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April 13, 2009
â€“ Adam Russell
The WWE Draft has become one of the most anticipated nights of the wrestling calendar, and another of Vince McMahonâ€™s marketed
into oblivion brand names. It is touted as a night of excitement, a night of surprises, and a night in which things get shaken up. The truth
of the matter is, while it is one of the most interesting events in modern wrestling, itâ€™s usually about as surprising as a McMahon
getting pushed. You see, like most things in wrestling, the draft follows a certain set of rules that astute fans can see coming a mile
away. Rule number one- almost every â€˜randomâ€™ draft pick is going to be a big star. Youâ€™re unlikely to see Raw get Curt
Hawkins with the first pick of the night, for example. Rule number two- champions will change brands, with rule 2i.- by the end of the
month, the number of champions on each brand will have evened out again. Rule number three- tag teams will be separated. What
better way to pop a crowd than splitting up a team that nobody cared about anyway. And rule number four- Raw is going to come out of
the draft with the bigger stars, if not the better talent.
With those rules in mind, letâ€™s get to this yearâ€™s WWE Draft.
The night started with a recap from last weekâ€™s show, in which Randy Orton faced Vince McMahon one on one, and Batista returned
from his injury lay-off.
Batista himself was the first man out, as the Raw, SmackDown and ECW announce teams welcomed up to the show. Batista was given
one of those long, long entrances, basically telling the fans that his appearance was a big deal. It worked for Hulk Hogan a few years
ago, but once Batista was in the ring, and his music continued for another two minutes whilst he flexed his muscles, it was obvious that
the crowd had stopped caring. Things took a turn for the worse though, as Big Dave took to the mic. Batista with a microphone brings to
mind chocolate teapots; useless. He started, after chuckling to himself, and breathlessly telling the fans how good it feels to be back, by
saying that it was retribution which drove him back, and that he has replayed the punt that Randy Orton gave him in his head everyday for
the past four months. He said that the worst part of his absence was waiting to get his hands on Orton, and invited Orton to come to the
ring. Instead of Orton, we got Shane McMahon (better than Orton, the King told us), who said that he himself wanted some retribution for
what Orton did to Stephanie. The two of them argued over who wanted at Orton more, when the King of Kings himself, Triple H, came out,
and said that as it was he who started all of this, it was him who was going to finish it. This all brought out the new Raw General
Manager, Vickie Guerrero, being pushed to the ring by Chavo, who said that she will decide if and when anybody faces Orn (yes, she
apparently still canâ€™t say Orton). After reminding the three Backlash teammates that the title can change hands via DQ or countout in
that six-man tag match, she said that she had an opportunity for them tonight. Orn, she said, is getting the night off, but they will face Ted
DiBiase and Cody Rhodes in a 3 on 2 handicap match, and whoever gets the winning pinfall, should they win, will get a one on one
match with Orton next week. The segment ended with Triple H, Shane McMahon and Batista eying each other up, supposedly building up
tension between the three. Why all three of them canâ€™t â€˜gain retributionâ€™ is beyond me, and WWE creative too apparently.
After that distraction, it was time to get the draft underway. Like with last yearâ€™s draft, this year a series of inter-brand matches would
be taking place, and the winners of the matches would earn a draft pick for their brand. With twelve people scheduled to be drafted, that
makes for a lot of matches, which should make for a happy reviewer. Indeed, the first match promised to be a highly entertaining one.
