In July of last year, WWE split their Raw and Smackdown brands into two unique rosters. One of the concerns with separated rosters as you get further away from draft day is the lack of new storylines – this is particularly problematic if you are struggling to create new stars. So, what does WWE decide to do? A superstar shake-up! We are still unsure what form this recently announced shake-up will take. What we do know is that there have been rumors swirling about potential moves on the two rosters since a few weeks before Wrestlemania. We don’t know what’s definitive versus what’s just rumors at this point, so what we will do is throw out a list of 10 potential superstars to be traded and give our take on what it would mean for them if they did move. In some instances we will give our take on whether we think they should be traded or not. Let’s get started, in no particular order.
Alex Burrows: As we discussed on the last two podcasts, WWE has not done the best job of presenting Enzo & Cass in the ring and in storylines since their call-up from NXT last year. The only part of their gimmick that is still over is their entrance. Think about that, their entrance. You can tell how far the rest of their gimmick has fallen off when you consider that a recent crowd chanted “Thank You” to a heel wrestler for clocking Enzo and shutting him up. If there is any team on Raw that could use a change of scenery and an opportunity to have Smackdown’s creative team take a crack at them it’s the Realest Guys in the Room. I can dig this as a potential move.
Ricardo Wells: There is simply no good way to put this, Enzo and Big Cass has been ruined by the Raw creative team. The reaction to this gimmick a few months back was something to marvel at, but the constant jobber angle for Cass combined with the “my mic skills are way too good for me to get fight” act put on by Enzo forced this tag team into a unforgivable cycle where the crowd couldn’t get behind them and creative couldn’t find a decent feud for them. All of that was topped off with their expected Wrestlemania moment going to the returning Hardy Boyz…… a change of scenery may just be what these guys need. Now how you doing?
RW: Their initial call up to the main roster sent shock waves across the company. However, the treatment given to American Alpha since has left so much to desire. It’s not like creative hasn’t been able to do good by them in my opinion. The limited amount of teams to compete with just hasn’t aided the skill set of this team. The run against the Usos was great, but with the removal of the Wyatt Family to aid Bray Wyatts singles run and disappearance of the Vaudevillans, that feud lost it hype after a while. A move to Raw with the likes of Kurt Angle calling the shots in a division loaded with talent, American Alpha could be in for a big year.
AB: While I love the ring work that American Alpha has displayed both in their NXT run and their run thus far on the main roster, the Smackdown creative team has not done the best job in making them more well-rounded characters outside of the ring. This may be the one instance where I argue for someone to move from Smackdown to Raw based on the potential of just new creative ideas. Think about Alpha vs The Hardys, or The Club, or even their recent rivals from NXT The Revival or potential call-up #DIY. This was more Ricardo’s idea though, so I’m sure he has more to say on this than I.
AB: What do you do with the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history? What do you do when their act may be just on the edge of beginning to wear thin? Move them. I love the New Day – from the race standpoint, from a nerd culture standpoint, from a freedom on the mic standpoint. I think that the longest reigning tag champs and general “happy to be here” gimmick is just nearing the end of its usefulness however. I would love to see a move to Smackdown for these guys. If they want to stay together and if WWE wants to continue to milk the cash cow that they have been for merch, putting them on the new hottest show and maybe (hopefully) turning them heel again may be a step towards continuing their dominance, both in the ring and as an act.
RW: There is nothing much to say here. The New Day, as constituted on Raw has ran its course. The New Day had an historic run on Raw, allowing them a chance to chase, capture and hold the titles on SmackDown Live could be something special. While not expected, this move could be on that stands out when reflected upon a couple of months from now.
RW: Oh please let this happen. Next to Enzo and Cass, no one needs a change of brands more so than Sami. His run with real life best friend Kevin Owens gave him purpose last year. Since, it is like Raw creative has had no clue what to do with him. Make the move and give me Zayne/Nakamura match at Summerslam, please and thank you.
AB: Ok. Sami has been the number one draft pick for “guy most people want to see switch brands” since probably October of last year. My number one reason for this, get him away from Kevin Owens. Whenever anything is going on with Owens there always seems to be a match, whether tag team, six man or otherwise with Sami. WWE has a potential blockbuster Universal or WWE title feud on their hands with these two guys, but they need some time apart first. Let fans forget about their recent animosity. Let fans get comfortable with the idea of Sami as a world champion by having him eventually collect it on the Smackdown brand. Then, when people least expect it, bring them back together for that epic feud. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and these two guys could definitely use some space.
RW: Do you remember when Rusev was a legit thing? No? Nor do I because it was such a long time ago. I need the beastly Bulgarian brut to make his return. Send him to SML and let him run wild on that looker room, he can be exactly what creative is building Samoa Joe as….. after all, he was Samoa Joe before we saw this version of Samoa Joe.
AB: I know Rusev is injured, but man he needs something new. Another potential main event champion that has suffered from poor writing and storytelling on Raw. Now, he would be a perfect fit as a midcard monster with the IC title on Smackdown while being rebuilt into championship material. Give him a legit six month reign with wins against main event level guys and then take him into a main event title feud. Oh, and maybe turn him face for a while. Just saying, freshen the guy up.
