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The 2004 WWE Draft Lottery
According to Mr. McMahon, WWE is just weeks away from a huge shake up. Recently on RAW, the WWE Chairman announced that there will be a Draft Lottery held where RAW Superstars could be selected to compete for SmackDown!, and vice versa. Watch the announcement: Watch
If this year's Draft Lottery is anything like last year's, it's sure to shake things up tremendously. Here is how many WWE Superstars were effected by last year's Draft Lottery:
Commonly referred to as the most gifted athlete on the RAW roster by Jim Ross, Shelton Benjamin went through a complete career change when he moved from SmackDown! to RAW. Benjamin had already enjoyed much success on SmackDown! with partner Charlie Haas, but he hadn't tested the waters as a singles competitor yet. The Draft Lottery forced him to leave the side of Haas and fend for himself on RAW. Watch Shelton get drafted: Watch
Benjamin quickly silenced any possible critics that thought he may not be able to compete as a singles star when he defeated Triple H on March 29. Enraged at the loss, Triple H ordered a rematch the following week, but Benjamin somehow came out on top yet again, further infuriating The Game. This led to a series of successful matches against the members of Evolution.
As a member of the RAW roster, Benjamin also proved his popularity with the fans, when he was voted in to vie for the Intercontinental Championship against Chris Jericho at Taboo Tuesday. Benjamin didn't let down his fans as he surprised Y2J with his T-Bone for the pin. Benjamin has been on a roll ever since and has been fighting off all challengers to his championship. All other Superstars can only hope that the Draft Lottery will impact their careers the way it has Shelton's.
Little did anybody know it at the time, but March 22, 2004 may have been the most pivotal night of Theodore Long's career. Prior to the '04 Draft Lottery, Long enjoyed much success as a manager, as well as a referee. But when he was drafted to SmackDown!, his career truly turned the corner. Just four months after being drafted to the Thursday night brand, Mr. McMahon hand picked Theodore Long to replace Kurt Angle as SmackDown! General Manager - one of the most powerful positions in all of WWE. Since being named General Manager, Long has gone to great lengths to entertain the fans. He has even garnered a well deserved vote of confidence by Linda McMahon.
Tajiri was one of the top threats to the Cruiserweight Championship while competing for SmackDown! The Japanese Buzzsaw, however, was forced to pack his bags and head over to RAW when he was drafted by Eric Bischoff. Tajiri gained instant credibility with the fans when he was tricked by La Resistance into spitting his trademark green mist into the unsuspecting eyes of Jonathan Coachman. Several months later, Tajiri hooked up with William Regal, which resulted in great success. On Feb. 7, the unlikely pair defeated La Resistance in Tajiri's home country of Japan to become World Tag Team Champions, and they haven't looked back ever since (Watch). They've beaten every tag team that's challenged them, and even issued an open challenge to any tag team to step up to the plate and try to dethrone them. There's no denying that the Draft Lottery has had a profound impact on Tajiri's career and the gold around his waist is just further proof.
At the time of the 2004 Draft Lottery, few people had Edge on their radar, as he had been out of action for more than one year due to undergoing serious neck surgery. So when Eric Bischoff announced that he had drafted Edge, not only was SmackDown! General Manager Paul Heyman shocked, but so were WWE fans everywhere. Watch Edge get drafted: Watch
In his first match back from the neck injury, Edge made an instant impact and defeated the monster Kane. Soon after, Edge teamed up with Chris Benoit and won the World Tag Team Championship and enjoyed about a month-long reign. Edge then re-focused his energy on the singles division and targeted Evolution member Randy Orton. In an eye-opening match at Vengeance, Edge defeated Orton for the Intercontinental Championship. Edge was certainly a fighting champion, and this couldn't have been more evident than at SummerSlam when he took on both Chris Jericho and Batista in a Triple Threat Match and successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship.
