The annual Superstar Shake-up promises to freshen up the cards for both Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live. We’ve seen some pretty dramatic changes for a superstar’s career following a brand switch, so here’s hoping that this year’s Shake-up will prove to be a success for some superstars who are still finding their feet on the main roster.
With just under a week to go, we’ve compiled a list of names that we hope to see drafted. Will this be their saving grace? Find out, as we offer our 8 essential draft picks for the Superstar Shake-up.
1. Drew McIntyre to Smackdown Live
The Scottish Psychopath main evented the latest edition of Smackdown Live, as somewhat of a tease for what’s to come. Drew very much established the fact that he’s targeting Kofi Kingston by aligning himself with The Bar. Already, this is a huge step forward for McIntyre.
From losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania and failing to make that leap into the main event scene on Raw, a drafting to Smackdown would probably be the best thing that could happen to him. Drew could finally live up to those premonitions of being “The Chosen One” on the blue brand, perhaps even be next in line for the WWE Championship. For me, this is probably the most important shakeup of them all.
2. The Usos to Raw
Jimmy and Jey recently dropped their Tag Titles to The Hardy Boys on the Smackdown after WrestleMania. Unless WWE want to go down the rematch route for Money in the Bank, I think The Usos have done all they can do on Smackdown Live.
The siblings have been an excellent draw for Tuesday Nights, setting the tag division alight in their feuds with The New Day, Breezango and The Bludgeon Brothers. Its time for them to take their talents over to Monday Night Raw to freshen up the scene elsewhere.
It’d be a shame to see them hang about on Smackdown just for the sake of it, as exciting as it would be to see them tangle with The New Day once again. On Raw, we could potentially see them feud with the likes of The Revival or Ryder and Hawkins, both of which would be magical.
3. Ember Moon to Smackdown
Ember made a subtle return to the ring as part of the women’s battle royal at WrestleMania 35. The War Goddess was unfortunately sidelined with an injury last year and missed out on competing for either of the women’s titles heading into WrestleMania.
Personally I would have loved to have seen her pick up her NXT feud with Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, although that wasn’t meant to be. Now that she’s back and seemingly just hanging around until WWE have something for her, it might be worth switching her to Tuesday Nights for the sake of a reintroduction. Ember Moon is one of my favourite female talents on the roster, so I’m hoping 2019 becomes her year. The best place for that seems to be the supposed “Land of Opportunity”.
4. SAnitY to Raw
Bit of a punt here, but the deranged trio could definitely go for a fresh start elsewhere. SAnitY have taken the moniker of absolute worst call up from NXT, and it’s a shame that all their talent and the gimmick has gone to waste.
Do I see them scratching their way out of the undercard straight away? Probably not, as the damage has well and truly been done to that stable. Nevertheless, with Nikki Cross still looking for a permanent home, maybe they could use this as an opportunity to give them the jump-start they need altogether. Putting all four members on the same brand would finally allow SAnitY to at least recapture the momentum they found in NXT.
5. Pete Dunne to Smackdown
The former United Kingdom Champion (feels strange calling him that) has done absolutely all he can do to establish NXT UK and forge his own legacy in the process: Pete Dunne is ready for the main roster.
The Bruiserweight has the potential to be a huge addition to the card on either brand, a draw for both home and international fans. Give him the chance to put on matches of the same quality as those on Wednesday nights and we could possibly see the first ever British World Champion.
At this point I can’t see any reason for Dunne to be on either brand in particular, but maybe the younger talent would be better suited to Smackdown Live, just so they can further abuse Smackdown’s supposed reputation of being the place to prove yourself. Because that clearly worked for SAnitY, after all.
6. Kairi Sane to Raw
The Pirate Princess seemingly waved goodbye to NXT at the recent tapings at Full Sail, so a betting man would consider this to be confirmation that she’ll be part of the Superstar Shake-up. Paige has dropped a couple hints of a new tag team showing up to challenge The Iconics next week, so maybe we’ll see Kairi bring Io Shirai with her for her call up.
Either way, Sane would be best placed on Raw. With Ronda Rousey now absent from the flagship brand, there’s a big hole left behind for the likes of Kairi, Lacey Evans and any other call-ups to fill.
I imagine Kairi having a similar trajectory to Asuka, maybe earning a title reign somewhere down the line once she establishes herself and gets a fanbase going. Let’s just hope we get to see her riding the inevitable pirate ship set at next year’s WrestleMania.
7. Buddy Murphy to Smackdown
The 205 Live sensation has come to the end of his tenure as Cruiserweight champion. It would be a real shame to see Murphy fade away into the background of the ailing Cruiserweight show, so he should instead make the leap onto the main roster through the Superstar Shake-up.
205 Live needs to stand for something, even if that’s just another stage of developmental. The talent within that brand is phenomenal, with Buddy Murphy being one of the shining examples of how to captivate an audience with an innovative performance. Murphy would fit in perfectly on Smackdown Live, putting together top caliber matches with some of the main roster guys, following the same path as Ali before him.
8. Shinsuke Nakamura to Raw
The King of Strong Style’s star is dimming by the day. Currently holding down an ‘odd couple’ tag team with Rusev, Nakamura doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Shinsuke remains popular with a niche section of the audience, so there’s still hope for him should he make the jump to Raw.
Even if this is just to fulfill some dream matches from the other brand, I’d love to see Nakamura attempt to climb the ranks again on Monday Nights. Getting to see him matched up with Roman Reigns, Finn Balor or Seth Rollins again would be spectacular. Nakamura is a once in a lifetime performer that shouldn’t be allowed to just burn out and leave. Don’t give up on him yet.
Other minor drafts
There are always a bunch of subsequent trades that happen without much fanfare. These are mostly undercard talents that rarely make it past Main Event or the occasional squash match. This year I’d love to see them mean something for these superstars, especially if Smackdown Live does transition into three hours.
– Bobby Roode to Smackdown – Harper to Raw – Apollo to Smackdown – Naomi to Raw
Who else would you like to see drafted this year? Who could do with a revamp? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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