Welcome to week 13. This is a pretty exciting week if you’re a wrestling fan because it’s draft day. Daft day is the time of year when you-the fan-get a chance to peel back the curtain and see into the minds of Creative. You see, the draft picks show the audience who the writers have faith in and who they don’t. Moving a guy to RAW? He’s big time. Moving a guy to Smackdown? Not so much. Moving a guy to ECW? The phrase “We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavorsÃ¢â‚¬Â is not that far behind.
I’m not such a huge fan of the draft. I have finally warmed to the brand split and I find it fun to watch the WWE try to create intriguing storylines using their depleted rosters. It’s a nice flashback to 1996 because when Vince is backed into a corner he pulls something good out. Sure, you might get Sid/Taker, but you also get Hart/Austin. Old WWE fans know to take the good with the bad and that eventually Vince will right the ship. By forcing him to handle three unbalanced rosters, Vince is forced to book on the fly and try to give the fans what he thinks they want and every once in a while he stumbles upon gold. It happened with Hogan, it happened with Austin, and since we seem to get one every ten years, I’d say we’re due. Who will it be? More on that in a minute.
First, I want to address the much talked about “SopranosÃ¢â‚¬Â finale. I’m a huge Sopranos fan and have been looking forward (re: dreading) the end of the show for months. Would Tony go to jail? Will Tony get whacked? Will Uncle Junior reveal that he’s been faking this whole senility thing and that he’s really the brains behind New York? In the end, the pieces were set like a well-played game of chess. The whole family was at a quiet, unassuming diner. Everyone seemed somewhat at peace. Carmella had her new house to design. Meadow had her boyfriend, her new job defending people just like her father and maybe a child on the way. AJ had a job that he actually liked, a statutory girlfriend and maybe a chance to not be a little bitch anymore. Yeah, Tony was worried about the impending indictment, but he’s beaten it before and he could do it again. He also still had Paulie by his side and had finally brought his family back together. Everything seemed happy, but there was still this sense of dread. Would this be the last happy moment for the family? Who was the guy in the USA trucker hat? What about the Italian guy drinking the coffee? And the two black guys? Were they all there waiting to pop America’s favorite mobster? As Meadow came racing into the restaurant, the country held its breath, and then darkness.
Millions of people no doubt stood up from their chair to check and see if the cable went out. It was a moment that Andy Kaufman would have loved. All these years of waiting and in the end we get fewer answers then we did to begin with. Were they all shot? Are they all dead? Were these people feds waiting to bust Tony? Were the onion rings the best in the state? The Sopranos started as the most buzz-worthy show on television and it went out the same way. When the show began, the message was clear that this was not a morality play. It was not about good versus evil. It was about family. If Tony died or if Tony went to jail, then he was getting the punishment that people felt he deserved. It would mean that the entire show was about a bad guy getting his comeuppance. On the other hand, if he lives happily ever after, the show would be known as the program that condoned the world of organized crime hell, it glamorized it. The moral would become that if you are a crook and you keep at being a crook that you will wind up rich and happy and have a loving family. There was no easy way out, so they just faded to black. They faded to black while listening to Journey.
Now, just as the Sopranos finale was a build-up that could never live up to the expectations, the WWE draft is something that is built up only to disappoint. First, a note on how I will be writing this week’s column, as it is different then normal. Everything you just read and everything you will read for the next few paragraphs were composed pre-RAW. Once the show starts, I will resume my writing to give analysis of what’s going on during the show, that way you can sort of see my before and after thoughts. Think of me as Mel Kiper, just with better hair.
BUT FIRST LINKS
Widro, PK and MM decided to hold their own mock draft and they put together a pretty interesting board. I recommend checking it out now that the draft is over and see if they were right or wrong.
Muck like Radio Shack, you’ve got questions,
Ian’s got answers. And unlike Radio Shack, he won’t ask for your phone number when you buy batteries.
