I've decided to take this Open Mic piece, look back on the 2002 WWE Draft and determine what I would have done from Vince McMahon's perspective.
No, not Mr. McMahon the on-screen character; the behind-the-scenes man.
It's easy to say "Well, I would have done this" without taking into account things such as Kevin Nash spending the majority of 2002 injured, Hulk Hogan wanting to be a face after an emotional Wrestlemania match in Toronto, or the Rock going off to make movies.
So I'm going to put all those issues aside for the article's sake, take away the egos and the creative control and let you all know what I would have done for both brands.
#1 Picks: The Rock--Smackdown, The Undertaker--Raw
I've got no problem with either of these picks considering that, at the time, Steve Austin was AWOL. But we're under the assumption that everything is perfect in the wrestling world, so I would make Austin the #1 pick for Raw.
Aside from being the marquee name on Raw, Austin could indirectly feud with The Rock and Smackdown at the same time, with each trying to show their supremacy.
Triple H was the champion at the time and, as they did at the time, he would be allowed to defend his title on either show with no need to have split World Titles.
The rest of the picks:
Smackdown: Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Hollywood Hogan, Billy & Chuck, Edge, Rikishi, D-Von Dudley, Mark Henry, Maven, Kidman, Tajiri, Chris Jericho, Ivory, Albert, The Hurricane, Al Snow, Lance Storm, Diamond Dallas Page, Torrie Wilson, Scotty 2 Hotty, Stacy Keibler, Christian, Test, Faarooq, Tazz, Hardcore Holly, Val Venis, Perry Saturn
Raw: nWo (Nash, Hall & X-Pac), Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, The Big Show, Bubba Dudley, Brock Lesnar, William Regal, Lita, Bradshaw, Steven Richards, Matt Hardy, Raven, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Perfect, Spike Dudley, D-Lo Brown, Shawn Stasiak, Terri, Jacqueline, Goldust, Trish Stratus, Justin Credible, Big Bossman, Tommy Dreamer, Crash Holly, Mighty Molly
Personally, I would have made all the champions able to defend their belts on both brands so that the current over-saturation of belts never happens.
Now, for a bit of a breakdown here:
I would keep Hogan from making a face turn. Keep the original nWo together and replay on the original WCW angle--you still have gold. Take it a step further and play it off as Hogan being bitter over being allowed to leave the WWF and wanting to destroy it. This could have led into them destroying everyone and everything, even going as far as winning the Undisputed title before Austin came in to save the day, or a gigantic swerve where Austin joins the nWo, setting up The Rock as the savior.
I also wouldn't have broken up the APA or the Dudleyz. Keep some of them on different shows so that the champs (Billy & Chuck at the time) face potential land mines every week.
Keeping Jericho as an upper-echelon star would have been a priority of mine as well because he's a great in the ring and on the mic as well. Kurt Angle would also not be allowed to shave his head and subsequently go insane.
While the idea of a brand separation is somewhat good overall and I understand the need for it, I think that there should be some continuity between them. Have cross-brand matches every few weeks. Mix and match at the PPV's.
This could help not only keep things fresh, I feel that this could have built up the credibility of their champions. Imagine Undisputed Champ Triple H having to defend his title against any and everyone, not just worry about one show? I would take this a step further and have it so that whatever star the champ lost to, he would go to that show.
These are just a few of the things I would have done. There are too many examples of a feud-by-feud nature to touch upon but with those basic ideals in place, I think the product could be improved right off the bat.
It's not too late for Vince to make some of these changes happen and make his championships less watered down and more valuable, while increasing the value of his champions.
Then again, Vinnie Mac runs the show for a reason.
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