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Grading the WWE Superstar Shake-ups

RAW:

THE MIZ AND MARYSE: A-

Love them or hate them, The Hollywood couple have been on fire in 2016. Through The Miz’s work, the Intercontinental Title gained a measure of prestige that it had lost. With this move, one can expect The Miz to enter the main event scene at the most or continue to elevate the Intercontinental title’s prestige against a new crop of talent.

DEAN AMBROSE: B+

Ambrose on RAW brings the Intercontinental title which means surely the United States title is going to Smackdown! Live. With RAW being more of the entertainment show and Smackdown! Live being the “wrestling” show, Ambrose seems to fit better with the former. And with Ambrose, Reigns, and Rollins on the same brand, the potential for a post-Shield alliance is intriguing.

CURT HAWKINS: F

A throwaway. Curt Hawkins hasn’t been relevant since his return. I get that he’s a jobber, but Creative could’ve just given him a brief glimpse instead of him eating up a segment that could’ve gone to Kalisto or Apollo Crews. Instead, they used him to build up Big Show, who won’t around for much longer.

“THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMSON: C

It is apparent that Elias Samson is now on RAW. The Eva Marie equivalent in terms of crowd reaction, Samson will undoubtedly annoy the WWE Universe. Or perhaps, he’ll catch on and become a Fandango-type character. He’ll fill the lower to midcard roster, but nothing more.

APOLLO CREWS: C

Apollo Crews has been floundering ever since his main roster debut. Drafted to Smackdown! Live should have allowed him to find his footing, but again he was struggling to stand out. Now moved to the flagship show, it’s hard to see him finding his footing here with The Miz, Dean Ambrose, and Bray Wyatt moving with him. Add on Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Samoa Joe makes it harder to see Crews standing out and finding his footing.

KALISTO: B+

This should have happened originally. With the announcement of the Cruiserweight division, it was shocking to not include the exciting luchador. Creative most likely felt that Kalisto could thrive outside of that division, but they also showed that they didn’t know how to book him. The move to RAW, and by extension, the Cruiserweight division will give Kalisto some much needed momentum.

BRAY WYATT: C

By far the most shocking move by far. Wyatt was finally finding his footing in the main event scene and was getting much needed momentum. Now he has to start over. The only reason why his grade isn’t lower is simply because it looks like he’s set to feud with Finn Balor. The reason why his grade isn’t higher is because he’ll most likely lose that feud, a pattern that is Wyatt’s typical routine.

HEATH SLATER AND RHYNO: C-

Another strange move. With the return of the Hardy Boyz, the call-up of The Revival, and the release of Simon Gotch marking the end of The Vaudevillains, Smackdown! Live’s tag-team division loses another team. On the other hand, one can only question how much longer Rhyno will be around. And with the call-up of Elias Samson, there could be a possible Heath Slater/Elias Samson band.

ALEXA BLISS: B+

A solid gain for RAW. Her move breaks coupled with the return of Emma and the move with Mickie James breaks up the monotony of Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Nia Jax feuding all the time. A solid in-ring worker and by far the best heel in any of the women’s divisions, Alexa Bliss will be champion sooner rather than later.

MICKIE JAMES: B-

Another solid gain for RAW. Mickie James was essentially AJ Lee before AJ Lee got her push. She’s the wildcard that could either be a face or a heel. The point is, she will be a valuable asset to RAW’s women’s division in terms of talent and entertainment.

BYRON SAXTON: C

Corey Graves’ constant berating of Byron “Suckston” comes to an end with Saxton moving to Smackdown. Now working with Tom Phillips and recently outed bully JBL, it seems that Saxton and JBL’s exchanges are going to be a lot more mean spirited than Graves’.

SMACKDOWN:

KEVIN OWENS: A-

With Dean Ambrose and the Intercontinental title on RAW, it was a no-brainer that Kevin Owens would be moving to Smackdown! Live with the United States title. Kevin Owens will undoubtedly inject life into the Smackdown! Live roster with the absence of John Cena, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose and with the recent turn of AJ Styles.

SAMI ZAYN: A+

What should have been since the get go. His brief promo showed that this move has injected new life into Sami Zayn. Hopefully Creative gets it right this time and the Underdog from the Underground won’t be a perennial loser, but rather an actual scrappy underdog. You know…like Daniel Bryan.

THE SHINING STARS: B+

With RAW’s tag team division so deep, The Shining Stars’ move to Smackdown! Live gives the division new life and also gives the cousins a chance to show that they are largely underutilized. Primo and Epico have always been solid workers. And for most who don’t remember, they were tag team champions at one point.

JINDER MAHAL: C

The equivalent to Curt Hawkins being moved. Except this one gets the higher grade because Jinder Mahal has actually been involved in feuds, albeit as a supporting character and not the main focus. Mahal has all of the tools to be a decent villain. It’s just up to Creative to pull the trigger on him.

TAMINA: B

Tamina’s return is a surprise. Not because of what her father had done, but simply because she has been so poorly booked ever since her split from Santino Marella.

CHARLOTTE: A+

Charlotte’s move to Smackdown! Live is the biggest move of the shake-up. Charlotte is on an entirely different level than the main roster women. With her move Smackdown! Live is put on notice. The Queen is here and she will be champion; perhaps she’ll be the first woman of the “New Era” to have been champions on both brands. Only Alexa Bliss can race her to that honor, but history tells me Charlotte is your woman.

SIN CARA: C-

A bit of a throwaway. We haven’t seen Sin Cara since Braun Strowman threw him over a Christmas tree. And now that he has been moved away from the Cruiserweight division shows more uncertainty of how much longer he’ll be around.

RUSEV: B-

Rusev’s move to Smackdown! Live should allow him to regain some footing that he lost while involved with the feud with Enzo and Big Cass. Creative has booked Rusev so inconsistently that it’s going to take a lot of solid and hard-fought matches for Rusev to gain some credible traction.

LANA: A-

The reason why Lana’s grade is higher than Rusev’s despite moving together is simply because Rusev’s success hinges on Lana. Additionally, there have been talks that Lana is closer to becoming an in-ring performer, which will further bolster Smackdown! Live’s women’s division.

THE NEW DAY: A

And with this acquisition, Smackdown! Live clearly has won this round. All of the issues that Smackdown! Live had have been solved through this shake-up. Smackdown! Live’s particular weakness was their tag-team division. With The Shining Star and now The New Day, the tag-team division is as strong as ever.

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