This Week in ‘E – The Draft

The Draft is tonight and I couldn’t be more excited. Plus a lot of news from WrestleMania XXV came out over the past week, including some live gates and Undertaker’s near-death experience.

Opening Witty Banter
I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend. I had some good times with family, old friends, new friends and managed to finally catch “I Love You, Man.” This past week has been good times for yours truly. This week has been pretty light on wrestling news in WWE as everyone and everything has been in a holding pattern in between WrestleMania and the official start of the new calendar year, tonight’s Draft.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
According to Lord of Pain, going into tonight’s Draft the company’s plan is that RAW and SmackDown will no longer have to be treated equal. Last year they moved Triple H, Jeff Hardy and Jim Ross to SmackDown to strengthen the shows transition to MyNetworkTV. The move was seen as largely unsuccessful considering the moves didn’t help ratings or really MyNetworkTV’s status. The plan now is to move the majority of the top talent to RAW for maximum exposure and keep a handful of top stars on the blue brand to keep house show business strong.

It has been announced that twelve trades will be broadcast tonight live on RAW.

The Supplemental Draft has been scheduled for Wednesday at noon on WWE.com and WWEUniverse.com with Howard Finkel set to host.

I have always been a fan of the WWE draft and I think this is the perfect time of the year to hold the annual “shake-up.” It’s always been said that WrestleMania is the end of WWE’s calendar year and having the draft just days after WrestleMania signifies the start of a new year and keeps Backlash from becoming “WrestleMania part 2” like it has become in the past few years.

As for the twelve picks live on the show I would go out on a limb to guess that Triple H and The Big Show come to RAW from SmackDown and Evan Bourne comes to RAW from ECW, Rey Mysterio goes to SmackDown and John Morrison officially comes to RAW. Then as my out-there picks I would say that either or both CM Punk and Chris Jericho end up on SmackDown. As for ECW, they might get a token mid-carder or two, like R-Truth or Dolph Ziggler, but I don’t expect them to gain too much.

WWE Superstars makes its return this coming Thursday on WGN America, making it WWE’s sixth hour of original programming each week. The rumor over the past week was that old WWE standby Kevin Kelly would be hosting the show but Kelly himself denied the rumor and the DirecTV listing that included Kelly as the host has been removed.

I am really excited for Superstars’ return and am just excited to see the format that it will employ, and who will host it. Hopefully it will be a place for the younger stars to shine and put on exciting undercard matches kind of like how Velocity used to be.

A lot of WrestleMania news fell out in the wake of the big event.

In the obvious news of the week, according to PWInsider, “The feeling backstage to WrestleMania was that HBK vs. The Undertaker stole the show, Ricky Steamboat looked great at his age, and that HHH vs. Randy Orton came off ‘poorly.’ Some feel that they will work to get the title to Orton tonight. Overall management was happy with attendance and gate figures, and the backstage mood was described as ‘good’.”

Speaking of the gate, it was announced that 72,744 attended the show (down from the previous year’s 74,635) for a total gross of $6.9 million in revenue (up from last year’s $5.85 million).

Apparently this means that there wasn’t nearly as many comped tickets as there was last year. Even this ridiculous piss-poor economy it’s amazing that WWE can draw 72,000 people and a nearly $7 million chunk of change for something as trivial like WrestleMania.

In addition the event itself, the Hall of Fame Ceremony had a sellout crowd of 11,000.

I don’t know if I like that they put the ceremony in a big arena as opposed to a classy theatre like in years past. I think WWE also learned their lesson this year about severely limiting the time limit of their presenters and inductees. I know I’m not the only one who really enjoys the long-winded speeches of the old-timers.

Also speaking of Undertaker, the cameraman that took the dive spot in the Undertaker vs. HBK match was Sim Snuka. He didn’t injure himself after landing on his head after his over the top rope dive at WrestleMania. He was a bit out of it backstage after the match but was still interacting with everyone.

That spot was ridiculously cringe-worthy on initial viewing and I’m glad he didn’t seriously hurt himself. All I could think of when I saw it was that he was done up bad and the match would be screwed up. I’m glad he’s alright and still kicking.

