Potential Feuds For Every Trade In WWE’s Superstar Shakeup
We break down every trade and the potential feuds they could lead to in the coming months.
The mid-season draft exchanged some of Raw and Smackdown‘s biggest stars, leaving each roster with a selection of potential feuds which could be huge attractions for the new season. It’s hard to argue that Smackdown drew the short straw during this week’s Superstar Shakeup, but nevertheless each brand has the chance to make the most of these dream match-ups and keep things fresh. Each division has been given equal love, so let’s run down each of the more notable trades and what they could lead to over the next few months.
Starting with the Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose, a name which I didn’t expect to see traded to Raw so soon after being named the first acquisition for the new incarnation of Smackdown Live. Whether this be due to a lack of confidence in him as a main event draw, or whether they want to continue to milk the Shield chemistry on the red brand, nobody could say for sure.
Having the Intercontinental title grants him the ability to jump straight into a feud with any of Raw‘s upper echelon. Looking into the names left on Raw, two instantly jump out – Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Having the three former Shield partners sharing the same locker room once more suggests we could be seeing some form of reunion in the near future. With each of them currently competing as babyfaces, you’d think that it’s only a matter of time before they’re thrown into a six man match together. Although, it may be more interesting to see Ambrose compete against them individually.
Of course we’ve seen Ambrose and Rollins feud in the past, in what I’d consider one of my favourite singles feuds from this generation so far, providing some fantastic matches over their storied two year feud. Perhaps it would be too soon to throw them back into a heated series of matches, but I’m sure it would do the IC title justice having two of the biggest names of this era competing for it.
Roman Reigns’ stock is a little higher than Rollins’ coming out of Wrestlemania. Thus he’s probably less likely to be put into a feud for the Intercontinental Championship. If they were to pull the trigger on these two finally having a singles feud with one another then I’d suggest they hold out on that until around the Summer. Roman and Dean have been kept relatively separate in singles feuds, so the hype to see these two clash again one-on-one would be pretty huge.
There is of course another potential feud that they teased in the opening segment of Raw, between Dean and fellow former Smackdown colleague, The Miz. Miz seems a little aimless right now, still persisting with the anti-Cena attitude that has given him a ton of popularity throughout the Wrestlemania period.But now both Cena and Nikki have left WWE for undisclosed reasons, Miz seems to be falling from grace. Perhaps a renewed feud with the Intercontinetal Champion would keep him relevant upon his debut on the Raw brand?
It’s difficult for me to imagine Miz continuining on his ride of momentum now stripped of Talking Smack, the place where he could do what he does best – run his mouth. Yes, there is the 20 minute post-show Raw Talk, but I’m not sure a single person has actually stuck around to watch that since its inception. The Miz needs someone to match him in a verbal joust, a character with enough charisma to carry a feud through the art of in-ring promos. Right now there might be nobody better on the Raw brand than Chris Jericho and Paul Heyman.
It seems fairly likely that Jericho is winding down his current run with WWE, soon to be leaving to tour with Fozzy. Unless they choose to write him out of weekly television at Payback in his match with Kevin Owens, it could do The Miz a lot of favours if he were to feud with Jericho. Not only would it be a lot of fun to watch these two perform in the ring – something that I don’t think has happened yet. But it would also be a treat to see these two generate incredible heat whilst being one of the more light-hearted feuds on the card.
Paul Heyman – not the person I’d want The Miz to feud with of course – but imagine Heyman having to represent Brock against The Miz. Not the biggest threat to the Universal Champion, but it’s hard to say Miz doesn’t deserve a shot at the main-event titles. His work on Smackdown has been regarded as some of his best, and it should be rewarded with a spot in the Raw title picture. Brock would absolutely destroy Miz, and it would be beautiful to watch after weeks of Miz’s verbal tirade against The Beast and his associate Paul Heyman.
Here is a member of the Shakeup who has gone under the radar in many different ways. Elias Samson had a brief cameo on this week’s Raw, appearing during both the debacle of Nia vs Charlotte and the 8-Man tag match. Many were expecting this call-up to take place on one of last week’s two post-Mania episodes, but I absolutely adore how he’s seemed to just wander into the main roster and essentially settle down on Raw.
The Drifter has yet to tease any feuds for his main roster debut. Being a relatively bit-role member of the NXT roster, it would be suitable for him to first feud with someone who would bring out the best in Samson. Perhaps someone like Jericho or Ambrose could work wonders for making Samson look like more than just glorified enhancement talent.
