Well, Wrestlemania happened.
And the Raw after Wrestlemania happened.
And Summerslam is still four months away.
But WWE has to keep eyes on the product, so in the wake of That weird ass Wrestlemania this year, they gave us their annual Superstar Shake-up. The SSU is where Raw and Smackdown Live talent swap brands to freshen everything up and keep future matchups new and interesting.
So how did this year’s shakeup shake out? Let’s take a look…
1. Jinder Mahal w/Sunil Singh – This is a fine move, since Smackdown is creeping back into being “The WRESTLING show” and Raw is reinforcing its being “The Big Bodies And Segments Show”, they took Jinder away from the talent whose matches he would hinder. I don’t hate Jinder as much as a lot of folks, and I think he could do well enough on Raw as a bottom-of-the-main-event heel.
2. The Riott Squad – This is also passably inoffensive, and a way to shuffle up the women’s division on each show. Raw is now LOADED with female talent as Bayley, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Ruby Riott, Ember Moon, and Mickie James all call the flagship home. Smackdown may have the two best ladies in the company, but Raw has most of the depth.
3. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens – With the exception of one move with a lot of promise (Wait for it…), this is Raw’s biggest gain, as Kevin and Sami enter with main event and big story credibility. Sami and Kevin being taken from Smackdown in the heart of its wrestling renaissance is not ideal, but they should shoot straight to the top of Raw’s main event scene once Brock is all the way out the door.
4. The Fashion Police – Call me crazy, but I LOVE this move. Breeze and Fandango went from a two hour show with a loaded baked potato of a tag division and no time to showcase them to a three hour show with a wet noodle of a tag team scene. This could sneakily be the move the benefits any individual talent the most. Breezango could conceivably step RIGHT into the tag team title hunt on Raw. Who else is there? Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy and The Revival? Soon, the Fashion Police’s Day One will be H!
5. Natalya – Nothing to see here. With Raw’s depth, Natalya should settle on the ocean floor of the women’s division.
6. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre – HERE WE GO. As noted by hundreds of wrestling writers before me, Dolph continues his Shawn Michaels obsession by channeling the Two Dudes With Attitudes connection and getting himself a Diesel. Dolph himself is fine (and if this duo freshens him up, all the better), but let’s talk about Drew. There is MASSIVE potential for upward mobility here. This could be the stepping stone to the main event for him by the time the Royal Rumble rolls around. Could McIntyre end up a favorite to win that this year?
7. The Ascension – Like The Fashion Police, the move could save their careers and give them something to do. They don’t have the groundswell of support that Tyler Breeze and Fandango do, though.
8. Baron Corbin – See what I said about Jinder. Take the brooms off of Smackdown Live so the wrestlers can work. Corbin should hopefully get buried to Raw’s mid card because there are just too many great talents ahead of him.
9. Zack Ryder – Warm body.
10. Mike Kanellis – I really hope this reboots Mike and gives him a chance to do some work. I hear he’s hit several months sober at this point, and I’m glad WWE is working with getting him better. He and Maria’s gimmick is fun and original.
11. Bobby Roode – Now THIS is a curious move. Roode is FLOUNDERING on the main roster as a babyface, and with Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollin, Finn Balor, and eventually Dean Ambrose all around, Raw needs MAJOR LEAGUE heels (I don’t see Jinder and Corbin cutting it). Could Bobby FINALLY go back to the smug bastard he was in NXT?
12. Chad Gable – Lower mid card act with potential. Am I alone in REALLY wanting him and Jason Jordan to eventually reform as a HEEL American Alpha? I think they’d be terrific.
13. Mojo Rawley – There doesn’t seem to be much for him to do on Raw, so he’ll probably be a long-reigning IC champ soon.
1. The Miz – Dat Daniel Bryan feud, dough. That’s the story of this move, as WWE DESPERATELY needed these two on the same program now that Bryan is unretired. This feud will be beautiful, and the fans are going to be hotter than a solar flare for it. Taking Miz away from the Intercontinental Title is a criminal offense, but who cares? This angle will be worth it. The story of Smackdown working to get Miz just for Bryan and the fact that WWE is starting the story right up is perfect.
2. US Champion Jeff Hardy – Jeff won the US Title from Jinder on Mahal’s first night on Raw so he could take the belt to the blue brand. I’ve heard people speculate Jeff could be a WWE Champ eventually here, but with his age, history of unreliability, and the rest of this stacked roster all working against him, I think it’s more likely he ends up disappearing into the mix than rising to the top.
3. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose – Pairing them up with Paige to see if she will abuse her GM powers for them could be fun, but nothing else is of note here. Smackdown also has The Iconic Duo now, and they are just better at being a heel team.
4. Samoa Joe – THIS was a surprise, for sure, but a great one. Remember what I said above about Smackdown being The Wrestling Show? Well this move certainly enhances that.
5. Sanity (Young, Wolfe, & Dain) – LOVE this move. LOVE it. The only negative here is that Nikki Cross isn’t coming up with them, but I think SaNiTy is going to be a LOT of fun on the main roster, and I am epically glad they kept them away from the black hole of Bray Wyatt (since there were rumors Bray would be put in charge of this unit when they were called up). They deserve better than to be sucked out of orbit by him.
6. Big Cass – The exception that proves the rule to SD being The Wrestling Show. Raw can’t have ALL the giants, and in a land of Strowman and Brock and McIntyre and Jinder and Corbin, Cast would have been lost. He can be THE giant on Smackdown Live.
7. Asuka – So now Smackdown has Asuka AND Charlotte, the two best women in all of WWE. The rest of the division is kind of in shambles with multiple evil mid card teams doing the same thing(Absolution and the Iconic Duo), friggin’ Carmella as the champion, and poor Becky Lynch and Naomi floundering under Charlotte and Asuka as dominant babyfaces.
8. The Good Brothers – See below.
9. The Bar – So Smackdown retained The Usos, the Bludgeon Brothers, and The New Day AND they gained SaNiTy, The Club (or The Good Brothers or whatever), and The Bar? Tag Team Wrestling for god damn DAYS on the blue brand! On a brand with AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Miz, and Samoa Joe, I would watch Smackdown JUST for the tag team matches now. Also, with the rumors that Sheamus is in the final stretch of his career before a neck injury may force his retirement, Cesaro could enter that aforementioned singles scene. Also amazing. Cesaro vs any of those guys? Yes, please.
10. R Truth – R-Truth is still around?!
11. Andrade Almas w/Zelina Vega – It’s a shame he’s not getting a rematch in NXT against Aleister Black, but Cien deserves this call-up. The transformation and improvement he underwent in NXT can’t be overstated. He should have the U.S. Title from Jeff Hardy within two months, and they need to let him hold that strap for a year.
So I sound really stoked for Smackdown, and I am. The problem with Raw is that their tag scene is depleted (though, hopefully that is a boon to units like The Revival and Breezango), and they have just become the Land of the Giants where I fear Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are perpetually squashed. But for my money? Yeah, Smackdown definitively “won” the Superstat Shakeup… but what do you think?