Pulse Glazer reviews the 6/9 ROH show and declares yet another match as potential MOTY. I really need to get my hands on some more ROH stuff, because if it’s as good as he and Andy have been saying, then I’m missing the greatest wrestling of all time. On the other hand, they might be like people who are fans of those Pirates movies who say that they are the best movies of all time. I watched the first Pirates movie and wanted to kill myself. I then watched the second Pirates movie (like an Alzheimer’s patient eating candy corn) and realized that if I were any dumber that I would probably be next in line for the presidency.
Lastly for this week, since I post this at such a weird time I don’t get a chance to link him, but Kace Evers has been cranking out some damn fine lists of what he’s been digging from each week’s show, and by now they’ve gotta be up for RAW so go check it out. I’d link it but I cant and stop being so damn lazy and find it yourself. Ingrates.
For Your Consideration Is There a Draft in Here?
In order to justify the existence of the draft, the writers are going to try and “shockÃ¢â‚¬Â the fans. Unfortunately, the moves that the WWE needs to make are not something you would file under the “shockingÃ¢â‚¬Â category. Also, the move that Edge made a few weeks ago would have been the big moment of the year had they not gone and brought back the draft. That was a major superstar (and arguably #1 heel on RAW) jumping ship and winning the gold all in one move. Now, with the draft, the WWE has stripped that moment of its unique feel because it happened so close to the impending realignment of the roster.
RAW right now has one major babyface in John Cena. At full capacity, they have Cena, Hunter and Michaels filling the top slots, not to mention Flair and Jeff Hardy as competent mid-card faces. On the heel side, they have Randy Orton, Umaga and Khali, with Carlito, Nitro, Masters and Dykstra filling out the mid-card.
Smackdown has rebounded from numerous injuries to create a nice little roster. Once everyone’s healed up, they have Batista, Undertaker and Mysterio as the top draws, with Benoit, Kane and Boogeyman filling out the mid-card. On the heel side, they’ve got Edge, King Booker, Kennedy, Finlay, Porter and Henry all willing and able to slip in to a main even slot, not to mention Chavo, Helms and (heaven help us) the Miz filling out the mid-card.
ECW’s roster is paper thin. You’ve got the Originals (Dreamer, Sandman and Balls), you’ve got CM Punk, you’ve got Lashley and you’ve got Stevie Richards. On the heel side, you’ve got the New Breed (Burke, Striker and Cor Von), Snitsky and Kevin Thorn(e). That is pretty much the roster (aside from the Majors Brothers and Nunzio cough).
Now, the WWE could do some major blockbuster thing and put Batista on RAW or move Orton to ECW, but that really won’t help much. You see, the draft is yet another example of how Smackdown needs to stay the B show. Smackdown has the strong roster while RAW is floundering, so the answer is the draft. A few months ago when I wrote my column about the possibility of moving Benoit, I talked about the resiliency of the Smackdown writers Michael Hayes and Court Bauer. They took what was left of their roster and just made it work. JBL’s hurt? Boom, King Booker. Batista’s injured? Give it to Rey. Hell, they almost made Taker/Dave interesting. Was there a draft to save Smackdown? No. They just sort of had to deal with what they had. It wasn’t until the KO punch of Taker & Kennedy that Vince sent some help to Friday nights with Edge. Now, with Smackdown building up MVP and Matt Hardy, it’s time for RAW to swoop in and steal the talent. This is probably the closest thing to recreating the old WWE/WCW talent raids.
Who should be moved? Well, Biscuiti stole my first suggestion, which was CM Punk to be moved to RAW. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. With John Cena feuding with giant fake Hogan villain after giant fake Hogan villain month after month, RAW has been stale. Putting Punk on RAW and immediately throwing him against Cena is like a watered down Hart/Austin. Cena, like Hart, is the guy that fans are supposed to cheer for. If the WWE really positions Punk as the guy to call out Cena then there’s a chance to create a 21st century antihero to carry the brand. Plus, this could allow for Punk to wrestle against Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels and Triple H. No, he wouldn’t be the top draw on RAW, but then again, they could always turn him heel. In fact, I think I even wrote a column about that hmm
I have a stronger feeling that the big move to RAW will be either Mark Henry or Snitsky. Henry doesn’t need to be on Smackdown since they have a heel champion, and possibly swapping Henry for Umaga would allow for fresh victims for Jamal while Henry could be the next faceless Hogan villain for Cena to squash. In fact, I don’t think they’ve let Mark Henry flatten Jeff Hardy in a while, so Hardy’s probably due. Oh, and what about Khali? I say pull a Kurrgan and just turn him face and have him start partying with the guys from Jackass.
