April 13, 2009
Countdown to the WWE Draft
By MATT BISHOP and JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
Though the argument can (easily) be made that the WWE Draft holds marginal
significance with the increased crossover of wrestlers between shows, the event
itself has gained a bit of a cult following.
This has been due to a few reasons, including the potential for champs to change
brands, some lowercard wrestlers the chance to perform regularly for a new brand
and to get a couple potential fresh feuds started.
With that in mind, SLAM! prognosticators Matt Bishop and Jon Waldman offer
their thoughts on what will go down in the Draft over the next few days.
Matt: CM Punk
I'm really at a loss for this one. Initially, I wanted to say John Cena because
it's almost a certainty that Triple H is coming to Raw (more on that later),
but with WWE wanting to stack Raw, I can't see Cena moving. So,
what's going to happen here is that CM Punk will be drafted to Smackdown, will
cash in Money in the Bank at Backlash on the winner of the Cena/Edge match and
be Smackdown's world champion. How's that sound?
Jon: Santino Marella
This one has more to do with splitting a duo up than anything else. Santino
and Beth Phoenix are already destined for a breakup with the Santina character,
and you can almost imagine Marella being busted early in the Raw show and begging
Teddy Long to take him to Smackdown for safety. There, plenty of opportunities
for comedy await him.
Guaranteed to stay
Matt: John Cena
Like I said, there's no way Cena moves off the flapship show. If this were
two years ago, I could certainly see Cena going back to Smackdown in
fact, it'd make sense right now for him to go but it's just not in the
cards, I fear. He's been on Raw since 2005. A switch to Smackdown would theoretically
welcome new opponents and new challenges. But that would probably make too much
Jon: Ted DiBiase
It might seem obvious for both junior members of Legacy to stay on Raw,
but then again WWE could easily put them on different shows to give a storyline
of Federation-wide domination by Legacy. Rhodes seems the more likely of the
two to travel, with DiBiase seeming like he's destined to be the bigger star
of the two. The more exposure he gets, the better chance he'll have to develop
into a main event player.
Could go either way
Matt: Chris Jericho
I feel like he's plateaued on Raw. He's been out of the main event scene for
several months now and I can't see him getting back in it anytime soon when
Triple H comes rolling in. His feud with Randy Orton will certainly carry on,
leaving no clear opponent for Jericho. However, the possibility of a Jericho
feud with CM Punk over the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown would
certainly do it for me (especially considering their awesome match on Raw in
Toronto in December).
Jon: Mickie James
If the M.O. is to have more pure female wrestlers on Raw, then Mickie stays;
however, she seems stuck in a rut on Raw, where she has feuded with everyone.
Matches against Michelle and Maryse would be fresh, and the inevitable square
off with Gail Kim down the line has to be in the back of WWE's mind.
Matt: Triple H
Duh. I was going to leave it at that, but Triple H as champion is doing
nothing for me. In fact, face Triple H has long gone stale. Heel turn, please
and we'll see how that goes.
Jon: Vladimir Kozlov
Kozzy has gone down the crapper on Smackdown having lost all momentum he
had in 2008. If anyone can benefit from being shipped to ECW, it's Kozlov, who
will have the chance to freshen up his repertoire and image by "dominating"
the Tuesday night ranks.
Guaranteed to stay
Imagine the possibilities for Edge if both CM Punk and Chris Jericho come to
Smackdown. Edge is another guy that would get totally lost on Raw at this point.
He's been Smackdown's anchor for a long time now and it doesn't seem weird when
you see an Edge vs. Brian Kendrick match. There's actually some believability
that Edge could lose, unlike, say, Triple H vs. Kendrick. That's what makes
watching Edge on Smackdown great. Since it's mainly a mid-card roster, you need
that believability in the matches. Edge staying on Smackdown makes perfect sense.
Jon: Matt Hardy
Jeff will likely stay on SD! as well, but Matt seems ready now to challenge
for heavyweight gold (rather than the platinum he had in ECW). Whether it's
a face John Cena or Triple H, Matt seems ready to lead Smackdown as a dastardly
heel, maybe taking the belt at Extreme Rules, and then facing off with Jeff
at Summerslam over the strap.
