April 17, 2009
Gary Mehaffy

Draft 09: Shaking Things Up

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when WWE shakes their 3 brands up giving us the chance to see WWE superstars on different brands, as they’re so well kept apart the rest of the year.

Or maybe not.

I think that this year’s draft could shake things up (hey, I’m the eternal optimist) but I also think that they need to work harder to keep the brands separate (again, I’m being optimistic, but I’m not totally stupid!)

With the draft in mind, I’m going to do a different type of column. What I want to do is to try and predict who will actually be drafted to each brand, both live tonight (as I write) and in the supplemental draft on Wednesday, and then compare it to who actually was drafted. And I promise not to cheat! It’s 9.a.m. in the U.K. on Monday, April 13th as I write this part.

Oh, before I go on, I must pass comment on my last column. It seems to have struck a chord with A LOT of people. It’s always interesting to hear what other people think (which is why I enjoy reading your emails) but it showed me that everyone agrees that WWE needs overhauled in several aspects. The majority of your emails revolved around HHH, and while I won’t go just as far as some people did, I do think he needs to take a look at himself.

Anyways, on with my (pre-draft) picks – and, no, I didn’t supply these to wwe.com! Some of these are obvious choices (well, obvious to everyone OUTSIDE of a WWE booking meeting) and some of these are ones that I think make sense (even if I won’t give my reasons why!) After Wednesday’s draft (well, probably at the weekend) I’ll collate the real list with this original list, and have a brief look at which ones look like they will have an effect in short or long term.

Live draft:

To Raw: HHH, Christian, MVP and Edge.

To SmackDown: Rey Mysterio, Melina, CM Punk and John Morrison.

To ECW: William Regal, Goldust, Vladimir Koslov and Shelton Benjamin.

Supplemental draft:

To Raw: Gail Kim, Maryse, Jim Ross, R-Truth, The Miz and Evan Bourne.

To SmackDown: Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle, Ricky Ortiz, Matt Striker, Michael Cole, Santina Marella (note which one!) and Cryme Tyme.

To ECW: Layla, Charlie Haas, Hurricane Helms, The Brian Kendrick and Ezekiel Jackson.

Actual draft (live on Raw):

To Raw: MVP, Matt Hardy, HHH, Big Show, Maryse and The Miz.

To SmackDown: Y2J, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, Melina and Kane.

To ECW: Vladimir Koslov.

Actual supplemental draft (live from wwe.com):

To Raw: Mr. Kennedy, Primo, Mike Knox, Nikki Bella, Hornswoggle, Carlito, Festus, The Brian Kendrick and Brie Bella.

To SmackDown: Shad, Alicia Fox, Candice Michelle, Chavo, Ricky Ortiz, Layla, John Morrison, JTG, Dolph Ziggler and Charlie Haas,

To ECW: Ezekiel Jackson, Zack Ryder, DH Smith, Natalya and Hurricane Helms

Well, I don’t actually know what to say! This is break up city, to coin a phrase. This is going to take some time to sink in, especially the supplemental draft.

And sunk in it has. It’s now Friday morning here in the U.K. and I’ve had a day and a half to think it all through.

On the one hand I feel that there are some great draft picks that will shake things up, but on the other hand I couldn’t care less and, like Dan, can see some of them getting ‘future endeavoured’ in the next couple of weeks (which happened last year too if memory serves me correctly).

I want to look a little at the supplemental draft picks rather than the live draft – although I’ll mention one or two of them as I go.

Raw – I don’t get this whole tag team seismic shift. I had hoped to have more tag teams on SmackDown without losing any others, but it wasn’t to be. Mike Knox to Raw is a bold step – they obviously see something in his Bruiser Brody rip off, and I’m on the fence at the minute with it. If I was moving him, I’d have put him on Friday nights just to test it out with a bigger TV audience, but if he does well he could do really well – or, alternatively, be jobbed out to HHH before the end of the summer.

The three oddest picks are Kendrick, Hornswoggle and Festus. I don’t see them lasting too much longer. Unless they are going to have one of the veterans take Festus (on air) under their wing, then I don’t see it lasting too long as a gimmick on Raw (hey, maybe they could send him to Dr. Stevie to cure him!) And I agree with Dan, sad as this sounds, Jesse could be on the endangered species list now.

Hornswoggle? Thank you for your time over the last few years – and bye! He won’t see the summer in WWE in my opinion.

Kendrick worries me too. I’m a big Kendrick mark, but he really was cut off at the knees not long after the elimination chamber match last year. I had hoped for him and Jackson on ECW, to let them develop as a unit, but ‘twas not to be! Unless they send him towards the US title, which they won’t, then he needs to save his money up if he can.

