The Draft

June 16, 2008

With the 2008 WWE Draft on the horizon I thought I would talk about the Brand split this week and discuss whom I would move from Brand to Brand if I were in charge. Before I get to my Draft picks I want to first state that Iím to the point now where I would be just as happy to see SmackDown and RAW reunited into one brand, and apart from ECW ditch the Brand spilt altogether. I feel WWE has way too many titles now and not nearly the talent depth required to support them. Not to mention the fact (I guess I am mentioning it but oh well) that talent jumps back and forth, competing on different Brands quite regularly, making the whole brand split a bit confusing and for the most part pointless. For the Brand spilt to be effective and the Draft to mean anything talent needs to stay exclusive to their own Brand, which has not been the case of late in WWE.

That all being said, the Draft is happening and the Brand split still exists, so lets take a look at what I might do. The first move I would make is to move HHH to SmackDown. This would require a title change because I wouldnít switch Edge because Edge and Vicky as a combo have white-hot heat and breaking them up would be a huge mistake. We are pretty much stuck switching the Title to Cena unless Jeff Hardy gets added to the Night of Champions match, but that is beside the point for now.

I think getting HHH off of RAW is the key to freshening up that show. This is not a shot on Hunter; itís just a matter of exposure. HHH has been a featured WWE Superstar since 1996 and as such has been a constant fixture on WWE RAW for 12 years. Prior to the Brand split he would have been a regularly featured Superstar on RAW as well as SmackDown and he has remained a RAW Superstar since the initial Draft back in 2002. There was that brief swerve where he was Drafted to SmackDown and then traded back to RAW but that all happened in 1 week and I donít think he even missed 1 episode of RAW during that time. With the exception of time off for injury HHH has been a fixture on RAW for 12 years and in the Main Event Title picture for more than 8 of those. That is a long time for anyone to be featured on a show and I think moving him to SmackDown would be a great move.

It has been about 5 years since HHH was a regular feature on SmackDown, and thus would likely seem fresh and new on that show. SmackDown is jumping to a new Network in the fall and star power like HHH would certainly bolster SmackDownís impact on the Network. Jumping to SmackDown also creates a brand new rivalry for both HHH and Edge. I donít think these two have ever done a prolong program (If I had to guess theyíve only had 1 singles match) so in addition to SmackDown breathing new life into HHH, HHH could breath new life into the World Title picture. With Taker gone and Batista wrapping up his program with Edge, Edge will need new challengers.

My next Draft pick would be to move Batista to RAW. Dave is a comparable trade for HHH to help balance out the talent rosters. Batista has been on SmackDown since getting Drafted in 2005 so after a 3-year absence he would be a fresh face again on the RAW Brand. This opens up the possibility for more match ups with both Shawn Michaels and the newly turned Chris Jericho, who both have standing issues with Dave. There is also the possibility of a feud with Randy Orton based off of their Evolution days. This also leaves open the door if they were to unite the Brands in a year or 2 of setting up the Title Unification match between HHH and Batista, which would have a ton of history to build off of.

I think I would also move MVP to RAW, since they seem to want to step the guy up but arenít ready to pull the trigger on a full blow World Title push. Moving MVP to RAW could seem like a slight promotion and would help hide the fact that he has been stuck in that upper middle / lower top tear spot for so long. You could balance this move by moving Carlito to SmackDown giving them the Carlito Cabana to replace the VIP Lounge and perhaps actually follow through with the Carlito push we keep hearing heís been promised. You could give Carlito that upper mid-card spot MVP had which would actually be a step up from what heís been doing on RAW. Carlito and Santino have run their course in my mind so this would be an easy way to give Carlito a clean break and fresh start.

The next move I would do with the Draft is a subtler one. This would feature multiple switches that I would not feature on the main show but trades I would just get done and post after the fact. I would move all the exciting Cruiserweight style workers to ECW. RAW and SmackDown have 4 titles each (SmackDown is adding a Womenís Title I believe) and no room to feature Cruiserweights and I think the Cruiserweight division is sorely missed in the WWE Universe. The World X-Cup matches on TNA Impact last week reminded me how exciting those style of matches can been and how seldom we get to enjoy them.

ECW only has the one Title and to be honest feels more like a C-Branded WWE show, than a unique ECW product. I donít even watch the show anymore and might catch 1 in 10 episodes. If ECW added a Cruiserweight title and truly featured the Cruiserweight style on their show it would give ECW a more unique feel and offer a style of wrestling that is not featured on RAW or SmackDown. Matt Sydal has recently been added to ECW and his unique style and ability could be highlighted so well with the reintroduction of the Cruiserweight title. Others Iíd move into this division would include: Jamie Noble, Jimmy Wang Yang, Paul London, Brain Kendrick, Super Crazy, and Shannon Moore. ECW already has Nunzio and Kofi Kingston, who could both work the faster more exciting style.

This faster more unique style would give ECW a more distinct feel not to mention provide endless fun watching Mike Adamle try to keep up with this more cutting edge style. This would also provide a means by which for WWE to integrate smaller workers into the other brands as well. If the vast majority of workers on ECW were smaller you could debut smaller talent without exposing their lack of size. If they manage to get over with the crowd in ECW for their exciting work they could then be moved to RAW or SmackDown and would at least already be established and somewhat over, rather than having to debut being both small and unknown. Rey Mysterio has completely over come the fact that he is small, and others could as well, provided the first time we see them they are getting beat up by guys like Mark Henry and the Great Kahli.

There are likely a ton of other moves I would make if I sat down and debated it long enough but I think this is more than enough food for though to start. It will be interesting to see what WWE does, and if it makes us all more excited about seeing their product.

Lance Storm