WrestleMania has come to a close and the beginning of a new wrestling year starts with a Superstar Shake-up between the WWE brands. We predict which superstars go to RAW and which go to SmackDown.
WrestleMania weekend was a success for the WWE and they come out of their biggest event of the year with some intriguing possibilities. RAW and SmackDown after Mania were entertaining and we got to boo who we normally cheer and cheer who we normally boo… at least that’s what Vince McMahon told us through Corey Graves. It also brought forth some new blood, with the debuts of Authors of Pain, The Iconic Duo, No Way José and Ember Moon, along with the return of Bobby Lashley.
Like last year, that’s not enough and to make things truly interesting, we’ll get another Superstar Shake-up. After a year with the same rosters, changes are certainly needed. Some divisions are weaker than the one on the opposite brand and some superstars just need a fresh start. SmackDown presumably lost Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and will have to make up for an already unfair lack of talent compared to RAW.
With that in mind, these have been the additions and subtractions for each brand since WrestleMania:
Added: Bobby Lashley, Authors of Pain, Ember Moon, No Way José
Added: The Iconic Duo
Lost: Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens
If Zayn and Owens truly are gone, then SmackDown clearly will have to make up lost ground. I envision more debuts and returns on SmackDown soon however. I fully expect Andrade “Cien” Almas to join after getting his rematch against Aleister Black. If the rumors are true and Rey Mysterio returns, it has to be on SmackDown, his brand.
Either way, SmackDown needs a shot in the arm. It’s probably not gonna be the social media announcement that Titus Worldwide have joined SmackDown. I also predict the social media announcement for RAW, will be Tye Dillinger. But who will be the first new superstar to actually appear on RAW?
Daniel Bryan (SmackDown to RAW)
Yep. SmackDown’s biggest star is going to Monday Night RAW.
I’d rather see him stay at SmackDown, especially considering that was one of the main reasons I got tickets for SmackDown Live in London. However, there are signs pointing to him leaving for RAW and it does make some sense.
After being the SmackDown GM, having DB as a SmackDown superstar would be a bit awkward. Judging from the signs we got from the SmackDown after Mania, it seems like the WWE feels the same way. Daniel Bryan had a dream match against AJ Styles, possibly as a little gift before they go their separate ways. Bryan also wasn’t featured in any interviews or backstage segments, keeping a low profile on SmackDown.
He won’t be included into the feud between AJ Styles and Nakamura either. Reports say that the WWE Championship match at Extreme Rules will be between Styles, Nakamura and… Baron Corbin. So the dream matches against Nakamura and AJ Styles will have to wait, but there are plenty of dream matches for Bryan on RAW.
If Zayn and Owens appear on RAW, he can continue a feud with them. A Universal Championship match against future champion Roman Reigns would get tons of attention. Especially with a heel Roman. It’s been over 10 years since Bryan faced Finn Bàlor, long before their WWE run. Most notably though, Daniel Bryan could continue his long-arching feud with The Miz. It’s the match everyone wants to see. There are many more dream matches for Bryan on RAW, but one we won’t see is against:
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins (RAW to SmackDown)
Monday Night Rollins no more. “The Architect” and his newly won IC title moves to SmackDown Live! There are rumors that at least one pair of titles will change brands and the IC title is the only that makes sense apart from a WWE <-> Universal swap. We’re not gonna see the RAW Women’s Championship on SmackDown, it makes no sense.
Rollins also really needs something new. He hasn’t gotten it quite going on RAW and with Roman Reigns on top of the card, Rollins can’t really challenge for the title. Instead, it would be awesome to see Rollins duke it out against the likes of Nakamura and AJ Styles.
While Rollins should be heading to the main event picture in time, he’ll enjoy a nice IC title run for his first few months on SmackDown. There are rumors he’ll keep it for a record time, but I wouldn’t bet on seeing the Honk-A-Meter anytime soon. There are several opponents for him as IC champ, like a re-visit with Randy Orton, some stellar matches with Dolph Ziggler or maybe have him celebrate Rusev Day. With the IC title on SmackDown, the obvious next move is:
US Champion Jinder Mahal (SmackDown to RAW)
A clear addition by subtraction for SmackDown. I might be too hard on Jinder Mahal, but no one wants to see him rekindle his feud with Randy Orton.
Mahal was traded from RAW to SmackDown a year ago and he has certainly raised his profile. He went from being barely featured to a (way too) long WWE Championship run and is now the US Champ. Being back on RAW, he can continue complaining about how RAW mistreated him in the past. We know already that he can cut that promo. We’ve seen that promo from Jinder time and time again. And again. and again.