Another strong move would be to put Matt Hardy on ECW. Moving him to RAW is a mistake because then they just fall into lumping the Hardys together forever. Keeping him on Smackdown is bad because a feud between him and Edge has been done and no one sees Matt Hardy/Edge and thinks dollar signs right now. Hardy on ECW fits the mold of ECW being the “home of the young guysÃ¢â‚¬Â, and Hardy/Burke would be a pretty fun feud.
Moving CM Punk, Matt Hardy or Mark Henry isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire, but the knee-jerk reactions that Vince might make are just going to end poorly. If he moves Batista to RAW then there are going to be 4 top tier faces and Dave will not get a shot at the top any time soon. They can’t move Orton because despite the fact that he’s so damn hated, he’s generating a bit of a character and needs to be kept around to be vanquished by Hunter. Moving Triple H to Smackdown would be intriguing (and, like I said before, would let him get to crush Edge, which he seems to have a hard-on to do) because Hunter has a lot of villains to feud with and a chance to dominate the show with minimal competition (since Taker will never work a full schedule and Rey is niche at best). Who else is there to move? Everyone expects Kennedy to go to RAW and that’s fine but it’ll be like when Orton was traded to Smackdown; you get the guy, just not now. It’ll have no impact. Cor Von could step up to either of the major brands, but I say a Cor Von/Lashley feud could be entertaining (plus, when was the last time you had two black guys feuding for a major title). MVP should stay on Smackdown because the alternative is do the double-switch and stick the bland Santino on the B show and I don’t want to see that guy on Fridays. That’s enough pontificating now, it’s time to get ready for the show and let the real bitching begin.
I like the concept of making the matches affect who gets to draft when. This really adds something to each match.
1st Draft Pick via Edge’s win: WTF is with the stupid randomizer? The Great Khali’s going to Smackdown ladies and gentlemen. Well, as I said above, the heel side of Smackdown is heavy, so the first pick is a heel? Khali couldn’t stay on RAW after being defeated twice by John Cena, so moving him back to Friday nights could make some sense. First off, Khali cannot work a live match. He’s still sloppy and still wooden and desperately needs to be in a situation where the talented folks at WWE production can fix his abominable matches. Second, this means that Smackdown is going to lose a major heel, and I still believe that it will be Mark Henry. With Khali on Smackdown, Batista has someone to feud with which you know is going to suck. More importantly, since Undertaker never got a chance to get his win back from last year’s unceremonious beatdown, with Khali on the roster it’s a chance for Taker to pin him clean. Lastly, Rey/Khali is perfect for the WWE’s next trip to San Diego.
2nd Draft Pick via Punk’s win: ECW is getting the Boogeyman? The Boogeyman?! Stop the pain. So ECW was allegedly going to be the home of the young and fresh talent and instead it’s the home of tired, pathetic gimmicks? And to think I was worried that my predictions being too small? They are 0 for 2 as far as I’m concerned. Boogeyman? Seriously? Get ready, RAW is probably going to pick Funaki.
3rd Draft Pick stems from Balls Mahoney’s best match in the WWE: RAW gets King Booker. Well, Booker has flourished on Smackdown and was a bona fide main eventer. With a move to RAW, maybe he’ll get a chance to feud with John Cena for the world title. Let’s just hope that Creative doesn’t forget that Booker was a top draw on Smackdown because I doubt it would make sense to move him to RAW just to stick him in a dead-end feud with Santino Marella over the IC title. Again, this is hardly a shocking draft pick and frankly a confusing one. RAW needed an upper level heel and Smackdown has a plethora of them, and while I hope Booker gets a chance to fill a main event slot, I still believe that Mark Henry would have been the logical next choice to get thrown into that John Cena Hogan machine.
