WWE Draft 2008: Out With the Old, In With The... Old?

Ian RobinettSenior Analyst IJune 24, 2008

For virtually my entire life, almost 23 years of it in fact, I have been an avid fan of pro wrestling.  Truthfully it isn't something I choose to hide at all.  I mean, why hide something you're proud of?  I don't care if people think I am dumb; it is a soap opera for men, and I have been glued to my television to watch it proudly for all of these years.

So what does that all lead up to?  It leads up to one of my favorite parts of the year, which began back in 2002, the WWE Draft.

The timing of the Draft is pretty regular.  It usually happens fairly soon after Wrestlemania, although it has progressively gotten further and further from it, and is usually geared to try and mix up the mid-cards, while giving some of the headliners a chance to swap brands in order to make the title hunts a little more intriguing.

Usually, this promises some good changes that give fans of Raw, SmackDown, and now ECW a little different view of things with the new faces (and heels) on the respective shows.

Sadly, I am learning something about the Draft as it progresses year to year.  Vince McMahon, in his infinite wisdom, has run out of ideas.  Or he is just certain old ones can boost ratings yet again.

What do I mean?  Well let's analyze this years Draft.

The format used was just like the 2007 Draft, in that it was a "lottery."  And also much like in 2007, with the exception of the main players in the locker room, nobody had a clue as to what was going to happen, and the reactions really showed that.

The first selection gave me an inkling that maybe, just maybe, the Draft would be something to watch.  Although the matches they made, to which the winners brand received the pick, were so sadly predictable.

Raw received the first pick with HHH beating Mark Henry, and selected Rey Mysterio.  Honestly, I didn't see Vince moving him over.  I saw him more as a pillar of SmackDown, but once this happened, it was obvious who was switching next.

For the second pick, SmackDown obviously was going to receive the chance to fill the Rey Rey void.  Finlay, who on a side note is a really good face which I would have never guessed, and Hornswoggle squashed Carlito and Santino.  As everyone had already assumed, Jeff Hardy was heading to SmackDown.  Honestly, this was one of the best moves in Draft history.  Hardy is huge with the fans, can be on the main event level, and from a recent interview, really has his life in order.  He'll really be a cornerstone for SmackDown from here on out.

Let me reiterate this... The matches made the "who's going to get the pick" part unnecessarily easy to call.  And, instead of going into all of the matches from here on out, I'll just say who got the pick, and then give me thoughts.

Raw received the third pick, and took CM Punk.  This was a swap Vince has wanted to make since WrestleMania.  It hasn't been any big secret around the company that Punk will be cashing in his Money in the Bank shot against Triple H, so they had to get him on Raw in order to build it up more.

Next, ECW finally gets a chance to have a pick, and since they have been completely treated like garbage since Vince acquired them, it would be their ONLY pick.  This pick also marked the first title belt to swap brands, as Matt Hardy was sent to ECW.  Sadly, this also began to let the world know who was going to win at Night of Champions on Sunday, but I'll get into that in a bit.

Next we had the bathroom break match, or as Vince calls it, a match involving Divas.  This match was intended to end with a double disqualification, but had to be modified as Millena messed her ankle up bad.  Raw and SmackDown each got a pick, and the shock of the night was made.  When they said announcers would be traded in this match, it was assumed The King and Mick Foley would swap spots.  Instead, they showed that nobody really had a clue, and sent Jim Ross to SmackDown in exchange for Michael Cole.  Seriously?!  Why not send Mike Adamle to Raw?  I mean if you're going to commit ratings suicide, at least do it quick rather than make it this gradual process.  I sincerely hope this does not last, and we have this "trade" that fixes the announcing situation.  Otherwise that will SUCK!

So who is next?  Raw gets another pick, and brings another big name to Raw, and it is one that is much to my chagrin.  Let's all welcome Batista!  Yes, the WWE's version of Machine Gun Kelly is here.  Oh... Goodie!  Oh wait, is a heel turn for he and Triple H and an Evolution reunion in the works?!?!

Now it is time for the most non-shocking selection of this years Draft.  Umaga goes to SmackDown.  I am honestly surprised they waited this long.  He has been SmackDown-bound since prior to WrestleMania.  If they had been smart, they would have had this pick as the second of the night, and had Hardy later.  Yeah it would have rearranged the Matt Hardy to ECW part, but why make the one everyone knows about deeper into the show?

I wonder who is picking next?  Oh surprise, it is Raw.  This marks title number 2 to swap brands as Raw welcomes back Kane.  Kane is an awesome character, but why bring him back to the brand where he always ends up being forgotten about?  When has he had much success on Raw period?  And I wonder, could this mean Big Show is going to win the ECW Championship and miraculously end up on ECW?  No, nothing that predictable happens.

Finally, we have a battle royal for the final two picks in the Draft.  SmackDown wins because Raw had already had 5 picks to SmackDown's 2.  So who do they take first? It’s the man taken last year as the final pick in the Draft BY RAW.  Mr. Kennedy Kennedy (yes I know it's there twice) is going back to SmackDown.  This upset me.  He is one of the best talents they have, and they never even tried to showcase him on Raw.  Boo on this one!

The second pick has another flashback.  Let's all travel back to 2004 with the 2nd Annual WWE Draft because the result is the same.  Triple H, as the champion, is now on SmackDown.  His stint in 2004 was a whopping ONE DAY!  Even though they tape the show on Tuesday, since it airs on Friday, he will have beaten his own record.  Congrats champ!  See you back on Raw within a week.

So now we have the picks made.  And to play into what Vince is hoping we all do, let's assume these picks stick.  On Sunday at Night of Champions (or Vengeance 2.0), the WWE Championship, United States Championship, and ECW Championship will all change hands.  More than likely, the US Championship, ECW Championship, World Tag Team Championship, Tag Team Championship (yes there are two), and I would bet Intercontinental Championship will change hands.


How can I not talk about the angle that closed the show?  I mean, who saw this coming.  Vince gives away $500,000, part of the set collapses, he doesn't run off for shelter, the stage collapses and he falls through it, then his special "McMahon Million Dollar Mania" sign falls on top of him.

Oh my goodness gracious!  Of all the dramatic things I've ever seen...

Now here is something to watch.  Oh wait... This... Oh no!  June 11, 2007, the date of the 2007 Draft, Vince blows up in a car!  Then he comes back to life the next week because of this tragedy with Chris Benoit.  Obviously, at that time, he couldn't finish that storyline.  So he had a brilliant idea!  LET'S DO IT AGAIN!

And this time, let's sell it like it's real!  I mean, I will call Triple H, Paul, and people might guess this is real.  I'll have faces and heels run together to try and rescue me, and, yeah!  People will buy into it!  I will say though, of all the people in this scene, Cena and Triple H did an EXCELLENT job selling this.  If this wasn't 2007's Draft all over again, I might have just bought into it.

When this happened, the crude humor just went crazy between my best friend and I.  Now we'll finally know who blew up, I mean tried to kill Vince.  And for those who don't want the spoiler, I suggest not reading anymore, it's going to be The Undertaker.  Why do I say that?  He was backstage last night because he didn't know if the storyline would play out any further or not.

All in all, I was kind of disappointed with this Draft.  It began strong, and just fell into an identical storyline as last year, and 2004 too.  So I guess we will see if anything new actually happens.