The John Cena clones/Chain Gang that appeared at WrestleMania were a collection of independent workers from the area that fit the physical description the company was looking for. In another obvious mention, the entrance was inspired by an Eminem performance from the MTV Music Awards many years ago.

Cena has become known for his over-the-top WrestleMania entrances but this one didn’t stick with me. I popped huge for the “Basic Thuganomics” intro but the army of clones didn’t do it for me. The Eminem skit was years ago and it’s kind of like WWE to imitate something from a while back.

Speaking of the indy workers, WWE is offering up a much lower rate for them to play security guards and other extra roles. Thus many of the established indy guys passed on the offer, and greener talent worked in various roles at the big show. Many of these new talents were said to be disrespectful of the business.

We all know how much WWE is a stickler for respect for the business so that’s not going to go over well with the established talent.

Jimmy Snuka is now the oldest performer to actually wrestle at WrestleMania, at the ripe age of 65.

Well let’s hope that is a record that never gets broken.

Reports have surfaced that Ric Flair told Harley Race during a dinner conversation that he rejected a $250,000 over from Vince McMahon to become SmackDown’s General Manager. He apparently felt he could make more on the indy scene.

I love Flair and wish he would stay on WWE’s payroll. I really, really don’t want him to turn into the walking punchline that Mick Foley and to a certain extent, Hulk Hogan, have become.

WWE’s multi-disc tag teams DVD entitled “Allied Powers: The World’s Greatest Tag Teams” will be released on July 14th.

I’m pretty excited for tag teams disc and hope that it brings a little more push to the tag team scene like the Intercontinental Title set did this past winter. But how funny is it that the disc is named after perhaps one of the most laughable teams in WWE history, “The Allied Powers” of Davey Boy Smith & Lex Luger. They had such potential but failed so miserably.

Wrestler of the Week
Week of April 6 – 12: Carlito & Primo Colon
I really wanted to give this award to Ricky Steamboat this week just out of pure nostalgia and the awesome performance he put on in that crazy 10 man tag from Monday Night RAW, but I can’t ignore Carlito & Primo’s stellar performances they had on both RAW and ECW, plus a third appearance on their own actual show SmackDown. Their lumberjack rematch against John Morrison & The Miz on RAW was indicative that these four men more than deserved their spot at WrestleMania. Then they next night on ECW the Colon boys teamed up with wunderkind Evan Bourne to put on an amazing six-man tag against Miz, Morrison and Tyson Kidd. I would call it the WWE’s match of the week but the lumberjack match and the crazy 10 man all-star tag match were pretty damn fun too.

The Road to…Backlash
WWE Championship
Triple H (c), Batista & Shane McMahon v. “Legacy” – Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes
If anyone on Legacy wins the match then Orton becomes Champion. If anyone on Triple H’s team wins then he retains the Championship.

World Heavyweight Championship – Last Man Standing
John Cena (c) v. Edge

ECW Championship
Jack Swagger (c) v. Finlay, Tommy Dreamer or Christian

rumored matches
Gail Kim v. Maryse for the Divas Title
Santina Marella v. Melina for the Women’s Title
Matt Hardy v. Jeff Hardy

RAW’s On Tonight!
Tonight’s show is all about the 2009 Draft and I’ve got that all covered up top.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Clarke give his thoughts on a decent SmackDown that featured the best promo between John Cena and Edge ever in the storied rivalry and a surprisingly good performance from Kofi Kingston.

Innarelli takes us through a great episode of ECW featuring a crazy six man tag, a fun four way dance and finally some direction for Jack Swagger. And how hot does Tiffany look in a business suit?

Norine covered a fantastic post-WrestleMania RAW featuring surprisingly entertaining tag matches, solid comedy and the return of an Animal.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (4.3.09) – 1.9

Hall of Fame (4.4.09) – 1.79

A.M. RAW (4.5.09) – .7

RAW (4.6.09) – 3.9

ECW (4.7.09) – 1.3

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Wiswell looks at the ramifications of Jerry Lynn becoming the new ROH World Champion.

SK looks at some of the worst matches in WrestleMania history.

Clark looks at WrestleMania and the myriad of other wrestling events that also happened last weekend.

For more relevant, interesting and exciting wrestling information from your truly, check out my gig as the Pro Wrestling Examiner over at Examiner.com.

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