WrestleMania, the season finale of WWE, may have just happened last weekend, but the unique thing about WWE is that the wheel never stops turning. Raw and SmackDown Live never get a week’s rest, even after the biggest show in the entirety of the industry. In a brand-split world, a simple way to keep things fresh is moving Superstars from one brand to another, to open the door for fresh feuds, matches and interactions. Enter: the Superstar Shake-Up™!
No, it’s not a draft, dammit. General Managers Kurt Angle and Paige ostensibly have no say in who goes where; no trades or contract signings will be taking place. Instead, brand designations will be handed down by the omniscient, unfeeling, robotic core of WWE itself. Last year, in lieu of drafts, trades, or even announcements, SmackDown Superstars just sort of…showed up on Raw, and vice versa.
But who’ll jump ship this year? As far as I’m concerned, the following moves have to be made:
Sasha Banks to SmackDown Live
While the SmackDown Women’s Championship provided the marquee female title match at this year’s WrestleMania (come to think of it, the marquee title match period, gender be damned), Raw‘s women’s division is stacked — especially with the addition of Ronda Rousey. Between heavy hitters like the aforementioned Rousey, Asuka, and the new Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax, along with mainstays like Bayley and Alexa Bliss, it’s a crowded scene on Monday nights.
That’s part of the reason why the star of Sasha Banks, one of the best women wrestlers WWE has had in recent years, has fallen. As far as the women’s evolution has come, there are still really only two women’s storylines on a show at any given time, and between Rousey, Asuka and Bliss, we haven’t seen The Boss be anything more than a bit player in quite some time. Yes, the Mega Huggers have exploded as Bayley and Sasha’s friendship has deteriorated, but the storyline hasn’t gotten much of a stage on which to play out.
Instead of being an also-ran on Raw, Sasha could anchor the division on SmackDown Live along with Charlotte. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed, and for how talented Sasha is, she needs a shot in the arm, and quick.
Becky Lynch to Raw
I know, I just said Raw‘s women’s division is stacked, so it makes no sense to shunt Becky off to the red brand, which is an even bigger pond. However, what makes even less sense is just how underutilized Becky has been on SmackDown. The Lass Kicker is consistently one of the most cheered members of the roster, but since losing the SmackDown Women’s Championship in its inaugural run all the way back in December of 2016, Straight Fire has lost a lot of steam, practically acting as enhancement talent.
Reintroducing Becky to the WWE Universe and showing them what she’s capable of would do wonders. And what better excuse to do just that than the Superstar Shake-Up?
Rusev to Raw
Rusev’s popularity has reached a fever pitch as of late, echoing shades of the Yes Movement in its early days. However, much like with Daniel Bryan all those years ago, the backing from the office just doesn’t seem to be there. "Rusev Day" chants fill arenas and hijack segments, but the Bulgarian Brute continues to lose and flounder in SmackDown‘s mid card (his attitude hasn’t seemed to do him any favors, either).
I don’t see Rusev being a main event fixture anytime soon, but his popularity needs to be capitalized, and can revitalize Raw‘s mid card scene. I’m all set with never seeing Rusev interact with some combination of Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal ever again, but he could put on killer matches with the likes of Finn Balor and Seth Rollins, or have a fun program with someone like The Miz.
Plus, the Superstar Shake-Up falls on Rusev Day! Both days of it! This stuff writes itself!
Gallows and Anderson to SmackDown Live
In a division of underutilized tag team talent, the Good Brothers, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, may be the most underutilized. Go listen to an episode of Talkin’ Shop on Chris Jericho’s podcast and tell me these two shouldn’t be much higher up on the card. When the two rallied behind their former Bullet Club leader in Finn Balor, fans were hopeful it was the beginning of something special; the true Bullet Club-style invasion of WWE fans have been clamoring for ever since Balor, Gallows, Anderson and Styles were signed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. Gallows and Anderson seem to have only been temporary muscle for Finn Balor while he dealt with The Miz and the Miztourage, and Balor seems to be going it alone from here on out. So why not try to revitalize the allure of Gallows and Anderson by shipping them off to the blue brand?
Jeff Hardy to SmackDown Live
I’m about as big a fan of the bizarre Woken Family that seemed to have emerged this past week on Raw as you can get. Woken Matt Hardy is finally starting to click, and having Bray Wyatt, the perennial cult leader, as a follower underneath him is an interesting wrinkle. Add in Brother Nero to the mix and you’re really starting to have something here.
But as tempting as that is, the temptation to slip back into the Attitude Era Hardy Boyz of old may be too great for WWE. Woken Matt Hardy is proving to be a success against all odds in the company of Meek-Mahan and the Man with Three H’s, and the nostalgia play the two re-debuted as would assuredly derail it. So I say, separate the two. Keep Matt and Bray on Raw while Jeff goes solo for a while on SmackDown, where he can tear it up with the likes of AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura — all dream matches.
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