WWE should do another Shake-Up after Summer Slam 2017

 

…I Just finished reviewing my posts on the Post-Wrestlemania Shake-Up. Goes without saying while it helped some superstars but didn’t do any favors for others. Let’s review that now, shall we?

First, RAW to Smackdown:

 

  • Jinder Mahal: Who could have seriously imagined right after being moved to Smackdown, The Maharaja would become WWE Champion? This is the same Jinder Mahal who was fed to other Superstars during his first WWE tenure and was even released. He’s been on a roll since his return during last year’s brand split. While his title run is obviously a marketing move, he has been a pretty good Heel. Getting The Great Khali to help him retain…that right there was a stroke of genius. Assuming he drops the title vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Summer Slam, he should either be kept near the top or positioned to win the U.S. Championship.
  • Charlotte Flair: Since being moved to Smackdown, Charlotte became a Face but hasn’t been pushed much. This was actually planned to help build Naomi’s title run. The fact that alot of folks expected her to have won the Smackdown Women’s Championship at least once by now is probably WWE is keeping her away from it for now. Make no mistake she WILL be the second woman to have won both the RAW and Smackdown Women’s Championships–the first being Alexa Bliss–by the end of the year. It’s just a matter of when.
  • Lana: It’s official: Lana in-ring is a wash! WWE hoped having her feud with Naomi would help build her mat skills but clearly that hasn’t happened. She was Over with the WWE Universe as Rusev’s manager and became a Face during her short-lived feud with him involving Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae. Said feud abruptly ended when their real-life marriage was announced. She resumed her role as Rusev’s partner though during their feud, Lana as a competator was heavily teased. Since coming to Lana, the experiment is clearly a failure. At least in multi-superstar matches this could be hidden but her first 3 matches were one on one with Naomi, who is the current Smackdown Women’s Champion so…yeah. Doesn’t get more clear than that.
  • Sami Zayn: Zayn has been struggling since moving to Smackdown, mostly since this time WWE is clearly going out of its way to not have him feud with Kevin Owens again. He’s not in the running for either title picture, nor has his name come up for Summer Slam yet. He needs a push but the obvious problem is there are several people ahead of him at the moment.

 

Now, Smackdown to RAW:

 

  • Dean Ambrose: Let’s be honest and not kid ourselves: Ambrose was brought to RAW to reunite The Shield. His current storyline involving Seth Rollins, who backstabbed Ambrose and Reigns three years ago to break up The Shield is part of the process. Rollins mended the fence with Reigns last year so that just left Ambrose. Speaking of, Reigns is part of Summer Slam’s main event involving himself, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar. His being brought in to work with Ambrose and Rollins is sure to come sometime after Summer Slam is over.
  • Alexa Bliss: I touched on this above but The Wicked Witch has become the first Superstar to hold both the “RAW” and “Smackdown” Women’s Championships and she did it within 4 weeks of each other: She dropped the Smackdown Championship at Wrestlemania to Naomi, got shipped to RAW two weeks later and then won the RAW Women’s Championship from Bayley the week after moving to RAW. Goes without saying she’s Over with the crowd just from her Harley Quinn-like appearance and has been for some time. It goes without saying she is one of the top superstars in RAW’s Women’s Division.
  • Apollo Crews: Unfortunately, he’s yet another one of those Superstars who fell through the cracks after changing brands. His working with The Titus Brand could work for him but only if he’s either put in the hunt for the IC Title or works with an established vet. He’s in the proverbial Midcard Hell: Not good enough to get to the top tier but not bad enough to be fed to other Superstars.
  • Bray Wyatt: The Eater of Worlds got street cred when he won the Universal Championship back in the day. Since losing it to Randy Orton at Wrestlemania, not much has been done with him. He has been doing promos with Finn Balor but it’s clear his character just isn’t the same without a stable. Wyatt’s Cult Leader Persona works at its best when he has people by his side. WWE needs to turn things around with him and as a former Champion, he has hope unlike Eric Rowan and Luke Harper.

