WWE: 2011 WWE Draft Analysis and Aftermath One Year Later
One year ago today, WWE held the ninth annual WWE Draft event live on Monday Night Raw. Each year, the WWE Draft always provides twists and turns that forever change the entire landscape of the organization.
In a night full of "randomly" selected draft picks, any WWE employee is eligible to switch to the opposite shows. This way, more feuds and programs become available as that specific Superstar receives a much-needed change in scenery as well as a sense of rejuvenation in their respective characters.
In 2011, numerous moves were made that caused the butterfly effect for future rivalries, title changes and much more. As we reminisce on last year's major event, how many of these controversial changes to the roster are still in effect today?
John Cena to SmackDown... and Back to Raw
In the opening match of the night, SmackDown stars Big Show and Kofi Kingston won an inter-promotional over-the-top-rope battle royal to win the first draft pick for the blue brand. In a shocking turn of events, it was none other than John Cena, the man who had been apart of the flagship show for six straight years.
However, Cena found himself back on the Raw roster by the end of the night when The Miz won a six-man tag team match for his team. Although it was a predictable move, it still had me in shock regardless.
Since Cena was the first person in WWE history to be drafted twice in one night, nothing obviously came out of it except a minor ratings increase. John Cena may never be apart of Friday nights again, but I can still dream, can't I?
Rey Mysterio to Raw
Although Rey Mysterio was drafted to Raw back in 2008, his run on Monday nights wasn't too successful. He was sent back to SmackDown the following year, where he resided until the 2011 WWE Draft.
While Mysterio has always been a corner stone of the blue brand, I've personally found him more enjoyable on Raw where he has yet to bury young talent. His move to Mondays allowed him to ignite rivalries with Superstars that he'd never locked up with before, giving him a fresh start he desperately needed.
Upon his Raw re-debut, Mysterio was brutally attacked by R-Truth, who defeated Mysterio at Over the Limit. Mysterio's losing ways continued when he came up short at Capitol Punishment and Money in the Bank in following months, but still provided awe-inspiring performances.
However, Mysterio was able to capture the WWE Championship in late July, before dropping it back to John Cena later that night. Shortly thereafter, the Master of the 619 was injured during a title match with Alberto Del Rio and hasn't been seen since.
With Mysterio at the twilight of his career, it's smart to keep him on the flagship show to help put over young talent and continue where he left off.
Randy Orton to SmackDown
With Edge abruptly retiring in mid-April, officials desperately needed a new top babyface to fill the empty space that was left vacant on Friday nights. After much debating, the spot was eventually given to Edge's former tag team partner Randy Orton, who was one of the premiere picks in the 2011 WWE Draft.
For the first time since 2006, Orton had found himself on the blue brand. Nearly two weeks later, the Viper captured the World Heavyweight Championship from Christian, whom he would engage in a rivalry with that would be one of the best of the year.
From there, the Viper would recapture the golden prize for a second time that summer before feuding with the likes of Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, and most recently Kane. There is no doubt that moving Orton to SmackDown was probably the biggest success of the 2011 WWE Draft, as he's fit in perfectly there and allowed himself to look more vulnerable against his opponents.
Mark Henry to SmackDown
In a surprise move in June 2009, Mark Henry was traded to the Raw roster as a newly turned fan favorite. For his two-year tenure on Monday nights, Henry would garner plenty more losses than victories and receive little to no direction in his character.
Once it was revealed that the World's Strongest Man was heading back to SmackDown via the 2011 WWE Draft, Henry conducted an interview with Joey Styles backstage where he claimed it was his goal to win the golden prize by the end of the year. He broke down in tears shortly thereafter, with most of us doubting that Henry would even live up to his promise.
Later that evening, Henry teamed with John Cena and Christian to take on three members of the Raw roster with a draft pick on the line. During the bout, Henry turned on his teammates, reverting back to his monster heel persona and has been running rampant over the WWE roster ever since
Although nothing came out of Henry's move to SmackDown at first, he eventually targeted Big Show and violently ambushed him at every turn. From there, Henry would begin his infamous Hall of Pain and destroy anyone who got in his way before winning his first World Heavyweight Championship that September.
Sin Cara to SmackDown
Based upon his vignettes that aired prior to WrestleMania 27, Sin Cara looked to be one of the most exhilarating Superstars to ever enter the WWE. Once he debuted the night after the show of shows, his arrival fell flat after botching several moves during his match with Primo on a live edition of Raw.
To solve that issue, officials opted to have Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara switch shows to hide Cara's inaccuracies in the ring and to attract the Hispanic audience to Friday nights as well.
Sin Cara engaged in a minor feud with Chavo Guerrero upon his arrival on SmackDown, where he defeated the former ECW Champion at Over the Limit. He didn't do much for the remainder of the summer before being suspended for thirty days last July due to the WWE Wellness Policy.
Upon his return to television, he feuded with his alter ego under the black mask, Hunico, for a few months before defeating him twice in October. At Survivor Series, Sin Cara seriously injured his ankle to the point where he's been sidelined from action ever since.
One can only hope Sin Cara realizes his true potential when he eventually does return to the blue brand and improve on his WWE style in the squared circle to prove the nay-sayers wrong.
Big Show to Raw
Since the 2009 WWE Draft, Big Show has found himself switching brands every year in the annual shake-up. Well, 2011 was no different, as the then-WWE Tag Team Champion was once again sent packing to Monday nights and effectively ending his partnership with Kane in the process.
Big Show's Raw tenure this time around was not as good as his last, as he lost the tag team titles to the New Nexus shortly after being drafted. In the same night, his new rival Alberto Del Rio ran over Show in his car with the help of Ricardo Rodriguez.
For the next two months, the World's Largest Athlete was on the losing end of matches with the Mexican aristocrat and ambushes at the hands of Mark Henry. After losing to Henry at Money in the Bank, the World's Strongest Man would sideline Show for a total of three months.
Upon his return in October, Show immediately picked up where he left off in his feud with Henry, although transitioning back over to Friday nights in the process. It's safe to say that drafting Show to Raw last year was a complete waste.
Alberto Del Rio to Raw
Upon his debut in the WWE in August 2010, Alberto Del Rio was portrayed as the future of the company, proclaiming his "destiny" would soon lead him to a World Championship. Although he was able to win the 2011 Royal Rumble, he came up short winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Edge at WrestleMania 27.
Nonetheless, officials were still high on Del Rio and his major potential to be a breakout star. That being said, there was no better way to do so then to ship him to Raw apart of the 2011 WWE Draft.
Despite being involved in a lackluster feud with Big Show when he first arrived on Monday nights, Del Rio was able to capture the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase last July. The following month, he cashed in the opportunistic briefcase on CM Punk at SummerSlam to win his first WWE Championship.
In one brief year, Del Rio was already at the top of the WWE. Although he lost the title to John Cena at Night of Champions, he was able to regain it two weeks later in an innovative manner at Hell in a Cell.
Shortly after losing the title back to CM Punk at Survivor Series, Del Rio was unsuccessful in his attempts to regain the gold and was injured during a tag team match at the conclusion of 2011. When he returned a few weeks ago, Del Rio earned a title shot at the World Championship, quietly moving him back to SmackDown in the process.
With Del Rio among others switching shows in the last year for no apparent reason, I'm afraid the WWE Draft is no longer necessary. We'll see in coming months whether it indeed does come to fruition.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on how big of an impact the 2011 WWE Draft made on this day a year ago. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is greatly appreciated.
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