The second annual WWE Superstar Shake-up will take place this coming week on Monday Night Raw from Hartford and Tuesday’s Smackdown Live in Providence. The Superstar Shake-up is a way to move some Raw wrestlers over to Smackdown and vice versa to try to freshen things up a bit. You may recall that in July 2016, WWE did a “draft” to split the main roster into two parts, which was done to raise interest in Smackdown because that’s when it became a live show.
Last April, WWE did the first Superstar Shake-up with big names like Dean Ambrose going from Smackdown to Raw while a lesser name like Jinder Mahal went from Raw to Smackdown and ended up holding the WWE Title for most of 2017. Who would have thought that? Nobody.
Is there another Jinder Mahal-like story in this year’s Superstar Shake-up? Probably not, but you never know.
What we do know is that some wrestlers are changing shows, but what WWE doesn’t tell us is if these are trades or what kind of system they use. Last year when they did it, they didn’t offer an explanation at all. Their storyline explanation is that the people running Raw (commissioner Stephanie McMahon and general manager Kurt Angle) are making these moves while talking to the people running Smackdown (commissioner Shane McMahon and new general manager Paige).
It sounds like a situation where they are trading people, but what WWE fails to mention is who gets traded for who. Did Wrestler A get traded for WrestleMania B? They don’t say that. It would be nice if they cared more.
The format of the Superstar Shake-up could be a lot better, but this is WWE and if you follow them closely, you know they can be pretty bad when it comes to providing detailed explanations for some of their storylines. All that really matters, in the end, is which stars from Raw will go to Smackdown and what stars from Smackdown will go to Raw.
Last year in the Superstar Shake-up, there were 10 moves on each brand with male wrestlers, female wrestlers and even tag teams moving together. There were even announcer changes. Nothing has been announced as far as the format, so I’ll base my predictions on the format they used last year.
Before I get a started, a few quick notes on some people that I would have mentioned in this column, but their situations have changed recently.
** I thought Rusev going to Raw with his wife Lana was a possibility. However, there have been rumors that Rusev has asked for a release from WWE. It doesn’t appear that has happened, though. What’s interesting is Rusev has changed his Twitter and Instagram profiles, so he’s either working people or there could be some legitimacy. It’s a weird situation.
** Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are storyline-fired from Smackdown Live after losing their match at WrestleMania to Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. They tried to get a job on Raw from Kurt Angle and he gave them a chance to win a match, but they had a draw so neither man was hired. I’m not sure where the story is going, but due to being “fired” they are ineligible to be moved.
** It’s possible that some current champions will be moved. Since WWE has the Greatest Royal Rumble event on April 27 (featuring seven title matches) and then Backlash on May 6 with three matches already announced, there is a good chance some champs lose those titles. Trying to factor all that in makes it tough for predictions. I’m going to shy away from picking current champions moving to another show.
** Prior to WrestleMania, I would have picked AJ Styles to move because I thought he was dropping the WWE Title to Shinsuke Nakamura. That still might happen. Since Styles is still WWE Champion, I think he’s going to stay where he is as the face of Smackdown Live.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Smackdown to Raw
Daniel Bryan – I think the fact that WWE did Styles vs. Bryan last week on Smackdown is a sign that Bryan is moving. If it’s Styles, then I can see Nakamura beating him for the WWE Title at the Greatest Royal Rumble event on April 27 or Backlash. Bryan makes more sense now as somebody who was the GM of Smackdown and having him go to Raw would be a fresh start for him. A feud with The Miz comes to mind immediately as well, based on their history. It would be great for both guys.
Randy Orton – The master of the RKO could use a change of scenery. I don’t know if Orton, at 37 years old, is considered an older guy when he’s three years younger than guys like AJ Styles, Brock Lesnar and John Cena, but Orton has been a main eventer in WWE for about 14 years now. Orton has a role as an upper midcard talent who can fit in well as a face or a heel.
Bobby Roode – I would turn him heel as soon as he gets to Raw. Roode’s a good all-around performer, but he’s a lot better as a heel like he was in NXT and during most of his TNA/Impact run. The face run on Smackdown since his August debut has been boring. Roode could be an excellent upper midcard heel for the next few years or even a main eventer if everything goes right for him.
Baron Corbin – Corbin is a guy who WWE was high on last year, so much so that he won the Money in the Bank briefcase last June. Corbin didn’t cash in successfully to be WWE Champion because of John Cena and it made Corbin look like a fool. Since he’s been a Smackdown guy for two years, I think moving him to Raw may give him a fresh start on a show that could use some heels.
There’s a rumor that Corbin may be in a triple threat match for the WWE Title with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at Extreme Rules in July, based on a local TV ad that recently aired to try to hype the ticket sales. I don’t think it means anything this far out, though.
Zack Ryder – Everybody that moves doesn’t have to be a big name. That’s why I picked Ryder, who has had such a limited role on Smackdown since his Hype Bros tag team with Mojo Rawley ended last year. Perhaps WWE can try to reboot his tag team with his original partner, Curt Hawkins.