 

Those are just 8 of the nearly two dozen Superstars who changed brands 4 months back after Wrestlemania. This obviously doesn’t account for the head-scratching breakup of American Alpha: Jason Jordan was moved to RAW as part of his new storyline as Kurt Angle’s biological son last month. Prior to the move, Jordan hadn’t been seen on Smackdown for a few weeks and we saw his former partner Chad Gable compete solo. Jordan is obviously being pushed as a solo competator on RAW for storyline reasons.

Gable doesn’t have the same problem Enzo Amore has but he needs to be either added to a stable or paired with someone. Gable and Aiden English could be interesting if done right but he could also mesh Sami Zayn, the Hype Bros. or even Dolph Ziggler. Unless he gets pushed HARD like Jinder Mahal, I don’t see him having much of a Singles run.

Speaking of Enzo. Big Cass eluded to the reason they were split up: He apparently loves to run his mouth in the locker room and everyone was getting tired of it. Enzo was reportedly kicked off the bus right when the “Who’s Ambushing Enzo and Cass?” Storyline started because he was being disrespectful. So the story goes. Once you get kicked out of the locker room, your career is prettymuch done. The Miz is the only Superstar to have had a successful career after getting shut out but only because he’s a workhorse. Enzo, on the other hand…it’s a safe bet he’ll be on his way out sooner or later. A shame given his promo is such a hit with the WWE Universe. WWE will keep him around as use him as long as he’s still Over with the fans though.

Big Cass, on the other hand. I honestly don’t know. Let’s not forget we went down this road before with The Prime Time Players. Darren Young is currently doing promotional work for WWE while Titus O’Neil is a Manager trying to build a stable. When he first came in, alot of folks thought he’d shine as a solo competator but not so much. Unfortunately, I’m expecting the same for Big Cass. I hope I’m proven wrong, though.

 

 

WWE should do another Shake-Up after Summer Slam 2017

WhatCulture.com examines how the Attitude Era turned older fans off the post-Attitude Era

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Read the full article here. For the most part, the author is on point.

The author drives home the unavoidable fact that the product has greatly changed since The Attitude Era. Much of what was either allowed or worked then is either no longer allowed or wouldn’t be allowed now. That’s a fact.

That said, here are my thoughts on the 10-point Op-Ed:

10. Overbearing Authority Figures

I agree, this trope has been done to death and needs to be put down. Fans are clearly tired of it.

It worked during The Attitude Era because of how well the Austin vs. McMahon feud had been set up and executed. As we know, developing character storylines happens to be Vince’s specialty. We all know that legendary first Stunner by Austin was his idea. Later in the feud, Vince actually hit the gym and worked out so he could get in the ring himself, further adding credability to his “Evil Boss from Hell” Persona and cementing Austin’s place as the top Superstar at the time.

The Authority, on the other hand fails at what it’s supposed to do. Why? Triple H and Steph take it a little too far most of the time. Yeah, we get Trips can still wrestle and only does once or twice a year to put someone over–most recently Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns–but he can put people over in other ways. Handing KO the Universal Championship while screwing over Seth Rollins last year was an excellent example of this.

The author’s last point–the need for benevolent bosses–is spot on. Kudos for pointing out the Babyface Shane and D-Bry. WWE seems to have come to the same conclusion for RAW with having brought in Kurt Angle as GM. Steph hasn’t been seen since Wrestlemania (she’s been doing promotional work behind the scenes) but we know she will have to return eventually.

9. Modern Commentary

Let’s be honest, Jim Ross is the GOAT when it comes to Wrestling commentary. No one else comes close. He can make the most mundane match or storyline feel epic. Hell, The Undertaker specifically requested him for his retirement match at Wrestlemania 34. All that said, JR is no longer with WWE and hasn’t for some time. As I just mentioned, he is open to working pro bono every now and then if asked though. He is also well versed with the current happenings within WWE.

