The 2004 World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) draft lottery took place at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2004. The draft took place live for two hours on WWE's flagship television program, Raw on Spike TV. Post-draft trades were announced on WWE's official website, WWE.com, until midnight on March 22, 2004. There were twelve draft picks, with nineteen superstars overall switching between the promotion's two brands: Raw and SmackDown!. During the draft lottery, the General manager of Raw, Eric Bischoff, and the General manager of SmackDown!, Paul Heyman, stood on opposite ends of the stage on the Raw set, where they drafted six superstars randomly via two machines. At the conclusion of the draft, the two GMs would then be allowed to trade anyone on the roster until Midnight EST, which was later extended until Tuesday night after Heyman resigned. Every WWE employee was eligible to be drafted, including injured superstars, commentators, champions, and general managers.
The main event was a SmackDown exclusive match, in which Eddie Guerrero defeated Triple H to retain the WWE Championship by disqualification after Christian attacked Guerrero resulting in a brawl between SmackDown and Raw superstars.
The tagline for WrestleMania XX (that year's WrestleMania), was Where it all begins again. To remain with the tagline, on the March 15, 2004 episode of Raw, the chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon, announced that it was time "for a new WWE" and that a draft lottery would take place the following week on Raw. Both Raw and SmackDown! superstars would be present for the draft lottery, as McMahon announced that every superstar was eligible to be drafted, including commentators, ring announcers, referees, injured superstars, champions and even GM.
After Paul Heyman was drafted from the SmackDown! brand to the Raw brand, he kayfabe quit the WWE, thus leaving the SmackDown! brand without a General manager. Shortly after the draft, the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon announced that a new General manager had been appointed to the SmackDown! brand, and that he would conduct the supplemental trades with Raw General Manager, Eric Bischoff. On the March 25, 2004 episode of SmackDown!, Kurt Angle came down to the ring and announced that he was the new SmackDown! General manager.