As Vince McMahon told us this week, “it’s time to shake things up around here”, and what that means (I think) is that we’re about to see some talents traded between SmackDown and RAW. What this announcement means for people like me is that I have a whole week to prognosticate and analyze every potential move before ending up wildly disappointed next Monday night. Nonetheless, I hope this trip down fantasy booking lane provides some kind of food for thought or insight.
DISCLAIMER: I have no idea how this ‘shakeup’ is going to work and almost everything I predict after this point will likely be proven completely baseless. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
AJ Styles to RAW
It’s only right that I begin with one of the most discussed aspects of this ‘shakeup’, the status of AJ Styles. ‘The Phenomenal One’ has had an incredible run in WWE thus far and his momentum has only grown since becoming one of SmackDown’s main attractions. AJ is, in my mind, the absolute best in-ring performer on either show and obviously a huge add to any roster in the world. However, after wrapping up his feud with Shane McMahon and maybe even starting a full babyface turn, the speculation continues. It does seem telling that the Shane conclusion was AJ’s only involvement last Tuesday and the fact that he currently has no feud in place is likely a hint at his future.
Whilst a move to RAW would provide potential money matchups with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, it must be noted that AJ is far from out of opponents on the blue brand. Programs with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are still fresh and a clash with the recently debuting Shinsuke Nakamura is certainly mouth-watering. Unfortunately though, it’s hard to imagine that they would dedicate an episode of television to a supposed ‘shakeup’ without a major move occurring and Styles just seems to fit that bill. A move to RAW looks likely and would be a huge blow to SmackDown, even if the Nakamura call-up will help.
Roman Reigns to SmackDown Live
If Styles is headed to RAW then surely SmackDown needs a major acquisition of its own right? Well a quick glance at the red brand’s roster will quickly draw your attention to a certain big Samoan dog that goes by the name of Roman Reigns. Very few matchups on the roster feel fresh for Reigns at this point but a Nakamura program does sound spectacular. Moreover, perhaps a move onto SmackDown would lead to some kind of alterations to Reigns current character, maybe time on Talking Smack would even endear him to the audience. Who am I kidding? None of that is happening and honestly, I find it very hard to believe that Reigns will be anywhere but RAW after next Monday.
Like it or loathe it, Reigns’ win over The Undertaker was undeniably the right move and now it becomes a matter of what comes next. Either way I just can’t see the man that retired The Undertaker leaving the flagship show and I’d assume that we’ll indeed see more matchups with Strowman and eventually a rematch with Brock Lesnar down the line.
Baron Corbin to RAW
Ok so this one may be a little out of left field but I’m convinced that Baron Corbin is headed over to Monday Night RAW in the ‘Superstar Shakeup’. I appreciate that there was no kayfabe reason for Corbin to receive another Intercontinental title shot Tuesday but when has that ever stopped them before? From my vantage point Corbin’s street fight victory seemed like a way of getting the ‘Lone Wolf’s heat back whilst keeping the belt on Ambrose. I could be completely wrong (probably) and these two may be continuing their riveting rivalry but honestly, looking at the other SmackDown babyfaces I think a move makes sense.
Corbin has improved a lot as of late and now needs some fresh matchups. Personally I’d like to see him join the duo of Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens and learn by not only teaming with them but also by working opposite talent like Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. Joe and Owens have personality but still maintain credibility and I’d like to see some of that rub off on the less-experienced Corbin.
Sami Zayn to SmackDown Live
Regardless of wins and losses, Sami Zayn has been an incredibly valuable asset to the RAW roster. He’s been able to help Braun Strowman’s development incredibly whilst also always being an easy fit as a television main eventer. He’s versatile and can take a loss without being hurt too much which certainly isn’t always a bad thing. Nonetheless, a move away from RAW seems very necessary for the beloved babyface talent. It would get him away from Kevin Owens and every other heel that he’s lost too on RAW whilst setting him up for some very fresh matchups on the blue brand.
Programmes with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt sound new and a TakeOver rematch opposite Nakamura is PPV main event worthy stuff. I understand that Zayn isn’t exactly the perfect replacement for a star such as Styles but it’s important to remember that most of us felt that SmackDown was shafted after the first draft yet they convinced people of otherwise by maximizing much of their roster’s potential. Zayn’s booking and positioning could change tremendously with a change of environment.
Gallows and Anderson to SmackDown Live
This seems like a perfect fit for the good brothers. Gallows and Anderson have wrestled every babyface tag team on RAW more than enough and with The Revival’s recent arrival, need a move to stay relevant in my opinion. That’s not a knock on them either, it’s just that Dash and Dawson are the fresh heel team right now. A move to Smackdown would also open up a brand new match against American Alpha which would help both teams. The fact that they immediately lost their title rematch suggests that this direction is likely too.