SmackDown – I did really well in my choices for SmackDown! Self high five (just a little reference for some of our longer term readers on the site!) Again, I want to look at three of the drafts – Ortiz, Morrison and Charlie Haas, and not in the ways that you maybe think!

Ok, maybe you do think this way for Ortiz. You have (some) charisma but little (obvious) ring prowess. They’ll have more post production time to clean up his matches, but I don’t foresee him getting too many! I did say a long time ago that an Ortiz heel turn had potential (he’s an obvious heel) and it still might happen, but he needs to sharpen up in the ring or he won’t last too much longer. There are guys in developmental who are more polished waiting for this chance!

Charlie Haas. I had wanted him and Shelton on ECW to tag up again, and maybe find their sparkle again as characters who could make money (which is the aim of this business is it not?) Well, wrong show, but I think I’ll get my wish! Charlie/Shelton v Cryme Tyme on Friday nights. Much as I am a HUGE mark for Shelton (and Charlie too) as a worker, he doesn’t have the charisma to connect with the audience when he isn’t in the ring. If personality weren’t required, only ring talent, then Benjamin v DH Smith would be one of the main events at WM26. Pair Benjamin and Haas up, let them loose in the ring and watch them get over AS HEELS!

I had originally wanted Morrison on SmackDown rather than Raw, for a few reasons. To pair him (whether with or against) Melina as they have a history (and, despite her not wanting to, I thought she was an obvious switch to Fridays along with Rey due to the Hispanic audience the WWE are reaching out to again. And on that note – Melina hugging Mickie off air at Raw? Changed times……) Now, I do agree with Dan that doing the live draft with Miz switching as opposed to Morrison was absolutely stupid, but my thinking is this – Miz has had my support as an annoying heel for a long time now, and he can continue to improve in the ring but he is constantly annoying, i.e. his persona can stay as it is. For me, Morrison still has to tweak his character a little to get a good run as a solo star (despite him being the more talented one of the two). I feel that on Raw he wouldn’t have the opportunity he needs to develop his character and refine it, but he will be allowed to on Fridays and then by the time 2010 comes around not only will he be hanging with the main eventers on SmackDown but his character will have clicked so much with the fans that they will have no option but to promote him to Raw then too. He is THE one to watch out for this year IMO.

ECW – man did they get shown to be the red headed step child during the live draft! And the supplementary draft too! On the plus side, they kept their big names, on the down side they got Zack Ryder. On a HUGE plus side, they got DH Smith and Natalya, so here comes the new Hart Foundation (surely!). On the down side, they got Zack Ryder. I can see them aligning Helms with Christian, which in ring will be super against talented foes, but won’t do anything for Christian’s climb back up the ladder being associated with a (perceived) jobber. On the down side, the got Zack Ryder.

Koslov and Jackson will get the Finlay treatment, and if it doesn’t work will be quietly shipped out the door. I fear for DJ Gabriel now that Alicia has danced her way off ECW. I had hoped for Regal to go so he could wrestle Finlay again (man they are superb in the ring together) and also to have Regal head up a U.K. stable there, comprising Gabriel and the Burchills. I think it would have worked, but what would I know!

Why did they get Zack Ryder?

I had looked for Matt Striker to leave ECW, only to show promotion for him, as he deserves it. Pairing him with Cole would have been good (that’s why I was looking JR moved again) as he could have been sarcastic with him like JBL used to be. But this wasn’t ever really going to happen, as they are trying to edge JR ever closer to the door again, but they always end up with no option but to promote him every time.

This has ended up being a lot longer than I had intended it to be. Sorry!

I just wanted to look at the add-ons to the live draft, and see how it all looked after a day or two. Will it make a big difference? Probably not in the majority of cases, but for some, it will. I will agree with something that everyone with two eyes can see – things are stale at the top of WWE. If the talk is true of HBK and the Undertaker going next year, then that leaves (at least) two spots free, one of which CM Punk will be looking to fill. I have a feeling that the next 12 months will leave opportunities for WWE men and women to climb the ladder, due to retirements, injuries and, possibly, suspensions, and as such people will have to either sink or swim. Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more plusses than negatives! I’m not pessimistic just yet!

As usual, drop me any thoughts you have to garymehaffy@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll try my best to get back to you. With that, I’ll go and enjoy the last day of my Easter holidays!

P.S. – how big is Batista? Man, I gotta get on that diet! As long as I avoid men with plastic cups, that is……………

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