After spending most of this past weekend glued to ESPN and the NFL Network watching the NFL Draft, I came up with a few ideas to spruce up what has always been a disappointment, the WWE Draft.
1.) Hold the whole thing on WWE.com.
Web traffic is down overall and Joey Styles has been brought in to liven things up. Set up the studio in Stamford as “Draft Central” and don’t worry about having Raw and Smackdown get in the way. Of course, the shows can deliver highlights and promote the website leading up to it but make WWE.com the home of the Draft.
2.) Create “Draft Experts” and put them on the show.
Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are only draftniks and they go away until next year in a couple of days. Same thing can happen for a couple of WWE.com writers who can scout and project top picks and mock drafts leading up to the draft. Create “experts” who can serve as a link between some no-names and the common fan.
3.) Draft some names from the Developmental System
Award some nobodies to Smackdown and Raw. I know Vince hates this but including Developmental talent will attract some smart fans, who might otherwise skip this as a function of creative. Vince hates this going back to 1997 when we included some pictures and real names of future WWE superstars in the back of “Raw Magazine”. Fans saw Edge, Val Venis and others and McMahon hit the roof. He was ready to have the entire press run pulled and thrown out but Vince Russo talked some sense into him.
4.) Treat this like a Keeper League in Fantasy Sports
Allow each GM to keep 5 names. The rest are up for grabs. In fact, TV can build drama as to who the five keepers are. Maybe have a match or two to determine who those keepers might be.
5.) Give crediblity to the Draft
If the NFL crapped on the draft the way the WWE does every year, no one would care about the NFL draft either. Make the draft a strong part of the creative process as a way to prune the tree and freshen things up.
6.) Make the broadcast look like the NFL draft
Part of why the draft works is because it’s the same every year. Like comfort food, give fans logging onto the website the same feel as the NFL draft. Have draft picks available for interviews, follow some top names who fall down the list and get some debate as who the GM’s should pick or pass.
7.) Balance shoot and work
It’s delicate but make sure that smart fans can watch this draft event and not have their intelligence insulted. When touting the skills of say Umaga, you can talk about his “Samoan heritage” without saying he’s Rikishi’s brother. But, you can’t just sell Triple H by saying “well, he’s the Game”. You have to highlight his respected position in the locker room and discuss his injury history. Smarten it up without making it too inside.
8.) Allow Baggage to Hurt Draft Picks
If you were a GM, would you draft Jeff Hardy? Would you draft the injury-plagued Candice Michelle? Since both are on Raw, you wouldn’t protect either but if you’re Smackdown’s GM, you wouldn’t touch either with a ten-foot pole.
9.) Treat ECW as an expansion team
They can protect their five but who would you want after Kofi Kingston and Elijah Burke? If I’m the GM of ECW, my first pick is a new, young exciting face that may not be a top guy for a little while. Let that story be told in the draft on how “ECW is building for the future”. Fans will appreciate the fact that the brand is moving in the right direction or at least not hate it as much as they do the current product.
10.) Top Draft picks don’t have to be top guys
The same theory for ECW can spread to Raw and Smackdown. A great way for Ron Killings to get rolling in the WWE is make him a top pick for one of the two brands. Same goes for Lance Cade’s singles run. Trade him to another brand and let him get started.
I could spend days coming up with ideas for the WWE Draft. I toyed with many of them but I’ll be interested to see what some of you come up with. As a true NFL draft fan, I would love to see the WWE try to make their draft effort as good as the NFL.