The 2002 WWE Brand Extension Draft had so much hype written all over it. Depending on who you talk to, some will say it lived up to expectations, while others will say it was a complete bust. One thing nobody will deny is how the aftermath was a fairly big disappointment. With WWE buying out WCW, the sky was the limit for all the big-named superstars to work together and form epic rivalries. Plenty of former WCW stars were part of the draft--The nWo, Booker T, Hulk Hogan and others.
Looking back on the 2002 Draft, it's pretty clear there were some big mistakes and plenty the WWE would like to change. Some dream matches never took place because stars were separated on different brands. Some great rivalries never took place, and some guys were drafted much earlier than they should have been--only to go nowhere.
Now that we know how each and every superstar's time turned out in WWE, we have no problem in looking back on how the first 20 picks should have really gone down. Though SmackDown had the first pick, we're giving Raw the top one on our re-draft, simply because it's always been WWE's top program and only makes sense they start it off.
Note: Triple H was exempt from the original draft because he was the current WWE Undisputed Champion and able to compete on both shows. We keep true to the principal in our re-draft.
20 Raw: The Rock
We smell what The Rock is cooking.
The Rock was the top pick for SmackDown in 2002, but there were definitely ways things could have gone better. While SmackDown was known as "The Rock's Show," The People's Champ might have bene better off on Raw.
It only would have made sense to have the top star go to the top brand, so our decision here wasn't difficult. The Rock went on a forgettable run as a heel near the end of his career. With our re-draft, I wish we got to see him more on Monday Nights back then. The Rock could also have helped put other stars over or even form some great tag-teams.
But most of us will consider his move to SmackDown a mistake (I hope). The Rock going to Raw would have been the easy call. No question about it.
19 SmackDown: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn't "eligible," for the real draft.
Given how The Rock has gone to Raw in our re-draft, it would make perfect sense to put The Texas Rattlesnake on SmackDown. This would help WWE have two elite shows without the predictable Rock/SmackDown and Austin/Raw scenario. If Austin went to SmackDown, there'd be an entirely new look to the program. Austin as the face of SmackDown? Yes, please.
Oh, the endless possibilities that we can only wish would have taken place. Austin's WWE career didn't last much longer after this draft, and we could have had the chance to see him face some of the top stars that he never (or barely) fought while representing the SmackDown brand as its top babyface.
18 Raw: Hulk Hogan
When Hogan went to SmackDown for the 2002 draft, it was sadly an end to a great run with WWE. Yes, he came back in 2005 and made sporadic appearances over the years, but the end of the Attitude Era was the final time where The Hulkster was really in good shape to be a top wrestler.
As you remember, he went on the Mr. America gimmick--aka--one we would all love to pretend never happened, Brother!
Hogan and The Rock put on a historic match at WrestleMania X8, showing that he could go toe-to-toe with the generation's best Superstars, even if they were two decades younger than him. Something tells me a long feud between those two would have turned out well and brought the WWE a lot of money, which makes Mr. McMahon happy.
There was great potential for Hogan to also put younger stars over. Ha! Who are we kidding? Hogan refused to do stuff like that. But even if he had to win all of his matches against those kids, we'd still enjoy it.
Hogan was on his last primary legs at the time, and we were deprived of some dream matches. That's all thanks to him going to SmackDown, brother.
17 4. SmackDown: The Undertaker
The Undertaker was already one of WWE's biggest names by the time of this draft. But at times, he was easily forgotten after all the former WCW wrestlers came over and stole some of his spotlight.
Originally drafted to Raw, he did have some great feuds with Steve Austin and Rob Van Dam. However, he went to SmackDown after a short stint with the red team. As a result, his time on Raw isn't very memorable. Now, let's just go ahead and think about the situation if the real draft went down the way we projected it so far.
The Undertaker at this point was talking about the WWE ring being "his yard" and with SmackDown's first pick being Stone Cold Steve Austin a huge battle for supremacy could have taken place between two of the biggest icons in the history of WWE.
16 Raw: Edge
The Rated-R Superstar and Christian were making plenty of noise as one of the greatest tag-teams of the Attitude Era. That being said, it was hard for them to stand out while other top stars were in their primes.
We'll say this: Edge didn't become a main-event Superstar until he cashed in his Money in the Bank at New Year's Revolution in 2006, stealing John Cena's WWE Championship as a result. He was stuck at mid-card for years, and deserved to get the big push years earlier. That never happened on SmackDown, who took him 11th-overall in 2002.
The potential for Edge to feud with WWE's top stars after the draft didn't seem like the right idea at the time, but what if we told you it really was? Edge's incredible legacy would have been even bigger if he got to feud with the top stars. Instead of ranting here, I'll just be grateful for what he did in his career. But going to Raw would have led to greater things in faster time.
15 SmackDown: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle was the third-overall pick and second of SmackDown's during the original draft. He did his job and we're unwilling to change his brand as a result.
For one thing, John Cena's WWE debut is one of the most memorable after he accepted an "open challenge," from Angle. If it weren't for Kurt, who knows just how well the crowd would have accepted Cena? He came out as a major underdog face and left a great impression right away. That's thanks to Angle for being a good sport.
On SmackDown, Angle went on some great runs against Rey Mysterio, Edge, Big Show and Brock Lesnar--the latter one being his absolute greatest rivalry in WWE history. Another rivalry with Eddie Guerrero later on was memorable--and Angle would wind up being SmackDown's GM. Everything lined up and went great with Kurt after going to SmackDown. Do you really think we would change it?
If so, then his theme song would like to remind you that...
"YOU SUCK!--YOU SUCK!--YOU SUCK!"
14 Raw: Chris Jericho
When you start out your WWE career with...
"WELCOME TO RAW...IS...JERICHO!"
...Then that's where you should have gone in the draft. Y2J lost his Undisputed Championship to Triple H at WrestleMania X8 and wound up losing a rematch at Judgement Day. The latter match came after he was drafted to SmackDown.. Predictably, he went straight to Raw shortly after.
Basically, Vince McMahon should have known when it was time to split-up their rivalry. It would have made great sense for Triple H to win the title and then both guys go their own ways. Jericho embarked on a great run with Raw shortly once he joined them. Imagine him feuding with the top-of-the top stars immediately? Jericho has become one of the most decorated Superstars of all-time, but he definitely deserved a better start after WrestleMania.
13 SmackDown: Booker T
One of the greatest treasures to come from WCW, Booker T was easily one of the most exciting and entertaining Superstars of the Ruthless Aggression Era. Though he was overshadowed by a lot of the top stars (then again, who wasn't) he gave fans everything we ask for.
That being said, Booker T's selection on Raw lacked intensity, great moments, and time-worthy feuds. Yes, he held the Hardcore Championship, but there was even more potential for him. Once he moved to SmackDown, the legend of Booker T began to take place. So with that, we firmly know that he should have been there in the first place.
Booker T could have put on a clinic of matches with Kurt Angle (who we drafted already) on the SmackDown brand. Two established performers with very different backgrounds who could steal the show every night.
12 Raw: Brock Lesnar
Though Brock Lesnar's best career moments took place when he was on SmackDown in his first tenure with WWE, he was actually selected by Raw in 2002. We're going to put him on the same brand. This is widely because he kept rising as a mega star, so we refuse to risk changing anything that could alter how his future would pan out.
The odd thing is that Lesnar actually jumped to SmackDown just a couple of months after being originally selected in Raw. We want to pretend, in this re-draft, that he actually stayed with the red side and experienced great success.
We have already revealed that The Rock was drafted to Raw. Therefore, the potential was there for a rising Lesnar to have a lengthy rivalry with The Great One instead of their one-off match that took place at SummerSlam that same year.
11 SmackDown: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash and the reformation of the nWo just shouldn't have happened. After he was selected fourth-overall to go to Raw, Nash's nWo was supposed to enjoy great success in the WWE. It didn't turn out that way.
The group wasn't the same when they kicked Hulk Hogan out. Nash suffered a legitimate triceps and later quadriceps injury and the group would break up for good just a couple months after Hogan left the faction. Nash would be out of action for nine months and it essentially ruined his time on Raw.
For all we know, if he went to SmackDown, he would have avoided the injuries. A man of his size, imagine him feuding with The Undertaker on SmackDown? Those are some great matches we would have loved to see. Nash's injuries led to a disappointing end to WWE. If only he went to the brand that he would have been better off with.
10 Raw: Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was originally selected by Raw, and we'll roll the dice with him going back to the brand that took him on.
I'm going to be honest here--RVD was used so Dam (pun intended) well that we don't think it'd be worth the risk of moving him to SmackDown. He and Eddie Guerrero went on an epic feud for the Intercontinental Championship. RVD also pulled off a memorable upset over The Undertaker for the Undisputed Championship, only for Ric Flair to screw him over.
Van Dam would later embark on a rivalry with Brock Lesnar and had some great matches against Jeff Hardy. One of the more underrated Superstars of his era, RVD put on clinics against the biggest names of the 2000s. In life, you learn to leave things as they are when they work out great. And we feel the same as we confidently say RVD went to the right place. At the right time.
9 SmackDown: Kane
The Big Red Machine was definitely one of the top Superstars of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras. The only problem was that Kane was always overshadowed by mega stars like tHE Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, Edge, Chris Jericho, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin...the list goes on.
Because of that, we wish he wasn't taken sixth-overall by Raw back in 2002. Perhaps if he went to SmackDown, more could have come out of it. The idea of him going to SmackDown and feuding with The Undertaker and Kevin Nash were great ideas. Kane deserved more major championship runs but was often stuck fighting mid-card wrestlers.
Given how the Attitude Era was closing on its final years at the time of the draft (where Kane's character fit the best), there were so many storylines he could have been in with all the star power on the roster.
8 Raw: Scott Hall
Debate all you want if bringing the nWo to the WWE was a great idea. It didn't last long enough and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were rendered useless once the alliance disbanded after they turned on Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8.
Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and X-Pac were selected together and went to Raw. It was another classic example of "it seemed like a good idea at the time." As you all know, Hall's return to WWE didn't last long and he tragically got back into his substance and alcohol issues--which took years for him to recover.
Nash's final reign in WWE (before being under his current legends contract), was one we'd like to forget. Hall was still a big name and though he feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hall should have been a singles competitor all along when the draft came around.
7 SmackDown: Big Show
Like many other Superstars, Big Show wasn't used properly and was bounced around in storylines and brands. He originally went to Raw. Given how it took forever for them to finally get his career back on track, there's no doubt a start on SmackDown would have gone a lot better and smoother.
Though WWE put him in the WWE's version of the nWo, it didn't last and was a silly idea. He didn't even experience success with them in WCW. He lost a series of matches on Raw and (thankfully) went to SmackDown where he had historic feuds with the likes of Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.
We only wish we got to see legendary feuds like that much earlier for Big Show. Like others, plenty of his better years were wasted as WWE took forever to find the proper use out of him.
6 15. Raw: Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit did achieve great success with Raw as the World Heavyweight Champion. Even though his acts were awful and WWE tries to act as though he never existed, nobody will deny how great of a moment it was when he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania XX.
He went high in the original 2002 draft, going fifth-overall to SmackDown. However, Benoit went back-and-forth between the brands and a couple of his best years as a wrestler were wasted. He went to SmackDown but was hurt. He went to Raw shortly after, didn't do much, then went back to SmackDown.
Benoit should have just started out on Raw in the first place. As you have see in our re-draft, there were plenty of guys he could have started feuds with. Benoit was one of the WWE's top rising stars at the time of the draft and deserved a chance to shine right away. He had to wait two years until he became a top star.
5 16. SmackDown: Bubba Ray Dudley
The WWE Brand Extension did not even come close to getting The Dudley Boyz right.
D-Von and Bubba Ray were split up, with the latter going 14th and the former going 15th. D-Von was a disappointment in singles competition (and we aren't blaming him). Look up Bubba Ray's greatest moment as a singles competitor on Raw, and it MIGHT be the fact he had the honour of fighting Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Oh, joy.
These two should have stayed together as either were prepared to head off on their own in WWE. They only competed on separate brands for a few months before being reunited once D-Von came onto Raw.
While Bubba Ray was clearly more successful in singles competition than D-Von, Bubba's success was not exactly massive. Hardcore Championships came a-plenty but this was a direct result of his extreme background in ECW.
4 Raw: Trish Stratus
Ah yes, the greatest Women's wrestler of all-time.
Talk about a late-round gem for Team Raw. Trish Stratus defined everything it took to be a true WWE Diva: She was gorgeous, an incredibly talented in-ring performer, was great in every storyline she was put in, and was either the iconic babyface or the evil villain that everyone loved to hate. No complaints about her.
What was great about Trish is she didn't even have to wrestle to entertain in storylines. Though her angle as Mr. McMahon's mistress was controversial, it did lead to a great McMahon family feud. (See what I did there?) Although, when in the ring, Trish held her own with everybody; proving to be one of the best in-ring performers in the entire company.
There was limitless potential for Trish to be a top star on Raw, and some of her and Chris Jericho's segments together were memorable. No doubt she would be a high draft pick, and we don't doubt she'd be right here on Raw.
3 SmackDown: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy didn't get selected until 30th in the 2002 Draft. There's no way a man of his talents falls that low on our imaginary watch.
Jeff and Matt formed The Hardy Boyz tag-team and took fans by storm with their epic high-flying matches which included crazy jumps and Swanton Bombs off of ladders. Jeff did enjoy some great moments in singles competition. He and Undertaker engaged in an entertaining feud for the WWE Undisputed Championship. Jeff also had a great feud with Rob Van Dam--a man who put his life on the line just as much as Jeff.
But we feel as though Jeff may have been better off on SmackDown. Like others on this list, he was overshadowed by the heavy star power on Raw. There was the potential for stronger rivalries if he went to SmackDown, so we believe he would have been a better fit on the blue team.
2 Raw: D-Von Dudley
One-half of the Attitude Era's greatest tag team wouldn't be hanging on the board for too long.
In the 2002 draft, D-Von was selected after Bubba Ray and the two competed on separate brands. But in our re-draft we couldn't imagine breaking up The Dudley Boyz so we here we have D-Von going to Raw.
When D-Von competed solo on SmackDown, there really wasn't anything memorable with him. He was Vince McMahon's right-hand man and worked with Batista, but it was never appealing to the fans. It was a waste of one of D-Von's prime career years. The Dudley Boyz are like Batman and the Joker--you really can't live or be yourself without the other.
And here, we don't doubt that Bubba Ray and D-Von would stay together. If this were taken seriously, it'd make no sense for any GM to take the remaining Dudley Boy after the first one was selected. They'd both be stuck in no-man's-land on their respective brands. The table smashing would take place with the red brand.
1 SmackDown: Lita
One of the most successful and iconic Divas ever, Lita is greatly missed by fans to this day because of the storylines she was in. I mean come on, she left her real life boyfriend Matt Hardy for Edge, giving one of the most infamous real-life and on-screen rivalries in the history of WWE.
With Lita and Trish Stratus being undoubtedly the top Divas of the Attitude Era, it would make sense to split them up in a re-draft. Both were taken by Raw in 2002, but that would end up leaving SmackDown with an unfair disadvantage.
We Like Lita being SmackDown's 10th pick in a re-draft; coincidentally enough she was also the 20th pick in the 2002 draft. SmackDown would need a Diva that was great in the ring and could engage in strong rivalries to draw the fans in. She would be the Diva for them to build around and would give them that star to get the Divas division going.
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