Jerry “The King” Lawler was good when he wasn’t being crass while paired with JR. He was often the Heel while JR was the Face though sometimes they would both be Face. Lawler should’ve been removed from commentary after The Monday Night Wars ended. I feel like that’s what made the transition when JR left so hard for many fans. Lawler felt out of place calling matches during the PG Era without JR.

Michael Cole (RAW) and JBL (Smackdown) are the vets on commentary and are solid. It helps they can switch so fluidly between Face and Heel. RAW moving the commentary table away from the ring after the brand split last year was a smart move as it opened up the area outside the ring a bit for the cameramen.

Corey Graves is a solid, solid Heel on commentary and it helps he is probably legit pissed his in-career was ended due to injury. Byron Saxton is obviously the weakest since he lacks the years and experience of the other three. Even though Booker T was meant to be a filling in for David Otunga, it worked so well it seems they decided to keep him on full-time.

8. WWE’s Lack of In-Ring Focus

This is why Triple H created NXT: To help move WWE away from its Entertainment side and more towards its Athletic side. Match quality has improved tremendously as a result and main event matches are no longer Finisher Spamming like they were 10 years ago. Not just PPV but on Raw and Smackdown as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than the women’s division. Sasha Banks and Charlotte made RAW must-see last year with their epic matches.

Brock Lesnar going full-power and STILL having trouble against Samoa Joe…that was pretty EPIC. Joe sold the shit out of the feud and had you believing he had Lesnar’s number. Don’t even get my started on Braun Strowman, who just likes beating people up. Kudos to WWE for putting him, Joe, Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way for the Universal Title. It is true WWE has been overusing multi-superstar matches lately (Triple Threat, Six-Pack, Fatal Four-Way, etc.) but this is one of those times where it makes perfect sense.

Lengthy matches making a comeback is huge as it ads a sense of realism and credability to feuds. It also forces superstars to train their bodies to perform for much longer. Squash matches only happen when it would be the most effective these days. Thanks to the introduction of NXT and 205 Live, the Undercard is virtually non-existent. You have midcards, Upper Cards and then you have the Underused or Underutilized.

7. Triple H

I touched on this above but Triple H needs to be used far less. It goes without saying he and Steph are prettymuch Vince McMahon’s stand-ins via The Authority. What tends to happen is Trips either buries the talent he’s trying to put over (Seth Rollins, RAW last year involving KO) or he buries the talent he’s supposed to be putting over (Roman Reigns, last year’s Royal Rumble).

If Triple H is gonna be Vince’s stand-in, he needs to check his ego and stop having matches with the superstars he’s supposed to be putting over. Like I said before, Samoa Joe vs. Rollins at Wrestlemania was a missed opportunity. Would’ve been freaking epic.

6. Sanitized “Extreme” Wrestling

This gripe is legit. Just look at Battleground’s Punjabi Prison Match. At a glance, it’s easy to think “Cage Match on steroids” but nope. This is a big reason why we have only seen 3 Punjabi Prison Matches.

Post-Attitude Era Hell in a Cell matches are a shadow of the first few matches. The first few matches wrote the book on brutality. Mick Foley’s career was considerably shortened in his match against The Undertaker. In the very first Hell in a Cell match, Shawn Michaels sold being beaten within an inch of his life. Now unlike most Attitude Era fans, I can appreciate Superstars not wanting to risk their health just for crowd reactions.

When the Attitude Era ended, The Undertaker advised the incoming talent behind the scenes to not take unnecessary risks and risk serious injury just to get over with the fans and get on Vince’s good side. Makes sense given his legendary Hell in the Cell Match with Mick Foley (as Mankind). As we all know, Foley falling through the cell was a freak accident. ‘Taker’s reaction makes it obvious that was not pre-planned. The fall knocked Foley unconscious for 2 minutes.¬†Had it been someone else, the match would’ve ended right there. Since it’s Mick Foley, the match continued when he regained consciousness. Mind you, this match happened the same year Owen Hart died in a freak accident in front of a live crowd broadcast around the world.

All that said, WWE does have enough talent willing and able to go Attitude-Era extreme. I don’t just mean Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. I’m talking Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles among others. On the Women’s side there’s Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Nia Jaxx, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Carmella and Bayley. It’s just a matter of balancing risk vs. reward.

