Monday Night Raw saw the Draft Pick take place seeing members of both rosters up for swapping places. There’s been a bit of a reaction to what happened and when you consider Extreme Rules taking place on Sunday as well, there’s quite a lot to keep WWE busy straight after Mania when there’s usually a chance to take a breathe with the occasional Mania rematch making up most of the next PPV.
I think such has been the activity that it has made the fact of the PPV almost incidental and my interest in the matches doesn’t mean that much at all. Yet here we go with the shake up of the rosters and see how that affects things.
The Red Brand has always been the lead one as far as WWE programming is concerned, even in a short window of time back in the mid 2000’s when SmackDown had the likes of Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Edge, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio.
Although the storylines have not been sparkling of late, it has still felt like the number one show. What helps in that are performers like Randy Orton, CM Punk, John Morrison and the star man of the entire organisation – John Cena. The thing about the draft is that it gives a chance to refresh things and also give up and comers on the Blue brand a chance to make it on top.
Previously I was concerned about people going to Raw because of Triple H and his tendency to hog the limelight. The concern now is that with things being so Cena-centric others may not have a chance to kick on and hit the top rung. However with Cena being busy preparing for The Rock at WrestleMania next year, I don’t think he’ll be that much of nuisance. That is to say if a wrestler wants to make it on Raw, as well as hoping for the right storylines (OK big hope, but it can happen) there is less of an obstacle for breakthroughs.
Looking at those who’ve been drafted to Raw though doesn’t fill me with too much hope that this will happen.
Rey Mysterio – good to have him move and refresh himself after a while on SmackDown. I don’t see him necessarily being in the title picture. At least he has some fresh feuds to be getting on with. I hope he gets a chance to have a feud with Evan Bourne actually to give the little guys a boost. Having said he won’t be in the title picture, I’m sure a little run with The Miz could help matters. Outside that you have to turn Morrison heel to get anything genuinely new from Mysterio.
Kofi Kingston – here’s a guy looking for a break. Is he going to get it on Raw? Sadly I don’t think so. I think the fact that his switch wasn’t highlighted on the show says how much they rate a guy they should pushing to the hilt. Reinforcing that is the faces now on Raw – they’ll put Cena, Morrison, Show and Mysterio over before him, so he’ll have a lot of work to do to just keep his head above water.
Jack Swagger – I like Swagger. I think he’s a quality in-ring technician and also has sufficient in his locker to also be convincing on the mic. They wasted a championship run with him and didn’t push him properly. Now he’s on Raw, he’s stuck in a jam with a lot of impressive heels who need to do plenty to establish their own character. I hope he doesn’t get lost in the mix, I hope … but still.
Drew McIntyre – Drew is not in as bad a position as Swagger and Kingston, but again if he’s not careful, he won’t be far from it. He typifies how Raw is turning into the place of potential but having a lot of players at a similar position vying for the chance to get the golden ticket to main event land. You have him, Kingston, Swagger, Ziggler and John Morrison who are just bubbling under the surface. It’s exciting, but it could be potentially hazardous.
Chris Masters – Some say this guy has made incredible progress since the days of his buff figure who was basing his schtick on the MasterPiece gimmick of his pectorals and bodybuilding business. I’ve not seen much to suggest he’s got what it takes to make a big impression in the industry, but in the major leagues at least you have the opportunity to prove it.
Big Show – I don’t have to like a star to acknowledge their position in the hierarchy. Big Show is a big name. He’s earnt his position with the years of maximising his potential as the biggest athlete in the industry. To help get some of the up and coming over, he’s a good guy to come across and defeat and that might make him a notable signing for the main brand. Outside that, please relieve him and Kane of the tag team championship belts. Please. Thanks.
Alberto Del Rio – This is the most interesting shift. He is only just beginning to get established in the main event scene on SmackDown. It’s a good place for up and comers to be up and coming. Sending him to the sharks on Raw only makes sense if they keep his push going. There is a problem on that score though – that problem’s name is The Miz. There’s only room for one major heel on the brand – sure there’s room for solid heels, but to be on the top, requires room for one and that is being taken. That leaves the obvious question, then, what do you do with ADR – a question I am looking forward to seeing Raw answer in the coming months. He is undoubtedly a great heel in the making already being a good heel.
With the various shifts, there’s a good argument to say that a face on Raw has the potential to really do well with the outstanding heels on Raw – Punk, Miz, Ziggler, ADR, McIntyre and Swagger. (You might include R-Truth on that, but it’s early days). That’s a lot of talent to keep occupied. Yet as I mentioned earlier this is the time for those to step up to the plate – and the writers should give the opportunity for that to happen.
I read some initial response from some to the draw gave the impression that the Blue brand did really well from the trades. There are some definite winners from how things have turned out, but I’m not sure if it’s as rosy as people make out. Let’s go with those major new acquisitions.
Daniel Bryan – This move wouldn’t be so problematic if Sheamus didn’t come over as well. It’s especially worsened by Sin Cara coming across because the push is more likely to go with the high flier than the in-ring master technician. The Intercontinental Championship would have been something to go for if it wasn’t handily being pushed by the capable Wade Barrett. Having said that, there are new feuds for Bryan to explore and they can make the most of the brother’s brilliant in-ring skills.
Mark Henry – Henry has got to be a poor man’s Big Show. He’s a different face on the brand and looked as though he was considering going heel, which will be refreshing change for him. Other than that, what does he have to offer? Little?
Randy Orton – So it’s good for Randy, especially as his first appearance is concerned that reinforces his superman push. In a very real way, though, he is a direct replacement for Edge. It’s his chance to dominate the brand as Triple H used to dominate Raw, and he can have his own brand as Cena owns Raw. Is that something I really want to see? Of course not, but it might give SmackDown a much needed lift having been dipping lower and lower.
Sheamus – Getting a mega-face in Orton, SmackDown get a mega-heel in Sheamus. The guy can be whatever he wants to be on SmackDown and will probably get some push in advance of some existing heels on the brand. He is a compelling competitor and I hope he can bring that to raise his game as a more important feature on SmackDown. That is a good move for the blue brand.
Sin Cara – New guy with lots of promos behind him, recently moving to the Smack Down suggests they have a plan for him there, and they need to get it over soon or else waste all that promo time. In the matches I’ve seen him in, he’s ticked the high-flier box very well, but so what. The deal is about getting over as a superstar worth me watching and he’s unproven in that thus far.
Ted Dibiasie – Now I include this dude here because inadvertently (or maybe deliberately) this move means all the original members of Legacy (along with Rhodes and Orton) are on the same brand and so there’s room for all combination of encounters among them. It’s something to use and Ted knows he need anything he can get his hands on to make the steps forward he probably thinks he deserves. I hope they do something proper with him rather than make him feed for another ‘star’.
Unlike Raw, though, it’s hard to pin actual bona-fide top stars on SmackDown other than Orton. No Mysterio leaves them with who as a top face other than Orton? Christian? Sin Cara? Still, where others see a problem, there should be wrestlers who see this as an opportunity. The big winner from the draft on SmackDown is Cody Rhodes whose great work with Mysterio should see his climb continue unabated and maybe even see him face Orton sometime down the line.
What is for sure the blue brand definitely need to raise some big names or face things getting a lot worse for them.
As I said I am completely underwhelmed by WWE’s approach to the PPV and really to get the impression of how things will work out you’ll have to wait until the June PPV – Capitol Punishment. Even the next PPV Over the Limit is too early to say. Yet by June things should begin to pick up in preparation of Summerslam in August.