4th Draft Pick via Lashley’s win: ECW gets Chris Benoit. There’s no way to complain about that one. I always thought that Benoit should stay on Smackdown, but this has some potential to make ECW slightly more legitimate.
5th Draft Pick via MVP’s win: Smackdown gets herpes I mean Torrie Wilson. You know, I don’t even think they’re trying anymore. Look, they always do one diva trade, so at least they got it out of the way. It probably would have made more sense to bring over Michelle McCool to RAW since she can wrestle, but Torrie to Smackdown makes uh sense? Are they going to stick her with MVP? Nah. Who on Smackdown could use the Torrie Wilson rub? You know, rereading that last sentence leads me to a different answer. I guess they could toss Torrie on the arm of Batista.
6th Draft Pick via Snitsky’s win: ECW gets wait the Miz gets the win now? Smackdown gets Chris Masters. Pain. That’s the only way I can describe this. Mind-numbing pain. For the 200th time, Smackdown is a heel-heavy program, so the answer is to get ANOTHER HEEL?! And not only another heel, but Chris Masters?! Just keep burying Smackdown, Vince, just keep pouring it on. I tell you what, if P.S. can make this guy a main eventer, I say give him the damn company.
7th Draft Pick via Candice’s win: RAW gets Lashley?! Well, there’s your big, dumb move of the night. Well, if Lashley drops the ECW belt then I guess Benoit will be there to pick it up. Oh wait, here’s Coach. Time to retract? Ah, here comes the stripping of the title. So all those months ago when I predicted a tournament for the ECW title, I guess I was right all along. Well, Bobby’s been on RAW for the past few months anyway, so what’s the difference with making it official? He’s been Vince’s pet project and now he can be the next big thing on the flagship show.
8th Draft Pick via Batista’s win: Smackdown gets Ric Flair. Hmm. I guess this’ll benefit Dave. Flair can replace Benoit as resident veteran. Flair/Finlay, Flair/Regal and Flair/Edge? Sure. I’ll take it.
9th Draft Pick via Randy Orton’s win RAW gets Snitsky. Well, there’s Cena’s new monster.
10th Draft Pick via Randy Orton’s win RAW gets Mr. Kennedy. Well, that one wasn’t too much of a shocker.
Lashley, Snitsky, Kennedy and Booker are all on their way to RAW. Yep, RAW rebuilt their roster pretty well. Bobby Lashley is immediately the number two face behind John Cena, filling the slot that DX occupied. Snitsky immediately becomes the next monster for John Cena to conquer. Booker T is a heel of a guy to have around and should by all accounts be the next person in line to face John Cena in a major (read: Summerslam) feud. And Kennedy? When he’s healed up he’s going to be able to give RAW a major superstar.
Smackdown got Khali, Flair, Masters and Torrie. Looking at what RAW got, you can’t help but think that this was off kilter. Then again, that was the point. RAW got to dump the dead weight of Khali since he used up his usefulness. Flair is a perfect fit on any roster just due to the fact that he’s Ric Flair. Chris Masters ugh. Torrie’s not the worst thing to look at and she can be used as arm candy for anyone that PS wants to get over.
ECW got Boogeyman and Benoit. Yep, the roster that needed the most help got Boogeyman, a guy that cannot wrestle and Chris Benoit who has been jobbed out on Smackdown and RAW in the past few weeks. With the ECW title vacant, this is a chance for the company to maybe refocus. Benoit/Burke, Benoit/Cor Von and Benoit/Punk all sound pretty damn good to me. You know that ECW will get filled out in the Wednesday ancillary draft, bringing to its roster the lower card guys from RAW and Smackdown. I see them getting Super Crazy if nothing else.
Well, there you have it, the draft. Nowhere near as exciting as the last one held by the WWE, but on the plus side they didn’t drag it out for a month. Here’s to small joys in life. At least it can’t get worse.
Oh wait, Vince’s limo just blew up.
This has been for your consideration.