With the 2020 WWE draft in full swing, we asked our team to share some highlights of drafts from years gone by and give us their best ever draft picks.
By best, we meant most exciting moment on screen rather than simply highlighting times that top tier talents have crossed the rubicon.
The memories our team nominated are truly special moments over the last 18 years of drafts, draft lotteries and superstar shake-ups.
Leanne Culverhouse: Rob van Dam to ECW in 2006. The WWE’s ECW was mostly awful, but the build up to One Night Stand and Van Dam’s match against Cena was far better. RVD was the first person to announce ahead of time that he was cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase, and had the added intention of renaming Cena’s WWE Championship to the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Each step on the path to the Hammerstein Ballroom was filled with ECW nostalgia and the match, in front of THAT crowd… it’s unlikely to have happened without the draft.
Rob McNichol: The first that sprang to mind was John Cena to Raw in 2005. Cena was champion and yet to really suffer the backlash that would really come to a head the following year at One Night Stand, that Leanne mentions.
It’s all in the sell, and what I loved was that Cena appeared during a Highlight Reel segment where Jericho – a tweener on the verge of a heel turn at the time – sold it with a huge smile. In the segments subsequent to the draft episode, he heeled it up, of course, but I remember thinking that Cena going to Raw was such a big deal because even his on-screen rivals were amazed and pleased by the impact it had on the brand. One of the very few times that the idea of WWE brand rivalry felt tangible.
Liam Happe: Vince McMahon: “Wow, that Brock Lesnar’s awesome. I’m drafting him!”
Ric Flair: “Erm, it’s not your turn, idiot, but thanks for the tip. Brock Lesnar thankyouplz.”
Paul Benson: I was a huge fan of Edge’s move to Raw in 2004. After an impressive run on SmackDown that had established him a strong babyface solo act, a neck injury in 2003 had kept him on the shelf for nearly a year. When his name was pulled out of the Draft Lottery tumbler, the arena went ballistic. That turned up a notch when the man himself showed up and speared his new boss, Eric Bischoff, almost out of his shoes.
This pick was treated like a huge deal and laid the groundwork for his heel turn and ascent to true main event status at the end of that year. Magic.
Steve Cox: Breaking up the Dudley Boyz. Whats WWE’s obsession with ruining things. This moment, in the first draft in 2002, really sold the impact that this draft would have last repercussions for even the most major of superstars. That said the new day break up is long overdue and could be superb.
Jake Keenan: Kurt Angle to ECW in 2006. When it was announced that the new ECW would be able to take a wrestler of their choice from both Raw and SmackDown, their red brand choice was a shoo-in. It was always going to be Rob Van Dam. But their SmackDown choice was a bigger surprise as it was one of the biggest stars on the brand, Kurt Angle. The Olympian had recently dropped his goofier character traits and was now ‘The Wrestling Machine’. A vicious, focused, serious fighter, not a million miles from the Taz of ECW’s past. It was a shocking moment when he was revealed and it his presence would likely have done wonders for the new ECW but sadly, his ‘demons’ meant he was out of WWE mere months later.