AB: I’m not sure how to say this, but Dean Ambrose has really struggled since he arrived on Smackdown. He has lost his credibility as a main event level guy and has floundered even holding the IC title. There is something about him, moreso than the other two former SHIELD members, that makes it seem like he needs those guys, Rollins and Reigns, to succeed or be taken seriously. His best feuds were with Rollins and when the three guys fought over the WWE title last summer. It’s a weird thing to say, but I think he benefits most from his proximity to those two guys while they don’t really need it. Now some may say, keep him away from those guys to see if he can really stand as a main guy, but we have had six months of that, and it hasn’t been the best. And just to note, AJ Styles pulled all of the weight in their feud, not much credit to give Ambrose there, I’m sorry. Pack this guy up and send him home (to Raw).
RW: This man brought the WWE World Heavyweight title to SML. How did you lose track of that fact? Now he is locked in a pissing contest with Baron Corbin, Jesus, how fast the mighty have fallen. Don’t get me wrong here, Baron Corbin is a star in the making, but this run with Dean has done little to push him up the ladder, while wonderfully pulling Ambrose down a peg or two. In fact, the Intercontinental Title that Miz and Ziggler worked so hard to legitimize has again sunk to pointlessness because of its existence here. Moving Dean over to Raw would pit him in angles with his former Shield brothers and possible the resurfacing of that stable.
AB: One of the famed Four Horsewomen has to be on the move in this draft. I think the moment to do the Sasha heel turn on Bayley has passed. I also think that the Sasha Bayley feud from NXT is still too recent in the minds of the most vocal WWE fans to really work at this stage. Similar to Sami moving to get away from KO, I feel Sasha needs some distance to make an eventual feud between the two more meaningful and impactful. Plus, the idea of Sasha vs a newly hot Naomi, or a veteran Mickie James or an Alexa Bliss (who is almost a completely different talent from her NCT days) is worth salivating over. So, in a lot of ways, Sasha is the Sami of the women’s division, just in a slightly better position.
RW: SMH. Make this move if only as a means to separate her from Charlotte and Bayley. That is all. The Raw Women’s division has suffered the same fate as the SML Tag Team Division, a lull of the same matches on a continuous loop. It’s pass time to break up the monotony.
RW: The only reason I would throw Alexa in to this mix would be to give Raw something substantial in the trade for Sasha. Moving her does little to aid her gimmick IMO, she has benefited greatly from the focus given to the SDL women’s division. Moving her over to Raw leaves a lot to question.
AB: Ok, so this has been one of the rumored moves from before Wrestlemania. The thinking is that Alexa has proven herself and grown so much during her Smackdown run that she “deserves” a move to the “A” show, Raw. Now, from my vantage point, Alexa is on the “A” show. Smackdown has been the better and more consistent show since the brand split. Their women’s division has been the better of the two main shows over that span of time as well.
*Side bar – someone took umbrage with that statement on last week’s pod. I’ll say this, there has been more development in the women on the SDL roster, better stories being told amongst them and a more enjoyable and watchable product by far over what’s been happening on Raw. Come at me bro.
Anyway, I personally don’t want Alexa to go to Raw. I get it, they want to see her vs. Charlotte, vs. Bayley and vs. whoever else comes into the division inevitably, but I like Ms. Harley Quinn on Smackdown and I hope she stays.
RW: The thought of such a move angers me to the point that I am willing to divorce myself totally from WWE programming if it happens. Please, for all that is right in this world, do not move AJ Styles to Raw. Please, leave AJ Styles on SDL.
AB: Another of the rumored moves is AJ Styles. The reasons for his move is somewhat similar to Alexa. He has proven to be THE phenomenal one on Smackdown and carried the main event scene on the brand until his detour to face Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania. He deserves another run with the title, as a true babyface this time and an opportunity to do some awesome work (pun intended) in a post Money in The Bank cash-in feud with The Miz. (Yes, I am predicting a MITB win for The Miz and a cash-in on a face AJ at some point this year). Those would arguably be the top heel and face on SDL and could put on a series of great promos and matches. Just keep AJ on SDL guys and let him continue to be the number one guy.
AB: The final name on this list has also been mentioned in rumors about this shake-up but with no explanation. I will give you what I think it is and then explain why it’s b.s. So, everyone by now has heard rumors of Roman vs Brock at next year’s mania for the Universal title. I think moving Roman to SDL would be a way to try and slow down the Roman negativity. WWE will get to sit back and say “how can Roman fight Brock, they aren’t even on the same show” while the Universe rolls its eyes in collective disbelief. Look, nothing is stopping the “F you Roman” train. NOTHING. There is no logical reason for moving Roman other than to, in theory, shift some heat away from him by putting him as far away from Brock as possible. To be honest, I don’t care where Roman goes, because I don’t care about this current iteration of Roman Reigns. If something in his character shifts, then maybe I will pay more attention. At this stage, however, Roman can kick rocks. Put him on NXT for all I care.
RW: Forgive me for this, I don’t give a…….. you get my point. Can we move this guy to Sunday night Heat? Oh, that show doesn’t exist anymore? Let’s cross that bridge when we get there.