for each of you, prove you can go or you’ll be going home.

Mark Henry to Smackdown

Remember when out of nowhere Mark Henry transformed from a slightly comedic mid-card act to a monster heel who was destroying Kurt Angle and challenging Undertaker at Wrestlemania? It seems The World’s Strongest Man’s time at the top isn’t done quite yet as he’s already thrown his name in for the job of Smackdown’s top heel alongside Sheamus and Wade Barrett. I can’t say I’m a fan of Henry but he’s put in an awful lot of years with the WWE and if he can be be a main event talent again then good for him.

Daniel Bryan & William Regal to Smackdown

It’s been said many times that Smackdown is the wrestling show. It’s the place where the somewhat ludicrous rules Vince and the creative team bring in seem scaled back a bit. It’s less bombastic. So while wrestling may be a dirty word on Raw, these two traditional grapplers can ply their trade on Friday nights in peace. The former American Dragon did well to get five to ten minutes of camera time each and every week on Raw for the better part of a year and given the lack of star power on Smackdown he’ll probably end up dominating the mid-card over there too. Meanwhile his mentor William Regal can get in some ring time and put on one last run of great matches before he hangs up his boots later this year as he claimed was his plan. Remember when Regal and Finlay were putting on wrestling clinics under the rule of King Booker? I’d expect these two to tear it up together and make Bryan’s dream come true once and for all.

Great Khali to Smackdown

I actually think Khali is better suited to the Raw brand where he can come out and take part in occasional comedy segments and make good on the freak-show aspect of his enormous frame. I’m even more sure of this because when he was on Smackdown he was the world champion and destroyed Undertaker, Batista and Rey Mysterio. I’d rather not sit through another few months of Khali at the top but we’ll see what happens.

Tyson Kidd & Natalya to Smackdown

I place these two together because it seems clear they went together to keep their long-term off-screen relationship strong. They did the same with John Morrison and Melina and you can say what you want about the politics and poor treatment by WWE management, they’re not obligated to appease these couples but they do it anyway. As for the move itself, well Smackdown loses Beth Phoenix and gains Natalya, I’d call that an even trade. And Tyson? Well despite David Hart Smith having the size and lineage that Vince treasures so much, Kidd is by far the better worker and he’ll be heading to a brand ripe with solid technical wrestlers so perhaps he can finally make good on his skill-set and strike out alone.

Ted DiBiase & Alex Riley to Smackdown

A pair of guys who were at one time aligned with world champions who have failed to establish an identity to call their own. When Legacy split almost everyone – myself included – was of the opinion DiBiase would outshine Cody Rhodes. Fast forward a year and Rhodes is a semi-main eventer on Smackdown with a growing fanbase and Ted Jr. is lucky to get 2 minutes of television time a week. A-Ri performed well on NXT and by riding Miz’s coattails has managed to appear in the main event of almost every single Raw for the last six months and even Wrestlemania. Yet he’s never truly capitalised on this opportunity, being cut loose a month ago only to return to Miz’s side. Neither man is a horrible wrestler so perhaps some time in a slightly dimmer spotlight with much less pressure will let them come out of their shell.

The Usos & Tamina to Smackdown

You could hear the collective outcry of the WWE’s detractors when for several minutes the Usos were separated by the draft, and if the move had been permanent they’d be fully justified in complaining. Why split up a pair of near-identical twins? Well those worries were put to bed moments later when it was confirmed not only both Usos but also their original valet and the object of Santino Marella’s affections would be going with them. Face turn and a feud with the Corre? You betcha.

JTG, Curt Hawkins, Chris Masters & Tyler Reks to Raw

Four guys that 95% of the WWE Universe could not care less about. Four guys that are near the front of the queue of candidates for the future endeavours club… or are they? Why bother moving these guys to Raw if they’re not going to be used? Now it’s true not everybody on the Raw roster is guaranteed a turn on television (Goldust anyone?), but surely at least two of these four are going to get a kick in the pants for their career now they’re where it matters?

Yoshi Tatsu to Smackdown

It feels odd giving Yoshi his own segment in this draft breakdown, but I really couldn’t find anywhere else to put him. He’s not going to be in the same standing as Daniel Bryan, William Regal or even Alex Riley and Ted DiBiase, but he’ll probably get to do what he does best and that’s wrestle. Given more than 2 minutes and the right opponent and I’d be more than happy to watch Mr. Tatsu work.

Beth Phoenix to Raw

Natalya moves to Smackdown, Beth moves to Raw, as I said before: even trade. Who knows, maybe this is a round-about way to keep CM Punk happy on the road and stop him from leaving by letting him be with his latest rumoured paramour. But here’s where things get interesting: Awesome Kong Kharma. I’ve dreamt of seeing these two titans of women’s wrestling clash for years now and there’s finally a distinct possibility it could take place on Monday Night Raw. Unless she goes to Smackdown in which case it’s another round of the severely underrated series of matches between the Glamazon and Melina.

Kelly Kelly to Raw, Alicia Fox to Smackdown

Two useless but attractive wrestlers trade places, life goes on.

Overall

And there you have it. Smackdown lost some of its big names but received some smaller working parts in return. Raw will keep John Cena, Miz and to a lesser extent CM Punk at the top of their card, but now they’ll be joined by Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, Big Show, Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre and occasionally Triple H. Meanwhile Smackdown’s landscape changes completely with Randy Orton as the undisputed alpha male with the likes of Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Brodus Clay providing him with foils, and Christian, Kane, Sin Cara and sporadic Undertaker appearances to stand at his side. Raw remains a show of unique personalities and sideshow attractions, and Smackdown’s status as the wrestling show is enhanced further.

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About Matt Waters
Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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