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. If you missed my Pause on Raw where I did the same thing, click on this conveniently placed link!
Charlotte Flair – This might be the biggest move of the entire Superstar Shakeup. On Talking Smack, Shane McMahon talked about the main event experience Charlotte Flair brings with her. Charlotte can take a Women’s Division that already was heavily featured and a highlight of Smackdown and raise it up. She’s the only first round draft pick to move from Raw to Smackdown.
Although he had been on an unlucky streak on Raw, she was presented as a major deal on Smackdown. Fresh opponents abound on the blue brand as she has yet to meet up with Becky Lynch (her first great main roster opponent), Naomi, and Natalya since the brand split.
Charlotte also gets to escape the larger pool on Raw and be a main focus of a show. She gets out of the never-ending feuds with Sasha Banks and Bayley. She gets a chance to be a fresh star without baggage and with a ton of opportunity.
Kevin Owens – This move seemed obvious after Dean Ambrose moved over to Raw and it was the right move. Owens is the star Raw was built around during the fall. He was overexposed during this time and the comedy approach Raw’s creative forces took with him didn’t work very well.
Owens can do just about anything, from having a great match to entertaining you with a 20 minute headlock. He’s a main event star on house shows, television, and any pay-per-view not named WrestleMania.
He replaces the depth Smackdown lost with Dean Ambrose and The Miz moving to Raw. He escapes the Raw roster, which may be dominated by a year long Brock Lesnar Universal Championship reign. Owens has a ton of upward mobility on Smackdown, especially since he could be the top antagonist on the show.
Sami Zayn – Since Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are destined to wrestle each other into eternity, I’m okay with this. Zayn needed a change of creative team and a change of roster. He’s a wrestler with a ton of potential waiting to be actualized and the Smackdown creative team has shown the ability to get the most out of everyone by American Alpha.
Zayn moves over to a roster stacked with in-ring talent. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are waiting for big matches against him. Wrestlers like Baron Corbin can shine against him. Rusev (who we’ll talk about a in a few names) can be rebuilt against him. Sami could be a low-key MVP of Smackdown over the next year.
The New Day – Well, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E had beaten everyone on Raw (aside from The Revival). It was time for them to move and, with Kofi out injured, probably time to take them off TV for a few weeks. The New Day can fill the biggest flaw of Smackdown’s creative team over the last year: the amazing disappearing tag team division.
Smackdown’s tag teams seem to be split between the haves (Usos, Alpha) and the have nots (Ascension, Breeze and Fandango). Now, New Day can bring some personality and hopefully demand some time.
I also appreciate the idea of New Day branching out on singles paths without being broken up and Smackdown has the roster space where all three men could have solid singles roles (and still support each other with trombone-playing antics).
Tamina – While her introduction didn’t do her a ton of favors, as it came off like a joke on her, I like the idea of Tamina in this Women’s Division. She’s bigger than most of the women on this roster and can play some sort of monster. I’m a little worried about comparisons to Nia Jax, but feel WWE could do worse with her.
Tamina helps to add depth to a shallow division. I had hoped for a few more bodies to be added to this, simply to stack the roster a little, but I get keeping it as small as it has been.
Rusev and Lana – Rusev was Raw’s go-to comedy figure and it wasn’t going well for his career. While I appreciate how funny the Bulgarian Brute can be, I also found myself wishing a wrestler as talented and delightful as Rusev would be used in a stronger way. Smackdown can use the upper-mid-card depth Rusev provides.
The interesting part of this is Lana, who was given a vignette dancing on the WWE stage. Is she breaking off from Rusev? Will she be wrestling full time? Will they still be paired? I’m intrigued by this.
The Shining Stars – Primo and Epico are very talented wrestlers. They’ve been given perhaps the worst creative effort of any wrestler in a decade. They were matadors. They were travel agents. Why can’t they just be Primo and Epico and sink or swim on their own?
This is what I’m hoping we saw the beginning of on Smackdown. I don’t want everything to be serious, but a more serious approach to The Shining Stars would benefit WWE.
Jinder Mahal – I honestly believe his entire travel schedule for the next year was changed so he could be beat up by Gronk again in Boston this week. Jinder will replace what Smackdown lost in Curt Hawkins.
Sin Cara – I forgot Sin Cara was still a thing. Did you know Sin Cara is a thing? At best, he is mid-card depth. At worst, he brings back the ridiculous lighting for all of his matches.
Wrestler(s) I’m overjoyed didn’t get moved – Enzo Amore and Big Cass not moving to Smackdown brings me great joy.
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.