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  • keyboard_arrow_right 2020 WWE Draft (Nights 1 & 2) – Reactions and Post Draft Suggestions

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2020 WWE Draft (Nights 1 & 2) – Reactions and Post Draft Suggestions

DTJ October 13, 2020 148


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I used to find the WWE Draft exciting, seeing it as an opportunity to freshen up storylines, give certain characters a new life, and inject a sense of excitement into both brands. However, my feelings about the drafts have soured a bit because it does not solve what I foresee as the fundamental issue, and that is the storyline writing. Now, since I was always taught to be mindful of offering criticism of how others do a job you have never done, I relegated to offer my take from the fan perspective. And as a fan, I see way too much talent on the WWE roster for their products to suck so much. How I measure the level of suck-ness is simple, it is how much I care for the PPVs. It is a similar measure I have held since I was a much younger man and over time, I have found it to remain a valid measure. This year, I have cared even less about the PPVs. While I always tend to watch WrestleMania and Summer Slam, I found even those shows a struggle to get genuinely excited for this year. At first, I thought it had a lot to do with the shadow of weirdness cast by Coronavirus and seeing the superstars perform in empty arenas or the performance center. But then, I watched some old episodes of World Championship Wrestling from back in the late 80s early 90s, what emanated from the studio apartment in Atlanta, GA. Even with those robust capacity crowds of 20 people, I still thoroughly enjoy those shows, most of the time anyway. But by watching those episodes, I also realized why I dislike the current WWE product so much; WWE writes its storylines in such a way that caters to the novice wrestling fan, and often disregards the more modern fan that follows certain characters careers from the bar rooms through the indies to prime time. How WWE choses to develop and utilize certain talents is mindboggling sometimes.  This explanation deserves a deeper dive that I may cover in a future article, so  more now I’ll bottom line my main thought by saying, I would care more about the draft if it truly represented an creative fresh take or new start for some superstars.  Despite my concerns, here is a recap of Superstars moving between brands and my overall thoughts about each move.

NIGHT ONE

  • Seth Rollins goes from RAW to SmackDown – My overarching question is, which Seth Rollins? The Shield, the Brand Standard Bearer, or the Messiah? Because that will make all the difference in how I ultimately feel about the move. Smackdown needs an Anchor and a Star to set the tone for what the Blue Brand will be. FOX needs a big name to market this show. Seth needs a creative fresh start. This could work for all sides. It also could be horrible. Time will tell.
  • AJ Styles goes from SmackDown to RAW – As a talent, AJ has been grossly underutilized since he arrived at WWE and I think I understand a reason why; Injury Prevention. When you are a high-flying superstar performing twice a week, that is a lot less wear and tear versus being high flying and performing 4 times a week. And an injured AJ does not serve your fan base, superstar, or bottom line very much. AJ is also a championship caliber talent, which means there is an expectation on his having a classic match each time out. Even more reason to manage his workload. Still, I think there are more creative ways to use his character without burning him out or needlessly risking injury.
  • Naomi goes from SmackDown to RAW – I’ll be honest, I was not a huge fan of Naomi at the onset of her WWE career, but the more I watched her wrestle, the more I became convinced of her true stardom. The Women’s division is deep with talent and stars like Naomi support a reason I feel the WWE needs a secondary title for Women, like a Women’s Intercontinental or TV title.
  • Bianca Belair goes from RAW to SmackDown

All I have to say to WWE brass is, Don’t Blow This. Among the young crop of talent (men or women) I love Bianca. She is strong, smart, great on the mc, beautiful and versatile (she can be a great face or heel).

  • Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio go from RAW to SmackDown – I guess someone has to drive pops to work. In all seriousness, they all quarantine at the performance center, right?
  • The Miz and John Morrison go from SmackDown to RAW – Sometimes, WWE beats you over the head with a story or narrative so much, that you start to believe it, or at least tolerate it. Everyone seems to talk about how great of a tag team these two are. Really?  Really?  For all the bad writing WWE has done over the past few years, some of its best has involved Miz in the angle with Shane McMahon. The ending of his match with Shane at WrestleMania 35 was absolutely bananas. To go from that to fake tag team greatness is a bit baffling to me. But such is WWE storylines these days.
  • SmackDown Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods go from SmackDown to RAW Big E stays on SmackDown
  • Like most things involving the New Day, I will discuss these moves together. I agree with the split, although I disagree with the timing. I personally think all three superstars could and would have amazing singles careers. I wrote a few months back how much I would love to see Kofi as a heel (A real heel and not a forced one like Bayley). However, I think the timing of the split would have been better during Kofi’s title run. There are just a ton of creative avenues WWE could have taken, but that is all moot now. I do not see Big E as more than an US or IC champ, without dropping some of the cartoonish behavior and becoming more edgy.  Kofi as World Champ could have been more effective, but it was clear to me WWE made that move out of fan pressure more than belief in his ability, and they seemed to write for him that way. Xavier Woods has some HBK-esque qualities. He is a great performer and seems to do well in those underdog situations where a special move is needed to turn the tide. He has a ton of personality and mic skills, but honestly needs a different “gimmick”. I do hate that word, but it is what it is.
  • Tucker goes from SmackDown to RAW – Just puts him one step closer into a AEW contract and one of those vignettes where he can rant about how he was the real talent behind Heavy Machinery. Maybe he will join The Dark Order with Brodie Lee as Mutha Tucker. I know it does not make sense, but its still better than what WWE’s doing with him. You can boost Otis without destroying Tucker.
  • Drew Gulak goes from SmackDown to RAW – He would make a great IC or US champion if WWE took his talent more seriously. I already know they do not. His brief angle with Daniel Bryan showed his technical acumen, but the writers clearly did not now how to leverage him from there. I can probably lump a few people into this next statement, but if Paul Heyman still ran ECW, I feel like he would have worked wonders with a character like Drew much in the way he allowed Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko to make mat magic and introduce fans to their brilliance.  
  • Murphy goes from RAW to SmackDown – I would echo my last run-on sentence from Gulak onto Murphy. A great talent that is too big for 205 Live or NXT, but not being properly utilized in the big brands.

