Sunday, June 23, 2024
EditorialWWE Superstar Shake-Up Ideas of Possible Trades

WWE Superstar Shake-Up Ideas of Possible Trades

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On Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon announced that there would be a “Superstar Shake-Up” happening next week, leaving the particular details a bit vague. In general, it can be surmised that Raw and SmackDown will have some kind of miniature draft of sorts, possibly with trades being discussed or maybe even the return of the “randomized” lottery concept.

Since we aren’t positive what exactly is in store for us about how this will work, let alone what WWE’s plans are in regards to it, we’re left to speculate what might go down with relative blind eyes, but that’s part of the fun.

As such, here is a breakdown of some of the ideas I have in mind of what I think we might see as well as a few ideas of what I’m personally hoping for, even if it isn’t necessarily in WWE’s plans.

The Safe Superstars

Unless there is a stipulation stating that some crossover between the brands is allowed for Payback and Backlash, we can assume there are a couple of people already set to stay where they currently are.

Considering the circumstances, the entire cruiserweight division is either going to shift to SmackDown or more than likely just stay on Raw. Individual stars won’t be shuffled around.

Brock Lesnar is going nowhere unless Randy Orton gets traded to Raw as his replacement and WWE is willing to replace the red strap on the Universal Championship with a blue one.

Since Lesnar won’t be around on Raw to defend his title for the bulk of the year, current United States champion Kevin Owens will definitely be sticking on the brand, as will his opponent for Payback, Chris Jericho. Of course, Jericho will be leaving soon after Payback, so this is more of a temporary thing, but in theory, it prevents him from being moved over to SmackDown during this current shift. When he makes his return later in the year or in 2018, he could very well pop up on the blue brand.

Normally, I would say that there was a chance Owens and the United States title are switched with Dean Ambrose and the Intercontinental Championship, but since the Owens/Jericho match is already set for Payback and not up in the air where it could happen at Backlash, I think this negates a title swap. Because of this, it’s very unlikely we’ll see Dean Ambrose or Baron Corbin traded over to Raw, as those two are feuding and SmackDown can’t afford to get rid of the Intercontinental Championship with no replacement midcard belt.

Keeping with that trend, The Hardy Boyz and The Usos are the tag team champions of their brands and both women’s champions should be sticking where they’re at, too.

The newest additions to the main roster who were called up from NXT should be safe as well, meaning The Revival will probably stay on Raw and both Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura will stay on SmackDown.

Finally, Braun Strowman alluded to having a future match with Roman Reigns, so unless both of them are traded over to SmackDown (which is highly unlikely) or that crossover between brands is allowed, you can expect to see that match as the main event of Payback, since we know Brock Lesnar isn’t going to show up (ugh).

List of Safe Superstars = the cruiserweights, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Bayley, Naomi, Dash Wilder, Scott Dawson, Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura.

The Tag Team Divisions

With The Hardy Boyz safe on Raw, nobody is going to be touching those tag titles for a while. The Revival appear to be in a feud with The New Day, so unless both teams move, I would expect to see both stay on Raw.

Here’s where things get dicey, though. There’s no room for The Hardy Boyz, The New Day, Sheamus and Cesaro, AND Enzo Amore and Big Cass as prominent babyface teams on Raw. Meanwhile, on SmackDown, the only babyface team worth something is American Alpha.

Clearly, things are out of balance, and Raw needs to send a face team over to SmackDown to even things out.

More than any other trade possible in this shake-up, I’m most confident in Enzo Amore and Big Cass to SmackDown. I thought it was strange to begin with during the last draft that Enzo/Cass were on the same brand as The New Day as they had similar vibes, and now that SmackDown desperately needs another face team, those two and American Alpha can share that responsibility. Plus, Cass and Carmella would be reunited on the same brand, and that’s much easier on their relationship.

SmackDown is really in shambles at the moment. Since Simon Gotch was released, The Vaudevillains are no longer a unit. The Hype Bros aren’t going to be reforming any time soon, either, and Heath Slater and Rhyno are on borrowed time. There aren’t any good heel teams unless The Ascension or Breezango step up their game, but I would equate those two teams to be more along the lines of equivalents of The Shining Stars and The Golden Truth, and we’ve already seen them on the blue brand for a while anyway. I could very much see Breezango and The Shining Stars switching spots as they function in similar roles.

On the topic of heel teams needed on SmackDown, as we only have The Usos, I’m thinking the issue will be rectified more so with the formation of a new team or maybe a push for The Ascension rather than Gallows and Anderson moving away from Raw.

Sheamus and Cesaro are a funny case, though. They are currently the No. 1 contenders to the tag titles, but that match wasn’t announced for Payback. I’m suspicious of that booking choice. Perhaps they receive their title shot on Raw next week before being split up? It’s much easier in WWE’s eyes to hurt the tag team division than deprive the main roster of singles stars. Sheamus and Cesaro already had their title run, climaxed their storyline potential, and while they work rather well as a team, they have a lot to offer the midcard, upper midcard, and main event of Raw and SmackDown.

It’s more of a longshot than Enzo and Cass going to SmackDown, but I’m going to put out the suggestion that Sheamus and Cesaro split. Who stays on Raw and who leaves is questionable.

The Women’s Divisions

That quartet of women we saw face off at WrestleMania for the Raw Women’s Championship absolutely has to be broken apart. They even addressed it on Bring it to the Table by saying they feel like they’ve been watching only those four face off for months. It also wouldn’t hurt to switch up some of the SmackDown Six to keep things fresh.

As I believe Enzo and Cass are going to SmackDown, I think Carmella is staying there. Obviously, as mentioned above, Bayley and Naomi are staying put. I’d also venture a guess to say Emma will stay on Raw as she’s new to the lineup.

