WWE wasted no time rearranging the rosters after WrestleMania. There was no draft and no on-screen process, the new superstars just showed up on their new brands like it was another day at work. While the roster didn’t necessarily need shaking up, what they’ve done freshens up the brands and presents us with some new feuds to get excited about. So who won the Superstar Shake-Up? Well to determine that we’re going to need to first work out what each superstar who changed brands is worth.
Apollo Crews: 5/10
Apollo’s inability to connect with the audience makes him nothing more than an enhancement talent unfortunately, but at the same time, he’s still an excellent wrestler with a great look and plenty of potential if he can get it right. It’s hard to see him getting the opportunities on RAW though.
Bray Wyatt: 7.5/10
It’s weird to think Bray Wyatt was the WWE Champion a fortnight ago. Now he finds himself without the title and on a different brand. There isn’t really anything new for the Bray Wyatt character at this point as the company missed the chance to turn him face in the lead up to WrestleMania. A potential feud with Finn Balor will be intriguing, but there’s no way the Eater of Worlds exits that victorious.
Curt Hawkins: 2/10
Evidently RAW needed jobbers. The score isn’t a reflection of Hawkins’ ability to wrestle or his humor, it’s just reflective of his value to the company – which is miniscule.
Dean Ambrose: 8.5/10
Ambrose was probably the only guy on the SmackDown roster who really needed the move to Monday nights. He brings the Intercontinental Championship across with him and will obviously be a major player at the top of the card. Ambrose gets an 8.5 because he’s not only bringing the Intercontinental Championship, but this also means a Shield reunion is now possible.
Elias Sampson (NXT): 3.5/10
Elias Sampson appearing randomly in the crowd during a women’s match on RAW and then finding his way onto the stage was the perfect way to debut the Drifter. Having said that, it’s hard to see him getting any crowd reaction considering NXT fans didn’t care about him either. He’ll be a pre-show regular within a few months.
Heath Slater & Rhyno: 4/10
Heath Slater is the only superstar to be a member of RAW, SmackDown, NXT and be unbranded. Unfortunately, all the momentum he amassed was quickly squashed by WWE who kept him and Rhyno off television for long stretches of time, even when they were champions. You’d think they should’ve split by now, but they haven’t and that probably leaves them in no-man’s-land.
The Hardy Boyz: 9/10
While they weren’t a part of the Superstar Shake-Up, anyone who’s joined the rosters since WrestleMania is on this list. The Hardy Boyz will be a fantastic nostalgia act for probably six months, but unlike The Dudley’s, their ability to be main-event level stars as singles competitors makes them a delightful edition to RAW. We know Jeff is WWE Champion material and when Matt graces us with the BROKEN gimmick, he’ll be on the same level.
Kalisto’s score jumps to a five because he’ll obviously be used primarily in the Cruiserweight division. It was baffling that he was drafted to SmackDown in the first place, but at least they’ve gotten it right now. He has no ability to cut a promo, but he’s fun to watch in the ring and could put on a great match with Neville if given the chance.
The Revival (NXT): 8/10
The Revival is the best tag team in the world. The only question will be whether they can get over with the more casual RAW audience. They will, but they only get an eight for the time being because who knows what will eventuate. Just put the RAW Tag Team Championships on them and keep them there for a year – a full year.
The Miz and Maryse: 8/10
The Miz was a very large reason as to why SmackDown surpassed RAW in 2016. His feuds with Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and John Cena were all elite and it’s a real shame he and Bryan have now been separated. The Miz could continue that on RAW, but it’s hard to see him being given the same spotlight and push.
Alexa Bliss: 7.5/10
Alexa Bliss is the best female superstar on the microphone in the entire WWE and it’s not even close. She’s more than serviceable in the ring and considering she hasn’t even been wrestling for four years yet, her upside is enormous. As a two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion, there was no one left for her to feud with on the blue brand anyway. This was a great trade.
Mickie James: 6/10
Mickie James adds plenty of depth to the RAW roster, which is something it’s sorely needed. Given she’s a veteran at this stage, it would be good to see her make Emma and Alexa look good over the next few months and give them the pushes they need.
