WWE Draft 2012 Predictions: Pick-by-Pick Projections for Raw and Smackdown
There has been a lot of speculation about the 2012 WWE draft.
Many fans are expecting it to take place on next week's three-hour edition of Monday Night Raw, but given that it hasn't been promoted whatsoever, I don't think that's likely.
In fact, some people seem to think that the draft may not happen at all, the reason being that Raw's new Supershow format has essentially made the draft pointless.
I can see why some would think that, but as for me, I still think the draft is going to take place at some point, even if it isn't until a few months down the road.
Since the draft has been a hot topic of late, though, I thought I'd offer my projections on which superstars will be swapping brands.
Here are my pick-by-pick projections (five superstars moving to Raw and five moving to Smackdown) for the 2012 WWE draft (the main show, not the supplemental part).
5. To Smackdown: Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder has been booked so horribly as of late that I'm not sure a brand switch would even help him.
But the fact remains that Ryder, despite the terrible booking, is still pretty over, and it's easier for guys to rise up the card and get more exposure if they're on Smackdown.
I don't think Ryder is viewed as one of the top baby faces in WWE anymore, but perhaps a switch to Smackdown could get him back to the level he was at in late 2011, when he was one of the WWE's fastest rising good guys.
Ryder may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he hasn't been a Smackdown star since taking on his current gimmick.
It's time to change that.
5. To Raw: Sin Cara
Sin Cara is still out recovering from that devastating injury he suffered at last year's Survivor Series, and given his habit of botching, he's probably going to stay on Smackdown since it's a taped show.
But as you'll see with my later picks, I've got Sin Cara moving to Raw because I think it balances out the roster a bit more.
Although Sin Cara hasn't been around all that long and doesn't get to speak, he's pretty well-liked by the fans, and assuming he can get more accustomed to the WWE style, I think he's got a bright future ahead of him.
He could be a solid upper mid-card on Raw, much like he was on Smackdown, who challenges for the mid-card titles, and depending on how over he gets, possibly even moves to the main event level in time.
4. To Smackdown: Rey Mysterio
This is a big reason why I've got Sin Cara going to Raw.
As much as some people want to see a feud between Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, I like having them on separate brands because it means that you can have two superstars who have a ton of appeal to the Hispanic viewing audience on separate brands.
It will give them a reason to watch both Raw and Smackdown, which is obviously a smart business move.
Plus, I have always felt like Mysterio is almost synonymous with Smackdown.
Mysterio has been a staple of the blue brand since joining the WWE back in 2002, and his runs on Raw have been pretty lackluster. Once he returns from injury, put him on Smackdown where he belongs.
4. To Raw: Christian
Since Christian returned to the WWE in 2009, he has performed exclusively on Smackdown and ECW.
Captain Charisma has yet to become a Raw superstar in his second stint with the company, but I think that could change this year.
He had a great run on Smackdown in 2011, but he's been out of action since November and could use a fresh start on Raw.
A big reason why I want to see Christian go to Raw is because CM Punk put him out of action several weeks back, and a potential Punk/Christian feud for the WWE Championship could be awesome.
But hey, I also want to see Christian on the WWE's flagship show for the simple fact that it hasn't happened since 2005.
3. To Smackdown: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is arguably the WWE's top heel, and as such, I want to see him as much as possible.
So how do we make that happen? Well, a move to Smackdown of course.
Given Raw's new supershow format, moving Jericho to Smackdown would mean that we could see him twice a week, which is only fitting for the WWE's top bad guy.
I look back to 2009, one of the top years in recent memory for the blue brand, and think how awesome Jericho was on that show.
Why not do it again?
On Smackdown, Jericho would be the show's bona-fide No. 1 heel, and he has a potentially great World Heavyweight Championship feud with Sheamus just waiting for him.
3. To Raw: Cody Rhodes
From what I've gathered from all of the articles I've read, this seems to be the move that most people can agree with.
While moving Cody Rhodes to Raw would mean less of him on Smackdown, it would also likely mean that he's one of the top heels on the WWE's flagship show.
Rhodes hasn't been a Raw superstar in roughly two years now, and as we all know, he's made huge strides as a heel since then.
He's improved in the ring and on the mic so much that he deserves a chance to become the top heel on Raw and be given a lengthy run in the main event and World title scenes as well.
As good as Rhodes has been on Smackdown, it's time to move him to Raw to see if it can take his career to the next level.
2. To Smackdown: The Miz
The Miz needs a change about as badly as anyone in the WWE right now.
His tired heel routine on Raw has gotten old and boring, and I've long been an advocate for him turning baby face and/or moving to Smackdown.
I don't think anyone in the WWE has the grapefruits to turn The Miz face anytime soon, though, so I'll settle with the company moving him to the brand where he got his start, Smackdown.
Truth be told, I just don't think The Miz can be the WWE's top heel, and that's what he's been expected to be on Raw.
On Smackdown, he can still progress as a character and a wrestler, but he won't be feeling all the pressure of having to be the top guy.
The Miz to Smackdown needs to happen so the former WWE Champion can get out of this awful rut he's been in lately.
2. To Raw: Wade Barrett
Once Wade Barrett returns from injury, he's going to have a breakout year.
I have no doubt that big things are in store for Barrett later in 2012. The only question is what brand he'll be performing in.
There is a rumor circulating around that Barrett will feud with CM Punk upon his return, and if that's the case, Barrett should (although he doesn't have to be) be a Raw superstar.
Either way, the biggest impact Barrett has made in his WWE career was on the Raw brand as the leader of the Nexus, and his Smackdown run has been marred by pretty bad booking.
Other than his feud with Randy Orton, Barrett hasn't gotten his due on Smackdown.
Perhaps he'll get it on Raw.
1. To Smackdown: John Cena
If ever there were a year to move John Cena to Smackdown, this is it.
The WWE has constantly avoided switching Cena over to the blue brand because they don't want their top star on their B-level show, but with the new Raw supershow format, that doesn't matter anymore.
Cena could appear on both Raw and Smackdown every week. He'd still be the face of the company, and his addition to the Smackdown roster would likely help boost sales for Smackdown live events.
There has never been a more opportune time to make Cena a Smackdown superstar, so the WWE has to capitalize on this when it can.
Move Cena to Friday nights, WWE. You won't regret it.
1. To Raw: Randy Orton
If Cena's going to go to Smackdown, then naturally, you have to move Randy Orton to Raw.
Even if the booking doesn't always reflect this, Orton is viewed by many as the No. 2 guy in the WWE. So, if you've got your No. 1 guy on Smackdown, then it only makes sense to have your No. 2 guy on Raw.
With Orton and CM Punk on Raw and Cena and Sheamus on Smackdown, the WWE would have an even balance of its top two baby faces.
Although Orton had a great run on Smackdown throughout the first half of 2011, I don't think he can carry a brand quite like Cena can. On Raw, he wouldn't have to worry about that because of Punk and the supershow format.
I think it's almost inevitable that Orton and Cena won't be on the same brands if the 2012 draft takes place.
It just remains to be seen if the WWE will do the unthinkable and actually move Cena to Smackdown.
Note: As part of the new WWE blog, I'll be asking all of the B/R wrestling readers for questions for a new mailbag that I will post on Fridays. It will be a slideshow featuring 10-to-20 questions and answers on a wide range of topics. You can submit questions either through Formspring or Twitter, and the best ones will be answered in the B/R mailbag.