Even though it was less than two weeks ago, “Wrestlemania XXXIII” feels like a distant memory. While the shadow of that show usually hangs over us for months at a time, the Superstar Shakeup held over the first two days of this week have made the pay per view feel a lot less important. Today is a very simple idea: I’m looking at each pick and giving some thoughts on them before taking a look at the Shakeup as a whole.
These are presented in the order they were announced, which includes both online and on TV. Some of these are going to be a lot shorter than others as there isn’t much to say about a lot of these names.
From “Smackdown Live” to “Monday Night Raw”
The Miz/Maryse. Now we’re getting somewhere. Despite their big loss to John Cena and Nikki Bella at “Wrestlemania XXXIII”, Miz and Maryse are still two of the best stars on either roster at the moment. Their REAL Total Bellas stuff has been hilarious and I’d be glad to see Miz move up towards the main event…..which doesn’t exist on “Monday Night Raw” because we need to spend a year building towards Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman.
As glad as I am to see Miz move up to the top show, I’m not sure how good of a fit he is there. Other than the newly arrived Dean Ambrose (who Miz just feuded with a few months back), I’m not sure who there is for him to get involved with on “Monday Night Raw”. I’m sure they’ll figure something out but this might be a move that made sense on paper but not in practicality.
Dean Ambrose. This is a bit of a confusing one as I’m not sure what Ambrose’s place is in WWE. He’s the Intercontinental Champion and always someone you can shift up to the main event if necessary but his character is very flat. The problem is he screams heel but really seems to be someone that is going to be cheered no matter what he does. Ambrose will be fine feuding with various heels but I think the real money in him is in a major heel turn.
Curt Hawkins. Every show needs jobbers. Not much to this one.
Kalisto. A year ago, Kalisto was defending the US Title at “Wrestlemania XXXII”, a role Chris Jericho filled the next year and which had been filled by Rusev a year before. That’s one heck of a fall and while I can’t imagine a move to “Monday Night Raw” fixing things, maybe it can get him some TV time after he’s almost never seen on “Smackdown Live”.
Heath Slater/Rhyno. They might not be as hot as they were just a few months ago but they’re still one of the more popular teams around. Let them do their funny backstage bits and have some semi-competitive matches as the lower level team of the division. It’s not like there are a ton of options to pick from and this keeps us from seeing the same matches over and over again.
Alexa Bliss. She’s knocked it out of the park on “Smackdown Live” and while I’m not sure she has the in-ring abilities to hang with Bayley and Sasha Banks, that division needs some fresh blood and Bliss can grow up facing the more polished division. If nothing else, throw her with Nia Jax as a Shawn Michaels/Diesel pairing.
Mickie James. This is a rare instance where you really could put her on either show and everything would be fine. James is an established veteran and anyone she works with is going to learn something from her. The matches will be fine and there’s the idea of her chasing Trish Stratus’ record. This one is a layup and there’s nothing wrong with that.
David Otunga. Yeah fine. Next.
From “Monday Night Raw” to “Smackdown Live”
Byron Saxton. Yeah fine. Next.
Kevin Owens. Now this is more like it. Owens brings the US Title with him to Tuesdays and that should only mean good things. He’s the kind of guy that is going to make anything work and I could easily see him getting into the World Title picture by the summer. Owens has already started knocking the Face of America character down cold and that’s a great sign for the next few months.
Sami Zayn. You knew he was going as soon as Owens showed up. Zayn was the one name that people had been wanting to see come over for a LONG time now and it should be a good idea. Above all else, this gets him away from Stephanie McMahon who completely cut his legs out from underneath him. Let Zayn get over with his underdog stuff and have his really good matches. Why mess with something that works so well?
Shining Stars. These guys are pretty much there for the sake of replacing the Vaudevillains as a low level heel tag team and that’s perfectly fine. They’re not likely to go very far (they haven’t in years) but they’re fine for a pair of warm bodies, much like Heath Slater and Rhyno over on “Monday Night Raw”. The tag division really needed some fresh teams and this is as fine of a move as they were going to have.
Jinder Mahal. I know this is one of the names that people just want to write off as another jobber but honestly there’s something to him that makes me think there might be some potential. Odds are he won’t go anywhere but if they can find a way to channel his personality (which exists), there might be a midcard role in there somewhere. It’s a longshot but it could work if they put the work in.
Charlotte. This might be the crown jewel for “Smackdown Live” as Charlotte is one of the most naturally talented performers I’ve ever seen. She’s great and she knows it, which makes her very dangerous. Anyone who works with her is going to get better and that’s a great thing for the women’s division. Let her help raise them up and then have a major showdown with Becky Lynch. That’s almost guaranteed to be great and can be built up for months on end.
Sin Cara. I have no idea what this is supposed to accomplish if they continue using him like they have. I’m assuming he’s just another jobber as I don’t see any other real role for him.
Rusev. Now this one is interesting as it’s just Rusev without Lana. Rusev is someone who has a lot of potential and a ton of personality (Big Bartholomew for instance) and it would be interesting to see him getting to showcase that talent. He and Lana are a great combination and it should be interesting to see how he can do without her. I think he’ll be fine, but it really could go either way.
Lana. Of everyone switched up, this one might have me the most interested. Lana was announced as being on her own and was shown dancing on a chair. Over the years, fans have been DYING to cheer for Lana and she split away from Rusev once to limited results (I still don’t mind that Ziggler storyline). If she can go in the ring even to a limited degree, she’s going to be a runaway success.
At the end of the day, you don’t look like Lana looks and have that kind of athleticism and natural charisma and not become a star in wrestling. It worked well for Kelly Kelly and I’d see Lana being a far more enhanced version of the same idea. This has me very interested and there’s a chance Lana could be a hidden gem.
New Day. This is a great way to close things out. New Day is one of the biggest acts in the company but they’re just out of things to do on Mondays. I’m not saying the big answer to their careers is putting them on “Smackdown Live” but it gives them some fresh things to do for a change. It also gives us a new top tag team for the Usos to feud against and that’s one of the biggest things that needed to be addressed in the Shakeup. This made the whole thing feel much better for “Smackdown Live”, which was looking shaky near the end.
On paper, this is a very top heavy pickup for “Monday Night Raw” with three former World Champions moving over (four if you count Rhyno but that’s a bit of a different story). They also freshened up their women’s division basically traded the Shining Stars for Heath Slater/Rhyno. There’s a lot of good stuff happening on “Monday Night Raw”, though I’m not sure how things are going to go with nothing to fight for on top.
Over on “Smackdown Live”…..I’m really not sure. They still have AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura but the show still feels weak on top. Owens and Zayn could be moved up the charts but with Randy Orton as Champion and John Cena gone (again), I’m not sure how much fire there is around the championship scene. The Shakeup helps their midcard a lot but some people are going to need to move up to help things move along.
I still think “Monday Night Raw” is the bigger winner here but after breaking all this down, it really isn’t as bad as I thought it was. “Smackdown Live” is going to be fine as they always seem better about building themselves back up. There were good moves on both sides so hopefully things get better for both shows.
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