Night one of the Superstar Shakeup is complete, and the instant reaction from myself and many others was the addition by subtraction for Smackdown. Outside of losing Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, the brand didn't miss out on much of anybody they were doing anything with who also connected in the ring and with the crowd. Even from an in-ring perspective, Gable and Ziggler were the only real losses, and Ziggler had done about everything he could there.
But how did Raw really fare? All jokes aside, there are a lot of guys WWE has invested heavily in that needed a change of scenery. What does the future hold for the new Monday night stars? Let's take a look, and check out our Fightful Podcast reviewing the episode of Raw.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn- The crown jewels of the Raw acquisitions. Versatility is key to the success of Owens and Zayn. They can work any style, they can do it from mid-card to the main event, they can play straight or comedic, and they can work as a tag team or singles. Keeping them on the same brand as each other is a big positive.
Jinder Mahal- It wasn't working on Smackdown. It never was. Viewership went down, it never clicked in the ring or on the mic, WWE had to cancel a show in India and switch a big title match. He needed a fresh start, and honestly should have been in the lower to mid card anyway to prepare him for the push he got. It's looking like he'll be the Elmer Fudd to No Way Jose's Bugs Bunny for a while.
Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre- "Interesting" wasn't a term I expected to use in regards to Dolph Ziggler's inevitable switch. I halfway think WWE had him come out and cut the same lame "show stealer" promo to bait us. His partnership with McIntyre will draw comparisons to Diesel and Shawn Michaels, but it's something different for both guys. If you could combine Ziggler and McIntyre's physiques with Owens & Zayn's natural charisma, Vince McMahon would be going bonkers. They'll likely be a foil to the secondary faces.
Baron Corbin- Vince McMahon won't give up on Corbin. He has a great, protected finish and he's tall. Oh, he can throw a great punch. That's about it. Look forward to a half dozen Corbin vs. Roman Reigns matches over the next year.
Bobby Roode- Roode as a babyface got stale pretty quickly on Smackdown, but him as a heel wasn't doing much for me in NXT either, to be honest. With all of the heels Raw picked up, they had to even things out. Once we find out where Rollins, Balor and Strowman land, his future will be more certain.
Sunil Singh- I put Sunil here separately because assuming 205 Live remains on Raw, he'd be a nice addition to the brand, as would his brother. We've never seen heel Singhs work a cruiserweight style. With rumors that a cruiserweight tag team division could be coming, this makes a lot of sense to pull double duty.
Chad Gable- I like Alex's call of Gable being "Angle's favorite son" and drawing the ire of a returning Jason Jordan. Gable can be as good in the ring as they let him. He could be another that makes special 205 Live appearances, but I wouldn't count on it.
Riott Squad- I was shocked that WWE kept together perhaps the most pointless, aimless, directionless teams in the history of their company together. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan were called up far too early, and unless Absolution splits or switches brands, I don't know what they can provide. All three are fine individually, and will probably serve as paper weights for Ronda Rousey here and there. I think that given different circumstances -- especially Logan with the War Raiders -- all of these women could have been something special, but will now be forced to battle a partnership that doesn't make sense and wasn't broken up when it should have been.
Natalya- She had quite a showing on Raw, getting a rub from Ronda Rousey and a win over Mandy Rose after an awkward match. There are a ton of question marks surrounding Raw's women's division, but she'll likely be the veteran workhorse of the brand and could have Rousey's first singles match. WWE trusted Natalya early with Charlotte, and will do the same with her and Rousey.
Breezango- They got a win over The Bar on their first night, but I saw that to be a lot like the Colons beating American Alpha early on and then never winning anything again. Fandango is hilarious and Breeze is really good in the ring, so they'll fill the gap of comedic tag team that WWE didn't use Heath Slater & Rhyno in.
Zack Ryder- He'll keep doing exactly what he was doing on Smackdown. He'll probably have a job for life in that role.
Mojo Rawley- See above. It's a little too crowded for him on Raw. The did Mojo and Ryder a disservice putting them on the same show after all they've been through.
Mike Kanellis- This has been one of the more fruitless hires in recent WWE memory. Kanellis was brought in with no real plans, and Maria getting pregnant didn't help him from a creative standpoint. I get the feeling he'll be working with Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze and Fandango an awful lot. He says he's going to rage. I don't know what that means, but it didn't work for Alex Riley.
Who else?- Raw got Authors of Pain, who are already being booked poorly, Ember Moon, who needs to be built up well, No Way Jose, who is being used perfectly. I initially thought Miztourage would turn babyface, but it looks like a babyface heavy roster in the lower card right now. Bobby Lashley seems to have big things in store, too. I wouldn't expect as many new faces on Smackdown, so it's quite possible that Raw could still come out gaining a lot more with the NXT call-ups.