WWE Draft 2011: Reflections On the Annual Shake-Up

Right, i’m going to try to, for the most part, rush through this due to everything I do being a rush at the moment. I’ll basically go through the draft picks as they happened and give my thoughts if I have any. One general point i’d make is that 30 drafts seems too many. There’s a fine line between ‘shaking things up’ and simply switching almost an entire roster to a different show. Less is more guys! I hope and am pretty confident this draft has just about managed to succeed in not crossing that line. To me, the two big drafts were Randy Orton to Smackdown and Alberto Del Rio to RAW, but only one of those is a good idea …

1) John Cena to Smackdown. We all know how this eventually ended, so I wont talk too much about it. Reports are that WWE were going to genuinely draft him, rightly thinking that RAW could be carried by Orton (who gets universal admiration in a way Cena doesn’t), but ultimately nixed that idea. Pretty shocking TV though; cheap shock, but shocking nonetheless.

2) Rey Mysterio to RAW. When this happened in 2008, for whatever it didn’t work. This pick is intrinsically linked with Sin Cara’s move to Smackdown, and keeping them on separate brands makes a lot of sense. Anyway, there’s no reason why Rey fundamentally can’t get over on RAW surely!

3) Randy Orton to Smackdown. The blue brand will undoubtedly be Orton’s show from now on, and as a replacement for Edge, you couldn’t ask for much better. Considering Orton hasn’t appeared regularly on Smackdown for roughly five years, this is a very fresh change of scenery for both brands, and highly welcome. His prestige and experience will make for some great feuds/matches with the younger Smackdown up-and-comers (i’m thinking especially of former Legacy ‘bretheren’ Cody Rhodes.

4) Mark Henry to Smackdown. Initially, this seemed like a bit of a throwaway, but given his dominating heel turn in the RAW main event, it seems that Henry might get a push as a monster heel, again. The repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing though; like a lot of big guys, he just works better as a heel.

5) Sin Cara to Smackdown. Rey’s draft was necessitated by this move, and this was done because Cara was seemingly a little shaky in his opening matches on RAW, and so would be a safer prospect on the taped and edited Smackdown. While I totally understand that, it does seem a bit of an instant lack of faith in Sin Cara. Nonetheless, i’m sure he’ll be able to dazzle just as much on Smackdown!

6) Big Show to RAW.

7) Alberto Del Rio to RAW. Now, I understand that a draft to RAW, especially when you’re a top up and comer like ADR is, is a huge sign of faith, and that’s great, but this just smacks of the pilfering of Smackdown talent yet again. ADR was made on Smackdown without even winning the world title. There was just so much more for him to do on the blue brand and they would rightly have reaped the rewards. RAW is also now very heel-heavy with ADR, Miz, Punk, and up-and-comers Swagger and McIntyre, while Smackdown is struggling for a real top heel (Sheamus probably fitting that bill). I was salivating at the idea of an Orton-Del Rio feud on Smackdown, but alas, it wont happen. He deserves to be on RAW, no doubt, and i’m sure he will do great, but it is to the detriment of Smackdown and probably one or two of those guys that I mentioned who will have to fight for decent spots. I would have saved him for now.

8) John Cena to RAW. Definitely a unique move in the draft (or should I say double-move), but instead of involving Cena, why not publicise two other draft picks (e.g. McIntyre, Swagger, Bryan)

9) Daniel Bryan to Smackdown. Great move for Bryan and a no-brainer in many ways. He was between feuds on RAW, and is more suited to the blue brand and will get more opportunity to put on great matches. I’m desperate to see him feud with Wade Barrett for the IC title, and storyline-wise at least, it makes a lot of sense.

10) Jack Swagger to RAW. I dislike this move. With ADR gone to RAW, there is an opening for Smackdown’s top heel position. Had he stayed on Smackdown, Swagger would have been a strong contender for that spot. I’m sure he’ll do fine on RAW, but he will be behind at least two other heels (ADR and Miz, and three depending on Punk’s status) consistently. He’s definitely improved, and is improving, but I think staying in Smackdown would made for easier success for the All American American.

11) Great Khali to Smackdown. I’d prefer this to be meaningless than him being pushed as a monster heel. I’m confident of the former.

12) Jimmy Uso to Smackdown. Lord knows why they moved the Usos and Tamina separately, but they did. Its a good job they did too, because a change of scenery is exactly what they need. Hopefully they’ll get a good run on Smackdown as one of the few classical tag teams.

13) Kelly Kelly to RAW. She’s very popular, and very marketable, so this makes a lot of sense. I’m very interested in what part she’ll play in Kharma’s debut. The former Awesome Kong has been starring in vignettes in which she tears up dolls. While this could have ramifications for all of the more modelesque divas, it could be a bad sign for Kelly in particular, who’s real name is Barbie (Yeah …). Expect a tonne of heat when Kharma decimates Kelly.

