Vince McMahon announced on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw that he’s looking for Shane and Stephanie to go at it full force in an attempt to prove that their respective brand is better than their sibling’s. However, given the history of the WWE Brand Extension and how Raw has always been seen as the flagship show (even in Vince’s promo here, where he referred to it in a similar fashion), there’s no way for SmackDown to be truly competitive unless WWE makes the concerned effort to establish it as a legitimate equal.
To do this, the brands cannot be heavily skewed. In the past, Raw would frequently get the up and coming stars while SmackDown would get the people that struggled to do anything in the past year. Eventually, the blue brand couldn’t survive on just leftovers, and it became obvious that the B-show was more B.S. than anything else, so fans stopped watching and the rosters were merged back together.
This year, the 2016 draft needs to be structured in a way where the superstars on both sides have as much of an equal footing as their competition. Raw can’t have all the mic work while SmackDown has the in-ring talent. One show can’t have all heavyweights and the other, cruiserweights.
It’s impossible to make things a full 50/50 split, but there are definitely some superstars who are on similar footing and fill comparable roles to other ones, creating parallels which could exist on separate brands, and that is what we’ll be looking at here.
Which WWE stars should be on opposite brands to balance each other out?
Alberto Del Rio / Sheamus
These two former teammates from The League of Nations are about as close to equals as you can get when looking for them. Both men are multi-time world champions who predominantly stay heels, bully people, and have roughly the same level of intensity (with a slight edge of power to Sheamus and a tip toward Del Rio for finesse). Neither man is above the other in terms of importance on the roster, as both are in that range where they will be main eventers or at least upper midcarders on their brands, although they don’t need to win any more belts for their legacies to be etched in the company for good.
Cesaro + Sami Zayn / Apollo Crews + Dolph Ziggler
The four in this grouping are forced into a kind of package deal. Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler are IWC darlings with established spots on the roster, trusted to get things done in the ring and to fill in the gaps of the midcard, upper midcard and lower main event.
Sami Zayn and Apollo Crews are younger talents with an immense upside to their stay on the roster. It’s pretty much a certainty that they’ll wear gold at some point this year, whether it be the United States or Intercontinental titles.
Within that, though, there are the comparisons between Ziggler/Zayn and Cesaro/Crews. The former two have the skinnier body type with a pure wrestling speed skillset while the latter two are more muscular and play the power game more often.
Essentially, Cesaro needs to be on a separate show from Crews as well as Ziggler, who needs to stay away from Zayn, meaning Cesaro and Zayn should be on the same show and Crews should be paired with Ziggler to balance that out.
Big Show / Mark Henry
This one is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? These are the two biggest guys on the roster who have been with the company for some of the longest tenures. Both could be leaving at any time, both can help backstage with the locker room, and both can be the resident super heavyweight on Raw and SmackDown.
AJ Styles / Seth Rollins
Styles and Rollins are the top two heels in the company right now and they both have a similar wrestling technique. Their characters aren’t too far off from each other, either, as they are quick to call themselves the best in the company and have the background in their careers to prove that success is not just a random thing for them.
Rollins gives off a more cowardly façade than Styles, but the leader of The Club has been getting increasingly more and more standoffish to get into a fight as time goes on. In the span of a few months, he’s gone from a babyface who was up for the challenge and didn’t want any help from his brethren to someone who relies on their backup to win a fight.
Having both Styles and Rollins on the same show deprives the other brand of having its own type of top heel like this, which would be a very noticeable gap on the roster.
Darren Young / Zack Ryder
A year ago, it would be easy to write these two off as not even getting picked in the Supplemental Draft, but here we are with Darren Young receiving an Intercontinental Championship match and Zack Ryder getting a shot at the United States Championship at Battleground. These two were jobbers a short time ago and they’re on the rise of rehabilitation, even though they still come off as being not quite there yet.
Ryder and Young will both utilize the standard character trope of being the underdog in the fight, so having one of them on each roster’s midcard is going to ensure that they don’t get in each other’s ways in their quest to make it to the top…or at least, the middle.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson / The Dudley Boyz
The big difference between these two teams is how Bubba Ray an D-Von are considered more on the veteran side of things than Anderson and Gallows, but keep in mind that The Club isn’t without its experience, either. More so, the types of styles these two teams bring to the table (no pun intended) are similar enough that they should be separated. Both groups are very tough and will bring the fight to their opponents instead of being comedic jokes, pushovers, crafty heels who outsmart their competition and so forth. When compared to other teams like The Vaudevillains, Breezango, The Shining Stars and The Lucha Dragons, they seem somewhat similar, with The Ascension being the only other team that could be somewhat on par, although they’ve lost all of their credibility, putting them on a different, lower tier.
The Usos / The Lucha Dragons
While The Usos do not get the same altitude when it comes to high-flying as The Lucha Dragons do, both teams wrestle similar styles. They keep the energy up from their entrances until the bell rings, relying heavily on kicks and some playfulness on the ropes. Both teams are also kind of the opposite of the previous teams mentioned above, as The Club and The Dudley Boyz are very morose and down to brass tacks while these four men—albeit not as comedic as the next two teams—like to bring some flair into the mix by showing off their cultures and embracing a lighter side at times.