This past edition of Raw and SmackDown saw more than a handful of wrestlers switch between brands, effectively acting like an entirely new draft without being referred to as such.
It could have very easily been just a few names, but after all the trades have been done, it appears there are actually a lot of changes to come over the next few months—some for the better, some for the worse.
Of course, we don’t know for sure what WWE has in mind for everybody or what the future has in store for them, as anything from injuries to NXT call-ups could change things yet again, but at a quick glance of the moves, here is a breakdown of some predictions of what the pros and cons might very well be.
The New Day Will Reign Supreme Again
American Alpha has their fans, but pretty much as soon as they were given the belts, WWE’s creative team seemed to drop them from the list of priorities. This killed their momentum as for weeks on end, they were either left off the show entirely or they were relegated to a very poor spot with nothing much to do. The SmackDown Tag Team Championship was put on The Usos and they, too, were pushed aside at WrestleMania as the only champions to not defend their titles.
Clearly, the SmackDown tag team division is in need of a booster shot, and in WWE’s eyes, the answer to that is The Shining Stars and The New Day.
I can’t imagine The Shining Stars are going to ruffle a lot of feathers as Primo and Epico have just never been anything but decent at best, awful in the norm. The New Day, however, are juggernauts in the division and on SmackDown, they’re even bigger fish in a smaller pond. Without The Hardy Boyz, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, Sheamus and Cesaro, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, and The Revival getting in their way, whose to stop them? (Who? Who?)
We could very well be in for another title reign that spans months on end with Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston putting the entire division on their shoulders and lifting it up. The only question is who their opponents will be once they’ve ran through The Usos, as there aren’t any other heel teams properly set up to challenge them. That will be a huge problem in a few months and how WWE plans to solve it will definitely determine whether or not the division looks stronger by the end of 2017 or if it has become a snooze fest.
David Otunga Will Continue to Sink, Not Swim
David Otunga is awful on commentary, bringing little to no energy, insight, or entertainment to the table. He’s proved this consistently every single week on SmackDown and I have to imagine WWE officials aren’t blind to this, so as weird as it sounds, I think Byron Saxton was brought on SmackDown to help make up for that difference.
Tom Phillips is advancing rather quickly as of late (something I called back in February) and with the exit of Mauro Ranallo, is currently the lead announcer on SmackDown. Pairing him with JBL is one thing, but for someone still relatively new to the responsibilities of the position to also have to reign in Otunga puts a lot of pressure on him.
In my mind, Saxton is more experienced and they switched him with Otunga so it would lessen the load for Phillips while also putting Otunga between two guys who could handle him better. Michael Cole is the veteran behind the booth and Corey Graves has rapidly grown to become one of their favorites and incredibly comfortable on commentary, so those two should be able to poke and prod anything out of Otunga that they possibly can.
Sadly, they won’t be able to save him from still being a hindrance, and hopefully, WWE doesn’t just keep him on there because they like him. Find another role for him in the company or give him the boot entirely. This will be his last excuse.
Dean Ambrose Will Steal the Show
At the moment, all three members of The Shield are on Raw. Seth Rollins is somewhat freshly a babyface, Roman Reigns is a perpetual babyface who gets treated like a heel by the fans (and that’s not going to change) and Dean Ambrose is a babyface who seems to not really enjoy all that much of what he’s doing.
My original instinct was to say that he would be turning heel to offset the loss of Kevin Owens, but the balancing act is actually much more confusing than that. With Ambrose as a babyface, he can feud with Samoa Joe, The Miz (despite it being done before), Braun Strowman, Elias Samson, and Bray Wyatt (again, done before, but not for a little while). However, as a heel, his main options are Finn Balor and Seth Rollins unless one of those names from the previous sentence turns face, and judging by their characters, I doubt they will.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are the two that seem to be getting the better treatment overall and will be in the main event scene while Ambrose with the Intercontinental Championship will be tasked to manage the midcard and upper-midcard folk, feuding with people that could give him much more interesting storylines going forward.
In a way, while Rollins and Reigns will get more attention and Ambrose will be swept under the rug a bit, he’ll also be able to get away with more and not have as rigid of a formula to follow, allowing for some really interesting stuff to go down.
In particular, I’m looking forward to a feud between he and Samoa Joe, as I have a feeling those two will be able to have some great brawls in hardcore-style matches.
Cesaro and Sheamus Will Split or Turn Heel
It’s strange that Enzo Amore and Big Cass have still never held gold in either NXT or the main roster, and up until Tuesday night, I assumed their future was on SmackDown. The New Day heading over to the blue brand nixed that concept, though, and now that they’re still on Raw, this means there’s going to be a problem with the babyface tag teams.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows aren’t turning face, nor are The Revival. Those will be the top two heel teams unless something crazy happens where WWE allows them to do the Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero gimmicks and turns them heel, but I doubt that is in the cards. The Hardy Boyz will remain the top faces with Enzo and Cass nipping at their feet, but where does that leave Cesaro and Sheamus?