5. Anti-Hero Babyfaces

…Let’s be honest, we all know Cena was being set up to be a Stone Cold clone at first. Same with Randy Orton and obviously Lesnar since he’s been back with WWE. Problem is there is and was only one Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Regardless of how many times WWE has tried to reinvent the trope, only a small handful pulled it off well. CM Punk easily did it best on his way out WWE. You can credit him for being the one to blend Kayfabe and Reality for the first time in WWE (it’s been done elsewhere) and making it work. Paul Heyman would follow his lead, followed by others since CM Punk left the company.

Anyway, back to Anti-Hero Babyfaces. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns–both separately and as The Shield–are probably the best at it in regards to the current roster. Rollins is clearly a bit too stiff while Reigns clearly needs mic work to get Over completely. Ambrose has shades of Mick Foley but has the unpredictability of Mick Foley and that’s why he was sent to Smackdown during the recent brand split to work with AJ Styles. He’s durable but lacks the bulk Reigns has and the aggression Rollins has.

 

4. Heavily Scripted Promos

This should have been #1 and has been my biggest pet peeve. Most of the current roster have little say over their Wrestling Personalities. Everything from what’s said to what’s done is dictated to them. Let’s not forget this is why Cody Rhodes, Ryback (Ryan Reeves) and Wade Barret (Stu Bennett) left WWE last year. WWE can’t afford to lose bigger names because of this.

The only ones that I know have full creative control over their characters are Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton (obviously), John Cena (obviously), The Miz (goes without saying) and of course, Paul Heyman. Jinder Mahal told an Indian Media outlet a few days before Battleground he has full creative control over his character but that’s doubtful. He probably does have some control but still has a script. Samoa Joe, I’m not 100% sure but if he is using a script he’s doing one hell of a job.

 

3. One-Track Storytelling

I had to read it twice to both understand it and realize it was true about the post-Attitude Era in WWE: Storylines are almost always built torward a Pay Per View event. More so since the recent brand split. This is probably the big reason so many superstars end up either falling through the cracks or end up not being seen for months in somes cases.

It’s even more obvious now that Dark Matches no longer happen. For those who didn’t know, when RAW and Smackdown were pre-taped there would be 1 to 3 matches that happened but weren’t televised due to the then 2-hour time constraint. Since both shows are now Live, Dark Matches no longer happen.

Anywho, WWE needs to get back to single-episode storylines or storylines independent of PPV events. Breezango’s current storyline is a great example of this. So is Strowman and and Reigns’ feud, which likely won’t end at Summer Slam. Throwing in this type of variety will give folks more of a reason to tune in every week or watch via WWE Network. It also forces WWE to utilize more of its talent.

2. The Current Headliners

The article uses the phrase “Mega Star” and that was true of the top talent of the Attitude Era. You had Austin and The Rock at the top with so many choices who could be swapped in at a moment’s notice. This was Cena for a while but folks have clearly grown tired of him in recent years. Lesnar’s a part-timer but is a huge draw when he feels like working. The article makes the case there is no one on the current roster (excluding the vets) who is or is close to Mega Star Status but I disagree there.

As folks should know by now, Reigns will succeed Cena as the new top guy. That said, it IS a huge problem for their top guy to be getting booed every time he shows his face. WWE will need to reset his character to turn that around. Fortunately, a Shield Reunion–which may happen after Summer Slam–should take care of that.

Reigns aside, Ambrose and Rollins are both Over with Fans. Rollins was over as a Face, a Heel and now a Face again. Enzo Amore being mega-over with the fans is probably the only reason he wasn’t cut after his breakup with Big Cass. Even though he’s a Monster Heel, the WWE Universe erupts every time Braun Strowman’s music hits or he shows his face. On Smackdown you got AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. If Nakamura wins the WWE Championship at Summer Slam, holy shit.

In the Women’s Division you got Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley of course. Nia Jaxx as the Monster Heel on RAW never gets old. Same with Alexa Bliss and Naomi.

