Sunday, July 10, 2005

#110. WWE Draft 2005

Reactions to the draft:

John Cena
Who it benefits - John Cena, first and foremost. The Doctor of Thuganomincs can only benefit from a change of scenery and the chance to compete in what's perceived as the premier brand. He's still champion, and with Batista gone, the only heavyweight champion on a show once again. He got to compete on PPV cards in consecutive months, which is always a plus, especially in this era. He wrestled on a team with Hulk Hogan (who performed a "you can't see me" during the match as a sign of respect for the rising superstar in contrast to how the evening ended) and Shawn Michaels a few weeks ago, before those two icons violently split (a brilliant move, good for Hogan, who otherwise is a publicity stunt, and great for HBK, who could use a new storyline) last week to the tune of "Sweet Chin Music."
Who else benefits - Chris Jericho, who is being given, at last, another chance to wrestle, one-on-one, for a heavyweight championship. This arc has been building for months now, from Y2J's feud with Shelton Benjamin over how Jericho was losing his wrestling mojo to Cena's pointed comments that Fozzy's lead singer would rather rest on his laurels than put his money where his mouth is these days.
Who doesn't - No one. Smackdown has a new champion. Batista has been gaining considerable momentum. No need to cry. Except maybe Christian, whose anticipated feud with Cena was cut short.

Kurt Angle
Who benefits - Angle, from a change in venue, which he's been embracing, from starting feuds with Ric Flai and Hulk Hogan to the potential of another one with Triple H down the road, plus that rematch with HBK.
Who else benefits - The younger stars, like Carlito (who never got a chance to get a rub from Kurt in Smackdown). Pay no attention to the later failures at his last home (Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, both no longer with the company). This is a guy who can step in the ring with anyone and it'll seem perfectly natural, both in competition and just in appearance.
Who doesn't - smackdown, which left him on an unsavory note, which is unfortunate. He may not always have been a nice guy, but he's done great things on the brand.

Big Show
Who benefits - Smackdown, which had seemingly run out of things for the big guy to do. Matt Morgan was beneath him (and now gone, as it happens). Last year the brand tried too hard to make him larger than life again, but had nothing for him to prove. His feud with JBL came much too late, and the one with Team Angle never really made sense.
Who else - Raw, which could reinvigorate the mystique, if it chooses to, but...
Who doesn't - Show, for now, because his entrance was handled like a non-event, unlike just about every other major draftee. He has yet to make an impact. It could change, if Raw was interested.

Who benefits - Carlito, for sure. He's definitely been treated like a big deal, from retaining the Cabana (while the Highlight Reel sticks around; both were around last Monday, which felt like a variety show, and not just because of the dueling talk shows) to capturing the Intercontinental his first night to teaming with Kurt Angle rather than Matt Morgan or Jesus. He's becoming another breakout star. And that's cool.
Who else - Shelton Benjamin. On the face of it, losing a title seems like a bad thing, but shelton's reign had gone on since last October, and hasn't been ripe in juicy moments. Dropping it became one. Whatever he does next will have to be better. That is, whenever he surfaces.
Who doesn't - Morgan, who loses his master and then his job.

Rob Van Dam
Who benefits - Carlito, who got immediate heat by beating on the injured fan favorite, who's getting a career breather from the recent ECW PPV (who said nothing good came from it for involved WWE stars?).
Who else - RVD's image, from his new speaking role. I didn't realize how much I was missing. Maybe he's not just Wrestling Gumby after all...
Who doesn't - Smackdown, which thanks to Rob's DL status never quite got to prove it could use him better than raw had before last year's draft. Let's hope things change.

Danny Basham
Who benefits - Both Bashams, who will either get more to do thanks to the traditional draft tag team splitting or eventually get back together and actually get to compete again (being part of the Cabinet was oddly unsatisying).
Who doesn't - Danny, because Doug has more potential.

Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero)
Who benefits - Eddie Guerreo, who might (might) get in less trouble without his instigating cousin around on Smackdown.
Who doesn't - Chavo. He's got a brand new gimmick, but cruiserweights just don't get much to do on Raw. It could change, but Kerwin will be Kantwin soon enough.

Rene Dupree
Who benefits - The French Phenom of course! Whether he strikes it big as the next great cartoon heel or not, Rene still has a chance at a bright future. If nothing else, more people watch Heat than Velocity...
Who else - Facial hair! The second appearance of his new cartoon goatee proved he was wise enough to iron out the flaws. Between him and Viking H, thiss stuff is cool again! Also, Rob Conway, who has evidence that there's life after La Resistance right at home.
Who doesn't - Sylvain Grenier. Honestly, if Rene couldn't do it, Mr. No Charisma is not going to make it on Smackdown, and not even on Velocity. I'm surprised he hasn't already been cut.

