Superstar Shakeup Reveals

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Now that the dust has settled, let’s talk about who changed rosters.

Here are the Superstars who debuted on RAW from Smackdown or NXT:

  • Jinder Mahal
  • Suni Singh
  • Samil Singh
  • Liv Morgan
  • Sarah Logan
  • Ruby Riott*
  • Fandango
  • Tyler Breeze
  • Natalya*
  • Dolph Ziggler*
  • Drew McIntyre* (from NXT)
  • Baron Corbin*
  • Bobby Roode*
  • Viktor
  • Konnor
  • Zack Ryder
  • Mojo Rowley
  • Chad Gable
  • Mike Kanellis
  • Maria Kanellis (When she returns from Maternity Leave)

* Denotes I predicted this Superstar would be moving in my previous post

Jinder Mahal was revealed as the first Superstar from Smackdown coming to RAW. He dropped the U.S. title his brought with him to Jeff Hardy. The Singh Brothers–one of whom is still recovering from injury–are presumed to be moving to RAW as well. Backstage, Jinder Mahal had a run-in with No Way Jose (from NXT), who debuted last week.

Bayley and Sasha Banks had their match interrupted by The Riott Squad–all of them.

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were introduced by The Miz as part of the RAW roster despite the events of last week. Kurt Angle came out to point this out but was rebuffed by Sami Zayn, who revealed Stephanie McMahon reversed the decision and gave both KO and Zayn a RAW contract. That’s when Kurt Angle decided to drop a surprise of his own when he revealed The Miz would be going to Smackdown. Not Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, mind you but just The Miz (and presumably Maryse when she returns from Maternity Leave).

Backstage, Breezango and Natalya were revealed as coming to RAW. Dolph Ziggler came down the the ring but was interrupted by Titus Worldwide. That’s when Dolph revealed he didn’t come alone: Drew McIntyre (cue “HOLY SHIT!” chant) came out of nowhere and together they destroyed Titus and Apollo.

After the match involving Natalya and Mandy Rose, Baron Corbin was revealed to be coming to RAW offscreen. Bobby Roode was also revealed be the Mystery Superstar Kurt Angle mentioned earlier to be involved in the main even 5 on 5 main event tag match.

The Ascension, Mojo Rowley, Zack Ryder, Chad Gable and Mike Kanellis were revealed to be moving to RAW overnight. It’s presumed Maria Kanelis will join her husband on RAW when she returns from Maternity Leave.

 

Here are the Superstars who debuted on Smackdown from RAW or NXT:

  • Chris Jericho (Presumed)
  • The Miz
  • Maryse (When she returns for Maternity Leave)
  • Jeff Hardy*
  • Sonya Deville
  • Mandy Rose
  • Samoa Joe*
  • Big Cass*
  • Asuka*
  • Luke Gallows*
  • Karl Anderson*
  • Sheamus*
  • Caesao*
  • R-Truth
  • Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega (from NXT)
  • Eric Young (From NXT)
  • Alexander Wolfe (From NXT)
  • Killian Dain (From NXT)

* Denotes I predicted this Superstar would be moving in my previous post

Due to drama over The Undertaker’s Casket Match over the weekend, it was revealed Chris Jericho will likely be on Smackdown Live the next time we see him.

Shelton Benjamin (Still a Heel), whose tag team partner Chad Gable was sent to RAW overnight demanded competition and so Randy Orton came out. Orton walked halfway to the ring before he awkwardly stopped and waited for a few moments for the new U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy’s music to hit. Jeff Hardy, who made his return from injury and took the U.S. Title from Jinder Mahal the night before on RAW was revealed to be the second Superstar coming to Smackdown from RAW. He competed with Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match on the spot.

The remaining members of Absolution–Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose–were revealed to be coming to Smackdown offscreen. After the commercial break, Samoa Joe came down to the ring where he made SinCara tap out but not before putting him to sleep. After the match, he reminded everyone in the arena he’s a Heel by calling out Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. He also promo’d his matches with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at The Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash.

