In light of the news that another brand-split could shake up the WWE Universe in July, Grady Hooker remembers the major WWE Draft in 2008.
It was June 23, 2008, the time of year to shake-up the rosters of Raw, SmackDown and ECW in a massive (at the time) three-hour Raw. Little Grady was a mere 13-years-old, and I was sitting in the lounge with my mother and grandfather anticipating the changes that could be ahead of us. Not wary to the ways of the internet yet, we were fully blind heading into it.
There was something special about people fighting for the right of their brand, just like they had in 2007. One can liken it back to the Roman gladiators.
Raw began with my favourite, WWE Champion Triple H, getting the upper hand over Mark Henry to win the very first draft pick for Raw. Everyone in my house sat on the edge of their seats – me and my grandfather throwing out names of who we could see drafted to Raw, my mum just hoping it wasn’t Batista.
It felt like the very first draft pick, Rey Mysterio, reached through my television screen and shook me to make sure I listened to what they repeated over and over: “Anything can happen, anyone is eligible”. The household was buzzing. We knew that anybody could be drafted, but it was just shown to us that it was really true.
The next few picks came and went: Jeff Hardy to SmackDown to reunite the Hardy Boyz; CM Punk (who I was also a huge fan of) to Raw, Matt Hardy to ECW to break the Hardy Boyz back up. Then it started to get interesting, a commentator was about to be drafted.
We started to wonder about the prospects of a three-man booth and a single commentator—which I wasn’t very keen on—until the match ended in a double disqualification and both rosters were given a draft pick. We settled back down as they swapped Jim Ross for Michael Cole.
Right as our guards had been let down after the swap, mum’s worst nightmare became reality and Batista was drafted to Raw. She stopped paying attention to the draft and the pick of Umaga came and went without any fanfare.
The next pick shocked everyone as ECW lost their champion in Kane going to Raw. The house was stunned silent and mum came back to paying attention. A brand had been left without a major champion, even if they did have the United States Championship on Matt Hardy now. We assumed this would be the biggest switch-up WWE could have. Little did we know how the show would end.
The night’s main event was a battle royal with 15 men, five from each roster, fighting for the final two draft spots on the show. Edge ended up winning the match for SmackDown after some miscommunication between John Cena and Triple H (who were about to headline Night of Champions fighting for the WWE Championship).
Everyone settled in to figure out who the last two were going to be. Mr Kennnedy’s name was drawn but, while it was a big score for SmackDown, we still sat on the edge of our seats wondering who would be the final pick.
The shocked look on Triple H’s face was mirrored around our house. Nobody moved, everyone just sat speechless at the fact Raw’s biggest superstar was heading to SmackDown and taking the WWE Championship with him. It was a huge shake-up within WWE and one that we didn’t see coming and struggled to come to grips with.
Of course, in classic WWE fashion, everything was fixed the following week.
At Night of Champions, Mark Henry brought the ECW Championship back to ECW. The following Raw after that saw CM Punk cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Edge and bring the World Heavyweight Championship to Raw to balance out the brands with one main title per show again.