NIGHT TWO

  • The Field Bray Wyatt goes from Smackdown to Raw   – Makes sense from the perspective that Raw needs ratings and versatile superstars. Not sure if The Fiend character will remain, but the beauty of Bray is that he is effective in and out of character.  
  • The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Dangelo Dawkins) Raw Tag Team Champions goes from Raw to Smackdown – With each brand switching tag champs, the title holders switch as well, meaning the New Day are the new Raw Tag Champs and The Street Profits are the new Smackdown Champs. From a business perspective, Smackdown, FOX wants entertainers, which makes this make sense.
  • Braun Strowman goes from Smackdown to Raw – If the WWE intends for the Raw Underground to be sustainable, then they had to make this move. That is risky though. I am old enough to remember when WWE undertook a Toughman angle and tried to convince us that Bart Gunn could beat Butterbean?  The millennials might be scratching their heads, so here’s a video reference kids.
  • Matt Riddle goes from Smackdown to Raw – Yet another person I would apply my thoughts from Gulak and Murphy to. He is also a one of the versatile superstars I mentioned Raw needing earlier. He could either be used as a technical specialist or in the WWE underground with his MMA background.
  • Kevin Owens goes from Raw to Smackdown – KO could fit on either brand, but it helps Smackdown from the perspective of giving FOX another star it could market. I need to see gold around KO’s waist. He thrives in a championship posture. I think the rosters are now lining up for this to happen for him on the blue brand.
  • Jeff Hardy goes from Smackdown to Raw – I think this move is less about what Jeff can offer Raw and more about Smackdown ridding itself of stars it cannot build a brand around. I wish it were more scientific than that.
  • Alexa Bliss goes from Smackdown to Raw – The unholy alliance with Bliss and Wyatt will wreck havoc on Raw and is what I would call a genuine power couple. I can see both of them holding hold simultaneously.
  • Elias goes from Smackdown to Raw – Elias has the talent to bring value to both brands, but not the star power, in part due to some injuries and character mismanagement. Raw will provide him the opportunity to re-build his character into a bona fide Superstar.
  • Lacey Evans goes from Smackdown to Raw – I think Lacey has the tools to be a woman’s champion, one day. I almost wish NXT were an option for her. She has the size, speed, and strength, and even has improved her in-ring technique. What she lacks is polish, which comes in time and through some wars. Some of the young talent on NXT could give her the development she needs for eventual greatness.
  • Sheamus goes from Smackdown to Raw – Shaemus’s championship relevancy window is closing, and I am sure WWE recognizes this. As great and dominate as The Bar was as a Tag Team, winning multiple tag titles, it is a downgrade of sorts for an athlete with Singles Title aspirations. I honestly do not think the issue WWE has is in writing for Shaemus, but rather making him believable to the WWE fanbase as a singles champion. Any attempts to make him more violent or edgy seem to only have a short-term effect. He needs a story the fan base can get behind. Another thought is to utilize him in the Raw Underground and reintroduce the fan base to his true power and intensity. He has all the other tools to be champion.
  • Nikki Cross moves from Smackdown to Raw – I really do not care as much as I should.
  • Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler goes from Raw to Smackdown – I am personally frustrated with both these superstars. And maybe its not really them, but how they have been utilized and written for. When I see Robert Roode, I think about Rick Rude. If only there was a manager, the likes of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, to accentuate his true greatness. Similarly, Dolph Ziggler is the closest thing we have seen to Shawn Michaels since Shawn Michaels. Yes, there are also some key differences and a clear fan base issue in allowing him to elevate to that next level. Dolph is a case study in why you sometimes must tell WWE fans what they believe as opposed to listening to what they think they want. If Smackdown/Fox see the same greatness in these two as I do, then this may be the move(s) of the entire draft.
  • Apollo Crews moves from Raw to Smackdown – To me, this is about a possible run at the IC title. He’s the type of Superstar Smackdown is looking to build its brand around. He has strength, great agility, a catalog of moves, and with a little more edge can be a dominate figure for the blue brand. This sounds stupid to say, but his character’s disposition is to happy to be taken seriously sometimes. He needs more edge, and a good feud/war will help him reach the next level.
  • Aleister Black goes from Raw to Smackdown – I hate how underutilized he was in Raw. I hope that will not be the case in Smackdown. Aleister is championship caliber. Black Mask is one of the most lethal and entertaining finishes in the business, much like HBK’s Sweet Chin Music or The Undertakers Tombstone were. If only there were another generation of great managers like Mr. Fuji or Paul Bearer around to add another level of danger and mysteriousness to his character. Maybe they’ll unite him with his real-life wife (Zelina Vega) to form an alliance and give Aleister the push he needs.
  • Shorty G moves from undrafted to Smackdown –

Few Superstars make my case for the ineptitude of WWE writing as well as Shorty G. Its clear WWE has no idea what to do with him. The problem is really with the WWE’s way of business, by which I mean their insistence on marketing cartoonish characters over talent. I would have never asked Chad Gable, who is a bona fide technical wrestling specialist, NCAA All-American and Olympian to rebrand himself as Shorty G. That was as poor a decision as adding marshmallows to Fruit Loops. On both fronts I say, stop it, stop it now. If Chad Gable is too long a name for the fan base, then have him go by Gable. But write for him in a way that accentuate his pure athleticism and charisma. He could end up being the future of your company, but you are instead squandering his talent out of not knowing how to use him. I’m sure Impact, AEW, NWA, IGPW or any other brand would know exactly how to use him.

  • Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik) go from undrafted to Raw- Every time I watch this tag team’s work, I wonder why they don’t have more success than they do. They are literally the team you call in when you want to get another team over. When you have a company full of stars, I guess everyone can’t be special.

STILL UNDRAFTED

  • Becky Lynch
  • Jimmy Uso
  • Eric & Ivar (Viking Raiders)
  • Sonya Deville
  • Edge
  • Jinder Mahal
  • Samoa Joe
  • Mojo Rawley
  • The Forgotten Sons
  • Bo Dallas
  • Lana
  • Andrade
  • Riddick Moss
  • Aruto Ruas
  • Billie Kay
  • Natalya
  • Tamina
  • Zelina Vega
  • The Riott Squad

Overall Grade – Undetermined. Ask me after the first two PPVs how I feel. Hopefully, unlike last draft(s), WWE will give these moves time to work out.

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