--- Rey Mysterio (Raw) Vs Evan Bourne (ECW)
The two high-flying superstars locked up, transitioned into a knuckle-lock, and traded holds, which resulted in Bourne slingshot ting Rey
over the top rope. Rey managed to land on his feet, however, and when Bourne tried a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside, Rey fought
out of it, and drop toe holded his opponent into the security wall. Back in the ring, Rey picked up a two count, and Evan came back by spin
kicking Rey as he attempted a cross body block off the second rope. Bourne slowed the match down with a chinlock, but Rey managed to
work up to his feet. Bourne wasnâ€™t ready to give up the advantaged yet, and he grounded Rey with a spin kick, and hit a standing
moonsault, before heading to the top rope. Rey followed him up, and hit a hurricanrana, which earned him a two count at 2â€™55. A
head scissor takedown put Bourne into position for the 619, which connected , and then Rey hit a top rope splash for the win after just 3â
€™27 of not particularly inspiring action. This truncated effort, between two of the more exciting guys on the roster, was hopefully not a
foreboding of things to come.
After the match it was announced that United States champion MVP was being drafted to Raw. Thatâ€™s rule number one and two, for
those keeping score.
--- Kane (Raw) Vs The Brian Kendrick (SmackDown)
Straight back to match action next, as Kane took on Kendrick, who was drafted to SmackDown last year, accompanied by Ezekiel
Jackson. Kendrick started by slapping Kane in the face, and running out of the ring, pursued by Kane. Big Zeke tried to intervene, but
Kane gave him a big boot, and then hit an uppercut on Kendrick after avoiding his baseball slide. Back inside the ring, Kendrick gave a
kick to Kane and attempted to end the match with The Kendrick. However, Kane blocked the move and hit a choke slam for the win in an
embarrassing 45 seconds.
RAWâ€™s draft pick was The Big Show (rule number one).
In the back, Vickie was telling Chavo how excited she was about her new start, when Randy Orton came him. Orton told Vickie that the
world title had better be on the line if he ends up having to face Triple H next week. Vickie told her that it wouldnâ€™t , but that if Rhodes
and DiBiase won, the person they pinned or made to submit would have to face all of Legacy in a three-on-one handicap match next
We then cut to John Cena, who was greeted in the back by his scheduled opponent for the night, ECW Champion Jack Swagger.
Swagger bragged that the champ is here, and that tonight he would show the world why he is the future of the company. Cena introduced
himself to Swagger, and made fun of Swaggerâ€™s All-American American nickname, saying that would be like him saying the â
€˜champ is here, hereâ€™ or â€˜you canâ€™t see me, meâ€™. He then told Swagger that he should just call himself the All-American
Jackass. After, I assume, running out of jokes, Cena turned serious and told Swagger that he is just a punk kid with a couple of wins
under his belt who likes to run his mouth. Tonight, Cena warned, he would give a lesson in respect.
--- Maryse, Michelle McCool and Natalya (SmackDown) Vs Mickie James, Melina and Kelly Kelly (Raw)
Inter-brand divas action next, confused somewhat by the fact that Natalya was announced as being a part of the ECW roster several
weeks ago. The match began with all six women brawling, with Michelle and Mickie getting the match officially underway. Mickie hit a
snapmare and a low dropkick, and then a headscissors out of the corner, and then went to the top rope. She was met off the top by a big
boot from McCool, and that was enough for SmackDown to earn its first draft pick of the night. This match lasted 1â€™15, which meant
that the first hour of the show had three matches totaling under five and a half minutes of action. Not good enough. SmackDownâ€™s
draft pick was womenâ€™s champion Melina (rule number two), and she immediately eyed by divaâ€™s champion Maryse.
--- John Cena (Raw) Vs Jack Swagger (ECW)
Champion versus champion was up next, in a match which would hopefully stem the flow of woefully short matches with which the show
had started. Swagger got the best of Cena in the early going, taking Cena off his feet a couple of times, building up his amateur
credentials. Cena came back, building up his street fighting credentials, with some lame punches to the midsection, and a flying
shoulder block. Swagger rolled out of the ring, but Cena followed him, hit a big clothesline, and rolled him back inside for a one count.
