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2011 WWE Draft Recap
The 2011 WWE Draft will forever be remembered as the time John Cena was sent to SmackDown — and then back to Raw in the same night. It may have been fleeting, but the sight of the Monday night mainstay clad in a blue SmackDown T-shirt was unexpected, startling and unforgettable — exactly what the WWE Universe has come to expect of the yearly shakeup.
Cena's ping-pong between brands was only one of many surprises during the two-day event. It would be hard to argue that there was a bigger Draft pick than Randy Orton this year. Returning to SmackDown for the first time since 2006, The Viper will quickly assert himself in his new surroundings. Just like the Apex Predator he is, Orton will look for the toughest guy on the brand and strike him down. (Full Draft results)
Raw may have lost a huge Superstar in Orton, but they gained one in Rey Mysterio. One of the cornerstones of SmackDown for the better part of a decade, The Master of the 619 should be a top contender to the WWE Championship — a title he has never held before. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait for the dream match between Mysterio and Sin Cara. During the Draft, the rookie high-flyer was sent to SmackDown, where he should continue to wow the WWE Universe.
Days before he faces Christian for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a Ladder Match at Extreme Rules, Alberto Del Rio was drafted to Raw. It’s an interesting situation, to say the least. If The Mexican Aristocrat wins the bout on Sunday, he’ll bring the title with him to Raw, meaning both the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships will be on the red brand. SmackDown is experiencing a similar state of affairs right now. With Sheamus being sent to Friday nights, the United States Championship and Wade Barrett's Intercontinental Title will both be defended on that show.
Then again, should Christian walk away with the World Heavyweight Title at Extreme Rules, there will be no shortage of new challenges for him on SmackDown. This week, heavy hitters like The Great Khali and William Regal became a part of the blue brand. Still, the most imposing force headed to Friday nights may be Mark Henry. In the main event of Monday’s Raw, The World’s Strongest Man demonstrated an unexpectedly brutal side of himself when he pummeled teammate John Cena during a Six-Man Tag Team Match. Henry's rage could be a bad sign for the SmackDown crew. When a man of his size is focused, he's nearly unstoppable.
The Texas powerhouse wasn't the only Superstar looking driven this week. Former Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston proved he was ready for Raw when he won both a Battle Royal and a bout against Sheamus on Monday night. Big Show looked just as dominant this week, and he will be a force to be reckoned with — as always — when he returns to the Raw brand.
For ring warriors like Daniel Bryan, Beth Phoenix and even a former World Heavyweight Champion like Jack Swagger, the WWE Draft presents the perfect opportunity for these talented competitors to establish themselves on a new night. For an example of how significant this can be to a career, just look at The Miz. After moving to Raw in the 2009 WWE Draft, The Awesome One went from playing second banana to John Morrison to winning the WWE Championship and performing in the main event of WrestleMania. Clearly, a single move can make a huge impact.
How will the drafted Superstars and Divas fare on their new brands? Stay tuned to WWE in the coming weeks to find out.