Backstage, Big Cass interrupted an interview Daniel Bryan was having with Renee Young, sizing him up before walking away. He and Shinsuke Nakamura would interrupt the main event match when they separately attacked AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.

After Charlotte and Becky Lynch got tied up with Carmella, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay (from NXT, debuted last week), Asuka came out to give them some back up. It was revealed going into commercial break that Anderson and Gallows will be coming to Smackdown to join their old friend AJ Styles.

The Bar announced they were coming to Smackdown, which they asked for in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania 34. Backstage, R-Truth was revealed was revealed to now be on Smackdown from RAW after taking some time off. The ominous faction from NXT known as SAnity was revealed to be coming to Smackdown offscreen going into the commercial break as well.

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…There you have it.

It would be fair to say Smackdown won this year by Subtraction. Most of who were sent to RAW wasn’t being used much on Smackdown. Most notably The Miz, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Andrade Almas are either top tier-level or could be worked toward it.

In the Tag Division, The Bar, Gallows + Anderson and SAnity will work great opposite The Usos, The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers. Smackdown’s Tag Team division was must-see before and who they picked up made it even better.

In the Women’s Division, clearly things are being set up for the Women’s Tag Team titles to come. The Iconic Duo and Absolution are obviously a team each already so that means pairing at least two more teams.

As for RAW, most of who they dropped was to make room for who they gained since Wrestlemania. As an aside, RAW no longer carries 205 Live matches so that’s more time for the actual RAW roster. It’s now truly a separate brand like NXT is.

RAW’s biggest gains were in the singles midcard obviously. Baron Corbin, Jindar Mahal, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode can all be pushed into the main event so we’ll see. The other additions weren’t as noteworthy because of Ember Moon and The Authors of Pain arriving from NXT last week and Drew McIntyre coming this week.

So, Smackdown won by Subtraction like I said before. They became much stronger as a brand overall. RAW’s biggest gains were all NXT callups + The Riott Squad + Natalya. Time will tell if everyone else will get much use on either brand.

Overall, 60% of my predictions from my previous post changed brands and I am impressed, more so given I expected to get far less right.

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Superstar Shakeup Reveals

Shayna Baszler takes Ember Moon to school at NXT Takeover: New Orleans

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…Not since Brock Lesnar founded Suplex City at John Cena’s expense four years ago at Summer Slam have I seen a top title holder prettymuch get DESTROYED so completely.

The defending champion got off to a good start and when Baszler dislocated her left shoulder, it looked like Moon would retain. Baszler wasted no time reminding everyone why they call her The Queen of Spades and of her UFC background: She used the ringpost to pop her shoulder back in and continued the match.

Even more impressive than that was the finish: Unable to fully use her left arm after popping her shoulder back into place, she wrapped her right arm around and grabbed her own hair to complete the submission hold, using her left arm to block Moon’s attempts to break the hold. Moon pulled a Stone Cold and did not tap out and instead passed out, losing the match by Technical Knock Out.

It goes without saying Ember Moon will be moving on to the main roster. Many will question the wisdom in having a “newcomer” who isn’t Over with the crowd carrying the title but I wouldn’t be so quick to write her off. Clearly she’ll be put in a feud with someone to help build up her mic and mat skills. She’s a Submission Specialist mostly because of her UFC days so…yeah.

As for Ember Moon, obviously she will be moving on to the main roster. My guess is she will be going to RAW since Asuka is obviously going to Smackdown when she beats Charlottoe for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. I would be very surprised if she is put on the same show as Asuka to start off personally.

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…I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the main event from NXT Takeover: New Orleans, which was the Unsanctioned Match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. The horrors these two men unleashed upon each other…I haven’t seen anything like it outside the early Hell in a Cell Matches.

To paraphrase Ron Simmons: DAMN!

This match exemplifies why NXT Fans love it so much. Both men clearly went full power throughout the match. The crowd chanting “Fuck you Ciampa!” was well-earned given the history between both men involved.

…I look forward to seeing some of this on the main roster soon!

