One of the big advantages of a brand split in WWE is the ability for the company to create new opportunity for its stars. With Raw and Smackdown Live heading in different directions – the promise of new matches seems tantalising. For some Superstar’s it’s a chance to breakout and get over in a big way. Yesterday I labelled which Superstars I think have the biggest chance of making the trip from Smackdown to Raw. Today I name the five big moves I think WWE are going to land us with during this trade.
5. Kevin Owens (With the US Title)
Continuing the theme I started with the Smackdown Live article yesterday, I fully anticipate Kevin Owens will be making the return trip as Dean Ambrose passes over to Raw.
This isn’t a sleight against Owens – far from it. Raw’s going to need a strong mid-card Championship this year (Thanks to the decision to land the Universal Championship with Brock Lesnar) and while Owens is more than capable of delivering that, I reckon he’ll end up rebuilding the Championships reputation on Smackdown.
Much like how Miz made the IC relevant, Smackdown’s more streamlined format allows it to focus on its Championships more, develop better stories and ultimately home in on Owens ability.
4. Sami Zayn
I’m half and half on this one. Zayn moving makes sense on paper – but I don’t know if WWE want to lose such a willing loser on Raw.
Zayn’s main quality right now is in elevating talent. He helped legitimise Strowman and guided Samoa Joe into Raw with a great match at Fastlane. He’s the go-to guy when it comes to putting people over – which is why Raw might still need him. But if WWE want him to ever escape this position – Smackdown is the place to do it.
Imagine if Shinsuke and Zayn crossed paths again. Styles and Zayn? Yes please! There’s so many potential money matches on the table with Zayn that Smackdown seems like a no-brainer. Plus with more focus on wrestling talent on Smackdown Live – Zayn would flourish no end. Zayn’s one of the Superstars that could break out big – if only WWE would let him. This could be that chance.
3. Cesaro & Sheamus
A different kind of choice here – but I think Smackdown urgently needs some fresh tag teams. Given that this “shakeup” sounds more like a voluntary trade – I reckon one of the Raw Tag Teams will be sacrificed to help bolster Smackdown’s flagging division. I don’t think The Shining Stars are big enough to achieve this, but I also don’t think WWE will want to move their big three Raw teams (Hardys, Enzo and Cass or New Day) – which leaves Cesaro and Sheamus.
Their team has done really well since forming – becoming a formidable force on the show. They’ve won the belts and had their big Wrestlemania match – and I suspect that both characters would do well on Smackdown. Partially for tag team purposes – but also down the road when the pair inevitably split. It gives Smackdown two legitimate Superstars that can pad out its mid/upper card.
The Uso’s also need a big team to face – and a big rivalry to help spark the Smackdown tag team division back into life. This could be the move to achieve this.
Without question Charlotte is one of WWE’s bigger Superstars, but her time on Raw needs to come to an end.
She’s exhausted all feuds on Raw – with the company teasing a Nia Jax feud as her next destination. I’m sure most fans don’t want to see this match – in particular when there’s so much potential for her to captain the ship over on the Blue Brand. Not only this, she can help elevate some of the talent that’s yet to truly break out in the company (I’m looking at you Carmella!). Charlotte brings an air of legitimacy to proceedings – and opens up a number of potential high-profile matches on the way.
Given that Sasha Banks and Bayley are on an inevitable crash course, it makes sense to leave them two on Raw together. I’m fully expecting Charlotte to be the big “female” move of this draft, her status as one of the top Superstars will be invaluable to Smackdown Live.
1. Roman Reigns
My big “controversial” choice in all this is Roman Reigns. Arguably WWE’s biggest Superstar right now – his move would create massive waves and change the dynamic of the company moving into 2017.
Reigns is in a unique position now. He’s ready to face Brock Lesnar (Which WWE are teasing like mad) but they don’t want to deliver that until one of the major PPV’s – possible even Wrestlemania 34 next April. How do you hold off on that for so long without the two coming to blows? The big answer is to swap Reigns to Smackdown. It’s a trick WWE used constantly back in the original brand split, moving its biggest superstars around the roster in order to hold off on the “major” matches.
This opens up the door for him to rework his reputation on the “wrestling” brand, while adding Championship gold to his CV. It also gives Reigns entirely new people to work with. The major problem Reigns has on Raw is that he’s faced most of the upper card already – there’s no one new to take on. Smackdown Live has a heap of workers for him to go against..
Plus the Smackdown Live crowd will absolutely hate on Reigns – and WWE seem to be loving that at the minute. Reigns is nothing if not a headline grabber – and his arrival on Smackdown Live would change the very dynamic of that show. It’s arguably the biggest “reach” on this list, but looking at the current Raw roster, there’s really nobody for him to move on to.
Plus what bigger insult would there be than after taking Undertaker’s yard, he takes his old stomping grounds too?