Swagger came back with a clothesline of his own, and then locked on a full nelson which, after several moments of struggle, Cena
managed to break. Cena hit a couple more flying shoulderblocks on Swagger, and then a back suplex into a slam, and the five knuckle
shuffle. Cena went for the F-U, but Swagger avoided it and hit a big boot, gaining a two count at 5â€™12. Swagger then sent Cena
shoulder-first into the corner post, as we went to a break at 5â€™35. We came back at 8â€™49 with Cena back body dropping Swagger,
and then hitting more of his garbage punches before Swagger hit a clumsy DDT for a two count. A running kneelift earned Swagger
another near fall at 10â€™20, and yet another two count was gained after a big power slam. With Cena grounded, Swagger jumped up to
the second rope, but landed on Cenaâ€™s shoulders and was sent to the mat with the F-U. An STFU followed and Swagger tapped at
11â€™28. This was a decent match, which surely did a lot for Swaggerâ€™s standing in the eyes of the casual WWE fans. Cena was
always going to go over, but for 11 and a half minutes he gave a lot of offence to his promising opponent, and this made the match
enjoyable. With Cenaâ€™s win, Raw earned two more draft picks. First to be announced was Matt Hardy (rule number one), and then, in
what was clearly supposed to be the big move of the night, it was announced that WWE champion was heading back to the A show (rule
numbers one, and two). I suppose Hunter thinks heâ€™s done his time in SmackDown purgatory, and itâ€™s time for him to be back on
the main stage. With Cena watching Triple H parading on the main stage, Edge came out of the crowd and attacked him from behind.
His attempted spear missed the mark, and Cena picked Edge up for an F-U, before Edge wriggled out of it and fled up the ramp. Itâ€™s
frustrating that nobody is ever allowed to gain heat at Cenaâ€™s expense.
In the back, Randy Orton asked Rhodes and DiBiase what their strategy is for the main event. Cody said that they would take advantage
of the animosity between their opponents, and Ted added that they planned on winning the match by disqualification, and that that is how
Orton will win the world title at Backlash.
--- Santino Marella (Raw) Vs The Great Khali (SmackDown)
Before this next match, Beth and Rosa came out to the stage, and Beth told Santino that if Khali beat him, Santinoâ€™s â€˜twin sisterâ
€™ Santina would have to be a guest on the Khali kiss cam. Santino started the match by laying some punches into Khali, to no effect.
Khali threw Santino down, and then tried to drag the Italian off the ropes which he was clinging to like a baby clinging to his mother.
Santino hit the ropes and ran into a shoulder block. Khali then hit his patented chop to the head, placing a foot on Santinoâ€™s chest for
the three count at 1â€™03. SmackDownâ€™s draft pick was CM Punk (rule number one).
--- The Miz (ECW) Vs Kofi Kingston (Raw)
The matches kept on coming fast (a little too fast in truth) and furious, as Miz, who was accompanied by John Morrison, took on Kofi
Kingston. The two traded headlocks in the early going, before Kofi took his opponent down with flying elbow, and then focused his
attention on the arm. After an arm drag sent The Miz out of the ring, Kofi teased a dive onto the former World Tag Team champions,
instead hitting a baseball slide on Miz. A distraction from JoMo allowed Miz to fire back at Kofi with a baseball slide of his own, and then
back in the ring he slowed the match down with a chinlock. Kofi managed to battle up to his feet, but Miz held onto his head, and dove into
the corner, driving Kofiâ€™s head against the top turnbuckle. This earned The Miz a two count at the 4â€™53 mark, making this already
the second longest match of the night. Miz went back to the chinlock, and again Kofi battled to his feet, this time causing separation with
some punches, before coming off the ropes with a clothesline. Kofi followed up with a high cross body block from the top, but The Miz
rolled through for a two count at 6â€™59. A backslide attempt was countered into a side Russian legsweep, and then Kofi hit the B
cubed leg drop for a near fall. The Miz managed to avoid the Thunder in Paradise and rolled Kofi up for a two count of his own, before the
two traded near falls with a series of pinning predicaments. Kofi looked to get back in control by going to the second rope, but it was at
this point that Morrison decided to intervene, knocking the Jamaican off in full view of the referee to get The Miz disqualified. This match
went for just under 9 minutes, longer than every other match, barring Cena-Swagger, combined, but for much of the time the action was
ponderous, and not all that interesting. I wonder why these two got 9 minutes when Rey and Bourne only got three and a half. After the
match, Miz looked upset that Morrison had cost him the match, and this was compounded when it was announced that RAWâ€™s
resultant draft pick was the Chick Magnet himself (rule number three). The two Dirt Sheet co-hosts hugged in the ring, but the Miz kicked
Morrison in the gut and hit the Reality Check.