Shayna Baszler takes Ember Moon to school at NXT Takeover: New Orleans

Asuka confirmed to be going to RAW when she returns from injury; Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte being set up

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…Boy, WWE sure didn’t keep us waiting on this bit of news: It was announced during tonight’s episode of RAW that the former Undefeated NXT Champion will debut on Raw “soon”. They left this off live programming but Asuka is recovering from wear and tear currently but will likely make her debut in a few weeks.

My guess is they will wait until after No Mercy and Hell in a Cell. Assuming she debuts as a Face, Nia Jaxx will lilely walk out of the RAW-exclusive No Mercy with the Women’s Championship.

Why?

Because of this matchup being built by WWE.com:

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…I think we can assume the match WILL happen and likely soon. WWE wouldn’t “tease” this themselves unless they know 100% they can or already got Rousey to commit to an actual match.

A few sources reported last week Rousey has been working out with The Brian Kendrick in recent weeks in preperation for her eventual WWE debut. Let us not also forget Ric Flair revealed in a recent interview (before he was hospitalized) he would like to see Rousey fight his daughter. Looks like it’s gonna happen. My guess is the match will likely happen at Survivor Series. That makes the most sense. It could happen at the Smackdown-exclusive Hell in a Cell PPV but they’ll likely want to use a few weeks to build the match.

The obvious question then becomes how do they use Ronda until her match? She would be a HUGE draw on Smackdown even just building her match with Charlotte. It would easily be a main event match as well because of Rousey being involved. Charlotte would obviously Heel turn for the match (she’s currently a Face) opposite Babyface Rousey.

Both the MMA and Wrestling worlds are anxiously awaiting the day we get to see Rousey step into the Squared Circle and dominate once again. Her MMA career is prettymuch done but a WWE run would make her relevant again. That’s what happened to Brock Lesnar when he went to UFC. When he returned to WWE 8 years later, he only had to say jump and Vince would ask “How high?” Rousey can easly have that same kind of pull in WWE.

Plus we all know it’s very likely we’ll see Rousey vs. Stephanie at Wrestlemania 34 next year.

 

Asuka confirmed to be going to RAW when she returns from injury; Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte being set up

Awkward promo involving Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey highlights the need for change in the Women’s Division

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I’m just going to assume most of you are familiar with or have seen the promo that nearly broke Twitter over the weekend:

 

…The obvious problem being how awkward and stiff RAW’s Bayley and Smackdown’s Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair looked during the promo, which sucks given their suprise appearance earlier inside the area. Thankfully, they didn’t say anything and quietly walked away. No doubt they all realized they botched the promo to hell. A do-over will be necessary and hopefully sooner than later.

Bayley, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and the absent Sasha Banks made up The Four Horsewomen of NXT. They were main draws not just for NXT’s women’s division but NXT itself. All four superstars have gone on to have multiple title runs since moving to RAW and Smackdown over the last two years, Bayley coming to the main roster before the brand split was announced last year. Charlotte would become the inaugural RAW Women’s Champion, retiring the Divas Championship at the same time at Wrestlemania 32. She would go on to have two more title runs before being moved to Smackdown earlier this year. Sasha Banks famously debuted on the main roster while still the NXT Women’s Champion.

Speaking of Sasha and titles, the reason she was absent from the above promo is because she is involved in an ongoing feud with Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship. I agree with many folks who say Sasha will likely be pulled out of the title picture to join Charlotte, Becky and Bayley to complete The Four Horsewomen.

UFC’s verison is made up of Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Mae Young Classic participant Shayna Baszler. It goes without saying there is legit interest by both sides for Rousey to make the jump to WWE. Anyone she brings with her would be a cool bonus for WWE as well.

The question to ask is where should she start? Her in-ring skills are without question. The real questions would be around her mic skills. Some time in NXT could help her build confidence in that area but WWE could gamble on her name recognition and just put her on the main roster.

Let’s take a moment and revisit Rousey’s Wrestlemania 31 promo:

…Rousey throwing Triple H out the ring fueled speculation we may see the return of mixed gender singles matches. The business in general–not just WWE–dances around this, not willing to do anything further than mixed tag matches involving a male wrestler and switching so opposite-gender wrestlers don’t compete.

