Smoke & Mirrors: Drafting Changes to WWE’s Rosters

Written by George Cushnie.

Published on April 19, 2012

Once again, it’s time for me to bring you my view through the smoke and mirrors. I posted a TNA preview column last week, where I got 3 from 7. Pretty bad predictions from me. I’ve not seen the show yet, but I’ll get round to it at some point this week.

I’ve spent most of the weekend writing articles at www.bleacherreport.com. I wanted to say thanks to everyone who reads my columns wherever I post them. I ended up getting nearly 12,000 views on my articles there in the last 3 days, which isn’t bad for someone that’s only been writing for 3 months.

Aaron Rift at NoDQ.com is responsible for me being able to write about wrestling each and every week. Without Aaron giving me the opportunity at NoDQ.com, I wouldn’t have been asked to write for all of you here at quickwrestlingnews.com. I appreciate it. Thanks to Aaron and of course, the one and only Eric Kanes here at quickwrestlingnews.com!!

Moving on to this week’s column, with WWE’s next draft being a week away, I thought I’d examine both rosters and give my picks for who I’d move to RAW and who I’d move to SmackDown. The format is going to be pretty similar to the one we’ll see when WWE holds its next draft show. Each brand will get five picks in the main draft and another five in the supplemental one.

Without further ado, let’s get started with my WWE draft picks for RAW.

RAW gets Mark Henry

RAW’s first pick is the World’s Strongest Man, Mark Henry. In my opinion, he’s got the best theme music in the WWE. The lyrics of the song boom out as he comes to the ring: “Somebody gonna get they ass kicked, somebody gonna get they wig split!”

Henry is a legitimate badass. He’s a powerhouse. A monster. A different kind of heel than RAW has at the moment. Moving to RAW would benefit Henry since he’s pretty much steamrollered his way through the entire SmackDown roster at this point.

He’s already battled with CM Punk over the WWE Title in the last 2-3 weeks. That came to a head last night when RAW was taped from London, England, where he wrestled Punk in a No Disqualification match.

Mark has really impressed me in the last year or so. I used to wonder why he still had a job because I found him boring. Now I see that he’s just a hard-working guy who’s busted his ass for over 15 years and been unlucky with injuries. I think one last run on RAW is the least he deserves before he retires. He also gives the mid-card babyfaces something different to cope with. I think it makes sense to move him to RAW.

RAW gets Wade Barrett

The second star I’d move over to RAW is the winner of the first season of NXT, Wade Barrett.

He’s a big, powerful heel, but unusually, he’s not been booked like a coward by WWE creative. Granted, Barrett is injured right now, so he wouldn’t be able to compete in the short term; however, that gives WWE time to promote his comeback. If online reports are to be believed, it’s said that Wade was in line to win the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 28 before his injury.

As we all know, Wade got hurt and the match was ultimately nixed from the PPV. For me, Wade’s got all the tools to be at the top of WWE for a long time to come. He’s good on the mic, solid in the ring (for a big man) and he oozes charisma.

I think it would be wise for WWE to put a lot of stock in Wade when he’s ready to return. Why not push him to the moon? Sure, the last two heels on RAW that were treated that way didn’t turn out so well (Miz and Del Rio), but Wade is totally different.

Unlike Miz, you believe Wade can kick someone’s ass. Unlike Del Rio, Wade’s comfortable on the mic. It would benefit Wade’s career if he got his first main-event run in WWE as a singles wrestler on the RAW brand.

RAW gets Ezekiel Jackson

Another “big man” for RAW next, as the third choice is Ezekiel Jackson. Simply put, a man of Big Zeke’s size shouldn’t be a babyface. He’s too big and powerful for the fans to get behind in that role.

For example, if he’s in a match with someone like Cody Rhodes, nobody is going to believe that Cody can effectively beat up Zeke. It’s not believable. If you want believable, turn Big Zeke heel and have him align with Mark Henry to dominate the tag-team division.

Are you telling me that they wouldn’t be able to do that? Seriously, who would be able to beat a team of that power and strength? I’ll tell you who, nobody!

