Today is July 31st, which is probably my favorite day of the Major League Baseball season. MLB general managers have until the 4 PM deadline today to make trades in which they either hope to improve their team in the future, or hope to push their team towards a 2012 World Series title. However, there was an equivalent to this frantic timetable of deal making in the WWE. In 2004 and 2005, the WWE experienced 3 trades between RAW and Smackdown in the immediate aftermath of the WWE Draft. Now, it is time to nitpick each of these trades with the benefit of hindsight, and determine which brand won each deal.
2004: Smackdown trades Triple H to RAW for Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley
This deal came as the result of Triple H being drafted to Smackdown during the 2004 WWE Draft, in which John Cena actually picked the lottery ball instead of Smackdown GM Paul Heyman. Heyman tried to re-do his unknown and unwilling pick, but RAW GM Eric Bischoff refused to allow it. That was one of my favorite moments in WWE Draft history, but this trade sure isn’t. Now, to be fair, Booker T did end up winning the World Heavyweight Title once during his run on Smackdown, as King BOOKAH—I mean King Booker. Hell, even the Dudley Boyz got a WWE Tag Team Title reign out of it. Still though, who in the hell thought this trade was even remotely fair? Triple H was worth at least one full time main eventer, or three upper mid carders. Instead of getting a package along the lines of Chris Jericho, Edge and Shelton Benjamin, they got one upper mid carder and a pair of tag team specialists that would be gone within the year. I’m just assuming that since Smackdown didn’t have a general manager during this time period (then Smackdown GM Paul Heyman quit after being drafted to RAW), that this trade was handled by the WWE board of directors, or the secretary that picked up the phone when Bischoff called Titan Towers. Regardless of who approved this trade, RAW got away with robbery in doing this trade, by getting Triple H back for 50 cents on the dollar. Winner: RAW
2004: Smackdown trades A-Train and Chuck Palumbo to RAW for Rico and Miss Jackie
This deal was the second and final post draft trade in 2004, and boy, was it a barnburner. Raw traded the flamboyant Rico and his valet, Miss Jackie, for the duo of Albert and Chuck Palumbo. In 2004, there’s no doubt Smackdown won this trade, handily. The number of matches that A-Train and Palumbo had on RAW in 2004 could easily be counted on one hand, whereas Rico ended up winning the WWE Tag Team Titles with his partner, Charlie Haas. Even though Chuck Palumbo, as his short lived Custom Chucky P gimmick, was a part of the first wrestling match I ever saw, there’s no doubt that Smackdown initially won this trade handily. However, in April 2012, this trade reaped benefits for RAW in ways that no one could’ve predicted, as A-Train returned to the WWE on RAW, as the gaijin monster named Lord Tensai. Since A-Train/Tensai is the only one who currently has a job in the WWE from this trade, I can’t really give it to Smackdown. However, Tensai hasn’t really done anything except pin John Cena once and appear in a Money in the Bank ladder match. It also can’t be ignored that until 4 months ago, RAW got completely hosed in this trade. Winners: Both RAW and Smackdown (Trade is a Push)
2005: Smackdown trades Mark Jindrak, Rene Dupree, Danny Basham, Kenzo Suzuki, Hiroko and Chavo Guerrero to RAW for William Regal, Candice Michelle, Sylvain Grenier, Simon Dean and Stevie Richards
This deal was the only post draft trade after the month long draft in June 2005, which is probably my favorite draft to date. Each week you wanted to tune in to both shows, to see what surprise Smackdown GM Teddy Long and RAW GM Eric Bischoff had for their one draft pick in the first three weeks, and their two draft picks in the fourth and final week. Although the suspense was initiated by the first pick of RAW, WWE Champion John Cena, I’m still mad at Teddy Long for drafting then World Heavyweight Champion Batista last. I wanted to see what that Smackdown Championship looked like, playa! Nevertheless, this post draft deal was one where I feel safe saying that RAW got completely hosed. First of all, only 4 of RAW’s pickups lasted the week, as Hiroko and Kenzo Suzuki were released almost immediately after this trade happened. Mark Jindrak had one match against Rene Dupree on RAW before he was released on July 5th. Rene Dupree had some minor success on RAW for about 2 months, before he suffered a severe hernia and was not seen until his short lived re-debut on ECW in 2006. Danny Basham had one match on Heat as Damaja, before he reunited with Doug Basham as Paul Heyman’s security force on ECW in 2006. Of all the guys RAW received, only Chavo Guerrero was on RAW past 2005, and was the only one still employed past 2007. Hell, Chavo might have been the only guy that RAW got who was on PPV during his RAW stint. Chavo did get a bit of push, first as the very controversial Kerwin White, and as Chavo after Eddie Guerrero died, but all it really just amounted to a win over JBL on the first Eddie tribute show and one Intercontinental Title match in 2006. Smackdown didn’t necessarily get any world champions, but compared to the haul RAW got, they looked like main eventers. William Regal would be a mainstay of Smackdown until 2007, and got pushes as a member of King Booker’s Court with Sir Finlay, Queen Sharmell, and The Little Bastard (oh, the halcyon days when Hornswoggle was just a little bastard), and as a member of tag teams with Paul Burchill and Dave Taylor. Candice Michelle didn’t really do anything of too much note after the trade, but at least she wasn’t fired within a week like her female counterpart on the RAW end of the deal, Hiroko. Sylvain Grenier would become the male fashion model Sylvain, and have a nice little TV feud with Hardcore Holly before wrestling on Velocity through 2005 and into 2006. The fact that Smackdown got Simon Dean meant that they won this trade regardless, even if they just got Simon Dean and a bucket of turnbuckle pads. Hell, Stevie Richards reformed the bWo after he was traded and got a PPV match out of it, even though he would just fade into obscurity until he was moved to ECW in 2006. Neither side got any champions out of the trade, but the difference in longevity, importance to the brand and total PPV matches swings this trade in favor of Smackdown. Winner: Smackdown
Overall, if this analysis of WWE trades between RAW and Smackdown has proven anything, it just shows that trades in the WWE are just like trades between teams in any other major sport; you win some, you lose some and sometimes you’ll just plain break even.