After injuring his groin in August, Edge was forced to vacate the Intercontinental Championship. When he returned, he set his sights on a bigger prize -- the World Heavyweight Championship. Along with Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels, he was one of the Superstars that the fans could vote on to face Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship at Taboo Tuesday. Shawn Michaels narrowly defeated Edge in the voting and blamed it on Chris Benoit. From then on, Edge claimed that everyone was out to get him and he as continuously being screwed out of what was rightfully his -- the World Heavyweight Championship. So he took matters into his own hands at WrestleMania 21 and earned a championship opportunity by winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Edge can now receive an opportunity at the World Heavyweight Championship shot any time he wants within the next year -- unless he's drafted to SmackDown! that is.
ROB VAN DAM
The night of the 2004 WWE Draft Lottery was a busy one for Rob Van Dam. Not only did he and partner Booker T lose the World Tag Team Championship to Ric Flair and Batista, but RVD was also drafted by SmackDown!
Luckily for RVD, his SmackDown! debut was more successful than his RAW finale, as he defeated Charlie Haas in his first match as a member of the SmackDown! roster. Later in the year, Van Dam once again sat atop the tag team division. This time with partner Rey Mysterio. He and Mysterio defeated Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki for the WWE Tag Team Championship on the Dec. 9 edition of SmackDown! Watch
Triple H was the biggest the name to move during the 2004 Draft Lottery. Despite his notoriety, however, The Game did very little for SmackDown! after being drafted by General Manager Paul Heyman. Just three days after officially becoming a member of the SmackDown! roster, Triple H was traded back to RAW. Watch Triple H get drafted: Watch
Even if a Superstar's name wasn't drawn during the 2004 Draft Lottery, it became clear that they weren't necessarily safe from switching brands. After realizing one of his top Superstars, Triple H, was heading to SmackDown!, RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff worked around the clock to pull off a blockbuster deal to get The Game back on RAW. Keeping a Superstar the caliber of Triple H doesn't come without a steep price, however, as Bischoff had to let go of The Dudleys and Booker T in order to get The Game back on the RAW roster.
The Dudleys may very well go down as the most successful tag team in WWE history. Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley have been a dominating force in the tag team division ever since they debuted in WWE in late 2001. They went on to capture the World Tag Team Championship a record eight times, and carried their success over to SmackDown! after the trade was made.
Kurt Angle, who was SmackDown! General Manager at the time, was looking to bolster his tag team division and the Dudleys were the answer. Bubba Ray and D-Von toppled The Bashams in their first SmackDown! match and aligned themselves with Paul Heyman soon after in an effort to take down Undertaker. The Dudleys then headlined The Great American Bash, facing Undertaker in a Handicap Match. Before the match could come to an end, though, Undertaker was distracted by Heyman and in a bizarre act, attempted to bury Paul Bearer alive in a case of cement. After the confrontation with Undertaker, the Dudleys went right back to being tag team specialists, defeating Rico and Charlie Haas for their first WWE Tag Team Championship. They also reunited with their half-brother Spike soon after. Clearly, the move from RAW to SmackDown! did not impact their winning ways, as the victories kept coming.
On a personal level, Booker T had a rough time adjusting to SmackDown! when he was first traded. After losing the World Tag Team Championship the night of the draft, Booker took his frustrations out on the fans after being traded. He turned on his former tag team partner Rob Van Dam, as well as on the fans. Claiming to be the biggest star on SmackDown!, the former five-time WCW Champion began a pursuit for more gold, targeting John Cena and the United States Championship.
The rivalry between Booker T and Cena became one of the hottest of 2004, and the two even engaged in an exciting Best-of-Five Series that saw Cena narrowly edge Booker T in a fifth and deciding match. Booker T rebounded and went on to challenge for the WWE Championship against JBL at Survivor Series. Booker T looked to have things in hand, but Orlando Jordan saved JBL and his WWE Championship.
Booker T was also part of the Fatal Fourway at Armageddon, but Heidenreich came down to take out Undertaker, leading to another JBL win. Now, Booker T is back hot on the trail of the WWE Championship, and will be a part of another Fatal Fourway, this time on SmackDown! The winner will go on to face John Cena for the WWE Championship. Although Booker T wasn't happy that he was traded to SmackDown! initially, he must be thrilled that he is within striking distance of another WWE Championship opportunity.