The Superstar Shakeup: Who Went Where and Why

As some of you may know, last week I delved into the Superstar Shakeup and analyzed some of the potential moves. Now in my defense, I did warn everyone that I would likely be completely wrong about everything but I have to admit, even I was surprised by some of the talent that switched rosters this week on both RAW and SmackDown. Nonetheless, I’m persistent and will now attempt to make sense of everything that actually did happen. In order to understand what these moves could potentially mean, I’ve decided to pair the talent transfers in the most applicable way possible so with that being said, let’s get started:

The Miz and Maryse to RAW

The first superstars shaken up on television (sorry Apollo Crews) were The Miz and Maryse and their debuts couldn’t have been better. Using John Cena’s theme and look to fool the disappointingly tame RAW crowd, Miz and Maryse are back on the flagship brand after an excellent run on SmackDown Live. I do fear that they could get lost in the shuffle slightly on RAW but nonetheless, programs with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Finn Balor sound intriguing and the couple’s personality will always keep them relevant. I was interested in a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura but overall, no complaints from me.

Kevin Owens to SmackDown Live

SmackDown Live may have lost a major player in the heel bracket but they’ve certainly gained a fitting replacement and maybe even an upgrade. Kevin Owens brings versatility, well roundedness and the United States title to the blue brand. The move gives Owens a chance to continue playing a major part on television and opens up possible feuds with Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and an already-set-up title match with AJ Styles sounds great too. Owens is a major asset to SmackDown and has been treated as enough of a star that he, in my opinion, is an improvement on the admittedly superb Miz and Maryse act.

Dean Ambrose to RAW

With the United States Title departing, RAW gets the Intercontinental strap on-board as well as its current owner Dean Ambrose. Though wildly popular, I have to concede that for all of his talent, Ambrose does feel a little stagnant at times. I hope that he doesn’t get too pigeonholed as the comedic upper midcard babyface as I still feel there’s money in a heel run but regardless, Ambrose is undeniably an asset. It could be interesting to see ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ reconnected with his old Shield buddies and I sense that we’ll very quickly know more about Ambrose’s standing on the company totem pole. 

Sami Zayn to SmackDown Live

Taking Ambrose’s spot as SmackDown’s upper midcard/fringe main event babyface is Owens’ forever nemesis Sami Zayn. At first I was startled that the pair were actually being kept together but Owens’ look of absolute horror sold me on it immediately. This was the only male superstar move I got correct but I’m glad that this was my solitary success as it just makes perfect sense. With a spotlight on him Zayn can thrive and his in-ring skill is absolutely elite regardless of roster. Granted he may not be as over as Ambrose but he is still an incredibly dynamic and engaging performer. Also, as I mentioned before, a rematch down the line with Shinsuke Nakamura sounds particularly exciting, as does a match opposite Styles.

Alexa Bliss to RAW

I would argue that of all of RAW’s acquisitions this past Monday, Alexa Bliss came across as the biggest star of them all. The crowd response was highly encouraging and Bliss unsurprisingly shined on the microphone. This was another one that we all saw coming and rightly so, as I said last week Bliss and Bayley is a magic match and it even seems like we may be getting that on-screen pairing with Nia Jax. Either way, Bliss brings some much needed personality to a rather lethargic RAW division and that’s good for everyone.

Charlotte Flair to SmackDown Live

With the spot of top female heel now opened up, SmackDown has got the best fit possible in the almost unparalleled Charlotte Flair. Due to booking, athleticism and pure presence, Charlotte has solidified her place as an absolute star. It doesn’t just help SmackDown either, Charlotte herself gains freshness purely from potential matchups with Naomi and Becky Lynch. This was an absolute no-brainer and I’m glad that they didn’t change plans just for the sake of it. It is a slight shame that they beat Charlotte so often on the way out of RAW though, that must be said.

Bray Wyatt to RAW

Ok so first things first, I know that many will see Bray as the straight swap for Owens but honestly, I feel Wyatt’s momentum has been badly halted as of late. When Wyatt won the WWE title just two months ago, everyone seemed excited but the direction the Orton feud took seemed to hurt everyone. Wyatt should honestly feel like a huge acquisition but he really doesn’t and he’ll almost certainly lose to Randy Orton one more time at Payback. I hope that this feud with Finn Balor helps Wyatt somewhat but honestly, I have my doubts.

Rusev to SmackDown Live

The closest thing to a replacement that Smackdown has in this case is Rusev (machka). Now granted, our beloved Rusev has been devalued slightly as of late but that doesn’t mean he can’t be rebuilt and SmackDown is the perfect spot for that rebuilding to take place. In the ring Rusev is very good but although you and I both know of his shining personality, it’s yet to really be properly be spotlighted on television consistently. I’m hoping that Talking Smack can help us head in that direction but regardless, Rusev is a strong addition to SmackDown Live.

Heath Slater and Rhyno to RAW

Going into the shakeup it was clear that it was SmackDown that needed help in the tag team department and that was reflected here with RAW’s only addition being the duo of Heath Slater and Rhyno. The former SmackDown tag champs have been largely absent as of late but are capable of making for some fun television. It’s not a huge pick but RAW didn’t need one here, especially with the addition of The Revival last week.

