Reality From Ringside #4
Match 2, 2009
Reported By: Doug Lackey of WrestleView.comDodging the Draft: Unraveling Ten Months
After making my debut last week as a columnist for Wrestleview, albeit quite unceremoniously, I figured I should start this week's edition with that prolonged introduction. My name is Doug Lackey and I am very humbled to be part of this great writing staff. More important, I am very grateful that you have chosen to click the link and read my opinions. After reading the great columns and articles that appear on this website, I truly believe that the most mature, professional, and open-minded of wrestling fans make Wrestleview? and that definitely includes you.
My intention of ?Reality? is to bring a little bit of everything to the table here at Wrestleview. As time goes by, so much changes in the blink of an eye in professional wrestling. I guess that's why I wear glasses. It's to catch everything that happens and compare them to past occurrences. It's to look back at what just happened and give a light chuckle. Essentially, what I bring to Wrestleview with ?Reality? are not just some typical predictions or prognostications about pay-per-events or the industry as a whole? but a broader perspective purely based on what we have seen in the past? and the proof to back it up.
With that said, if you have not read it already, WWE has announced that its somewhat-annual industrial-sized train-wreck called ?The Draft? will be taking eight days after Wrestlemania 25 on April 13th. The last draft happened on June 23rd of last year, hence the label 'somewhat-annual.?
So, what can happen to WWE in the span of ten months? How about this, twenty-two new talents (and retreads) to combat twenty-four releases and twenty title changes with five of them occurring within the first month following the draft.
Let's look at the first train coming down the track: the talent. Though many of the releases were long overdue (Hardcore Holly, Val Venis) citing WWE Creative as not having anything to work with, some of the younger talent (Elijah Burke, Kenny Dykstra) were not given the adequate time or opportunities. In all there were twenty-four releases with some very interesting statistics to follow.
While veterans such as Ron Simmons and Mick Foley were released, they were easily replaced by retreads like Ron Killings (R-Truth) and Goldust (Yes, I know it's Dustin Rhodes, but seriously? you?d rather remember him as Goldust). Christian made his anti-climactic return through ECW and not through the popular shows as to anger the village of marks, while Big Roly-Poly V couldn?t keep his weight down or his shirt on and waddled out the doors in Stamford.
Now on this first train, according to the releases, which brand would you NOT want to be on in order to keep your job? I?m sure most of you are yelling out the land of extreme. Would you believe me if I told you it is just as professionally fatal to be on Sci-Fi Channel as it is to be on USA Network? That's right, both Raw and ECW had the same number of releases (9). Smackdown is the safest brand to be a part of, with only 6 releases. Bear in mind, these numbers are true post-draft.
There have been twenty-two new additions to the WWE talent pool. The roster is now graced with retreads (yes, I consider Christian a retread? it's his second-time around in WWE just like Killings?) and exciting new faces in Sydal (Bourne) and Jack Swagger. Intriguing of the new additions have been five new females? replacing the two that were shown the door within the past ten months. What brand did the bulk of this new talent go? This time you can think ECW (9 of 22). Smackdown received eight while Raw only got five. So, by the time of April's draft, Raw will be down four superstars, Smackdown up two, and ECW breaking even.
Coincidentally, in last June's draft, a total of twenty-eight superstars switched brands. How many of these that were drafted ended up being released? Only three: Big Daddy V, Chuck Palumbo, and Super Crazy. So if you are a WWE superstar and fear for job security, tell Creative you don?t mind being switched to another brand. It helped Carlito a ton, didn?t it? He was once complaining about under-utilization, now he's co-champion with Primo Colon on Smackdown.
Speaking of titles, that brings us to the other train plunging headfirst into the other. Since last June, there have been a total of twenty title changes. While this seems like a large number, keep in mind that WWE had eight celebrated straps (the Diva's Championship was not worn until July 20th of 2008 but that makes nine). Within just thirty days of last year's draft, five titles changed hands (World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States, ECW, and WWE Tag Team). What does this mean? It means that goes down after the draft, that's what.
More significant than that, the frequency of title changes within this time period also reflects how prestigious they appear to the organization itself. Which of these titles do you think is more prestigious or coveted: Intercontinental or United States? Take a look at the two.
The Intercontinental Title changed hands four times within a ten-month span (Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, Santino Marella, William Regal, and current champion CM Punk). The United States Title only changed hands once (Matt Hardy to Shelton Benjamin). What does this mean? That Intercontinental Champions can be found on a two-month basis? That there is no competition for the United States title? This is a debate that will continue to be played out for many months to come, and yours truly is going to damn well moderate it.
Alright, enough of the glasses with the rear-view mirrors? enough of looking back and examining. Time for the moment you, the impatient little mark, have been waiting for. The predictions for this year's draft:
My prediction: I have no ing idea.
Do you know anyone who predicted Triple H going to Smackdown? Jim Ross and Michael Cole switching places at the announcer's chair? Or quite possibly the most implausible of them all? Matt Striker going f rom ECW to Raw? then back to ECW? as a commentator?!
The only thing that you can take stock in f rom the draft is that all hell usually breaks loose in the following month either in pay-per-view events or televised broadcasts. So try not to be too much of a nerd like me? try not to predict everything? just look back at past times and go ?Heh? who?d a thunk it??
Until next time, mouth-breathers!