At least one of the trio of Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Sasha Banks needs to go to SmackDown. Which one of those three depends greatly on two factors: 1) where Tamina will go when she returns, 2) if WWE wants to do the heel turn with Sasha Banks to feud her against Bayley.

I’m expecting Tamina to be on SmackDown with Naomi and The Usos, so since she can play the role of the bigger bruiser type, I think this negates Nia Jax. If Sasha Banks turns heel down the line, I think Raw needs a heel from SmackDown who can turn face, and that person is Natalya.

Right now, I’m leaning towards the trades being Natalya and Alexa Bliss to Raw, Charlotte to SmackDown for a number of reasons. All things considered, Charlotte and Alexa balance each other out as top heels, similar to the Tamina/Nia idea. Alexa has had her matches with Becky and Naomi, so this gives her a chance to feud with Bayley, Sasha Banks and Dana Brooke. Charlotte has had matches with Becky and Nikki, but they’re much fresher than Bayley and Sasha. She also has Naomi as an option, along with the chances that Mickie James turns face. A Mickie vs. Charlotte feud is money.

Natalya can function as a heel for a bit on Raw, feuding with Bayley, Sasha Banks and Dana Brooke, before turning face and working with Nia Jax, who needs a ring general to help guide her. Natalya and Emma haven’t feuded before, either, so that’s another, and Natalya/Alexa hasn’t been done as much as Natalya/Charlotte.

The Commentary Team

Things aren’t looking good for Mauro Ranallo lately. We don’t know the full story or the scope of what’s going on, but it all seems to boil down to him not getting along with JBL, who is either bullying him and causing problems, or it’s a case where Ranallo needs to suck it up and take some playful hazing.

In any scenario, for him to miss several weeks including WrestleMania, this doesn’t seem to be going away. Either they are split apart or Ranallo is fired, as JBL isn’t going to be the one who gets axed after his history with the company.

I would not be surprised in the slightest bit if we see JBL moved over to Raw as a replacement for Corey Graves, who is already making appearances Tuesday nights anyway as part of the 205 Live commentary team. Graves works well with both Ranallo and Tom Phillips, and he would be the necessary team member to shift with JBL as a color commentator, since that’s not the role Byron Saxton or Michael Cole plays.

A trade of JBL to Raw and Corey Graves to SmackDown is something I’m anticipating quite a bit.

The Jobbers

Let’s face it, this doesn’t matter. There’s no way WWE views the enhancement talent as anything but expendable. They’ll turn people heel or face to fit whatever roles they need at the moment and they’re interchangeable more than anything else on the entire roster.

It’s not going to matter in the grand scheme of things if Curtis Axel or Titus O’Neil gets traded for Curt Hawkins.

The Midcarders / Upper-Midcarders

Apollo Crews was sinking on SmackDown and with Tye Dillinger on the brand (at least for now) there’s even less room for him to flourish. I’m 100% expecting Crews to go to Raw, and I think if anybody goes over to SmackDown to compensate for this, it will be Sami Zayn, who will be used as more of an upper-midcarder, flexibly being booked against Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Baron Corbin and so forth.

I also think there’s a good chance Luke Harper is moved off SmackDown to get away from Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton unless there are plans to do a more elongated feud with Erick Rowan. That could be in the works, or it could be too low of a priority. If he does move to Raw, I’d expect Rusev or Jinder Mahal to be moved over to SmackDown to compensate.

Apollo Crews to Raw, Sami Zayn to SmackDown, and if Luke Harper goes to Raw, Jinder Mahal or Rusev goes to SmackDown because they need another midcard heel.

The Main Eventers

The biggest speculation is that AJ Styles will be moving to Raw, but we’ve seen rumors be completely wrong before. A lot of factors weigh heavily into this.

Is he a heel still, or did he officially turn face by shaking Shane McMahon’s hand? If he’s a heel, do they want to keep him separate from Gallows and Anderson or are they reuniting? If he’s a face, how many other top faces and heels will be on SmackDown?

Ignoring Styles as well as potential trades and turns, we currently have Orton, Cena, Ambrose and Nakamura for babyfaces and The Miz, Wyatt, Corbin, and Ziggler are the top heels. On Raw, though, we have Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns as the top babyfaces with Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe as our top heels. Reigns is effectively a heel that they always book as a babyface, so that gets confusing, but unless WWE changes their mindset, he will absolutely take priority over every other face.

There’s no room for Reigns, Styles, Balor, AND Rollins on Raw, especially with Big Show on that side and Brock Lesnar holding one of the titles hostage. The same goes for heels as the numbers are basically the same. Somebody needs to move to SmackDown to be the big move to counteract Styles, and it all depends on if he’s a heel or a face.

Right now, it appears he’s a face, so working with that idea in mind, I’m expecting to see AJ Styles to Raw and Seth Rollins to SmackDown. Reigns needs to stay on Raw for Lesnar, Balor just got back and is fresh, and Rollins is the one who has already had his matches with Owens at the very least. Rollins as a face on SmackDown will open up feuds with Bray Wyatt, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin, which could all be pretty good if not great.

OVERALL PICTURE

RAW RECEIVES:

  • AJ Styles
  • Alexa Bliss
  • Natalya
  • Apollo Crews
  • Luke Harper
  • Breezango
  • JBL

SMACKDOWN RECEIVES:

  • Seth Rollins
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Sami Zayn
  • Rusev or Jinder Mahal
  • Sheamus or Cesaro
  • Enzo Amore and Big Cass
  • The Shining Stars
  • Corey Graves

Those are some of the ideas floating around in my mind, but what suggestions do you have? Drop those thoughts in the comments below!

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