…So, yeah. All they need is more polish to get even more over than they are. Once they start having more title reigns and have better booking, their popularity will grow more. The superstars just need something for fans to latch on to is all.

 

1. PG

…Here we go. The one thing all Attitude-Era fans love to turn to as the main reason “WWE sucks now”. The fact of the matter is WWE HAD to go this route. Not just to go mainstream but to appeal to International Markets. Plus, by then The Attitude Era was over. This should’ve been expected.

I view the hate over the PG Era as fans of the Attitude Era who don’t want to accept the fact that era is gone. Stone Cold Steve Austin is NOT gonna walk through that door (as a full-time wrestler). LOL.

 

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WhatCulture.com examines how the Attitude Era turned older fans off the post-Attitude Era

John Cena admits he knows his time as a WWE Superstar is running out

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Speaking on a few radio podcasts in recent weeks, John Cena opened up about his future as a WWE Superstar. Folks need to be mindful Cena has been on the roster since 2005 and ties Ric Flair’s record 16 WWE Championship runs. It would be fair to assume Cena will get #17 before he leaves. Weather it’s at Summer Slam, Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania 35 remains to be seen.

Cena explained in a podcast his “Free Agent” moniker has two meanings. One is because he will likely start appearing on both RAW and Smackdown. The other, more obvious reason is his obligations outside WWE (movies and tv). Plus there’s the fact his new fiance’s twin sister recently had a baby. I mention that last part because for those who don’t know Cena, D-Bry and the Bellas are all living together.

Moving on.

 

Cena, who recently turned 40 seems to have (finally) accepted the reality WWE is focusing on its current (Male) top talent and is preparing for life without their longtime ace. I’m talking Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and possibly Jinder Mahal and Rusev.

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Speaking of Roman Reigns. Sources close to Vince McMahon say The Chairman hand-picked Reigns as Cena’s replacement as the face of the company. Rumors and speculation fly in regards to weather or not Reigns will retire Cena like he did The Undertaker. It would be fitting in my book but only after Cena and faces Kurt Angle in a match. We know Angle, who is the RAW General Manager IS cleared to compete. No doubt WWE is just working out the when.

When Cena hangs ’em up for good, he will have had quite the run. 16 (soon to be 17) title wins is nothing to sneeze at. Randy Orton (15-time champion) is next but it’s a question of weather or not WWE will let him match or break the record Cena will himself break. Unlike Orton, Lesnar and Batista–the other three top-tier Superstars who came into WWE at the same time as Cena–Cena has been a Face since his first title win back in 2006. The other 3 had runs as a Heel but Cena was locked as a Face when the buildup for his first title win began. Heel turns were teased and even though the timing was there more than a few times, it never happened.

Who can forget the Super Cena Era? That span from 2007 to about mid-2013 when Cena was basically the only top-tier Superstar not from the Attitude era. Thankfully, Cena never got seriously hurt. When Cena needed time off, Randy Orton took his place. When both Cena and Orton needed time off, vets were brought in to help keep things going.

Of course, Triple H created NXT mostly to avoid this kind of situation from ever happening again (as well as moving WWE away from the slapstick goofy storylines that carried the Super Cena Era). No longer does WWE have to worry if their top guy goes down. Worst-case, they can bring in NXT Superstars. Who can forget Kevin Owens making his WWE debut while still the NXT Champion? I’d never even heard of NXT up until then. Then I found out The USOs, The Shield, Charlotte, Natalya, Rusev and Becky Lynch all came up through NXT.

…Getting back on topic though (LOL).

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It was during this time Cena divorced his ex-wife. Cena famously told Nikki Bella on Total Divas in 2012 he will never get married again (indirectly referencing his divorce) and doesn’t want kids. Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan getting married and starting a family clearly changed things: Cena proposed to Nikki after their match at Wrestlemania 34 earlier this year.