Natalya – She has feuded with nearly every woman on Smackdown aside from the new ones, so having her go to Raw would present new matchups. I’d love to see her against Ronda Rousey due to the credibility she has a technical wrestler with submissions. Plus, they have trained together from when Rousey was first learning to wrestle and they are friends. I’m sure they would love to have a rivalry.
When you get blamed for not saving your friend….
But the quinoa was so good… pic.twitter.com/dkMR5ZRQL5
— Rebecca Quin (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 12, 2018
Becky Lynch – I don’t know if underrated is the right word for her because most people know how good Lynch is. I would say she’s underused, though. Lynch hasn’t had a memorable singles feud in a long time. She should go to Raw for some fresh matchups. I’m sure her best buddy Charlotte wouldn’t be happy about it, though.
Naomi – As the battle royal winner at WrestleMania, perhaps WWE will get behind Naomi like they did in early 2017. A move to Raw might help.
The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) – If Naomi goes, then The Usos will too since Jimmy Uso is married to Naomi. They have been a part of Smackdown for the two years since the brand split happened. Since New Day was moved from Raw to Smackdown last year, I think it’s time for The Usos to go the other way since those teams have wrestled so many times.
I’d love to see The Usos as heels again with their cousin and best friend Roman Reigns, but we all know WWE is reluctant to turn Reigns. Imagine those three in a stable with Samoa Joe? That’s what I want to see.
Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze) – It would be nice if they were booked as a serious team since they are genuinely liked by the fans and good in the ring too. I’m not sure if that will ever happen, though.
That’s 10, including tag teams. Let’s move on to the Raw to Smackdown talent.
Raw to Smackdown
— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) April 12, 2018
Braun Strowman – Strowman wrestled Reigns so many times in the past year. He also failed to beat Brock Lesnar in three different pay-per-view matches. I’m not sure what they can do with Strowman on Raw going forward. Perhaps if they move him to Smackdown, he can become the biggest star on that show (along with AJ Styles) and maybe he’ll break through as the WWE Champion.
Finn Balor – If Balor won the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania, then I’d put Seth Rollins in this spot. Since Rollins won the title, however, moving Balor to Smackdown seems like the right call. He might be able to break through as a true top guy on that show whereas on Raw, they don’t seem willing to book him at the level of a Reigns or Lesnar.
Big Cass – Remember him? He was on Raw when the split happened, turned heel on his tag team partner Enzo Amore and then he tore his ACL in August. I assume WWE will try to book him as a heel again, so he can perform with good smaller workers on Smackdown like AJ Styles and Finn Balor, to name a few.
A move to Smackdown would put Cass on the same show with his now ex-girlfriend, the Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella. She said the breakup was due to them being on opposite brands, so maybe if they are on the same show they will get back together. You’re welcome, Cass.
— Elias (@IAmEliasWWE) March 29, 2018
Elias – There just aren’t enough heels in WWE right now, so he’s a guy who could fill a spot on Smackdown to counter Corbin going the other way. I’m not sure if WWE would want to turn Aiden English into a face, but there’s a potential feud between two of WWE’s singing acts.
Kane – There was room for one more singles wrestler among my choices, so I opted for the 20+ year veteran Kane, who may stop wrestling if he becomes mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. He’s a serviceable veteran at this point.
Sasha Banks – A change would benefit Banks after she didn’t do a whole lot on Raw in 2017 after a huge 2016. I could see WWE re-ignite her feud with Charlotte again with Banks as a heel and Charlotte as a face, so they would be in reverse roles from their 2016 feud.
Bayley – It makes sense to do the Banks vs. Bayley feud with Banks turning heel. Move them both to Smackdown and do it there. Plus, I’m moving Lynch and Naomi to Raw, so Smackdown will need some face women.
Dana Brooke – There doesn’t seem to be any direction for Dana and I don’t think she’s a bad performer. She is a good looking wrestler who is probably the strongest woman in WWE, yet they don’t seem to utilize her properly. A change might help.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson – They could use a fresh start on Smackdown. The way I have it set up, Gallows and Anderson would be on the same shows with their buddy Finn Balor, as well as their other former Bullet Club member AJ Styles. That should lead to an interesting dynamic with the four of them if WWE is creative enough to utilize them properly.
— Cesaro (@WWECesaro) April 13, 2018
Sheamus & Cesaro – Both guys are talented all-around performers who have become an awesome tag team in the last few years. They also have value as singles wrestlers, so if they were to break later in the year, they can provide depth on the Smackdown roster. Whether he’s a face or a heel, Cesaro is a guy who fans would love to see with a major push.
Another name I would add to Smackdown is Drew McIntyre. They added the women’s duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay last week, but didn’t add any male wrestlers. I think McIntyre would fit perfectly. He is the former NXT Champion that is due back to return to the ring any week now after having arm surgery late last year.
The WWE Superstar Shake-up takes place this Monday on Raw and Tuesday on Smackdown Live. I’ll be back next week with some analysis of all the moves.