Chris Benoit
Who benefits - Smackdown. The Rabid Wolverine is the low-key Kurt Angle. He can make anyone look good, and he's finally broken out in the world title scene. In the immediate future, Orlando Jordan, who can hopefully start to prove to the naysayers that he's got something worthwhile to offer, thanks to the upcoming match at The Great American Bash. It's a chance for Benoit to legitimize an up-and-comer.
Who else - Smackdown's reputation as the brand for the highest quality of competition. Raw may have Angle, Y2J, HBK, and Benjamin, but Smackdown has Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Misterio, and Paul London, who put out in every match like it's a PPV and on th whole have longer to go in their careers.
Who doesn't - Benoit, who's clearly lost most of the luster he gained two Januaries ago. It's a good thing the guy's a workhorse.

Randy Orton
Who benefits - Batista, who now has at least another feud past JBL to look forward to. Orton is still just getting warmed up, and smackdown is prime pickings, from Undertaker to Booker T to Chris Benoit.
Who else - The legacy of Evolution. It did exactly what it set out to.
Who doesn't - Triple H, who can no longer get rubs from his pupils and thus must stand on his own again. Then again, maybe that's a good thing...

Mohammed Hassan/Khosrow Daivari
Who benefits - The gimmick, which might have better ground to stand on now. smackdown has known its fair share of controversy (Billy & Chuck's nuptuals). The alleged terrorist angle, which has gotten a lot of bad press, is actually a smart way to go. How else to educate on the roots of terrorism than to exploit the already-established feelings of unfairness Hassan is always going on about? Where else does it come from? Sure, you also have to be an ass, and Hassan is definitely that as well...
Who else - Hassan in the ring. His profile was ratcheted a great many point upon his entrance, immediately being plugged into the championship scenem no matter how brief the experience was.
Who doesn't - The gimmick. If it goes too far, it could sink him. The hubbub is already brewing...

Who benefits - Captain Charisma. With a change of address, he gets the much-needed chance to start over. He should do fine.
Who doesn't - Tyson Tomko, who is this much closer to his own departure, from budget cuts.
Who else - Booker T, who should have been getting the early goat from Batista, not Christian, but who instead had to settle for competing against Chris Benoit for a shot against U.S. champion Orlando Jordan (two things wrong with that; that title is so last year for Booker, and if a feud hasn't already generated between him and Oz, it probably won't, at least not for a while). Not the way to follow up feuding with Kurt Angle. Instead, Christian (last Thursday's main event), then back to JBL.

Who benefits - Smackdown. Raw gets to work with John Cena, and Smackdown has an unquestioned champion for the first time in a year. The extended (successful) feud with Triple H did much to legitimize Dave, and now he gets to further prove himself against a hungry roster which is, much like him, trying to make sure it's not overlooked again.
Who else - JBL, who might have found a natural opponent at last. Many of his feuds in the past year have been mostly perfunctuary, but finally established as a top tier star, JBL can let loose as a dangerous big man against a dangerous big man.
Who doesn't - Poor Big Show. What he couldn't get against Bradshaw he might have gotten against Batista...

Who benefits - Gawkers. Possibly Torrie Wilson.
Who doesn't - Um, raw gawkers?

Simon Dean
Who benefits - Dean, who might have better luck in the Blue World Order, or out of it. Maybe if he became something other than a jobber...
Who doesn't - Maven, who lost his master, then his job.

Steven Richards
Who benefits - Hey, it couldn't hurt his career, right?
Who doesn't - Chris Masters, who will have to find another rag doll with a glass nose.

Sylvain Grenier
Who benefits - Rob Conway. Flag poles.
Who doesn't - Sylvain Grenier. Flag poles.

William Regal
Who benefits - Regal's solo career. And hopefully he gains a speaking role again. The locker room, too. I'm sure he has much to teach it.
Who doesn't - Tajiri, Eugene, who both just lost their last meal tickets.

There's also the matter of the recent roster cuts, some notice of which I've made in the preceding reports. Charlie Haas is the biggest loss, but he also has the most to gain. He has the goods to capitalize on his new employment status with other offers, which he could use to enhance his craft and then return to WWE asa more valuable asset in the future. Akio is another I wish the best for. And then there's the potential of Brock Lesnar's return. I hold nothing against him, as regular readers would know (I don't think I have any, as it is), and all the comments he's made about his actions in the past year and change have made sense. I wish him the best, as always. As for Matt Hardy: go to TNA. It'll be for the better for all involved, and best of luck. Maybe you'll see Akio there.

That's all I'm going to bother you with today.


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