The 2021 WWE Draft has left the landscape of mainstream professional wrestling all shaken up. With some of WWE’s biggest stars switching from red to blue and vice-versa, it leaves us with some pretty exciting dream matches and blockbuster feuds to be cherry-picked over the course of the next year.
Considering that WWE are currently hitting a bit of a slump period with the rise of AEW stalling any momentum they’ve generated over the last two years, it’s time for the superstars of RAW and SmackDown to be used in a way which gets the audience excited once again. With that in mind, let’s run down 5 potential matches for WWE to delve into throughout 2021/2022, using their brand new rosters.
1. Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre
Quite possibly the biggest trade in the 2021 WWE Draft was Drew McIntyre to SmackDown Live, a move that many wrestling fans predicted in advance after several pieces of marketing suggested that the former WWE Champion was set to headline blue brand live events in the near future. Prior to Draft night, McIntyre confirmed his intentions to challenge either brand’s champion, with a match against Big E for the WWE title set for Crown Jewel, just before ‘The Scottish Warrior’ packs his bags and heads to Friday nights.
However, McIntyre also set his sights on the Universal Champion as well, literally pointing out ‘The Tribal Chief’ with his signature blade as a man he wants to meet upon his arrival.
Naturally, fans are very excited for the return match between McIntyre and Reigns. The last time these two giants clashed, it was at the 2020 Survivor Series pay-per-view where their match was well-received by wrestling critics. Reports suggested that the backstage brass considered Reigns/McIntyre to be a strong headlining feud, similar to that of Rock/Hogan back in the 2000s.
This rematch is bound to be a huge main event when it comes around, which will likely be somewhere around WrestleMania season, possibly even the Rumble. There’s a chance that Drew could be one of the few superstars on the blue brand who has the potential to dethrone the dominant Universal champ, and if WWE still want to keep McIntyre in the babyface spotlight, then I’d say he’d become your best bet.
Making this match happen in front of a live audience could be a fantastic way to pull back a few disillusioned fans, so let’s make it happen.
2. Rhea Ripley vs Bianca Belair
At the tail end of the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble, Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley duelled for a WrestleMania title shot, with Belair ultimately standing tall over ‘The Nightmare’. This was the natural segue for both future stars to transition into the main event scene, with Ripley debuting for the RAW brand and going on to challenge Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship. Ripley was made into just as big of a star as Belair, and of course ‘The EST’ capitalised on her WrestleMania moment and defeated Sasha Banks in the emotional main event. It was very Cena/Batista-esque following the 2005 Royal Rumble.
Now that both Ripley and Belair have respectively seen through their first championship runs, it leaves them both in a position where they can now turn their attentions to one another, with Ripley taking on the role of the powerhouse heel and Belair maintaining her popularity with the wider audiences. This could easily become a blockbuster attraction on a major pay-per-view, with the hottest female stars from either brand finally coming together in one place to decide who is the better and badder wrestler.
Both women will eventually go on to recapture the fire they had at the start of the year, with the machine of WWE’s marketing department behind them to keep them relevant. However, with the likes of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair maintaining the status quo, who knows if their match will have as much buzz as it could.
3. The Usos vs Hit Row
HIIIIIIIT ROOOOOOOW are coming to SmackDown Live. Arguably the biggest call-up from NXT, the stellar team of ‘Swerve’, B-Fab, Top Dolla and Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis are certain to make an impact upon their arrival after Crown Jewel. Already, teams are lining up to face the hip-hop tandem, but the question is whether or not Hit Row will reach the same heights as they did in NXT as part of the main roster.
Swerve is currently holding onto the NXT North American Championship, a title which he’ll likely be dropping to Santos Escobar on this week’s episode of NXT, but this shows that he has more than enough potential to make a ripple in the mid-card, or better yet the main event championship picture. One thing that wasn’t explored during their brief run was the potential for Ashante and Top Dolla to make a run at the NXT Tag Team Championships. With a somewhat depleted duos roster, Hit Row could have been a dead cert to dethrone MSK.
Alas, Hit Row are jumping over that crucial stepping stone and heading straight into the deep waters of the main roster. This does of course mean that there are bigger names for Hit Row to prove themselves against, such as the dominant Usos. Hit Row vs The Usos could be a truly gritty affair if they let both teams run with their charismatic intensity and in-ring skill. Much like the Street Profits, there’s a lot of untapped potential that WWE are just waiting to exploit. With Hit Row as your obligatory babyfaces looking to take down Roman’s bloodline, this could make for a really exciting tag feud on the main roster.
4. Charlotte Flair vs Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler has a glimmer of hope following the 2021 Draft, having been drafted to the blue brand after an awful year on Monday Night RAW. ‘The Queen of Spades’ arrived on the main roster to massive fanfare, steamrolling over just about everyone on the RAW roster, until she met Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 36. After her defeat there, Baszler was relegated to the Women’s tag division in an on-off partnership with Nia Jax, which eventually led her to a career-threatening feud with Alexa Bliss and her doll Lily.
Fans were losing hope and Shayna had well and truly lost her badass aura, something drastic needs to happen on SmackDown Live to save face. Enter Charlotte Flair. ‘The Queen’ of SmackDown Live will be arriving as champion, providing she doesn’t drop the title before Crown Jewel, and a new challenger will be needed to help get her latest SmackDown run off to a good start. What better challenger than Shayna Baszler?
When Shayna first appeared on the main roster as part of the NXT brand invasion, Shayna stood tall over Charlotte Flair on several occasions, leading many to believe that she was next in line to take over WWE upon her debut. Shayna and Charlotte have met a few times since, mostly as part of the Women’s tag division, but never have they had a defining singles match. These two could tear the house down if given the time and the stage. Throw the title into the mix as well as you’ve got yourself a potential career-making match for ‘The Queen of Spades’.
5. Sheamus vs King Nakamura
One of the more understated trades this year was ‘The Celtic Warrior’ Sheamus being drafted to SmackDown Live. Sheamus has had quite the year and should be given much more credit that he’s given for putting together some excellent matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre, Ricochet and Riddle. His United States Championship run far surpassed by own expectations, as well as many others’ too, so there’s no reason to not have him shift his focus to SmackDown’s secondary belt to continue that momentum.
Currently, the Intercontinental Championship is held by King Nakamura, who now seeks new challengers with Apollo Crews being sent packing to Monday nights. Sheamus and Shinsuke have yet to do battle and there’s a very big part of me that would love to see these two hard-hitting superstars duke it out with the IC title on the line. Fans have been begging WWE to let Shinsuke loose with a real brawl orientated more towards the Japanese Strong Style he is best known for, however there have been few opponents able to bring that intensity out of him on the main roster.
I’ve always thought that if WWE weren’t so hot on ‘The Celtic Warrior’, he’d be a shoo-in for NJPW’s roster. Giving him a Japanese-style match against one of the Far East’s best exports would be a real treat for them as performers and for us as wrestling fans.
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