His limited in-ring capabilities mean that I can’t really see Zeke making an impact as a singles guy, so he’d probably be best used as part of a tag team. Even have Abraham Washington manage the team of “Jenry” or “Hackson” to tag-team glory. At least Zeke would be on TV, which isn’t something he can say right now.

RAW gets Randy Orton

Making his return to RAW as the fourth draft pick is “The Viper” Randy Orton. Personally, I don’t think Orton fits the SmackDown brand. Without being disrespectful, I think he’s better than SmackDown, if that makes sense?

He fits into things better on RAW, plus there wouldn’t be as much pressure on him to carry the RAW brand as there has been in the past. He’s got a lot of potential new feuds if creative decided to go with them. There’s Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar to name just 2. They’re heels and fresh feuds for Randy.

Orton has one thing going for him that Cena doesn’t: Randy tends to put more people over than John does, which helps WWE make new stars. The people that Cena puts over tend to be more established—i.e., CM Punk, Alberto del Rio, The Rock etc. I think that Orton’s missed the live nature of the RAW show and he’d thrive being back on Monday nights.

RAW gets Sheamus

RAW’s final draft pick is the World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus. Simply put, I think that the World Heavyweight Championship has been devalued so much that the only way to give it any credibility is to put it on the A-show (in Vince’s eyes).

The debacle at WrestleMania 28, where the title changed hands in 18 seconds, proves that the title is pretty meaningless at this point, regardless of who the champion is. Sheamus’ smash-mouth style fits well with the “attitudinal” element of RAW. He’s got a friendship with HHH, but he doesn’t ever seem to draw on it.

If Sheamus moved to RAW, then he’d be able to feud with the likes of Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar. Those are two matches that I’ve wanted to see for a long time, ever since Sheamus became WWE Champion in 2009. Also, Sheamus has the best catchphrase in WWE right now, fella!

The thing that’s really impressed me about Sheamus in the last year or so is the seamless transition he’s made from a heel into a babyface. He doesn’t suck up to the crowd; he’s just himself. He can be funny and entertaining, but you just know that if he gets p*ssed off, he can kick somebody’s ass. Sheamus is charismatic and unique. What better way to capitalise on that than to bring him back to Monday Night RAW.

Moving over to SmackDown now, let’s see the five men that I’d move to Friday nights.

SmackDown gets Alberto del Rio

Alberto del Rio had an amazing 2011. He won the Royal Rumble, wrestled for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, won the RAW Money in the Bank match and captured the WWE Title twice. Not a bad year huh?

Only problem with his year has been that he’s seemed almost out of place on RAW. That’s because his mic work hasn’t exactly been strong. We saw that when he interacted with Sheamus on RAW the night after WrestleMania.

He’s only just come back from an injury that’s kept him out since December, so that’s not helped him either. Personally, I think del Rio fits the SmackDown brand a little better than he does on RAW.

Traditionally, SmackDown has had a very strong, almost cult-like following amongst Hispanic viewers. Look at other Hispanic wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. They’ve all had a bigger impact over on SmackDown than they did on RAW. Del Rio also fits into that list for me. That isn’t their fault, it’s just that they’ve got such little time on RAW compared to SmackDown because RAW’s a live show.

Del Rio adds a little more star-power to the SmackDown brand, but he can’t do it on his own. He’s just the beginning as we take a look at SmackDown’s second draft pick.

SmackDown gets Kofi Kingston

Kofi’s a multi-time tag-team, US and IC Title holder. He’s pretty much won it all with the exception of “the big one”. For the life of me, I can’t explain why that is. He’s over with the crowd, athletic and he can wrestle. What’s holding him back? I’d say a lack of promo time and the fact that the office doesn’t seem to believe in him.

When he feuded with Randy Orton in 2009, I thought Kofi would get his moment. It never worked out that way though. The reason for that could be Orton himself, see his infamous “Stupid” rant here. Kofi’s always impressed me, but if he’s going to get a run at the upper mid-card, it’s not going to happen on RAW. If he moved to SmackDown, he could feud with the likes of Christian, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and Alberto del Rio.

Before the Elimination Chamber, Kofi said that he was “tired of being an afterthought”. Well, I’m sorry Kofi, but if you stay on RAW, that’s all you’ll ever be. The mid-card is definitely stronger over on SmackDown and Kofi could benefit from it.