He could also potentially pick up his feud with Apollo Crews once more, a feud which seemed to have an inconclusive finish before Crews’ call-up last year. Apollo, who shall also be appearing on Monday Night Raw from here on, could make do with a natural heat magnet like Samson to get him over with fans that have yet to see anything interesting from him.
Another name I wasn’t expecting to see traded was the former WWE World Champion, Bray Wyatt. Wyatt, who is set to face Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match at the upcoming Payback event, is one of the many who benefited from Smackdown‘s focus on younger talent. By coming back to Raw, he’s running the risk of losing that momentum. Wyatt’s charisma and character is unique enough to grant him bigger feuds that can be considered main event caliber, and there are two names in particular I would love to see him start his Raw career against.
“The Demon King” Finn Balor, who recently returned from a shoulder injury, was Wyatt’s first target this past Monday. In true Bray Wyatt fashion, he appeared via boiler room satellite to warn Balor of his impending doom – or something. Once this feud with Orton has reached its end at Payback, I can only hope they run with Balor vs Wyatt as their upper-mid card feud for the next few months. I can imagine they’d have a great chemistry together and with the added supernatural element of “The Demon King”, I think it could bring out the best in Wyatt also.
That is of course if Balor isn’t seriously injured following his match with Jinder Mahal this past week. News has broken about a concussion that was suffered during his match, following a vicious elbow shot. Should this leave Bray without an opponent for his eventual debut on Raw, then I think it would be ideal to pick up where Bray left off with Brock Lesnar. A feud which was assumed to take place at Wrestlemania 32, but dropped following a minor injury sustained by Wyatt. Being a former champion on the blue brand, I can’t see why they would hesitate to allow Bray to compete for the Universal Championship and take a ride to Suplex City in the meantime. Potentially reuniting with former Wyatt Family member Braun Strowman in the process?
As soon as they confirmed Dean Ambrose was a part of the Raw team, it was a guarantee the United States Champion would be taking his space on the Smackdown roster. Kevin Owens would probably be considered Smackdown‘s biggest acquisition from this Shakeup, coming off of a heated feud with Chris Jericho which is set to conclude at Payback. What seems to have already been set-up is a US title feud between Owens and AJ Styles, after a triple threat contenders match on this week’s Smackdown Live. Even though they have had a match or two prior to the brand split, this will be their first championship feud against one another. I can only hope this will give the US title the “Smackdown treatment” and make it seem like a key part of the show.
Owens’ arrival on Smackdown Live also opens up potential storylines with the likes of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura, two superstars Owens has yet to compete against on the main roster. Should Owens drop the US title anytime soon, whether it be to AJ or even Nakamura over the next few months, then naturally he would be able to step up to feud with Randy Orton for the World Championship heading into the summer. Orton hasn’t had the best track record in terms of match quality as of late, meaning he’d need someone such as Kevin Owens to bring out the best in him and make some heads turn back towards the World Championship matches.
It seems almost a given that wherever Kevin Owens goes, Sami Zayn is soon to follow. A feud which should never reach it’s finish has the opportunity to continue under the Smackdown flag, one that I don’t think anyone here would reject seeing one more time over the next few months. Should Smackdown writers feel like they need to set these two up with a feud that doesn’t require much screen-time to sell to people, then this is ideal. Zayn and Owens have a chemistry that can’t be matched, providing MOTY candidates during their small feud in mid 2016. If Smackdown was to capitalise on these two as a big-money match, then I could see it working wonders for their main event scene.
However, it may be a little premature to throw them back into a feud so soon after debuting on Smackdown. Zayn has the chance to re-ignite another sensational feud of his against Shinsuke Nakamura. Him vs Nakamura was rightfully considered one of the best matches of last year, in a bout which I can’t see many others being able to meet the standards of. Should these two happen to cross paths again on Smackdown, then it could set up a series of fantastic wrestling matches which could truly capture what the blue brand stands for. Without wanting to kill the magic of their first encounter, imagine if they were to compete in a two out of three falls number one contenders match for the World Title somewhere down the line?
Another couple of names which come to mind for Sami are two of the most recognised heels left on the Smackdown roster – Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. Although neither of them are currently looking like the dominant heels that could walk all over Sami, it would be an ideal match for Sami to play hero in. Ziggler would most likely provide us with a mat classic against Zayn, something that we were robbed of seeing at Survivor Series last year. A feud with Corbin could also play on the underdog factor that Sami Zayn can’t seem to shake, and could also create some fantastic matches.