Either way, this brings the US title on RAW and gives us a few fun options. Bobby Lashley could use a US title run, the first title he won in the WWE. I can totally see him feuding with Mahal and since no one likes Mahal, Lashley will get the crowd behind him straight away. Lashley already seems to be going into a program with Elias, but I could see all three in the same feud. For some reason, the prospect of Elias and Mahal intrigues me.
Jeff Hardy (RAW to SmackDown)
Something else that intrigues me is Jeff Hardy to SmackDown. This one is obvious, as the WWE wants Jeff Hardy a bit separate from his brother Matt and his Woken Universe. They also want another major singles run for Jeff Hardy and he has more than enough star power to do it.
He could continue in the IC title picture with Seth Rollins, or he could move up to the main event and face a guy like Shinsuke Nakamura. That’s a very interesting match-up I’d very much like to see.
With Rollins and Jeff Hardy on SmackDown, we have some nice established faces on the blue brand, even with Daniel Bryan leaving. For faces already lost in the shuffle on SmackDown, a move to RAW could be exactly what they need, which is why:
Rusev (SmackDown to RAW)
Rusev is going to RAW. He is already getting buried on SmackDown and adding Rollins and Hardy doesn’t help his cause. Despite having the crowd firmly behind his back, he just doesn’t get pushed and had to see Jinder Mahal win the US title Rusev seemed destined to reclaim.
Now Rusev gets to follow Mahal to RAW and hopefully win the title he so dominantly held before he lost all momentum to John Cena. If not the US title, then Rusev has some unfinished business with Roman Reigns. Before he was put in a program with Enzo & Cass, Rusev lost the US title to Reigns.
Big Cass (RAW to SmackDown)
Speaking of Cass, the big man is back. What better way to introduce him than coming out as the newest SmackDown superstar?
His ACL injury in August might have been a blessing in disguise, as Big Cass didn’t have much momentum coming out of his original feud as a heel against his former tag partner Enzo. Braun Strowman was the next big thing, literally and Big Cass didn’t feel quite as intimidating as a result.
If Big Cass returns in a big angle at SmackDown, he can regain some momentum and being on an opposite brand of Braun as the main monster heel, he can do some great things. He can go in the ring, is decent on the mic and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vince likes him.
Zack Ryder (SmackDown to RAW)
Vince McMahon doesn’t like Zack Ryder, but the WWE Universe does. At least some times. Not the biggest of names, but Ryder has been a major part of the show before and can make himself noticed yet again.
I can imagine Curt Hawkins trying to find a tag partner after unsuccessfully trying to join Braun for WrestleMania. Let’s say he tries to form a tag team with Kane. They lose because of Hawkins always messing it up and Kane beats him down after the match.
Out comes Zack Ryder for the save and to get some retribution on Kane (remember) and we have Ryder & Hawkins reunited. They could be yet another addition to breathe life into the RAW tag team division after the formation of the “Woken Universe” and the debut of Authors of Pain.
The Bar (RAW to SmackDown)
The Bar ran roughshod over the RAW Tag Team division until they lost to a 4th grader… For both of those reasons, they need to be moved over to SmackDown.
We got a little taste of The Bar vs The Usos at last year’s Survivor Series, but how about a full blown feud between the two best tag teams in the WWE? Or maybe we can see Sheamus and Cesaro go up against the dominant Bludgeon Brothers?
What’s the other huge tag team on SmackDown again? Oh, that’s right..
The New Day (SmackDown to RAW)
New SmackDown GM Paige trades The New Day to RAW. Go figure.
Not only does it… ehm, remove potential awkwardness between GM and superstar, but we get an established tag team back on RAW. It is a role reversal from a year ago, when the RAW tag team scene was thriving and SmackDown needed a boost. The power of positivity can change a tag divisions fortunes around yet again.
We’ve seen The Bar vs The New Day before, so we get them on separate brands even if they both get a needed change. Instead, The New Day can focus on teams like Authors of Pain, pick up their aborted feud with The Revival or maybe they can get a detour to the “Woken Universe”.
In the long run though, we could see The New Day either break up, or rally behind one of their members to win a singles championship. I have expressed a desire for them to back Big E as a WWE/Universal Champion before. You can read about that here. They can’t stay as a tag team forever, or else they will turn into The Old Day and no one wants to see that.
Gallows & Anderson (RAW to SmackDown)
Gallows & Anderson have come a long way since “The Old Day” segment, but they have been stuck without anything to do on RAW. Karl Anderson thinks “The Good Brothers” are in dire need of a shake-up and I agree. These guys have too much potential for it to go to waste and on SmackDown they can reboot their careers.
It could also pair them back with AJ Styles if need be. Styles vs Nakamura with The Club by AJ’s side? Sounds like money.