Total Score: 74/120
Average Score: 6.2/10
Epico and Primo: 3/10
People forget that underneath the Matadores and the Puerto Rico nonsense, these two are actually very good wrestlers. If they’re taken seriously and given opportunity, they could be a decent addition to a SmackDown tag team division that desperately needs help. Or they could be replacing The Vaudevillains and quickly job out to American Alpha before disappearing.
Jinder Mahal: 3.5/10
The basically just swapped Curt Hawkins and Jinder Mahal, didn’t they? Remember, these were the two guys who returned to the company after the brand split. Jinder was the runner-up in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal…somehow… and will probably get no more air-time on SmackDown than he did on RAW.
Kevin Owens: 9.5/10
If you got to choose any one person to take from RAW, Kevin Owens is the guy. Not only is he the United States Champion, but he was the most complete performer on the red side. Owens will carry SmackDown, whether it’s at the top of the card or with the United States Championship, it will be his show. It’s also genuinely hilarious that he cannot escape from Sami Zayn. Oh, and this man on Talking Smack is going to be incredible.
The New Day: 8.5/10
Speaking of, The New Day are also going to be Talking Smack kings when they get their chance. When you’re the longest reigning Tag Team Champions, you tend to run out of people to face on your brand, moving them to SmackDown is a great way to get some life back into them. You’d also assume they’ll split at some stage this year and when they do, they’ll have three strong singles superstars at their disposal. It’s a shame Kofi Kingston is out with a legitimate injury for a few months and how they handle them in the meantime will be interesting. Most importantly, this also means Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown also now shifts across to SmackDown Live.
Rusev and Lana: 7.5/10
Rusev is still out with a shoulder injury, but expect him to benefit greatly from being on SmackDown. Rusev probably won’t ascend to the main-event scene, but he’s the perfect guy to add depth to the roster and is good enough to work in any role. Lana appears to be joining the women’s division which is … less exciting.
Sin Cara: 2/10
SmackDown needs a babyface jobber and Sin Cara will adequately perform that role.
Sami Zayn: 8.5/10
Sami Zayn being drafted to RAW initially was the worst decision of the initial brand split. He was completely lost in the shuffle and SmackDown felt one top babyface short. He’s now been moved and hopefully he gets the opportunities that come with that. It goes without saying Zayn is WWE Championship material.
Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT): 9.5/10
Nakamura will be the WWE Champion by the end of the year and probably will be in one of the main-events of WrestleMania 34. That’s what SmackDown has picked up here and nothing really more needs to be said. A quick introductory feud with Dolph Ziggler should be great and there are numerous dream matches on the blue brand for the King of Strong Style.
Tye Dillinger (NXT): 7.5/10
Nobody has earned a main roster call-up more than Tye Dillinger and it looks like he’ll get more of a slow build-up with a few wins to make him look strong. His ceiling is probably a mid-card champion, but this is a guy who can put on a great match with anybody and has the respect of the locker-room. He’ll add plenty of depth to the brand.
Similar to Bliss, Charlotte accomplished everything possible on RAW and needed a fresh start. She has an unfinished feud with Becky Lynch, a hotly anticipated match with Naomi and great history with Natalya all up her sleeve. She’ll probably carry this division like she did with RAW.
Tamina cannot cut a promo; she cannot wrestle, she is a 39-year-old mother and just had a serious injury. Why on Earth is she back in a WWE ring? She offers literally nothing outside of an intimidating presence. Keep her away.
Total Score: 70/110
Average Score: 6.4/10
What the numbers tell us is RAW was given more than SmackDown Live, which makes sense given it’s a three hour show. However, SmackDown’s crop is of slightly higher quality and that’s with Tamina, Sin Cara, The Shining Stars and Jinder Mahal dragging the score down. SmackDown received more top-end talent than RAW and will probably benefit directly more from Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The New Day, Charlotte, Rusev and Tye Dillinger than RAW will from Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, The Miz, The Hardy Boyz, The Revival and Alexa Bliss. Given SmackDown’s ability to make stars out of nothing and RAW’s drafting to really shaking their brand up that much…
The winning brand of the Superstar Shake-Up: SmackDown Live