On a side note, I’d like to think that being on a smaller roster may even lead to some singles opportunities for Anderson. I’m not demanding a title run exactly but it would be fun to see the artist formerly known as ‘The Machine Gun’ get some television main events against Orton or even old foe Nakamura. Regardless, SmackDown clearly needs some tag teams and The Club are a strong addition on any roster.
Enzo and Cass or The New Day to SmackDown Live
I can’t see both of these teams making the switch to Smackdown, though I suppose they could, but it’s clear that at least one should. Gallows and Anderson would help but there’s still a void on the babyface side and either team would solve that. Enzo and Cass would likely go straight into some kind of shenanigan-filled feud opposite the Carmella Ellsworth couple and a New Day move would prevent them from having to lose too much to RAW newcomers The Revival. Another factor could be a potential Big E singles run down the line, the former Intercontinental champion seems to have all the tools and SmackDown would likely be the perfect place for him to flourish. Either way, the heel Usos are fresh matchups for both teams and either is a solid choice.
Charlotte Flair to SmackDown Live
I expect to be wrong a lot here but surely this move is a lock right? Charlotte has wrestled RAW’s babyfaces far, far too much at this point and the only matchup left is one with Dana Brooke which is just unnecessary. I appreciate that Nia and Charlotte seemingly started something on Monday but I’d like to think that will just be a reason for Flair to want a move away as honestly, either talent as a babyface sounds wholly uninteresting at this point in the game. Even if her matchups have become stale and stagnant as of late though, Flair is a fitting figurehead for any women’s division and I think the world will be reminded of that after a move to SmackDown.
I personally am really looking forward to a potential title programme opposite Naomi and think it could really highlight the current SmackDown champion’s recent improvements. On Tuesday Naomi showed a grasp on psychology and selling that she’s previously lacked and I’d imagine Charlotte’s big match experience would only help that. Flair could also reignite her rivalry with Becky Lynch as well as begin a new feud against Mickie James. A move to SmackDown seems to just make perfect sense for ‘The Queen’.
Alexa Bliss to RAW
For all of RAW’s incredible in-ring performances over the last year, I’ve felt that their women’s division has lacked personality at times. Fortunately, few talents on the roster have as much personality as Alexa Bliss and the breakout star seems to be the perfect trade for the aforementioned Flair. Bliss has wrestled Becky Lynch more than enough and just like Gallows and Anderson, immediately lost her title rematch this week on SmackDown. A move seems perfect and would likely lead to a feud with old NXT rival Bayley, an opponent Bliss always seemed to thrive against before coming to the main roster. I’d also look for a possible pairing with Nia Jax, who could serve as Bliss’ muscle whilst also benefiting from having someone to play off of on the microphone, an area Jax has slightly struggled.
I have to concede that I’ll miss Alexa’s verbal exchanges with Daniel Bryan but then again, a move to RAW would open up the possibility of some backstage skit silliness between Bliss and Kurt Angle and I’m absolutely all for that. Once Sasha Banks turns heel Bliss may have to take a slight backseat but she's simply too good to not feature in some fashion, even if it's in a more 'sports entertainment' style angle. No matter which way you look at it, Bliss is already solid in the ring and would bring charisma and personality to the RAW women’s division. This seems to be the right trade for everyone involved.
Elias Samson to RAW
Ok, I have some terrible confessions to make.
- Elias Samson is absolutely my pro wrestling guilty pleasure and I was left laughing uproariously at his appearance as ‘El Vagabundo’ on this week’s NXT. No I’m not proud of this fact.
- The only valid reason I have for placing Samson on RAW is that I want Corey Graves to commentate his debut. Be honest, can you really blame me?
No but seriously, ‘The Drifter’ is no main event talent but he’s a solid wrestler and this gimmick is a fun midcard act. Also, it seems his NXT run has now officially finished and whilst this move won’t make too many headlines, I see no reason why Samson can’t play a role of some kind on the main roster.
Andrade “Cien” Almas to SmackDown
Speaking of confessions, I also have to confess that in my view Andrade “Cien” Almas is undisputedly a main event talent. His work is absolutely impeccable and blends multiple different styles but more than that, Almas has a great look and comes across like an absolute superstar. It’s these reasons that I’ve been so shocked by the amount of TakeOver losses Almas has suffered as of late but I guess it makes some sense if it’s all leading to a move up to the main roster. Perhaps the decision makers have simply decided that “Cien” is a better fit on the main roster and if so, surely SmackDown is the place for him to get focus and flourish as a major heel act.
So that’s some of my thoughts on next Monday’s ‘Superstar Shakeup’. I’d assume there’ll be a higher number of moves made but here were some that I feel personally intrigued by. Though I assume I’ll get more wrong than right, this article explains why the WWE likes the draft concept so much. Love it or hate it, it gets us talking and I have to admit that I’m greatly anticipating the chance to see the directions both brands are headed. Either way, it’s sure to leave me both frustrated and disappointed and that’s the way I like it so roll on next Monday.