With Wrestlemania 25 almost upon us, and the 2009 WWE Draft upcoming, I felt a need to review 2008's WWE Draft so we can get a better perspective on the upcoming draft.
There were many changes to the WWE throughout 2008, with titles switching brands, prime time players moving to other brands, and a renewed sense of vigor throughout the WWE.
So let's begin, shall we?
In 2008, Raw had one of the biggest changes I felt, as they truly began to push the younger generation. Stars like CM Punk rose to prominence by capturing the World Heavyweight Title, Tag Titles, and Intercontinental Title.
The young stars of the WWE truly had a chance to shine, with new stars like Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, and Ted Dibiase beginning to come into their own. Veterans of the WWE ring like Batista, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Kane were given a fresh chance to re-establish their dominance against the younger generation.
Now, out of Raw's side of the draft, I did notice some problems. For one, a lot of the high-flying small guys were stuck facing some of WWE's largest competitors in underdog matches.
How many times did we have to suffer watching Rey Mysterio face Mike Knox and Kane?
It seemed like a sham to the fans. Where were the great matches on Raw?
Not once were we treated to a Kofi Kingston vs. Rey Mysterio match.
We received one match between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio in the Intercontinental Title tournament, and one match between Rey Mysterio and Evan Bourne. Other than that, there wasn't much to brag about on Raw.
ECW, with the exception of Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Finlay, and Miz & Morrison, pretty much got the shaft in the WWE Draft.
Most of the show at the beginning of the year focused on Mark Henry, in which we had a powerhouse not doing much to show his worth as ECW Champion.
Matt Hardy's title win brought fans to ECW, but with a lack of real competition his reign became stagnant. He ran with the show as long as possible, but with a lack of real opponents his creative abilities were limited.
A new breed of athlete emerged to win the championship as Jack Swagger became the new ECW champ. Swagger, however, still needs to prove himself as main event material.
ECW got stuck, I believe, with the shaft for a few reasons.
They lost the majority of the fast paced superstars which were making ECW great prior to the draft. Elijah Burke, Shelton Benjamin, CM Punk, and Kofi Kingston all found new homes.
Second, with the lack of a full roster, it limited the amount of matches that ECW could actually have.
Third, with the talent exchange, we usually saw Hardy, Finlay, Henry, Bourne, Miz & Morrison on the other brands on a weekly basis. We hardly saw anyone of value come to ECW from Smackdown or Raw. It was a bit disappointing.
Smackdown got the better end of the veterans in the WWE universe. With JR added to commentary, Jeff Hardy and HHH moved to Smackdown, and others like Umaga and Shelton Benjamin helped bring a stable roster of main-eventers to the Smackdown locker room.
With stars like Edge, Big Show, and the Undertaker, we had main event quality matches on a weekly basis. New stars like R-Truth and Kozlov began to make their mark on the WWE and Jeff Hardy went so far as to finally win his first WWE Title on Smackdown.
The only downside I saw to Smackdown was that they had these main event superstars, but never utilized them in a manner that exceeded the show value.
We had the Undertaker and Big Show feud, which in my eyes was appalling. All the Edge vs. Hardy vs. HHH storylines began to feel overplayed. Kozlov's undefeated streak seemed dreadfully boring, as the man seems to need some more training in my eyes.
Overall, the draft for 2008 brought about many changes throughout the shows.
We saw variations of the WWE that hadn't been seen before, dream matches no one would expect, new champions were bred, and existing superstars got new chances to shine. Congrats to the WWE, and hopefully the 2009 draft will be even better.