Lita and Chyna both won the Intercontinental Championship during their WWE careers, a male-exclusive title. Former WWE superstar Karma was a surprise entrant in the 2013 Royal Rumble, eliminating Dolph Ziggler during the match. Nothing like that’s happened since.

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…Back to the promo though. Many analysts believe the promo was intended to focus on just Charlotte and Rousey and it can definitely be marketed that way. Oh, let’s not kid outselves here: Survivor Series, which will be cross-brand happens November 17. If they wanted to make it a 4 on 4 match they would need to start building it after No Mercy (RAW-exclusive PPV) and Hell in a Cell (Smackdown-exclusive PPV).

The obvious drawback to this is for Sasha, Charlotte, Bayley and Becky they would need to be pulled out of existing feuds to help build the match. They don’t necessarily need to all be on the same show: They could just have Rousey and the others make cameos on both RAW and Smackdown to help build the match. A singles match between just Charlotte and Rousey would be easier to make happen and in less time, though.

Smackdown’s Women’s Division has taken a hit with Charlotte and Becky both out of the picture. Mostly because of the timing. Carmella teasing her eventual cash-in will only hold interest for so long. Other than her there’s Natalya (Current Smackdown Women’s Champion), Naomi and Tamina, the last of which is being paired with Lana to try rebooting their characters.

On RAW, Bayley is legit injured (shoulder) and weather or not she’ll be healthy and ready for Survior Series would be a big question. Take out Sasha and that leaves Alexia Bliss (Current RAW Women’s Champion), Nia Jaxx, Emma and Mickie James. Jaxx is clearly being positioned to win the title, parelleling fellow RAW superstar Braun Strowman.

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…As was reported, Asuka relinquished the NXT Women’s Championship after she defeated Ember Moon at NXT Takeover due to a collarbone injury she’d been dealing with for some time. It was announced during her sendoff this week on NXT that Asuka will debut on RAW or Smackdown once she recovers and the wait might not be too long. We could see her on the main roster as early as around Survivor Series in November or as late as around January’s Royal Rumble.

Either way there is only one Asuka.

NXT’s only undefeated superstar is beyond Goldberg-level over with the crowds. The international superstar is the most Over Asian Superstar in WWE history and I’m talking BEFORE she was signed to NXT two years ago. Known as Kana in other promotions, her real name is Kanako Urai and she is the biggest Asian Superstar in WWE History. Nevermind the plot armor that kept her undefeated in NXT, she is a legit in-ring performer.

Anywho, Some analysts say Asuka being undefeated during her NXT run hurt her character and NXT’s Women’s Division. Can’t say I can agree with that given most of the talent she feuded with over the last 2 years is now on the main roster. According to insider sources, Triple H reportedly asked Vince McMahon to keep Asuka on NXT, who’d reportedly been on Vince’s short list to be introduced during the Roster Shakeup after Wrestlemania earlier this year.

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Regardless of where Asuka goes, where she doesn’t go will need a new face of equal or greater value in their women’s division. If not Rousey then Ember Moon, who she defeated in her final NXT match to retain the title. Moon will likely get the title run she was denied very soon on NXT on that note.

In the meantime, WWE should feel the pressure to bring in both Asuka and Rousy as soon as possible. Rousey more so given we already know Asuka’s coming. With Rousey, we need to know she is definitely coming and the promos need to start picking up ^_^

Awkward promo involving Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey highlights the need for change in the Women’s Division

Triple H running WWE would be best for business

This article I just finished reading outlines Triple H’s vision for the WWE once he’s in control of the company.

To summarize the article in one sentance, he would bring the WWE back to its pre-Hogan Era roots. As a recap, here are the four big changes he outlined in his Podcast with Stone Cold a few weeks ago:

  • Make Raw two hours again.
  • Give the Divas more time in the ring.
  • Develop stories more slowly and over a longer period of time.
  • Allow promos to be less scripted.

The last three will be welcome changes by superstars and fans alike. USA Network requested RAW be three hours long after RAW’s 1000th episode was a 3-hour special. If they want to cut it back to two, Trips will have to take it up with USA Network.