You can be sure Cena’s looking to move on to doing other things. He’s obviously going to follow The Rock’s example and make a name for himself outside WWE. As it happens, his fiance stated she won’t return to wrestling until her sister returns. That may not be until sometime next year if I had to guess. D-Bry works for WWE as well so…yeah.

One of the few things he’s been allowed to get away with that other superstars can’t without at least being yelled at is botches during matches. Speaing of, Cena had two really bad botches during his Flag match with Rusev at Battleground. The first was when after he’d been put in the second Acolade at the top of the ramp. Cena quickly moved into position behind the Bulgarian stairs. The problem was he was supposed to be unconscious but the camera caught him quickly get up and move into position. The other botch was during the finish: Rusev set up two tables next to the U.S. stairs which would be used during the finish. Cena hit the AA off the stairs but based on the angle, Rusev somehow had the presence of mind to tuck his chin into his chest. Had he not done that, he would’ve hit his head on the edge of the stairs.

After the Super Cena Era ended, some of the older superstars referred to him as “The Golden Boy”. It was meant as both an insult and a compliment. The fact was as far as WWE was concerned, he was untouchable. The Undertaker was the only other person who had that kind of pull though for different reasons.

In closing, I think now’s a good time for Cena to start to close out his WWE run. The post-Attitude Era (2001-2005) was a trial and error period. The PG Era/Super Cena Era (2006-2012) sparked the founding of NXT. We are now is what WWE calls “The New Era” (2014-Present) and unlike the last two, it’s not about John Cena. It’s about the current top talent. While yes Cena will get one, maybe two more title runs on his way out, the focus needs to be on the newer talent.

 

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John Cena admits he knows his time as a WWE Superstar is running out

The Inhuman Feat of Strength everyone is STILL talking about

…And will be talking about possibly for YEARS to come =O

The video is cued to start just before the moment Braun Strowman shocked the WWE Universe:

…The trolls who commented on this video were quick to point out the fact a shadow can be seen exiting the back of the ambulance–probably Roman Reigns–just before Braun Strowman flips the Ambulance completely over. The camera momentarily shows you the back of the now closed rear ambulance doors (which was clearly a botch as they were open moments before) and confirms no one was in the back.

By the way, that Ambulance’s weight averages 5 tons. You usually see bodybuilders pull or push a vehicle of that size and bigger in competitions but Strowman went full power and flipped it over =O

Roman Reigns’ reported “injuries” afterward are clearly a work. He’s probably going to be taking some time off. The rumors are swirling between retiring The Undertaker and putting over Strowman with this segment Reigns will (finally) Heel turn. With Ambrose as a Face and Rollins a Face, it makes too much sense not for Reigns to Heel turn when he returns now that all three former Shield members are on RAW (Presumably intentional). Ambrose is too over with the crowd to Heel turn and doesn’t need it. Neither does Rollins, who became a Face when he returned from injury last year. Reigns, on the other hand does need it since he doesn’t have the mat skills and mic skills John Cena has that allowed him to not Heel turn since his early years.

As for Strowman, he is clearly being built to feud with Lesnar. Whatever doubts the WWE Universe may have had in regards to Strowman facing Lesnar were prettymuch answered with what he did on RAW. It’s going to be one hell of a matchup =O

The Inhuman Feat of Strength everyone is STILL talking about

WWE Shake Up Part 2: RAW to Smackdown

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Here were in Part 2 of the WWE Shake Up! Today we are looking at Superstars shipped from RAW to Smackdown.

  • Byron Saxton (Commentator)
  • U.S. Champion Kevin Owens
  • Sami Zayn
  • Primo and Epico (The Shining Stars, Tag Team)
  • Jinder Mahal
  • Tamina
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Sin Cara
  • Rusev and Lana
  • The New Day

 

…As expected, KO and SZ are a package deal. LOL. Sami Zayn had been the subject of rumors to be going to Smackdown since the draft last year. Now that it’s official, he can be properly developed. KO was hugely successful¬† on RAW.

Right off the bat, AJ Styles was confirmed to remain on The Blue Brand. He will be involved in a triple threat match with Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn for the #1 Contender spot vs. whoever the U.S. Champion will be after Payback.

