The Draft Unmasked

The Katz Files – Arnie Katzenjammer
The Draft Unmasked
The Kingfish Arnie Katz takes a long, hard look at the WWE Draft – and he doesn’t much like what he sees.

The ads touted this year’s WWE Draft Lottery as the start of a revolution. The actual three-hour event was less a revolution than a testament to the laziness and lack of imagination of the WWE writers and bookers.

If you wonder why people sometimes put down wrestling and its fans, you don’t have to look much further than the 180 minutes of piffle WWE aired on Monday as RAW.

Yes, there were a couple of decent matches – Mysterio-Bourne and Cena-Swagger – but can two watchable matches justify an entire evening in front of the television set? WWE asked a lot of its fans and then gave them precious little to enjoy.

The Lottery is a miserable piece of work from start to finish.

That’s no exaggeration, either. The whole concept is deeply, deeply flawed. I listened to six announcers caterwauling about first draft picks and draft strategy, when neither exists. If the six-pack of mic men had confined themselves to reality, they wouldn’t have had very much to say about the process by which WWE shifted around its talent.

No matter how many times they call it a draft, it isn’t. It’s a lottery. The MNA has something called a “draft lottery,” too, but it means something totally different in basketball. The NBA draft is a draft5, but there is a random selection of draft positions among the teams that didn’t make the play-offs in the previous season. The actual draft involves teams picking players.

You can have a draft and you can have a lottery, but they are very different – and mutually exclusive. As presented by WWE, it didn’t matter who won what match or who got which number pick, because the picks were random. If a win for a brand had entitled that brand to actually choose someone, it would’ve been important to win the match. Since the pick could turn out to be anyone from John Cena to Hornswoggle, there really was no reason to want a pick.

The announcers made it even worse by twice talking about a wrestler going to a brand and then having exactly that wrestler selected. Smart fans surely know that the “draft lottery” is just a vehicle for talent reassignment, but WWE didn’t really have to rub fans’ noses in it/

Doing It Right
Given the purpose of the Lottery, it would be relatively easy to come up with ways for the names to come up as a result of something other than blind chance.

For example:

1. The winner of a match stays with the same promotion. The loser goes to that promotion.

2. The Battle Royal could’ve gone first and determined the order of draft. Then each GM could have picked a main event.

3. They could’ve had a three-on-three elimination match. As each wrestler is eliminated, he would go to the promotion of the man who pinned or submitted him.

4. A Ladder match with a “Go Anywhere” contact in a suitcase suspended above the arena.

5. They could have a “loser leave RAW (or Smackdown) match in which the winner could send the loser to one of the other two brands.

It would also help if there were more picks on RAW and if WWE didn’t blow off the rest of the Draft Lottery with an online list two days later. When they treat the Draft as an after-thought like this, it undermines the excitement that fans should feel at all the announcements.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll return to join me – and, please, bring your friends.

— Arnie Katz
Executive Editor
[email protected]
(4/14/09)