Raw and Smackdown were hard to compare this week as they were essentially one long show with the Superstar Shakeup taking the form of a two-night long narrative which truly changed how both shows will look and feel moving forward. In response to this, I will again be taking a week off from comparing the two directly and more or less comparing which show made out with a better roster after the shakeup. This format of comparing the two shows in ways outside of segments may become a more reoccurring concept so please stay tuned in the future.
1) The Miz & Maryse
Raw began this week with John Cena’s music disguising the debut of The Miz and his wife, Maryse. While a clever way for Miz to get heat, the Cena parody is kind of stale in it’s fourth week. With this removed, The Miz is a great addition to Raw and being possibly the person who benefited the most from last year’s brand extension, he now truly fits into Raw as an immediate upper-midcard or even main-event performer. Let’s just hope Miz goes on to fight someone other than Dean and that Maryse stays as close to him as possible.
2) Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose has fallen far from his spot as one of the company’s top babyface’s since last year and I can’t say if he will really benefit from being on the A show. Dean worked well for the most part on Smackdown due to the small size of the roster and lack of main event established faces which made his character inconsistencies and frustratingly boring matches more forgiveable. On Raw there are so many others who do what he does better that I can’t see Ambrose thriving unless they unfortunately go to a Shield reunion.
This is where things get messy. Wyatt is the current No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship and yet got drafted to the show where that belt is not defended, and as a result is in a weird limbo between brands. Wyatt’s movement to Raw after already being set up for a rematch against Orton seems entirely shortsighted in the eyes of the WWE and not only seemingly spoils the victor of the horribly named “House of Horrors” match as there is no way Wyatt is taking another world title to Raw, but also muddles what is already a ridiculously stupid story between Orton and Wyatt. Furthermore, while the prospect of a Wyatt/Balor feud is interesting, the way this feud is seemingly building simultaneously with the Wyatt/Orton feud just makes both stories seem less important and unfocused.
4) Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss is exactly what the Raw’s womens division needed. Not only does Bliss offer a fresh heel for the likes of Sasha and Bayley to compete against but also differs so much in style and size from everyone else that every possible matchup is an exciting prospect. Second only to The Miz in my opinion, Bliss really came into her own on Smackdown and went from being a promising NXT call up to one of the top women competitors in the company. Like The Miz, Bliss now fits right in on the A show and can hopefully be elevated to new heights on Raw.
5) Mickie James
While James joining the same roster as Bliss is unfortunate given how intertwined their story has been since her return, ultimately this move serves as something of a reset for James after how her momentum on Smackdown was squandered and thus I’m cautiously optimistic.
6, 7, 8, & 9) Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Curt Hawkins, Heath Slater and Rhyno
There is very little to say about these moving superstars as other than Hawkins getting squashed by the Big Show, none of these men received anything more than a graphic announcing their move. All in all, these men are all additions that will add depth and more possible jobbers to their respective divisions and thus the utilitarianism of these moves have to be understood to be respected. Also: at least Kalisto is finally on the show with the Cruiserweights.
As a “Shake-up” rather than a full redraft, Raw’s new additions will certainly change the landscape but doubtfully do anything to affect the main-event scene given how stacked Raw already was with main event talent. The best addition was probably Alexa Bliss given how her addition to the roster will probably have the greatest effect. It will be interesting to see if a more traditional draft will be seen in the coming months, and if so, will these changes now even matter? At least for the time being, with more colorful characters in their midst, Raw is finally a more “fun” show after a near year of a little too much seriousness.
Till next time,