The Reality of Wrestling: The Draft Lottery

The Reality of Wrestling: The Draft Lottery
By Phil Clark

The month of June has passed and something seemed missing in the world of wrestling; that something was The E’s draft lottery. The draft lottery has been what The E has used for the past two years as a way of beginning their summer storylines that usually lead to SummerSlam. This year however, they’ve gone in a different direction focusing more on the rebirth of ECW and the ongoing nostalgia act that is D-X. The draft lottery however has been seen as an interesting way to move people from show to show giving them fresh opponents and storylines to go by. Sometimes the choices are good and sometimes they’re bad, but that goes with the territory of moving people from shows on a whim. There have been rumors that the draft lottery will still happen this year, but will take place in October. While that is perfectly feasible—as it would provide storylines leading into Survivor Series—the rumors have ceased over the last month and it looks very doubtful that 2006 will see a draft lottery in The E.

P.C. Says: The draft lottery should happen

First off, the draft lottery has more positives than negatives. The main negative is that it usually takes top names from one brand and makes them a top name for another thus moving the star power. Another negative is that most of the choices are forgettable (Muhammad Hassan was a draft choice for SmackDown! and stayed a whole month!). However, the positives are there, as Batista became the whole damn show on SmackDown! after being drafted by them last year. Chris Benoit getting drafted #1 by SmackDown! allowed him to get the very funny “how fast can he beat Orlando Jordan” gimmick for August and September. While these aren’t the best examples of the draft’s positives, those are coming up.

Of the two brands, RAW has easily been the one to benefit the most from the draft lottery. Because of the fact that last year’s draft coincided with RAW’s Vengeance PPV, they were able to make a killing. They got John Cena #1 and drafted Kurt Angle soon after allowing for both world titles to be defended at last year’s Vengeance as well as Angle/Michaels II. The show ended up doing over 400,000 buys, the most for a non-Big Four PPV in years.

Other draft picks have benefited RAW in a big way. In 2004, they drafted Shelton Benjamin. While this broke up Team Angle and basically killed the tag division on both shows, it did allow Shelton’s singles push to begin with a win over HHH in a RAW main event. While the push didn’t really get going, Shelton has been a crowd favorite on RAW ever since. Drafting Carlito last year may turn out to be the best draft pick in the two years of the draft lottery. At the time, Carlito was still up and coming on SmackDown! and hadn’t really gotten over. However, he was given a better push on RAW and a year later, is one of the most over mid-card wrestlers in the whole promotion.

I believe that the draft lottery can still be used and still work if it’s done in a way that won’t effect the top tier of each show because The E is still searching for the next big draw in the business and messing with the guys at the top of each show would be a bad idea as of now (even though SmackDown!’s ratings would scream that changes should be made). I believe that the draft lottery can be a yearly thing in June (SummerSlam is the #2 PPV of the year), but a certain set of rules should be in place. Those rules would be:

1. Wrestlers can only be eligible for the draft if they weren’t drafted the year before by either brand. This eliminates Benoit-like brand hopping year after year. Plus, it would mean more mid-card guys getting drafted and getting a shot at a fresh push on a new show.
2. Each brands world champion is exempt from being in the draft even if Rule #1 doesn’t apply. This creates fresh feuds and matches for each brands champion without the fans having to get used to a new champion on the same show.
3. Tag-Teams, not each member of the team, are eligible to be drafted unless they are that brands’ champions. There are too few tag teams as it is and breaking any up would be downright stupid at this point.

With those rules in place, the draft would be a lot more interesting and unpredictable. Even if the draft goes on and is done the way it’s been done the past two times, it should still be done. If nothing else, it does create freshness on each show and both could use a dose of that as neither is particularly interesting at the moment.

The Reality is…fans of The E didn’t seem to notice the lack of a draft lottery. Really, a draft lottery wouldn’t have helped much as The E seems to be going back in time and can’t decide which period to travel to. They are running ECW and D-X (1997) on RAW while SmackDown! is using more and more gimmick orientated wrestlers like MNM, Paul Birchill, Tatanka, The Boogeyman, and Vito (1993-95). My advice to The E: pick a time in the past and run with it. I don’t like it, but if The E has decided that moving backwards is this year’s “it” thing, then I say go for it, because they’ll still make money off it. Just pick something would you please?

This Week’s “FUCK YOU!” goes to:

ROB VAN DAM & SABU
What the f*ck were you two little potheads thinking? Now I’m not one of those people who’re saying that pot is wrong and no one should use it, but for Christ’s sake, don’t get pulled over with it! It’s been known for a long time that both of these guys are big-time potheads; they had their picture (with Fonzie) on the cover of High Times during ECW’s heyday and Van Dam turned the pothead interview into an art form when he first came to The E back in 2001. However, the downside here is that this could very well sink ECW a lot quicker than I predicted a couple of weeks back and Sabu might be thinking, “I left TNA for this?”