By Tony Cline, Staff Writer
WWE conducted its “Superstar Shake-up” this week, and we have the pros and cons of some of the most important moves:
Pros – Charlotte is an excellent talent, probably the best in-ring and mic worker among a very talented set of women. Her addition to the SmackDown roster brings instant credibility to a division beset by mostly mid-card level performers, at least in terms of how over they are with fans. Charlotte will be able to get some, if not most, of these women over with the fans by giving them a superior talent to work with, both in the ring and in promos.
Cons – The biggest drawback to this move is that the supreme talent among the women in both divisions is giving up the chance at the biggest feuds in order to help out this fledgling division. This move shows some unexpectedly shrewd long-term planning from WWE as well as a great amount of maturity on the part of Charlotte.
Pros – Owens is a great all-around talent, and he joins a SmackDown roster that was mostly left bereft of top-level guys in the shake-up. With the Jericho storyline behind him, Owens can once again become a badass, much-hated heel, and SmackDown is now in need of a top heel. AJ Styles will never be able to truly draw top heel heat because the fans love him too much. Baron Corbin is still a long way away from being at that level, and Dolph Ziggler just isn’t able to make fans care about him right now. Plus, we get to see AJ vs. KO, and who doesn’t want that?
Cons – The only real con to this move is it looked like HHH might be putting together a stable with KO and Samoa Joe as its anchors, and that had a chance to be a really great story. However, there are some good options for stories on SmackDown, so this isn’t too huge an issue.
Pros – Sami feels like a better overall fit for SmackDown, and he was really being underutilized on Raw, so this should be a huge net positive for everyone involved.
Cons – The big drawback is the failure to separate Sami from KO. These two have had a ton of battles in WWE so far, and it is starting to feel a little stale. As long as SmackDown doesn’t book them in an enduring feud, everything should be fine, but the lack of depth on the blue show indicates we may see this feud again sooner than would be prudent.
The Miz (and Maryse)
Pros – Trading top heels between the shows gives the Miz, an excellent promo artist and a really good in-ring worker, a chance to showcase his skills on the flagship. Having Miz follow the Intercontinental title to Raw only makes sense as he is the best IC champ in a long time, and he actively works to bring prestige to the belt. Beyond that, Miz should get a chance to show how far his ring work has come by facing off against Reigns, Balor, and some of the other top talent on the Raw roster.
Cons – Miz will overshadow whatever heel is getting the main event push at any moment. His mic skills and understanding of the business have reached a point where he will always create heat for himself, and he is likely to be the top heel even if not given top billing. Perhaps this will push his compatriots to turn up their games, but it is more likely he will simply dilute their heat and make them all look like tweeners rather than true heels.
Pros – Ambrose has simply gotten lost lately on the SmackDown show. This is a chance for him to reassert himself and show why he deserves to be part of the main event picture. Dean has a great gimmick, but the gimmick requires an effective partner to push back against it to make it work, and there just were
a dearth of those partners on SmackDown.
Cons – Not much in the way of cons here. It is hard to see Ambrose being in any worse shape on Raw than SmackDown, and the WWE benefits with a reinvigorated Ambrose. The only concern I have is that having all three former Shield members on the same show may tempt creative to prematurely pull the trigger on a Shield reunion. Most of us want to see that eventually, but it needs more time.
The New Day
Pros – The New Day had run its course and become stale on Raw, and the SmackDown tag team division is on life support at the moment. Hopefully, this will bring it some attention and personality.
Cons – The New Day gimmick is still going to be pretty stale on SmackDown, too. It is time to break this team up and let the individuals all rise to greater heights as singles wrestlers. However, that is unlikely anytime soon since the SmackDown tag team division may wither and die without them.
Enzo and Cass
Pros – Enzo and Cass seem to be staying put, though they didn’t make an appearance on the Raw show in Long Island (WTF?). This is a popular and talented team, but keeping them on Raw makes little sense given the depth of the division and how little they are really needed there.
Cons – Moving this team to SmackDown held so much potential. They would instantly inject personality and excitement into a talented division that simply lacks charisma. Yes, the New Day may do that, but Enzo and Cass are not nearly as stale, and two charismatic teams would be better than one anyway. Plus, adding Cass to the SmackDown roster would likely mean the end of James Ellsworth, and that would benefit everyone…everyone that matters, anyway. Leaving them where they are means they will likely get buried below the Hardys and Anderson and Gallows. The non-move here was probably the worst decision of the entire shake-up.
Pros – Bray has earned a spot in the limelight with his character and promos. He is also a good worker in the ring, his WrestleMania match notwithstanding. His addition to Raw could lead to some great feuds with Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, and the also-moved Dean Ambrose, all of which I think have really great potential.
Cons – The Wyatt-Orton feud still had a good amount of steam left in it. Their match at WrestleMania was disappointing, but everyone has a bad night, and the rematch is likely to be better. There is still a lot of story to tell in that feud, and I think Wyatt’s transfer ends that arc very prematurely. Moving Bray to the red show also leaves Erick Rowan out in the cold, as his only purpose since joining the company has been to serve Bray. Hopefully, SmackDown will come up with a way to keep him relevant, but I fear this switch may doom him to obscurity for a while.
Overall, the shake-up seems to have mostly benefitted Raw by taking the stars that SmackDown created and giving SmackDown mostly talent that needs fixing back in return. SmackDown did get a couple high profile talents that will help certain areas, but it seems like they were mostly robbed to line Raw’s nest. That said, I still expect Team Blue to come out ahead because its creative team has shown a penchant for innovation and building talent that Raw’s simply has not. At the draft, Raw took more and better talent for the most part, and SmackDown ended up being the better show. I doubt this shake-up will change that in the long-term.