Speaking of: D-Bry came out to confirm what I assumed would be the case with the IC and U.S. titles: Dean Ambrose and KO will defend their titles at Payback, which apparently will be cross-brand. Presumably both will retain so the announcement is just to clarify things.

…Tamina joining Smackdown is AWESOME. She was a Monster Heel when she first came to WWE several years back. She was a part of the Team B.A.D. stable two years ago alongside Naomi and Sasha Banks two years ago. Tamina being back can only mean good things for the Smackdown roster. As expected, Charlotte and Alexia Bliss swapped places more or less. It was a surprise Sasha Banks was not announced given Boston is her hometown (though she lives in Los Angeles on that note LOL).

Sin Cara and Rusev were announced as joining Smackdown from RAW offcamera. Lana was not mentioned but she will be joining her husband. Lana was apparently roughed up by TSA employees at Logan Airport in Boston and this is likely why the pair did not appear in person on Smackdown. With Simon Gotch gone, it looks like WWE Creative is going to make Aiden English a solo superstar. Gotch was released by WWE last week as previously announced.

The New Day was announced as coming to Smackdown as predicted. They were announced as “Coming Soon”, presumably after Kofi Kingston returns after being injured last week.

…That’s it for this week but there is certainly the possability more swaps will be announced over the weeks leading to Payback. Only time will tell.

 

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WWE Shake Up Part 2: RAW to Smackdown

WWE Shake Up Part 1: Smackdown to Raw

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Day 1 of the Raw/Smackdown Shakeup is on! This post highlights WWE Superstars going from Smackdown to Raw. Apollo Crews was announced as going to RAW early Monday afternoon. Calisto, Heath Slater and Rhyno (Tag Team) were announced during RAW as coming to the Red Brand.

  • Apollo Crews
  • Calisto
  • Heath Slater and Rhyno
  • The Miz
  • Maryse
  • Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose
  • Curt Hawkins
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Alexia Bliss
  • Mickey James
  • David Otunga (Commentator)

…What we don’t know yet is if any of the RAW Superstars appearing tonight will also appear on Smackdown tomorrow night. That’s certainly possible.

Dean Ambrose iS booked to defend the IC Championship at Payback vs. Baron Corbin and will likely retain so the IC title stays with him on RAW. Speaking of Ambrose, Rene Young confirmed on Talking Smack this week she and Ambrose got married in Las Vegas on Sunday. If I had to guess, they wanted to get married before the roster change was announced. Their offscreen relationship was part of the feud involving Dean Ambrose and The Miz last year.

In addition, Bray Wyatt will challenge Randy Orton to a rematch for the WWE Championship at Payback in 3 weeks. He probably won’t be involved in any RAW storylines until that match’s outcome which he will likely be booked to lose to keep the WWE Championship on Smackdown. He has taken an interst in Finn Balor on that note.

…Now that RAW is done, the Smackdown imports are mostly as expected or meant to make room for the smaller Smackdown roster. Alexia Bliss moving to RAW was teased on WWE.com so…yeah. I’m almost certain Charlotte will be on Smackdown tomorrow. The question is who else from the Women’s Division will join her? My money’s on Nia Jaxx or Sasha Banks.

Bray Wyatt, The Miz and Dean Ambrose will be huge draws. Apollo Crews, Health Slater and Rhyno could too if they’re used properly. Calisto and Hawkins were likely moved just to clear space in Smackdown.

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WWE Shake Up Part 1: Smackdown to Raw

Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps

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Not even 3 days after Vince McMahon made the big announcement, Bleacher Report has reportedly confirmed two brand swaps: AJ Styles will be going to RAW while The New Day will be going to Smackdown. There is pending confirmation Charlotte Flair and Alexia Bliss will switch brands as well based recent booking involving one or both superstars.

