1) Kevin Owens (or the US Championship?)
With the arrival of Dean Ambrose on Raw, it seemed obvious that Raw’s midcard champ would be making the opposite switch and with this in mind, Smackdown didn’t make anyone wait before revealing that KO had been brought to Smackdown. With this arrival came a change in KO’s appearance; a new light gray suit and a newly cleaned up beard. While subtle, this was a nice change that not only visually displayed the transition but a seeming change in attitude for KO as the Prizefighter came across as more subdued and professional.
While Owens being sent to Smackdown seemed more like a formality because of Ambrose’s move, being that KO has seemingly faced everyone worth facing on Raw the move is still worthwhile and because this also came with a subtle change in character, it’s hard to argue with Owens joining the blue brand. The only true downside I can see at the moment in this move is it complicates the title match between Jericho and Owens at Payback with the added stipulation that whoever wins that match will become a Smackdown Superstar. It was alluded to that it was the belt, not Owens, who was drafted and if this is the case, would Owens still be a superstar on Smackdown if he loses? Or would Jericho take his place? Even though it’s obvious Owens will win due to Jericho’s band going on tour after Payback, the in-universe logic here is so spotty that it’s hard to ignore.
2) Sami Zayn
While on some level it’s frustrating to see Sami Zayn go where Kevin Owens always goes due to the fact that their story has ran it’s course on multiple occasions, the prospect of a match between these two is always appealing and the interactions between the two can always be used to build up one of them almost instantly as a result of the history attached to them. Kevin Owens aside, Sami Zayn is a perfect addition to the SD roster as he fills out both the midcard and is almost instantly an eligible competitor in the main event scene. In addition, Smackdown is clearly becoming more of the clear cut “wrestling-focused” show it was meant to be and Sami Zayn fits perfectly in with the likes of Styles, Nakamura, and Owens.
3) The Shining Stars
The last thing the Smackdown tag division needed was another jobber tag team and yet The Shining Stars are what we got. At worst they will act to replace Heath Slater and Rhyno and at best their debut on Smackdown is foreshadowing a more serious, threatening team; but when your gimmick used to be selling a timeshare in Puerto Rico, can anything really save you?
4) Jinder Mahal
To be honest, I nearly forgot that Jinder Mahal was sent to Raw despite how prevalent he has been recently. Mahal has certainly been trying his hardest and is in amazing shape but due to his jobber status since his return, he has little to no character and is hard to be taken serious as any threat. Despite this, Mahal helps to build Smackdown’s midcard further and if he provides Mojo Rawley with his first big feud, this may be a blessing in disguise.
While it may be stretch to declare Tamina a part of the Superstar Shakeup due to how she was never a part of the initial brand split last year, it’s exciting that Smackdown now has it’s own Nia Jax-esque beast. I haven’t seen much of Tamina’s work but from what I remember she was like a more polished Jax with an even greater look. I am very excited to see what she brings to the division.
Perhaps the greatest acquisition of the Shakeup, Charlotte moving to Smackdown instantly makes the division more legitimate and brings some much needed star power to the blue brand. The prospect of Charlotte versus practically any woman in the division is extremely tantalizing and for the first time in months, I can’t wait to see what the Smackdown women bring next.
7) The New Day
Whereas Charlotte is benefiting a division that has been stagnant for a while, The New Day is making a division legitimate for the first time ever. While they were relegated to a sole video package this week due to Kofi Kingston’s injury, The New Day are likely the second best acquisition of the Shakeup. By having less polished and interesting teams face New Day, they almost instantly gain greater credibility given the three men’s pedigree and this is exactly what this division needs.
8) Rusev & 9) Lana
Rusev adds even more to what is becoming a stacked midcard and further reinforces Team Blue as the wrestling focused show. Like Owens, Rusev has faced everyone he truly could on Raw and Smackdown gives him plenty of new opponents and brings a long-deserved Rusev World Title reign closer to reality.
While it was assumed that Lana would automatically find herself moving with Rusev (a la Maryse), it seems as though Lana is finally being pushed as a singles competitor. There is little to say here but if done right (and if she has any actual skill in the ring), I could see Lana becoming HUGE given how much she got herself over with just her mic skills and looks while accompanying Rusev.
10) Sin Cara
…but the Cruiserweights are on Raw
Overall Thoughts and Winner
In terms of both star power and balancing out the roster’s weaknesses, Smackdown demolished Raw, and yet both brands honestly came out on top here. Smackdown developed a entire complex and interesting midcard in a night and Raw became a more fun show in the same timespan, and neither show arguably lost much. Smackdown however had a near perfect new lineup with every new superstar serving a purpose (besides perhaps Sin Cara), whereas Raw had nearly half of their new stars arrive with no clear purpose at all.
Whoever you think won the shakeup, it’s hard to argue that WWE didn’t need this shot in it’s arm and more than ever the brand split seems as though it was necessary.
Till next time,