I think the 3-hour block can be made to work with some tweaking here and there. Trips did say he would like multiple storylines for the Divas division going on at the same time so they could use the extra hour to make this work.

One thing those who only know Trips in Kayfabe need to be mindful of is while yes he is the Heir to the WWE, he has over 20 years in-ring experience. He has firsthand experience of what it takes to be successful in the WWE. Even better: He’s thinking of the future.

The same can be said for Vince McMahon. The Principle Owner of the WWE led the company through the Monday Night Wars, steroid scandals and lawsuits that probably would’ve sent the Koch Brothers packing. To say Vince knows the ins and outs of the business side of the WWE would be a fucking understatement.

That said, it’s no secret fans and superstars alike are ready for a drastic change. Vince stepping out of the spotlight a few years ago and Triple H stepping into the spotlight in a suit isn’t a ploy. Vince is giving his son-in-law space to establish himself as the new face of power in the WWE.

In short: The Authority. Stephanie McMahon (she didn’t change her last name when she got married) has played a heel in most of her on-screen appearances and Trips has lots of experience as both a face and a heel.

Right now it’s just a matter of waiting for Vince to step away from the WWE entirely though if Triple H suddenly being so open about his vision for the company is an indicator, that day might not be too far off. Fans and superstars alike have nothing but respect for all Vince has done for Sports Entertainment over the last 25 years. That said, Triple H has already given fans a taste of what’s to come with NXT. Imagine that but with the main roster.

I’m hoping that with the new leadership, Triple H will reach out to fan-favorite former superstars and personalities. A few names that come to mind include:

  • Jim Ross
  • Alberto Del Rio*
  • Ricardo Rodriguez
  • CM Punk
  • Kurt Angle*
  • Shelton Benjamin
  • Matt Hardy*
  • Justin Gabriel*
  • Ezekiel Jackson*
  • Kharma
  • John Laurenatis
  • Theodore Long
  • Vickie Guerreo

* Denotes they are with TNA now

Jim Ross is an obvious choice. He was the voice of WWE during the Attitude Era and much of the early 2000s. After all he did for the company–and he was a company guy–he was forced out by Vince. He now does commentary for NJW. This is speculation on my part but I think if Triple H offered him his old job back, he’d take it.

The TNA guys…I think they’d bring some folks with them. It would be like what happened during the Monday Night Wars only you’d have TNA guys going to the WWE. The only former WWE superstar I can see who might might need some convincing to “come back” is Kurt Angle and that’s assuming he’s still got it.

Laurenatis, Teddy Long and Vickie should be brought back as personalities but less gimmicky. Vince loved goofy gimmicks and just overdid it with Vickie especially. That remind me: Lauranatis was the one who made the catchphrase “What’s best for business” mainstream. He, along with Teddie Long sold unification of the RAW and Smackdown Rosters well (after being split for almost 10 years) and they didn’t get enough credit for that.

Ricardo actually still works for WWE as a Spanish Commentator at PPV events. I’d like to see him working with ADR again. It looked like he was getting a nice push before ADR was fired. Triple H hinted he would welcome CM Punk back so…yeah. It’s just a matter of when.

It also works to WWE’s advantage Punk’s fiance AJ Lee decided to stay with the company after he left. This despite what can be viewed as a knee-jerk reaction to Punk’s departure whan Paige randomly took the title from her the RAW after Wrestlemania last year.

Kharma might be the hardest one to track down. She left WWE while on Maternity Leave at the beginnig of a planned feud with The Bella Twins. She was also the last Diva to compete in the Royal Rumble at her peak. She was a monster heel during her tenure and showed in the 2012 Royal Rumble, she could hold her own against her male superstar counterparts. The same can also be said about Tamina Snuka (daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka). She’s lost alot of weight but has been keeping herself in shape. Some time in NXT could help with the ring rust.

…Anywho yeah if you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited for what Triple H has in store for the WWE when he takes over. For those who’ve been wanting change, just be patient!

 

Triple H running WWE would be best for business