Could go either way
MVP is a guy that's been rumoured to go to the big show for
a while now. I don't think this would be a smart move, personally, because he'd
get lost in the shuffle, but at the same time, he's a guy who's been on Smackdown
for his entire run, so maybe he could break out given a change of scenery. I
could see Rey Mysterio going back to Smackdown and MVP going to Raw to switch
the secondary titles, as well, which would be interesting. If used correctly,
MVP would be a solid addition for Raw. If he does a job on his first show, it's
a lost cause.
Jon: Hurricane Helms
For serviceable veterans, no one really compares to Helms. If he stays on
Smackdown he could potentially get a run with the U.S. title, but on ECW he
could work with developing Cruiserweights like Tyson Kidd and DJ Gabriel and
help them get valuable ring and feud experience. Whichever route gets Helms
more TV time should be the way to go.
Matt: John Morrison
This is a cop-out pick, mainly because he appears on all three shows regardless,
but technically, the ECW graphic still pops up when he wrestles, so he counts.
The only reason I can think of that he and The Miz dropped the titles was to
be broken up. I can only hope Morrison goes to Smackdown to venture back to
his singles career. Again, he'd be completely lost in the shuffle on Raw. We'll
find out if he's really going to be that big breakout star. My main concern
in this, as well, is what happens to The Miz. We know Morrison was the main
attraction in that tag team, but Miz held his end of the bargain up well. Hopefully
he doesn't end up the Marty Janetty of the group.
Jon: Katie Lea
Moving Paul Burchill to ECW made sense because he wasn't getting any action
on Raw; but his days in WWE are likely numbered. Katie Lea, meanwhile, has developed
a decent character that can become a good heel once again on Raw. A Beth Phoenix
face turn is seeming more likely now, and Katie can come in as a number one
or two heel easily.
Guaranteed to stay
Matt: Tommy Dreamer
Yeah, like he'd be moved.
ECW still needs a veteran presence and Finlay's the man for the job. Even putting
the title on him for a term this year isn't a far-flung idea, but they really
need to drop Hornswoggle like a bad habit.
Could go either way
Matt: Evan Bourne, Mark Henry, Finlay, Christian, Jack Swagger
Okay, I know that's a laundry list of guys, but considering how ECW's been
pillaged in the past, you never know. Christian, obviously, should go to Smackdown
(and turn heel, while were at it). Bourne is an interesting case. I want him
to stay on ECW, but the fact he isn't in the Elimination Chase to Backlash makes
me think he's on his way out. Please go to Smackdown. (Side note: I just noticed
I'm pushing everyone I like to Smackdown and as far away from Triple H as possible).
Bourne was really gaining a lot of traction before he got hurt, but since his
comeback, he hasn't lost a step and is still over, mainly because the commentators
continually put him over as a big deal.
Henry has pretty much run out of steam on ECW, although it's not his fault.
There's just nothing left for him on the show. He's been a, dare I say, valued
addition to ECW. He's a lot better than people give him credit for. He's a serviceable
big man, but he probably needs to move on.
Swagger is another interesting case. It's obvious the company lost some confidence
in him, considering he was never on TV leading to WrestleMania and he wasn't
even on the show. He's another guy who could go to Smackdown and have a great
run, but I think his place is still on ECW. And I better get my Jack Swagger/Evan
Bourne feud sometime down the line if one of them leaves ECW.
Some might think this to be a no-brainer, but to me Christian is not quite
ready for prime time. I agree with him not getting the ECW Title year, but the
run as a babyface doesn't seem to be hitting. The time to turn him heel is imminent
and could be effectively done if he wants to contest against CM Punk for the
MITB briefcase, eventually leading to him getting off ECW and into a feud with
John Cena. The other possibility is for him to cause Tommy Dreamer's retirement
if WWE continues that storyline, and then be elevated to Smackdown around Summerslam
Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling tonight and on Wednesday for expert analysis
of the WWE Draft. Until then, check out our coverage from the 2008 main