With the early and unfortunate retirement of Edge from professional wrestling, WWE now finds itself in what many have described as a “panic mode.” The panic mode also stems from ratings dips, but still, having one of your brands lose its top star so quickly is damaging. With the draft this upcoming week, speculation is running wild as to which baby face WWE will place on the blue brand to replace Ede. Regardless of the name brought over, Smackdown already has its next top star in Alberto Del Rio.
The last few months on Smackdown have been about Edge getting his groove back. He lost out on the last half of 2009 due to a really bad injury. When he returned in 2010 he made an immediate impact by winning the Royal Rumble and starring in one of the main events of WrestleMania XXVI. Instead of being given a run with the title, Edge was drafted over to Raw where his character went into limbo after an uneventful heel turn. It was not until he went back home to the blue that he got the spark back. Turning face again, Edge became the brand’s number one hero, and finished out the year by winning the World Championship. He spent the next few months having good matches as a defending champion. It looked like the brand would be his for quite a while, but then his retirement announcement came. Now without its top hero, Smackdown appears to have a gaping hole. But this could work to the advantage of the company. With this chance to change things up on the show, why not make the top star a heel?
The Extreme Rules pay per view is set to feature a ladder match between Del Rio and Christian for the now vacant title. It’s really a good story when you think about it. You have the villain who is looking to take control now that his arch nemesis is out of the way, but then you have the hero’s best friend coming to make sure that doesn’t happen. This is Christian’s chance to assume Edge’s role. By having Del Rio win, especially if he cheats, he will go over a despicable jerk who took away Christian’s chance. Even though the Raw side has more star power in their main event, Extreme Rules should really close with this match. It would be a great way to emphasize the importance of Edge retiring, and put Del Rio over strong. From there WWE could build to a blow-off match on Smackdown between Del Rio and Christian. You have Del Rio go over again, but Christian puts up the fight of his life.
If Smackdown does get a big baby face from Raw, the most practical thing would be to hold off on putting them against Del Rio. The May pay per view would be a great chance to build new challengers for Del Rio. A four-way is a possibility. Rey Mysterio and Big Show make sense as Del Rio opponents. Mysterio had a great series with Alberto last year and Show’s character would be a great foil for the villain. You could even throw Christian in there for one last shot at the gold. From there, I would do trilogy of sorts between Del Rio and Show. You could start with the four-way in May, transition to a one-on-one in June, which could go to a DQ. That would then set up blow-off in July where Del Rio can get the final win. During this time Mysterio would make a for a great television opponent. Should WWE decide against a series of pay per view matches with Show and Del Rio, Mysterio could easily step into the role of challenger.
SummerSlam would be the place to kick off a series between Del Rio and the newest baby face on Smackdown. Let’s say Randy Orton comes over from Raw. It would be wise to keep Orton away from Del Rio for a few months. You would want to build the match up and not put them in the ring right away. There are plenty of heels to keep Orton occupied, and there will likely be more coming over in the draft. At most, they could make subtle hints at Orton-Del Rio, perhaps bumping into each other backstage. The build isn’t the only reason I would hold off on the match. After Del Rio goes through guys like Show and Mysterio, the show needs a program to make it through the rest of the year. It would be pretty anticlimactic to do a Del Rio-Orton program, and then move Show into the picture later.
It’s at this point where things could go either way. Again, using Orton as an example, you have a series of pay per view matches between them where you could trade the title back and forth. The year could then finish out with either guy carrying the belt, although the show would probably be more intriguing with somebody chasing Del Rio for the gold as opposed to a baby face fending off the villains, especially since that looks where Raw is headed this summer with John Cena.
Del Rio is an interesting character who is only just beginning. He has shown that he has the ability and the charisma. Why not give him the chance to run with the ball on the blue brand? I understand that none of this could happen. When the draft comes, Del Rio may even end up on Raw. What I have laid out is merely one possibility, just one possible road of several that WWE may take with the Smackdown brand. I am sure many of you have your thought and feelings on where the show is headed, and I am interested to know where you think that is. Feel free to let me know, and enjoy the draft!