Up next was a tri-branded battle royal with two draft picks on the line.
--- Battle Royal- MVP, Shad, JTG, Mike Knox, The Big Show (Raw, Finlay, Ricky Ortiz, Tyson Kidd, Paul Burchill, Mark Henry (ECW),
Carlito, Primo, R-Truth, Chavo Guerrero, Edge (SmackDown)
This battle royal was poorly booked, with little respect shown to most of the guys in the ring. A lot of the eliminations werenâ€™t even
acknowledged by the announcers, so with that in mind, here is the order of elimination, as best I could tell. Ricky Ortiz was the first to go,
1â€™47 into the match, followed in quick succession by Burchill, Mike Knox, Chavo, Shad and Primo, all within 30 seconds. The story of
the match at this point was a battle between Henry and Show, who accounted for most of the eliminations between them. Out went R-
Truth, Kidd, JTG and Carlito as we approached the 3 minute mark, and then Henry took out MVP, with Edge taking out Finlay, leaving
Show from Raw, Edge from SmackDown and Henry from ECW. Show hit a choke slam on Edge, before he was attacked by Henry.
However, Show picked Henry up and tried to throw him over the top rope. Henry landed on the apron, and tried to pull Show over,
reminiscent of the 2004 Royal Rumble finish with Chris Benoit and Show. Show wasnâ€™t going to go though, and he hit a big punch on
Henry eliminating him. Show and Edge, those old love rivals, then stared each other down, before Show charged at Edge, who low
bridged him out of the match, winning his second straight tri-branded battle royal for SmackDown, we were told. With Show fuming on the
outside, Kane was announced as SmackDownâ€™s first pick (rule number one), leaving Edge looking concerned. The next pick was far
more interesting as Chris Jericho was announced (rule number one), and the two Canadians gave each other an interesting look. A feud
between those two would be great, and could be the best thing to come out of this draft.
--- Christian (ECW) Vs Shelton Benjamin (SmackDown)
ECW hadnâ€™t won one draft pick at this point, so it was almost inevitable that Christian would win this match. Shelton jumped out of
the gate with a Northern Lights suplex for a two count, but Christian came back by sending Sheltonâ€™s throat against the bottom rope.
Christian climbed to the top rope, but Shelton impressively jumped up and suplexed him to the mat. After a two count, Shelton power
slammed Captain Charisma, but missed a high cross body block from the second rope. Christian tried to hit a monkey flip, but Benjamin
landed on his feet and charged in for a Stinger splash. Christian avoided the contact and hit the Killswitch for the win after a decent 3â
€™51. ECW picked up Vladimir Kozlov in the draft (rule number one).
In the back, Shane McMahon and Triple H were still arguing over who should get to take out Orton. Triple H told Shane to stay out of his
way, and if Batista were there heâ€™d tell him the same. At that point it was revealed that Batista was standing behind Triple H, and he
told Hunter that heâ€™s cool with it being â€˜every man for himselfâ€™.
