By Will Pruett
Sunday, April 24, 2011 - 9:15 A.M. (CT)
The following are simply predictions and are made with no inside knowledge to the potential plans. Even if I did have a scoop, plans would probably change at the last minute anyways.
WWE made quite the surprising announcement this week. Early in the day Monday, we all found out via a press release from the USA Network that the annual WWE draft would be held this upcoming Monday. By all accounts, the cause of this draft comes from Edge’s sudden forced retirement and the need to bolster the Smackdown brand.
This will be a strange draft for the reason that Smackdown may actually walk out of it with more valuable talent than they walked in with. Smackdown has been routinely pillaged and plundered at draft time as WWE seeks to provide fresh matchups on Raw. Below are some predictions on what talent I see moving in this year’s draft.
Randy Orton moves from Raw to Smackdown. To me, this is the easiest move to predict. As I discussed with Chris Shore in Dot Net Weekly this week, it could also be detrimental in the long term for the Smackdown brand. I don’t expect long term thought to be one of the things going on in this draft, so I believe that Orton moves over.
Randy is in a very similar place that Edge was in when he moved over to Smackdown. His character is not quite clicking as a babyface, but the crowd is still into him. Orton could be the guy to carry Smackdown in the way that Edge was being counted on to do. The worst case scenario is that Smackdown will become all about Orton and the show will lose some of the excitement that it gained with Edge at the helm.
Kofi Kingston moves from Smackdown to Raw. Let’s face it. Last year everyone was optimistic about Kofi’s move to Smackdown, believing he would get the push that he was deprived of after his feud with Randy Orton ended. Sadly, this did not occur. Kofi stayed in the mid-card as wrestler after wrestler was elevated above it. It’s not a glamorous job, but someone had to do it.
This year, Kofi’s breakout potential is huge. I believe that he is damaged goods on Smackdown and could have an impact on Raw. Kofi may not get an immediate push on the Raw brand, but it seems like the Raw writing team knows a little more of what to do with him.
Sheamus moves from Raw to Smackdown. This is another wrestler who is damaged goods on one brand. On Raw, Sheamus has been buried by Triple H, beaten by Evan Bourne and made to look like a fool. After a great first few months on the brand and after getting over as a surprise champion, Sheamus has been broken down to the level of mid-card champion. The United States Championship and Sheamus are a good fit at this moment, but Sheamus and Raw are not.
On Smackdown, Sheamus will be on a brand with a fair amount of upward mobility. He will also be able to anchor a solid mid-card before moving back up a main event role. Sheamus will benefit from the opportunity to rub shoulders with and go over veterans like Kane and Big Show. This move could only be good for Sheamus (unless it isn’t).
Wade Barrett moves from Smackdown to Raw. For almost all of the reasons that Sheamus should move to Smackdown, Wade Barrett should move to Raw. On Raw, Barrett was a main event player with matches against Randy Orton and John Cena. He picked the rapidly failing Nexus angle up on his back and carried it to the point that it was once again compelling. On Raw, Wade Barrett meant something and was a star. On Smackdown, he has been misused and poorly cast.
Barrett is a quality choice for the Intercontinental Championship at this moment. He needs to be rebuilt and stringing together title defenses is a great way to do that. While he is rebuilt, he can also resume his quest for the WWE Championship and be another obstacle for John Cena to overcome in his quest. There may not be an instant push in Wade Barrett’s future, but it is best that he wait on a brand where he means something.
Daniel Bryan moves from Raw to Smackdown. This may be more of a wish than a prediction. Daniel Bryan is one of the best wrestlers in the world and Smackdown has the reputation of being the wrestling brand. We regularly see longer matches (last night’s Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio match comes to mind) and simpler story telling on the blue brand. This is the ideal environment for Daniel Bryan.
Bryan will also benefit from being on a brand deficient in babyfaces. Christian is currently on top of the brand. Kane and Big Show are hanging out near the top, but are not championship contenders anymore. Rey Mysterio is, at best, a part time wrestler, as is The Undertaker. Daniel Bryan can be a great number three star on the show and a wrestler who can electrify the mid-card scene. The stories that Bryan is suited to tell fit best on Smackdown.
Drew McIntyre moves from Smackdown to Raw. The chosen one has not had an impressive run thus far. He failed to garner any real heat when he came in and despite some great in-ring performances (his match a couple weeks ago against Rey Mysterio); he has failed to really find himself.
It is on the Raw brand that characters can come out. McIntyre could be a great mid-card heel on the Raw brand and could actually find some upward mobility if given the right opportunities. He can find a true persona that goes beyond looking mad and walking slowly. His in-ring contributions may go down, but his career will benefit from the move.
Evan Bourne moves from Raw to Smackdown. Daniel Bryan and Evan Bourne are in very similar situations. Because of this, it would not shock me to just see one of them move, but I’m hoping to see both do so. They can help out the babyface side of Smackdown and get over in the best way possible.
If Bourne is to become anything more than a jobber, he needs to be in a position to have long matches and get over his skills in the ring. Aside from rare exceptions, Raw is not that place. Combine this with the fact that Raw is focusing on Sin Cara and a guy Bourne’s size and build will not get a chance unless he is moved to the blue brand.
Jack Swagger moves from Smackdown to Raw. Although some seem to think that Swagger could be the lead babyface on Smackdown, I think there is more money in a permanent pairing of Jack Swagger and Michael Cole. To do this, I’d put Swagger on the same brand that Cole is (primarily) and take Cole away from commentary to be his manager. It’s a win-win situation for both men.
Under the tutelage of Cole, Swagger could be rebuilt as a dominant player and eventually rise up to the WWE Championship scene. Pairing him for a longer time with Cole also builds his potential babyface turn up a little bit more before blowing it off without really exploiting what good could be done.
Zack Ryder moves from Raw to Smackdown. This is another move on my wish-list. More than anything else, Ryder deserves to be on a show where he can actually get on TV. His personality has come out on his YouTube show and WWE must find a way to capitalize on this persona.
Smackdown would also offer the opportunity for longer matches, which Ryder can definitely do. Ryder is worth far more than a guy like Chris Masters. Hopefully he can harness his great personality and talent in the ring. Smackdown is the place that would allow him to do so.
Those are my draft predictions everyone! I didn’t get too bold with them because I doubt WWE will get too bold with the draft. The mid-card titles switching brands make the draft more impactful. Randy Orton and Sheamus lend a little bit of main event credibility that Smackdown is lacking. If the brand extension is actually enforced up until the obligatory Bragging Rights crossovers, I could see this being a successful draft for WWE.
To share your thoughts on this blog with me, or to debate any points that I mentioned, hit me up on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
Pruett’s Blog: WWE Draft predictions – Should Randy Orton move to Smackdown? Who can rise up on Raw?
Apr 24, 2011 - 09:15 AM
Apr 24, 2011 - 09:15 AM
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