The New Day to SmackDown Live

I expected either The New Day or Enzo and Cass to head to the blue brand and was proven right with Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods moving to SmackDown. An over team was needed and few teams are more over than this trio. A match with the heel Usos feels fresh and it could finally be time for the Big E singles run that many of us have been waiting for. There’s spots open and E could fit one of them easily. Either way, it’s three very talented additions to the roster.

The Shining Stars to SmackDown Live

SmackDown needed two teams and while I hoped for Gallows and Anderson, I guess the Shining Stars can play a role too. They needed the move badly and honestly, behind all the gimmicks this is a solid team. I really hope they can show their in-ring talent against American Alpha and reinvigorate their struggling careers.

Kalisto to RAW

This is what it is, if Kalisto joins the Cruiserweight division he becomes another great athlete with no character and if not he’ll never be found in the shuffle, let alone lost in it. Hate to be negative but that’s just the situation as I see it.

Sin Cara to SmackDown Live

Rightly or wrongly, Sin Cara’s only role on SmackDown will be losing on television to mid-carders that have some direction. It’s not a bad role for now but unfortunately, I struggle to see much of a future for the luchador in WWE.

Mickie James to RAW

Back to women’s divisions now as RAW gets Mickie James. Though her return has been badly bungled, James still has some value. Her and Alexa have unfinished business and hopefully James can help Jax in the ring. She’s versatile and can be used to get over others whilst still remaining somewhat credible. A decent move for sure.

Tamina to SmackDown Live

This one is rough. I have no problem with Tamina in the bodyguard role but I’m not sure if she’s a good fit here considering how thin the roster is. A common trend on house show reports has been that Tamina has looked visibly rusty and that’s completely understandable but considering all the factors, one has to question what value she has at this point.

Lana to SmackDown Live

I appreciate that I just said that SmackDown women’s division is thin but I’m not sure Lana is the answer. Her ring time is very limited and this gimmick doesn’t stand out as a winner at first glance. Time will tell though of course and we need to give it a chance.

Apollo Crews to RAW

I really worry about Apollo Crews in this spot. I understand that he was directionless on SmackDown but I really struggle to see him emerging on this RAW roster. He’s a great athlete and there’s definitely something there but it’s just not happened quite yet. Crews’ best hope in my opinion is a tag team with real life best friend Akira Tozawa--something that could help not only both talents but also the brand’s tag division itself.

Jinder Mahal to SmackDown Live

Mr Mahal isn’t untalented but any planned mini-push is almost certainly off the table after the ill-fated forearm that injured Finn Balor on Monday. He’ll lose a lot and look vascular doing it. That's fine with me folks.

Curt Hawkins to RAW

There’s nothing wrong with a TV jobber and Curt Hawkins is as good as it gets when it comes to that category. Ridiculous gimmick? Check. Wacky look? Check. Experienced worker? Check. I’ve faced these facts and am more than happy to see Hawkins now play his role on RAW.

Byron Saxton to SmackDown Live

Finally we’ve made it to the announcer’s desk. I have to concede that I wasn’t immediately a fan of Byron Saxton’s commentary but I’ve grown to enjoy him over time. He plays the dorky babyface announcer well enough and is certainly an upgrade from the man he’s replacing on the blue brand. We’ll get to him now.

David Otunga to RAW

As I said earlier, I don’t like to be negative but I honestly can’t think of a single positive Otunga brings to the booth. He often lacks energy and berates heels in a fashion that actually makes me root for them. I hate that his commentary will be following Miz and Bliss, two talents that he regularly undercuts in completely unnecessary and irritating fashion. Critique their morals as heels but don’t question their credibility as that helps absolutely no one, especially the babyfaces they’re beating. Hopefully Corey Graves can pull some sort of entertainment value out of him but honestly, I’m not holding my breath.

Conclusion

So that’s that, the Superstar Shakeup has come and gone. There was a lot more movement than I expected and much of it I found surprising. Happy to be wrong about AJ Styles and I’m glad he’s remaining as the face of SmackDown. Also pleased that they did the Bliss/Charlotte switch and I’m always delighted to see ‘The Drifter’. I was disappointed however to not see Gallows and Anderson make the move as I feel The Revival’s presence greatly hinders their value and moreover, no “Cien” Almas stings even if I know that there’s zero rush in his case. In conclusion I think that the shakeup made for some fun television, interesting conversation and more than that, it didn’t even leave me disappointed.

I think that pick for pick SmackDown got the better of it honestly but that doesn’t exactly mean they have the better roster. RAW has more depth in the women and tag divisions but both have a ton of talent at the top of the card. We often take for granted how ridiculously stacked this roster is and that showed here for me. The thing that’s benefited the most has been the women’s divisions though, both of which feel reinvigorated and fresh with new possibilities and options. I have to say that the Shakeup has left me intrigued by both brand’s directions so while the execution was a little shoddy at times, the end result was achieved. I was wrong about a lot and that’s good with me, now let’s hope that they maximize the refreshed talent in the best way possible.

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