Read on for behind-the-scenes news on how rivalry between the WWE writers affected the draft, why Smackdown is so important to the company now and much more…
Dave Meltzer has reported on lots of behind-the-scenes information about the WWE draft process. As noted elsewhere, the reason for Triple H moving to Smackdown was simply that the brandâ€™s schedule is more convenient for him and Stephanie McMahon. He will be on the road for weekend house shows, head to Raw on Mondays with Stephanie, onto the Smackdown tapings on Tuesdays and then head home with her on the corporate plane. With Stephanie expecting their second child soon this will allow them to spend more time together with their children.
Also, the main goal of the draft this year was to strengthen Smackdown. WWE realises that the show will draw relatively huge ratings for MyNetwork but that the network itself most likely will not last long. However, MyNetwork is owned by FOX and, based on what interest the company had in the show after the CW dropped it, WWE is hopeful that if they keep the show strong there is a chance they will get a Friday night slot on the FOX network itself.
The backstage decision-making process regarding the draft was indicative of the political status-quo within the company. Brian Gerwitz, head writer of Raw, has been taking a lot of heat over Rawâ€™s lower ratings of late. The other writers have also been critical of him putting more backstage skits onto the show than they feel is necessary, all of which has left Vince McMahon less inclined to listen to his ideas than in the past. Michael Hayes, head writer of Smackdown, returned from his suspension just before the creative team sat down to figure out the draft and therefore had a great deal of influence on what changes were made. By the time Hayes was back at work, however, the decision to move Rey Mysterio to Raw had already been made. Hayes wanted to keep Mysterio on Smackdown but, as a big fan of the Hardys, lobbied to get Jeff Hardy moved over in return. However, this led to Matt Hardy being moved off of Smackdown because Vince wants to push both Hardys as singles stars rather than as a tag team, since he doesnâ€™t see the value of showcasing teams.
The only other switch decided upon ahead of time was Umaga going to Smackdown. Apparently the writers want to transition his character to a point where he can start cutting his own promos. Batista going to Raw had been settled upon a few days before the draft took place, with Triple H suggesting that they turn Batista heel to build for a match with John Cena at WrestleMania 25. Other than Triple H, Batista was likely the only guy who was told ahead of time that he would be changing brands owing to his high status within the company. WWE basically sees Cena, HHH and The Undertaker as its main guys, with Batista and Shawn Michaels slightly below them.
Some of the other moves debated by the creative team ahead of time were Kofi Kingston to Raw and Trevor Murdoch to Smackdown, which both occurred on the supplemental draft, as well as putting Bam Neely on Raw. Carlito is now said to be happy to stay with WWE, with his move to Smackdown no doubt helping with that. Gerwitz also pitched the idea of Ted Dibiase buying a draft pick, although that notion was shot down. Regarding the announcers, the original pitch was to switch Mick Foley and Jerry Lawler but Vince was not enamoured with the prospect. Kevin Dunn, however, brought up what Jim Rossâ€™ reaction to being moved to Raw would likely be, much to Vinceâ€™s amusement. Lo and behold, it happened.
Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 01 July 2008 (subscribe here)
Tags: batista, ECW, Raw, rey mysterio, Smackdown, triple h, vince mcmahon, WWE