Sunday, June 23, 2024
EditorialWWE Superstar Shake-Up Projections for the Future of Stars on New Brands

WWE Superstar Shake-Up Projections for the Future of Stars on New Brands

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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?

I could see them continue playing tweener roles for a bit, as they have been doing that lately while officially still being babyfaces, but gazing at my crystal ball, I think they’ll either turn down a dark path or cease to exist in a few months.

The big deciding factor is whether or not the tag team division still needs them. If so, they’ll turn heel. If not, Cesaro and Sheamus are going to break up as a duo and return to the singles division, possibly while another tag team takes over their spot—for instance, Heath Slater and Rhyno.

It’s a possibility Slater and Rhyno are the ones who split or turn heel, but weighing the two options, I don’t think that’s as likely. If they were to break apart, they would have done that when it was teased months ago. If they’re to turn heel, they’re going to need a boost in credibility in order to seem dangerous, unless they’re going to take over the spot The Shining Stars had as a joke.

Still, between the two teams, I think doom is in the forecast for Sheamus and Cesaro, as both men are great on their own and the experiment of them as partners has pretty much run its course. Matches like Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe, Sheamus vs. Finn Balor, Cesaro vs. The Miz and Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews are much more interesting than seeing The Celtic Warrior and The Swiss Superman just nosedive as the fifth most important team on the show.

Kalisto Will Join the Cruiserweight Division

Twice, Kalisto was the United States champion. Twice, he made it seem as though it didn’t matter.

After his injury, he’s never been able to regain that momentum. His feud with Baron Corbin stretched out for months and nobody cared whatsoever, and to follow that up with a weird handicap feud co-starring Apollo Crews against Dolph Ziggler was just strange and did no favors to anybody.

With Kalisto on Raw, he becomes eligible for the Cruiserweight Championship if they so choose to have him switch over to that side. With the three hour time slot, even if it takes a few weeks or even months, this is his best shot at getting on the card in any meaningful kind of way instead of just being utilized as a jobber to more important people like The Miz or Braun Strowman.

As part of the cruiserweights, this could be a resurgence for the luchador while also hurting the prominence of some of the men from 205 Live like Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado—two masked stars who won’t seem as special and have already been pushed aside as is. What’s bad for them is what’s good for Kalisto, though, so you have to weigh your preferences.

Comparing the Women’s Divisions

Similar to the situation with The New Day, I fully expect WWE to go back to form by making Charlotte Flair the #1 top priority in the women’s division on SmackDown.

Some of you are going to love that, as she has her fans who think she’s the greatest woman in the history of the company. Some of you, on the other hand, are like me in thinking she’s overrated, and despite still being good, isn’t worthy of eating up so much of the spotlight so often.

If that is true, I’m not really looking forward to the upcoming feuds we’ll see on SmackDown. I’ve seen enough Becky Lynch and Natalya against Charlotte to have my fill and if Asuka makes her way over there, that will be fine for a month or two until that, too, is boring. By the way, as a random aside, I’m banking on Asuka’s first feud being Natalya, not Charlotte.

Raw’s women’s division, on the other hand, has a massive spike in the upward direction. Emma should work well with Dana Brooke, Sasha Banks is probably going to turn heel to feud with Bayley, and it seems like there’s nothing Alexa Bliss and Mickie James can’t turn gold with a single touch. Also, Nia Jax is there, but we can forget about her.

For the past year, Raw’s women’s division has received a lot of praise while not actually accomplishing all that much beyond what was fabricated (ie, give them a main event and “omg, they’re the main event” even if it doesn’t live up to par) while SmackDown has outperformed them. Now that arguably the biggest reason why the blue brand was better (Alexa Bliss) is on Raw, we should see a paradigm shift with the red brand usurping that spot.

Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins / Finn Balor

Easily, the two biggest feuds waiting for Bray Wyatt are Seth Rollins and Finn Balor.

For my money, I’m hoping against hope that given the two options, WWE should hold off on Balor vs. Wyatt until WrestleMania, as their entrances in that environment alone should be worth the wait.

Rollins, on the other hand, is a feud I can see carrying over for a good portion of the middle of the year with a major focus at SummerSlam. The quality of that feud is in question until we see it, but there’s definitely some potential for it to be good. We’ll just have to see.

The Land of Opportunity for Rusev, Zayn and Owens

Rusev has been lost in the shuffle ever since losing the United States Championship to Roman Reigns, but he’ll soon be back to prominence. There aren’t enough heels on SmackDown and while Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler will help hold down the fort for a little while, the minute Rusev is ready to come back, I think he’ll be receiving a big push either as a main event star or at the very least, the go-to heel for the midcard.

It’s now or never for Sami Zayn regarding a midcard title, too. He’s been close in the past, but still has no cigar to show for his efforts. Obviously, the fans are supportive of him and his caliber of matches more than justifies giving him a belt, but it’s yet to happen. SmackDown should be very welcoming to him, though, as he can have some fantastic feuds with Ziggler, Corbin, and even AJ Styles if their paths cross.

Then, there is Kevin Owens. Right now, he is the United States champion, but when he drops that belt, people shouldn’t fret, as that will most likely mean his ascension to being the absolute 100% top heel of the brand as opposed to a demotion. With Styles, Orton, Cena and Nakamura on SmackDown, this may very well be an even greater continuation of an already fantastic year for KO.

Those are my projections, but what do you think is going to happen? What feuds are you excited to see and what problems do you think could arise? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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