Gable & Benjamin (SmackDown to RAW)
For as good as these guys are in the ring, they somehow find themselves doing nothing in SmackDown’s stellar tag team division. We might need to see them go over to RAW and give them a boost.
It will make for an interesting dynamic whenever Jason Jordan returns. We could see Jordan and Gable reunite and Shelton being kicked to the curb. I wouldn’t mind seeing Shelton as a singles competitor again, especially in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Until Jordan returns though, these guys can put on some tag team classics. We’ve seen Gable do that with Jordan against The Revival, so why not with Shelton by his side? They can be the first foe “Woken Universe” have to face or they can test their mettle against the Authors of Pain. With all of these tag division moves, both SmackDown and RAW can flourish in that regard.
Don’t worry, unlike “The Greatest Royal Rumble” event in Saudi Arabia, I’m not neglecting the women. I think they will get an even bigger role to play in the Superstar Shake-up than last year and I have four potential SmackDown Women’s Champions coming over from RAW and a big name transferring to the flagship show:
Charlotte (SmackDown to RAW)
There are a couple of reasons for making Charlotte go to RAW. First of all, there is no good way of booking a rematch for her title against Carmella without making either look bad. In kayfabe, Carmella won because Charlotte was beaten and bruised and in a rematch, Charlotte would win, no doubt.
Secondly.. it’s no secret that the WWE are shaping up for a WrestleMania 35 Main Event between Charlotte and Ronda Rousey. It would actually be a historic match, a first main even of Mania between female superstars. Rousey is staying on RAW, so Charlotte needs to move over for the match to be realized.
Charlotte leaves a gaping hole for SmackDown’s women’s division, so SmackDown are going to get ready for:
Asuka (RAW to SmackDown)
No one is ready for Asuka. Well, Charlotte was, but that won’t matter now. They will once again be on opposite brands and save a full-blown feud for later.
Even if she isn’t undefeated anymore, Asuka can still be dominant. There is no shame in losing to Charlotte and now she can be the figurehead on SmackDown. She will be a force once again as a SmackDown Women’s Champion, headlining their revamped division.
Riott Squad (SmackDown to RAW)
We will need more women on RAW. Because…
Sasha Banks & Bayley (RAW to SmackDown)
Sasha Banks and Bayley are moving their feud to SmackDown Live. They didn’t get the spotlight they deserve on RAW and will be closer to the top on SmackDown. They kinda feel like a modern day female version of Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio, who dominated on SmackDown as friends and foes in the 2000’s. I’m sure Sasha can appreciate that comparison.
What could further their current storyline and also reinvigorate another superstar, is including Becky Lynch. I’m keeping the inaugural SmackDown Women’s Champion on the blue brand and think she will serve well as a peacekeeper at first between Sasha and Bayley.
Maybe Bayley can transition into challenging for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, while Becky and Sasha continue to feud by themselves. Bayley and Carmella should also have good chemistry and that heel vs face dynamic will be interesting to see played out.
Natalya (SmackDown to RAW)
Natalya will never catch a break, but we might as well try by putting her over on RAW. At the very least she can put on great matches and probably be a fantastic mentor backstage to Ronda Rousey. She has been on SmackDown for too long and needs to get away from Becky and Naomi, even if she is still stuck with Charlotte. It could be worse…
Sonya Deville (RAW to SmackDown)
We need to break up some teams with this Superstar Shake-up and the team it makes the most sense to break up is Absolution.
Without Paige, they are kind of lost as a group and both Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville can do some things on their own. Sonya Deville especially has a big future in the WWE and their current MMA invasion and she is Paige’s favorite out of the two. It makes total sense for Paige to trade for her as a GM and possibly even give her a title opportunity, although it might be too early.
Paige re-signs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to SmackDown
There’s no other way to keep the roster balance in tact. Owens and Zayn have only been on SmackDown since the Shake-up a year ago and they’ve spent half of that time feuding with Shane McMahon. There are so many others they can feud with and the final fight between the two hasn’t been fought either.
I can see them feuding with Jeff Hardy or revive the tension between Owens and Rollins and may I remind you that Chris Jericho is still listed on the SmackDown roster.
They still have unfinished business on SmackDown, RAW is already full and TNA are not hiring either. This will lead to a questionable relationship between Paige and Shane McMahon, but if it’s one thing the WWE likes to do, it’s pitting GMs and Commisioners against each other.
So… the final results of the SuperStar Shake-up is:
Monday Night RAW gets:
Daniel Bryan, Jinder Mahal (US), The New Day, Rusev, Zack Ryder, Tye Dillinger, Gable & Benjamin, Charlotte, Natalya, Riott Squad
SmackDown Live gets:
Jeff Hardy, Seth Rollins (IC), The Bar, Big Cass, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Titus Worldwide, The Club, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Sonya Deville, Asuka