The Superstar Shake-Up is complete! We now know who is making their way from Raw to SmackDown. With huge names, a familiar title, and call-ups all molding the blue brand’s landscape before The Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27th we now have a whole lot of faces to get reacquainted with. Granted Raw’s haul was a bit bigger with 19 Superstars finding their way to the red brand, SmackDown Live has nearly as much with 17 new faces. Here is everyone you can now see on Tuesday nights.
One night after winning the US Title off of SmackDown expatriate Jinder Mahal the younger and less “broken” Hardy brother brought the mid-card title back to its home on Tuesday night. Hardy has always been a crowd favorite and doesn’t benefit from joining his brother in the Woken Universe just yet so separating them is a good idea. It lets Jeff be the babyface fan favorite he is and Matt cultivate his knew offbeat tag team with Bray Wyatt without everyone wondering when we’ll see them reunited.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
The two active members of Absolution have moved to the show now run by their stable leader, Paige. This move makes sense for two reasons. Absolution was somewhat seen as the Raw version of SmackDown’s Riott Squad. With the Riott Squad moving to the red brand it makes sense to reunite with their former leader on SmackDown. These are two talented performers, and it wouldn’t be right to have them get lost due to comparison.
This is a BIG get for SmackDown Live. Literally and in the sense of star power. Joe is always a fun heel to watch and can put on fantastic matches. Add the fact that he is putting out some great promos right now, this immediately elevates SmackDown Live.
A lot has happened since Big Cass left the scene as a member of Raw amidst a feud with former tag team partner Enzo Amore. Since his departure, Amore has been released due to sexual assault allegations. His longtime girlfriend, Carmella, has also become SmackDown Women’s Champion. A change of scenery is probably good for the big man.
The Empress of Tomorrow has officially found her way to SmackDown. After having her streak broken by then SmackDown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania Asuka has joined the blue brand full time. She brings a lot of talent and power with her, but how will she fare on the same show as Charlotte? Right now she is aligned with Charlotte and Beck Lynch but only time will tell how that goes.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
This is a little puzzling seeing as they just started reuniting with former Bullet Club stablemate Finn Balor. It seemed like we were getting a new version of the New Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance, with WWE even going as far as to release shirts subtly taking stabs at their former group. Everything seemed like it was going well… This is the second time that Gallows and Anderson have been separated from a former leader of the Bullet Club, the first being AJ Styles, and it hasn’t fared well for them so far. Let’s hope they are better utilized this time around.
Another somewhat puzzling move. The Raw Brand wasn’t exactly known for its stellar tag division, but when looking at it, The Bar was definitely top of that list. Cesaro and Sheamus have given their careers a shot of adrenaline since pairing up. They have worked well together on their way to four tag team title reigns. That’s why it was so puzzling they were fed to Braun Stroman in the way they were at Wrestlemania 34. SmackDown Live already had The Uso’s, The New Day, and The Blugeon Brothers. With the addition of The Bar and Gallows and Anderson, will this duo get lost in the mix?
I am ashamed to say that one of my first thoughts was “oh yeah R-Truth is still on the roster!” He’s not going to be the main card contender, heck he most likely won’t be a mid-card presence, but he’ll be good for some good bits, and he’s a hard worker. There’s no real downside to it.
Andrade Cien Almas and Zelina Vega
The former NXT Champion and his mastermind manager have been promoted to SmackDown Live. It’s a little surprising because you expected him to have another feud with Drew McIntyre, but now both can make a name for themselves on different brands. Already a name in Mexico, Almas can make a huge splash in the WWE and Vega plays the underhanded manager to perfection.
The NXT Super Stable finally got a call-up to SmackDown. The former NXT Champions are ready to make their mark on the main roster. There is one catch though. Not all of SAnitY was called up. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain were all called up but the group’s lone woman, Nikki Cross did not. This is not unheard of concept, Carmella was left in NXT when she was with Enzo and Cass, and it turned out great for her. Cross is very popular and may benefit from being entirely on her own. Will it hurt the men though? She added a lot of personality to the group that will be hard to replace.
This may be the headline story of the Shake-Up. On August 23, 2016, The Miz cut one of the best promos of all time against Daniel Bryan. At the time Bryan was in forced retirement due to injuries and began to tear into The Miz, going so far to say he wrestle’s like a coward. What followed was one of the most real and most intense moments in wrestling history. The Miz, given the full green light by producers, lays into Bryan. Attacking him for his ability and respect, returning the volley by reminding him at least he’s still allowed to wrestle. Bryan then pulled off his mic and stormed off. Instead of hitting the brake, The Miz put the pedal to the metal. He began to tear down fans for not respecting what he did and claimed he was going to bring the Intercontinental Title back to prominence. It is debated how much of the promo was based in truth or not, but even Miz says that in retrospect, he thinks he went too far.
Now Bryan is back and ready for revenge. In the story, they are saying that it was Bryan himself who lobbied for the A-Lister to move to SmackDown so he can–well, punch him in the face. This has been a simmering feud since the first promo, The Miz has even incorporated Bryan’s signature Yes Kicks into his in-ring repertoire. Now, a match that the WWE could only dream about a year and a half ago is a very real possibility
Lot’s of new faces, lots of possibilities. The only way to see what happens is to tune in on Tuesday nights.