14) JTG to RAW. I don’t see much coming from this. To be honest, I wasn’t actually sure he was on Smackdown to start with … I like JTG. He’s very likeable and has a nice, unique, ring-style. I don’t think it’ll be good enough though.

15) Alicia Fox to Smackdown

16) William Regal to Smackdown. I really don’t get this one. Regal, for all his skills, is practically semi-retired now and commentates (very well) on NXT more than he wrestles (at least on TV). With that in mind, it seems like a watering-down of the draft. Could this maybe be a sign of a feud with mentee Daniel Bryan? He would also make an awesome heel manager for someone. He could even make commentary I suppose.

17) Yoshi Tatsu to Smackdown. I think RAW was just as good for him as Smackdown. Maybe he’ll get some TV time to try to get over on Smackdown, which would be good. I think what he really needs, however, is a gimmick tweak, rather than a draft.

18) Drew McIntyre to RAW. I’m excited about this draft. As a fellow Scotsman and otherwise legitimate admirer of McIntyre, I hope and think he will eventually be a regular main eventer. On RAW, I think he could flourish, depending on who he feuds with. Give him Cena, why not? The only problem is again that ADR and Swagger have been drafted along with him, and he’s jostling with Miz, ADR, Punk, Ziggler, Swagger and Truth for a decent heel spot. Like Swagger, I think he could really have made top Smackdown heel quick. Nevertheless, I think they have faith in him however, and hope he fulfills it.

19) Natalya to Smackdown.  I’m a big fan of Nattie, but I can’t, just now, imagine what she’ll be doing on Smackdown. I’m sure we can anticipate some nice one on one matches with Michelle McCool. Otherwise, i’m sure she’ll feature prominently.

20) Curt Hawkins to RAW. I like Curt Hawkins, and I like his look. Unfortunately, the only way he could get over on RAW is if he completely changes it by reuniting with the buzz-covered Long Island Iced Z, Zack Ryder.

21) Chris Masters to RAW.

22) Jey Uso to Smackdown. Same as with Jimmy …

23) Kofi Kingston to RAW. At first I was skeptical, but on reflection, I think this is, marginally, a positive move. He’s stalled of late on Smackdown, and on the face side, there aren’t many more people above him on the face side there as there are on Smackdown. If he gets a good feud, he could start to climb the ladder again.

24) Ted DiBiase to Smackdown. This was one I was desperate to see (my twitter followers (@RTVWOW) will have witnessed this as I live tweeted the draft!) DiBiase needed to go to Smackdown. Over there he could completely re-boot his career, which was supposed to be advancing as Rhodes’ is now, but never really did. He could either stay as he is or show up as a reinvented face. Either will work, and it is very interesting that he is on the same brand as both of his former Legacy ‘brethren’. Lots of storyline potential there itself.

25) Tyson Kidd to Smackdown. I’d still really like to see Kidd feud with Bryan, and this is still on the cards obviously. Kidd is hugely talented, and seems to have more faith behind him than DH Smith did/does, so hopefully he can make something of himself on the blue brand, where, luckily for him, charisma isn’t quite the pre-requisite as it is on RAW.

26) Tamina to Smackdown. Now she’s been separated from Santino, she can reunite with The Usos and hopefully be a part of their renewal as well as hopefully getting more action as a diva on the more scarcely populated Smackdown diva lockerroom.

27) Tyler Reks to RAW. Reks bores the hell out of me. Generic Generic Generic. The only way he can be used well is as a new member of the Nexus.

28) Alex Riley to Smackdown. This one is fascinating, even if it doesn’t make the most sense (wasn’t Riley fired and only able to show because Miz hired him under some obscure job title). Firstly I think it’s great for Miz. Riley often provided a way for him to win, but Miz doesn’t need that any more. One or two defences without Riley will make Miz look even more credible than he already does. As for Riley, the Smackdown world could be his oyster. He’ll need to work hard at escaping his past with the Miz though, because otherwise, his character is just that Varsity Villain gimmick from NXT, and that needs to be worked on.

29) Beth Phoenix to RAW. Beth deserves all the attention she can get, and I hope she gets it on RAW (having lacked it on Smackdown of late). I have dreams of her working with Kharma, either against her, or maybe in some sort of anti-Barbie team. Each could be great!

30) Sheamus to Smackdown.This was a bit of a shock for many reasons. Sheamus is probably favourite to fill that top heel void, and certainly has the pedigree. The complication, or opportunity, is that Sheamus joins Smackdown, which already hosts Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship, as United States Champion. This could mean one of many things. Either they could be uniting the US and IC titles, or we could be about to see either Sheamus or Barrett drop their belt. I’d say they’re about neck and neck in terms of heel-positioning, and that a top heel should really be above the admittedly prestigious upper-midcard belts. So what I think will happen will be that one of them drops their championship to someone from RAW (someone who has just left Smackdown on their last show? McIntyre? Swagger?) only to go on to become the top heel on the blue brand eventually. Lots of questions here, and excitingly, they should/could well be answered on this week’s Smackdown!

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