I still have mixed feelings about the WWE Draft. A part of me is saying, “Why the f*** are they doing this again?”…The other part of me retorts with, “Why the f*** do you even care?”
I’ve gone on record, and I’ll say it again – this is arguably the greatest athletic talent roster in the history of the business, but the roster is suffering from severe overflow. There is not enough time, product or attention span to dedicate to every single deserving worker. It’s like a family with 10 kids. Sure, you love them all equally, but there is absolutely no way you can give an equal amount of time, attention and care to each and every one of them. You want to, but you can’t. A handful of them will grow to become everything you ever imagined. Then you’ll have the one who’s always going to jail, the handicap one, the drug addict and the girl who dances on the pole. Say it ain’t so!
This draft isn’t some sort of creative brilliance that was thought up to keep the fans engaged. This was done out of necessity. It was done out of creative convenience to balance the rapidly increasing talent roster. It’s a business move to protect your investments, build stock and value in your workers, and have them on reserve ready for a shot at the “brass ring” when a name listed a few notches higher goes down with a major injury or gets suspended for violating a wellness policy. WWE has made this move several times in the past, and each time they not only drop the ball, but they kick it away. After all, the WWE is asking for a HUGE commitment from their audience – three hours of RAW and two hours of Smackdown. FIVE hours of LIVE pro wrestling entertainment on a weekly two-day span is a lot for even a porn star to swallow!
Keep in mind, the RAW brand is well established. It doesn’t need the draft. As the flagship show, any newcomer to appear on that brand basically becomes an instant star. On the flip side of the coin, Smackdown has always been the side-bitch. Never getting the same respect as RAW, and always looking to make something out of RAW’s sloppy seconds. In a nutshell, RAW makes superstars, and Smackdown needs superstars to make the brand!
The problem is Vince McMahon owns it ALL – so there is no real life competitive threat costing him money. He’ll never have the feeling that his back is against the wall with a stranger’s hand stealing from his pockets, and the other hand poaching his talent roster. While they will never admit to it, WWE is suffering from their own monopolization of the industry. Sure, Vince owns it all – but he has no idea what to do with it all. Vince McMahon suffers from a severe case of corporate A.D.D.
I don’t want to sound like the “keyboard quarterback” who thinks he knows all the answers, but there is a way to make this creatively and financially effective and efficient. As crazy as it may seem, there is a systematic “creative calculation” similar to Billy Beane’s infamous “Moneyball” strategy. MY genius has a value – and it ain’t $Free.99. You’d have to pay me handsomely for those answers.
WWE (and the wrestling business as a whole) needs COMPETITION. That’s a no brainer. But the ONLY way this works is if WWE can commit to legitimately making RAW and Smackdown two separate competitive brands. And that is NOT resolved by having two different colors. EVERYTHING needs to look and feel different. It needs to feel innovative and not be afraid to take chances that cannot be risked on the 25 year old flagship show. This is an opportunity to change the game. Rather than focus on the same ol’, same ol’ in-ring action, the true competition will be between the creative teams trying to steal each other’s audience.
Like George Lucas and the Star Wars franchise, Vince McMahon needs to let go of Smackdown and trust it in the hands of the in-house “fans” he has influenced and inspired for over 30 years. Trust their creative visions and hand them the reigns to really evolve the business. George Lucas RUINED the Star Wars prequels and nearly killed his entire fanbase because he only focused on what HE liked rather than what the fans liked. The same goes two-fold for Vince McMahon. He needs to stop being a MARK for his own product. He is the ONLY one who enjoys and pops for the slap-stick comedy and poorly acted segments. He needs to trust the passion of those around him who can carry his creation for generations to come.
I can easily rattle off 100 things that could or should, but WON’T be done. It’s not my job, and it never will be. What would I do if given the pencil….? Well, like a chick who doesn’t want to go all the way, I’ll just give you the tip(s).
I wouldn’t have ANY Smackdown representatives come out to declare ANY names in the draft. I would let the clock run out and forfeit my draft positions. Leave the crowd scratching their head while RAW scoops up all the stud players. Come the following week on Smackdown, no one knows who’s going to appear on the show, and when it airs – it’s full of ALL NEW faces. Names that weren’t even considered during the actual draft. NXT would be raided. Japan would be raided. Ring of Honor would be raided. TNA would be raided. Some familiar faces would return offering their veteran experience. Championships would have prime value. Authority would have a new and stricter rule book. Feuds would be built to one and ONLY ONE match. And the only message would be – SMACKDOWN IS NOW HIRING. Bring your passion and apply within for a job with the FUTURE!
Within a few months, RAW will look outdated and appear “old school”. Fans would watch RAW with the same confusion that they have watching Impact Wrestling. Vince will feel threatened from within and his hand will be forced to make changes that are more in-tune with today’s society and pop culture. He’ll have to find his pulse again and succumb to the truth and acceptance that he is now being dominated by a creation not his own. Remember the impact the nWo had in the 90’s? What if it were an entire organization infiltrating a hostile takeover of a monopolized industry? What if these young stars were fighting to open more doors and offer more employment within the business? What if these stars were fighting for the future?
And this is where I drop the mic.
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