Should they happen, all 3 brand swaps would make a whole lot of sense:

  • AJ Styles going to RAW is a no-brainer as The Club will be reformed. He had a nice, long run as the WWE Champion on Smackdown and is pretty over with the WWE Universe. With Finn Balor back from injury, Styles could be used to help him get broken in again. Or Kevin Owens. Syles, like Seth Rollins would be fine as either a Face or a Heel.
  • The New Day going to Smackdown goes without saying. Despite not really being used since they lost the Tag Team titles they’re still mega popular. They would do for The Blue Brand what John Cena is (now) doing for Smackdown and raise the profile of the show’s tag team division. RAW’s a bit overloaded between Gallows and Anderson, Sheamus and Caesaro, Enzo and Cass and now The Hardy Boys so…yeah. Now’s a good time for them to move.
  • Charlotte and Alexia swapping for each other would be huge for the brand they go to. Charlotte would raise the profile of Smackdown’s Women’s Division, which doesn’t really have a main draw aside from Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch and Naomi (current Smackdown Women’s Champion). Charlotte would be the badly needed shot in the arm Smackdown’s Women’s Division is looking for. Alexia would be great competition for Sasha Banks, Bayley and possibly Nia Jaxx. I’m assuming both stay Heels after the switch of course.

…There were rumors Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins could be moved as well. Reigns moving seems unlikely post-Wrestlemania given he may be involved with Brock Lesnar (current Universal Champion) and Braun Strowman. Rollins going to Smackdown could work, on the other hand since no one wants to see another Cena/Orton feud for the WWE Championship. Plus let’s be honest it would be real interesting seeing Rollins and fellow former Shield member Dean Ambrose (current Intercontinental Champion) paired as well.

…Of course, the obvious question is who goes the other way in exchange. Here are my picks based on just these names and others I’ve heard floating around:

  • AJ to RAW, Rollins to Smackdown
  • Charlotte and Alexia swap with each other
  • The New Day to Smackdown, Slater and Rhyno to RAW
  • Luke Harper to RAW, Mark Henry to Smackdown
  • Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler swap with each other
  • Carmella and James Ellesworth to RAW, Rusev and Lana to Smackdown
  • Aiden English to 205 Live
  • Shane and Stephanie McMahon swap with each other

Speaking if Aiden English: His partner Simon Gotch was released by WWE yesterday. It was presumably due to his piss-poor attitude as well as some trouble he got into with other superstars, all backstage. The Vaudvillains weren’t really used much since the brand split either so…yeah. I believe English already meets the weight requirement to be a Cruiserweight (200 lbs or less) so…yeah. It’ll be the chance for him to be rebranded and work with established talent.

On that note: There are rumors USA Network is offering WWE a slot for the Cruiserweight division, which currently airs on WWE Network. It’s nothing more than a rumor though.

Ellsworth…it’s clear WWE is trying to figure out what to do with him for the rest of his contract at this point. Sending him with Carmella to RAW could help. At the same time, bringing Rusev and Lana to Smackdown would give The Blue Brand another mixed tag team to feud with The Miz/Maryse or John Cena/Nikki Bella.

There is also the possability Shane and Stephanie will switch shows. There’d been talk bringing back the Authority Faction after the split was an unintended accident but since it got alot of attention, they ran with it. Stephanie McMahon is the Chief Branding Officer in WWE outside her on-screen role as RAW Comissioner. Sending Shane McMahon, who doesn’t have an official role outside his on-screen character to RAW will allow RAW to fully cut ties with the Authority Faction.

It would also be pretty interesting to see Shane and RAW GM Kurt Angle interact with each other. The two put on some great matches back in the day. Likewise, there are the usual rumors the real reason Stephanie’s been joining her husband in the gym more over the last year (she does regularly work out) is she is preparing to return to in-ring action. She wouldn’t mesh well against the RAW women but Smackdown’s is a different story.

Finally, I don’t see any of the current title holders moving. Not unless they’re swapped for the corresponding title holder on the other brand. For example Universal Champion Brock Lesnar swaps with WWE Champion Randy Orton. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) for U.S. Champion Kevin Owens (RAW) is certainly possible as is RAW Women’s Champion Bayley for Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi.

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Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps