What if John Cena and Batista hadn’t swapped brands in the 2005 WWE Draft?
WrestleMania 21 marked a seismic shift in the WWE landscape. John Cena defeated JBL for the WWE Championsihp. Batista pinned Triple H to take the World Heavyweight Championship. Add in Randy Orton giving The Undertaker a run for his money, and Edge capturing the first Money in the Bank briefcase, and it was a new guard of top tier talent were established.
In the summer to follow, WWE executed a major surprise in a draft that shuffled the brand rosters. Cena, the top star on SmackDown, headed to Monday nights. Batista, the new top guy on Raw, headed to the blue brand.
In retrospect, these changes made sense. Cena was not only younger, but the company man with the greater upside in terms of personality and charisma. Of course he went to the brand WWE was more concerned with, while Batista took a small step back, headlining the other show. But what if WWE hadn’t made this choice? This article takes a look at what might have been.
#5 Batista is the man
By 2005 standards, there’s little question that WWE prioritized Raw over SmackDown. John Cena’s move to the red brand was seen as mutually beneficial in pushing both the young star and the show. However, mere months earlier, WWE had chosen Batista’s triumph over Triple H to close WrestleMania 21. In doing so, they quite arguably made a bigger deal out of The Animal’s first world title win than Cena’s.
Had Batista stayed put on Raw, it would have offered a major signal that WWE meant to build around him as the man. In much the same way as the company went on to push Cena as the face of the company, Batista would have been at the fore.
In reality, Batista wound up injured in the months to follow, which certainly didn’t help his case in being the lead star for WWE. We’ll never know if he would have suffered the same fate as a Raw Superstar, but if he had stayed on the Raw brand and stayed healthy, he may well have garnered a very long run on top.