--- CM Punk (SmackDown) Vs Matt Hardy (Raw)
The two, who have had some very good matches together in the past, traded early roll up attempts, and then both teased their finishers,
before Matt drove Punk face first into the mat with a reverse power bomb as Punk tried to leap over him. Matt followed up with a side
suplex, and then an abdominal stretch. Punk managed to power out, and hit Matt with a spin kick to the gut, a kneelift and a leg lariat for a
two count. Matt came back by clotheslining Punk in the corner, but he couldnâ€™t follow up with his patented bulldog. Punk had more
luck with his kneelift/bulldog combination, which garnered a two count. Punk then went for the GTS, but Matt countered into a side effect,
at which point Jeff Hardy came out and started laying into Matt with punches, ending the match at 4â€™23. Jeff hit a front suplex on Matt,
who rolled out of the ring before Jeff could hit a Swanton bomb. Jeff chased his brother up the ramp. RAWâ€™s draft pick for the
disqualification win was divaâ€™s champion, Maryse (rule number two, and 2i.).
The final draft pick match was up next as Chris Jericho took on Tommy Dreamer, in a match that had squash written all over it.
--- Chris Jericho (SmackDown) Vs Tommy Dreamer (ECW)
As if to emphasize that point, Todd Grisham on commentary told us that if Tommy Dreamer is a legend (responding to Josh Matthewsâ
€™ claim that Dreamer is an ECW legend), then so is the Brooklyn Brawler. Ouch. The match started with Jericho taking control out of the
collar and elbow tie-up, with Dreamer countering with a hiptoss, armdrag, and a clothesline over the top rope. He went out after Jericho
and threw him back into the ring, but was caught coming in with a kick. He managed to reverse Jerichoâ€™s suplex attempt, before
running into a big boot. Jericho went to work on Dreamer with a chokehold, before locking in a rest hold. Dreamer fought out and hit a
clothesline, and then tied Jericho up in the tree of woe, running in with a low dropkick to his face. Dreamer looked to follow up with a DDT,
but Jericho countered it and tried to put on the Walls of Jericho. Dreamer kicked him off, and small packaged him for a two count, before
going to the top rope. As he came off he was caught by the Codebreaker, and that was all she wrote after 4â€™41 of refreshingly back
and forth action. SmackDownâ€™s draft pick was Intercontinental champion Rey Mysterio (rule numbers one, two and 2i.).
It was main event time next.
--- Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Vs Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon
The match begun with Shane clotheslining Cody Rhodes, and going to work at him with punches, kicks, and a flying elbow for a two
count, before Batista, much to Shaneâ€™s annoyance, tagged himself in. Cody tagged Ted, and Batista clotheslined him, and drove his
shoulder into his stomach in the corner. Now it was Triple Hâ€™s turn to tag himself in, and he went to work on DiBiase with punches, a
facebuster and a clothesline for a two. He followed up with a spine buster and went for another cover, but Batista broke up the count. As
Hunter and Batista stared each other down, Ted took out Hunterâ€™s leg from behind, and he and Rhodes started to work on the Gameâ
€™s injured limb. Triple H managed to back body Rhodes, who was going for his Cross-Rhodes finisher, and a pair of tags later and it
was Ted and Batista who were the legal men. Batista hit a running powerslam on DiBiase for a two count, and Shane clotheslined Cody
Rhodes over the top rope. Batista hit a spinebuster and Batista Bomb, but Shane was back in to break the count. With Shane and Batista
at odds, Triple H tagged himself in. Now Batista turned his attention to the Game, which gave Shane the opportunity to spear him, and
the two brawled to the outside. Triple H hit a Pedigree on DiBiase to pin him at 7â€™44, and earn the chance to face Orton, once again,
on next weekâ€™s show. Orton himself came out at the end to stare down Triple H. It seems it would have made more sense for Legacy
to get he win here, and really do some damage to one of their opponents, say Shane McMahon, in a three-on-one handicap match next
week. That would have built more drama for Backlash, but instead we get Hunter-Orton 63.
This night on the whole was majorly disappointing. We did get some interesting brand switches (and oh yeah, looks like rule number
four proved accurate), but most of the matches were horribly rushed, and the draft itself ended up playing second fiddle to the Triple
H/Orton feud. I hope the coming weeks, and the aftermath of the draft, is better than the draft itself.