By Will Pruett
In light of the Superstar Shakeup (or is it the Super Star Shake Up?) I am simply looking at the prospects for each new wrestler to a brand and whether or not this is a positive move for them. Expect the same in my Pause on Smackdown tomorrow.
Dean Ambrose – The man with the worst nickname in WWE comes to Raw with the Intercontinental Championship and a real lack of momentum. Ambrose was WWE Champion when the initial WWE Draft happened and was Smackdown’s first pick. At one point, he looked to be the future centerpiece of the brand, but aside from a compelling series of matches with AJ Styles, Ambrose has floundered.
Part of this is a staleness of character. Ambrose is the wacky irreverent jerk you want to cheer. This type of character doesn’t last long, especially as the wackiness is ratcheted up. A character shift in the future could be huge for Dean. Ever since The Shield dissolved, we haven’t seen Dean as a lead antagonist. I assume at some point (should Reigns and Rollins stay on Raw) we’ll see a Shield reunion, which could be a launching point for Evil Ambrose to come out.
Raw gives Dean an opportunity to change and he needs it after a less than stellar 8 months on Smackdown.
The Miz and Maryse – This is the change I have the most qualms about. In 2016, The Miz became a standout performer for the second time in his WWE career. He elevated himself to main event status on Smackdown and was able to shine on one of Smackdown’s best features: Talking Smack. The Miz changed the narrative about him in the last year and now leaves the creative team who got behind him. This worries me.
Miz also comes to a show where he doesn’t have as natural as a protagonist. Daniel Bryan always provided a backdrop for Miz’s insults. Their amazing chemistry when improvisationally insulting each other was perfect. Who can be this positive force for Miz to press against? Who can he fight? Raw is also a more talent dense brand, which could lead to Miz being cast aside.
I’m not completely down on a change of scenery for Miz and Maryse, who have been a consistent highlight of WWE programming over the last year, but I hope it comes with elevation for Miz and not a demotion. He’s too good to waste.
Bray Wyatt – I feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to online opinions about Bray Wyatt. I don’t think he is not talented, but I don’t find him to be especially talented. A large part of this comes from the way he is frequently used. Wyatt constantly gets built up as both a mythical figure and a threat, but often loses the first major match after this happens. Wyatt has magical powers, which allow him to disappear, turn off the lights, and summon rocking chairs. These powers don’t allow him to win matches.
In this way, no matter where Bray Wyatt ended up, I’m not sure I’d be excited. He’s a cool entrance, a unique promo styles, and evidence of how poor WWE storytelling can be. Raw is a fresh environment for Bray, which is great, but I don’t expect Bray Wyatt to be much more than he already is.
Alexa Bliss – Has anyone been a bigger surprise since the WWE Draft than Alexa Bliss? I had almost no expectations for her when she was brought to Smackdown, but she has constantly performed above what I perceived her ability to be.
Alexa enters into a women’s division in flux on Raw. It looks like Charlotte, who has dominated the division as the main antagonist, is leaving (or turning). Nia Jax is en route to becoming the monster she should always be. Sasha Banks seems to be slow burning towards being Bayley’s biggest foe. Where does Alexa fit in?
Bliss gives the Raw Women’s roster some much needed depth and ability to tell more stories at one time. She’s been an amazing get for Smackdown and I believe WWE has a ton of confidence in her. I’m looking forward to seeing how Alexa outperforms expectations this time.
Mickie James – Since returning to WWE in the La Luchadora costume, James has fallen flat. She was a sidekick for Alexa, then seemed to become her own human just in time for WrestleMania. This was all very strange. Mickie James is very talented and can work as either a good person or bad person in WWE’s stories. She’s a versatile performer, but she also needs some consistency.
I believe the Raw women need a secondary or tertiary protagonist more than they need another antagonist. Bayley needs some tag match partners, especially with Evil Emma and Alexa coming to town. James can be the legendary mentor to the current roster and fulfill her potential.
Kalisto – Kalisto should have been in the Cruiserweight Division from the very beginning.
Apollo Crews – I expected Crews to be an instant stand-out performer post-draft after being fast-tracked through NXT to the main roster. This did not happen. Sadness ensued. Crews needs a reboot and he needs a personality. Hopefully on Raw, these things can happen for him.
Rhyno and Heath Slater – From the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions to possibly the lowest tag team on the Raw totem pole. Hey, at least Slater got that above ground pool. These guys are good enhancement tag team wrestlers, so I don’t plan to be upset about this.
Curt Hawkins – He’s an enhancement wrestler there to get heat, lose, and fill out house shows. Hawkins will do all of these things well.
“The Drifter” Elias Sampson – Okay, he didn’t light the world on fire in NXT, but I think there’s potential for The Drifter as a weird heel on Raw. Starting with him drifting through the background is perfect.
Predictions for Smackdown – (I’m going to wish I hadn’t published this tomorrow) Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Andrade Almas, Charlotte Flair, Rusev and Lana, Gallows and Anderson, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, Bo Dallas, Titus O’Neil, and Goldust.
Wrestler I’m overjoyed didn’t get moved – AJ Styles.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.