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The WWE Draft: A Reminder of the Troubling WWE Midcard Situation

Curt Hawkins and Chris Masters are going to RAWCurt Hawkins and Chris Masters were both selected from the Smackdown brand to go to the RAW brand in Tuesday afternoon’s WWE supplemental draft. If you go by the WWE’s party line of the Draft in total being a new beginning for their wrestlers, then yeah, it bodes well for the two.

Hawkins might have a chance to reconnect with his former Edgehead and tag partner Zack Ryder. Masters, conversely, goes to a brand where he instantly gets some fresh matchups, including one against a certain, pale-skinned Irish United States Champion. However, that’s the view of an eternal optimist.

As someone whose outlook has grown a little more jaded over his nearly three decades on this earth, ESPECIALLY when it comes to pro wrestling, I can’t help but get the feeling that Masters and Hawkins are just going to get their Superstars feud renewed within a week of getting the obligatory “hey, look at all the new guys we got” appearance on the big show, only with Scott Stanford and Josh Mathews calling the action rather than Jack Korpela and Matt Striker. It’s not like any of you can blame me for feeling like that. How many times has the WWE shuffled midcarders in the last five years, promising some kind of renewed focus on them before going back to forgetting they even existed until it came time for a roster cut? The answer to that question is, “a lot”.

That isn’t to say that they haven’t tried to elevate new stars. They have. However, the main event is not the only part of a company that needs to be viable in order for it to thrive. If you remember back in the “good ol’ days” (I hate that term, but in this case, it does fit the argument), the midcard was as hoppin’ as the main event was on most cards. Many guys made their bones wrestling sub-main event, and yet they weren’t forgotten or that much less beloved by the fans that they were ultimately footnotes in history.

There is a reason why Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper were main eventers and Curt Hennig and Arn Anderson weren’t, but at the same time, all four men are memorable enough to warrant entry into the WWE’s Hall of Fame. The first three are in, and many feel it’s only a matter of time before Anderson makes his way into the Hall.

A healthy midcard is absolutely important in a good wrestling promotion, and that holds even truer today. When ratings are microanalyzed to the point of nausea, don’t you want to have strong attractions in each quarter hour? Don’t you want to make every part of the show must-see? There are two reasons why the midcard wouldn’t be must see – either the wrestlers aren’t up to snuff or they weren’t being placed in the right position to succeed. If you ask me, both Hawkins and Masters are up to snuff, at least in the ring they are. Hell, Masters even gets audible pops for doing nothing but working Superstars matches. We don’t know if they can promo because they haven’t been given a chance to show that they can, i.e. they’re not being put in the right position to succeed.

I understand that the WWE’s roster is way more bloated than it was back in those “good ol’ days”. I really do. However, how much of the time on either show is spent on lame comedy? Or multiple segments devoted to getting guys who are already over even more over? Or commercials for media projects not devoted to the dirty “w” word? Or multiple recaps of things that happened elsewhere on the show?

Economy of time is certainly not the best on the main shows, and forget about it on Superstars, where you get contextless matches shoehorned between recaps of what happened on RAW, as if Superstars’ main audience isn’t completely mutual with RAW’s or that the DVR has not been invented yet. I mean, they totally missed the boat on doing that for Superstars now because it no longer has available non-Internet television presence. This makes the situation even direr.

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The worst part about all this is that without a healthy midcard, it perpetuates staleness within the main event. New guys don’t have that base with the fans to work from and get over, and then WWE Creative, continually looking at tepid reactions for guys that they don’t book as strongly as they should in the first place, ends up squelching pushes because hey, the wrestlers are failing! WE NEED MORE JOHN CENA AND RANDY ORTON OVERLOADING, STAT!

Newsflash, the problem isn’t with guys like Sheamus or Kofi Kingston, it’s with you. However, they’ll never realize that. Hell, they’ll keep adding people who don’t have any experience with the wrestling business to their writing ranks, and continue to become alienated from the process of getting people over that has worked so well for years and years until brand extension.

As for Hawkins and Masters, I guess getting to wrestle on Superstars is better than having to scrounge for indie dates or work hard labor in another field. Still, it’s so frustrating to see them wallow in near-obscurity rather than get a chance to run with the ball. Until that situation is remedied, the WWE Draft will continue to mean nothing in the long run, and that’s a damn shame.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

Full 2011 WWE Supplement Draft Results…
Draft pick #9 – Daniel Bryan to SmackDown
Draft pick #10 – Jack Swagger to RAW
Draft pick #11 – Great Khali to SmackDown
Draft pick #12 – Jimmy Uso to SmackDown
Draft pick #13 – Kelly Kelly to RAW
Draft pick #14 – JTG to RAW
Draft pick #15 – (Steve Austin’s favorite wrestler) Alicia Fox to SmackDown
Draft pick #16 – William Regal to SmackDown
Draft pick #17 – Yoshi Tatsu to SmackDown
Draft pick #18 – Drew McIntyre to RAW
Draft pick #19 – Natalya to SmackDown
Draft pick #20 – Curt Hawkins to RAW
Draft pick #21 – Chris Masters to RAW
Draft pick #22 – Jey Uso to SmackDown
Draft pick #23 – Kofi Kingston to RAW
Draft pick #24 – Ted DiBiase to SmackDown
Draft pick #25 – Tyson Kidd to SmackDown
Draft pick #26 – Tamina to SmackDown
Draft pick #27 – Tyler Reks to RAW
Draft pick #28 – Alex Riley to SmackDown
Draft pick #29 – Beth Phoenix to RAW
Draft pick #30 – Sheamus to SmackDown

Pre-order: WWE Extreme Rules 2011 DVD

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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