The Wrestling Observer has extra info on the draft lottery moves. Chris Benoit was the only name people knew for sure would definitely be moved, since Smackdown’s head writer, Michael Hayes, didn’t rate him highly. Hayes made his career by delivering great promos and so now tends to judge the wrestlers’ value by the quality of their promos. Obviously Benoit was lacking in that regard and so Smackdown became a dead-end for him. He still has plenty of supporters elsewhere in the company though, with many now considering him a ‘lifer’ that will stick on as an agent/trainer after in-ring retirement, and he was originally set to go to Raw after WrestleMania. His stay in ECW is regarded as temporary, with many feeling he will wind up on Raw by 2008 as Triple H is likely to push for him there.
For now, Benoit’s role in ECW is to be a player-coach who can groom the future stars. Dusty Rhodes wanted the brand to be geared towards improving younger stars and for now that does seem to be the direction it is going in. Elijah Burke and Marcus Cor Von are the two WWE is most keen on, with C.M. Punk lacking long-term prospects in the eyes of many in the company. Bobby Lashley was moved because they know that, no matter what, ECW ratings will not improve greatly and so the show will not make big stars. Vince McMahon wants to build the company around Lashley and John Cena, so the former joined the latter on Raw.
Contrary to his stance on Benoit, Hayes is more supportive of Ric Flair being on Smackdown as he values Flair’s promo skills. That might sound like a predictable opinion but a number of Raw people, especially Brian Gerwitz, didn’t watch Flair in his prime and never considered him to be a good promo. In theory this is meant to be Flair’s last run, followed by a rumoured Hall of Fame induction next year, so he stands a better chance of going out in style on Smackdown than on Raw.
Interesting note on Chris Masters going to Smackdown: JBL used to bully him on overseas tours and embarrass him in front of the other wrestlers. One of Meltzer’s sources was quoted as saying “I’ve never seen a guy so big and strong back down and do absolutely nothing and just let a guy bully him.” Well, at least they’ll only meet once a week now.
Ken Kennedy’s move to Raw has been deemed as premature by some in WWE, yet he has done a good job at influencing the influential to speak up on his behalf. Steve Austin is said to be a big fan and his personally endorsed him to management. Also, Austin’s speech on Mr McMahon Appreciation Night was completely ad-libbed by him as he rejected the script Brian Gerwitz had written for him.
The Snitsky Plan – keep him strong, keep him winning on the undercard, then move him up to face Cena next year. It’s like the Umaga Plan but with a less jolly belly.
Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 18th June 2007 (click here for subscription information)
Tags: ECW, Raw, Smackdown, WWE