Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt
Roster strength: 7/10
This part of SmackDown is quite strong, with a mix of veterans and current top stars. Not only does it give AJ a chance to shine with the title very soon, but it gives Bray Wyatt a chance to finally receive a main event push. It may be interesting to see what happens without Strowman (and possibly Harper), because this is an opportunity to either change up the ‘family’ gimmick, or have him recruit someone new.
How to Improve: Have Bray Wyatt go on a winning streak. Make Randy look strong, and have him lose to an incoming Samoa Joe in the fall/winter. Have Owens & Zayn’s storyline create so much chaos together that one of them is forced to be traded to SD after SummerSlam.
Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Alberto Del Rio, Zack Ryder, The Miz, Kane, Apollo Crews, Erick Rowan, Mojo Rawley
Roster Strength: 5/10
This can be broken down into a few sub-segments:
Strong in-ring workers: Ziggler, ADR, Crews, Kalisto
Strong mic workers: Miz, Ryder (somewhat)
Veterans/Jobbers/Other: Baron Corbin, Kane, Rowan, Mojo
Raw has the benefit of having an immensely strong midcard, whereas SmackDown suffers. SmackDown is a great show where an underrated star can move up, so the fact that it lacks a multitude of ‘up and comers’ is slightly puzzling. The upside is this will be great for Kalisto, Crews, and Corbin to round out their characters. This will also be a good reset button for Ziggler, ADR and Ryder (provided he is not paired up with Mojo). If they want to return to the age of great wrestling and the “Smackdown Six,” some additions will have to be made.
How to Improve: Add 1-2 more NXT stars to the roster, possibly 1 veteran and 1 younger star (Dillinger, Ibushi, Roode etc.). Add Slater, as they need another punching bag. Bringing someone on with a ton of charisma and strong in-ring work would be smart too (Cederic Alexander, or a returning Sandow comes to mind).
American Alpha, Usos, The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, Breezedango
Roster Strength: 6/10
As far as tag teams go for a 2 hour show, this is slightly better than what it might look like. Chances are, there will only be 1 tag team segment throughout the show. We have a promising up and coming team, a veteran team, and three ‘jobber’ teams. At least one of these three teams must elevate themselves, and it could be any of the three (likely Vaudevillians). Breezedango is an entertaining team, but it can only go for so long before they split. While the blue brand has had a much better tag team division in the past, this is something that can still be entertaining.
How to Improve: Although Harper would do well with a bit of a change; him & Rowan could reform a tag team and dominate the division. Adding an NXT team like Blake & Murphy after we see an eventual Breezedango breakup would also help (The Revival would be better suited for Raw).
Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie, Carmella
Roster Strength: 5/10
The biggest issue with splitting the Women’s division up was the lack of strong female competitors. While Becky, Natalya, and even Naomi capable of putting on a good match, Eva Maria and Carmella are not. Alexa is in that ‘limbo’ area, where she should be able to be in a strong match with the better women, but not thrive if against someone like Eva or Carmella. Much like the tag team division, there will likely only be one Women’s segment on SmackDown. It may buffer the lack of strong competitors for a short period of time.
How to Improve: Add a returning Emma, and either Billie Kay or Peyton Royce down the road. Also, have the newer girls work the house shows with Nattie for a while, as it’ll help their in-ring skill.