SmackDown gets The Miz

The next man to jump ship is the former WWE, US and Tag-Team champion, The Miz. I’ll be the first to admit that, when he first appeared, I thought Miz was a waste of time and I couldn’t see him ever making an impact in the WWE. Happily, I was wrong.

In the last five years, Miz has worked his way up to becoming a former WWE Champion and is one of a select few men who can say that they’ve beaten John Cena at WrestleMania. HHH can’t say that, HBK can’t say that.

Miz’s character has been a little bit stale for about a year now and he needs to do something to freshen it up. A face turn has been suggested and that might be the way to go. Granted, he isn’t a ring general, but he’s no worse in the ring than someone like John Cena for example.

Miz is extremely charismatic and has great mic skills. He also does a lot of promotional work for WWE in other places, like Saudi Arabia, Australia and Europe. Miz needs a fresh start. At this early stage in his career, his character isn’t developed enough to the point where he can outshine someone like CM Punk or John Cena.

If he’s given time, he can emerge as one of the shining stars on SmackDown. Let’s face it; he’d have nothing to lose by going to Friday nights.

SmackDown gets Rey Mysterio

The penultimate pick for SmackDown is the masked sensation, Rey Mysterio. Everything that I said about Alberto del Rio can be said for Rey. To me, he just isn’t a RAW guy. He’s always been a SmackDown guy.

That’s no slight on Rey whatsoever; he’s just lost in the shuffle on RAW, like so many others are. Rey’s OK on the mic and still one of the most entertaining superstars WWE has on their books, but because of his style of wrestling, Rey’s probably not got very long left to wrestle at the level he, and us as fans, expect.

When he’s winding down his career, it’d be a disservice to him to have him wrestle 5-7 minute matches on RAW instead of 15-20 minute efforts against Christian or Daniel Bryan. Rey could be used to build and elevate SmackDown’s younger stars that haven’t got to the main-event level yet, like Drew McIntyre for example.

He has so much to offer and I think he’d be better used on SmackDown than RAW.

SmackDown gets Chris Jericho

Now, this is the one choice that I found the most difficult to make: moving Chris Jericho to SmackDown. Some of you are probably gonna be p*ssed about this choice, but just let me explain why I made it.

Not moving Punk meant that we’d have 2 world champions on RAW, which wouldn’t work in the current climate, so the decision I had was either to move Punk to SmackDown with the belt, or keep him on RAW without it.

I didn’t feel that moving Punk to SmackDown would be a great move. It’d probably have the opposite effect if I’m honest and kill the momentum he’s built up over the last year. As long as the Supershow stays a part of WWE programming, the SmackDown Champion (whether it’s WWE or World Heavyweight) will always appear on RAW.

Of course, Jericho moving with the belt would mean that Jericho wins at Extreme Rules. That gives Punk the opportunity to get his belt back, or for the feud with Jericho to end decisively. Jericho could help to build more stars on SmackDown than he could on RAW. That’s why I chose him.

And there we have it. We’ve had ten superstars move between RAW and SmackDown and I think SmackDown’s got the better deal (for the most part). What do you guys think? Would you have moved Sheamus & Jericho? Who would you move if you had the power? Start tweeting me @georgec1982 and let me know what you think!

This week’s Wrestling Throwback is the John Cena/CM Punk contract signing before last year’s Summerslam. Everything that Punk says in this promo is exactly how most fans feel about John Cena. Not as a man, but his character. He’s stale and bland and he’s fixing to get an ass-whooping from Brock Lesnar next Sunday. Check Punk/Cena out here.

That’s my view from across the pond this week guys. Hopefully you enjoyed RAW from England this week. The crowd was super-hot! If you’ve got any promos/matches that you want me to feature as the Wrestling Throwback, send a tweet to @georgec1982 using the hashtag #FATPWrestlingThrowback and it could be your suggestion that’s part of next week’s column!

Stay tuned to quickwrestlingnews.com for the latest news about all things wrestling and I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, stay classy guys. I really appreciate you reading my columns.

Peace out,

George

Twitter: @georgec1982

#FATP

#FATPWrestlingThrowback

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