To summarise how the Women have fared throughout this Superstar Shakeup, it seems that Raw has been given the necessary treatment to help freshen up its title scene. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James have both made the jump to Raw, opening up for new competition outside of the same four women that we’ve seen compete for months on end. They only briefly touched upon a feud between Bayley and Alexa in NXT. Now that they’ve both matured and come into their characters I can see them having a marquee feud for the Raw Women’s title going forward. Mickie also has the nostalgia factor she can use to put over Sasha Banks and reinvigorate her status on the Raw roster.
Smackdown, however, received the former Women’s champion Charlotte in return. Charlotte Flair seemed to have run her course on Raw, having very little left to accomplish against the few she was competing against, thus her move to Smackdown is going to do favours for her near future. It’s likely she’ll enter the title picture as soon as possible, competing against Naomi for her championship on the next Smackdown PPV. But there’s also opportunity for her to renew hostilities with Becky Lynch, which I’m sure fans wouldn’t turn down. Another surprising name which made her return to television was Tamina Snuka. I can’t actually remember the last time I saw Tamina compete, but she’s never truly been a talked-about member of the Women’s division. Smackdown of course has the ability to turn anyone into a big deal, so hopefully they could give Tamina a feud with Natalya or Becky Lynch going forward to help build her character once again.
Tag Team Division
It almost felt like the Tag Team division was forgotten about throughout this mid-season draft. All but one team was traded without any screen-time. The biggest trade on the table was Smackdown Live being given The New Day – which was revealed through a vignette segment as opposed to having them appear in person (minus an injured Kofi). A strange decision considering how over they have been for the past year. Nevertheless, it seemed that they (like Charlotte) had achieved everything they could do on the Raw brand, thus time for them to enter a feud with the current Smackdown Tag Champions – The Usos. Seeing these two teams compete before, it’s hard to deny that they have a great chemistry against one another. Now under a new heelish attitude, The Usos, and The New Day, could truly revive an ailing tag division.
Rhyno and Heath Slater were the chosen Smackdown team to make the jump to Raw. Although they haven’t been appearing much since losing their titles to The Wyatt Family months ago, they are still considered one of Smackdown‘s successful pet projects. I personally don’t see them achieving much on Raw, so maybe this is the right time for them to split? A break-up angle was teased quite recently between the two, but was soon dropped for some reasons. Having Rhyno turn on Slater could get the fans back behind him and potentially give him the momentum to make him a success on Raw.
Finally, there’s The Shining Stars. Primo and Epico are a mainstay of the WWE Tag Division, competing now for almost 8 years on the main roster (with Primo reaching a decade). Despite this, their presence on any brand is still at rock bottom. Having them attack American Alpha following their tag team championship rematch on Smackdown has only made Gable and Jordan seem less of a valuable product. A feud that seems to be aimed towards making The Shining Stars somewhat of a big deal could only damage them further. Maybe this is just me not willing to give Primo and Epico a chance, but after what they’ve been given for years on end, I doubt anyone will be taking them seriously anytime soon.
Numerous nobodies were handed about between the two brands, with Apollo Crews, Kalisto and Curt Hawkins going to Raw in exchange for Jinder Mahal, Rusev and Sin Cara. This was probably just a means to beef up the numbers a bit, but there could be some undercard gems in the pipeline here.
Kalisto hasn’t really recovered from the debacle of his US title run back in 2016. Since dropping the belt to Rusev, he’s been involved in squash matches and bit-feuds that have of course resulted in him putting someone else over. Not that he hasn’t suited the role fairly well, considering that an injury put him on the benches for a short while, but it would be interesting to see him transition into the Cruiserweight Division now he is part of the Raw roster.
Kalisto is without a doubt an incredible high-flyer, echoing the legend of Rey Mysterio through his lucha libre style. By matching him against the likes of TJ Perkins, Gran Metalik and the current champion Neville, his style of wrestling could return the Cruiserweight Division to what it was originally known for – high flying action. I see him as a viable contender for the title following the feud with Austin Aries. Although I don’t see him winning the title from Neville, I’d still be excited to see it.
Rusev has also been sidelined with injury as of late, but the former US champion still has somewhat of a presence on either brand. The recently debuted Tye Dillinger requires a main roster opponent to help him make his mark on the Smackdown Live brand. If they want to play on the “underachiever/underdog” factor he seemed to carry throughout NXT, then Rusev might be the ideal former champion for him to compete against over the coming months.
Finally, there’s Jinder Mahal. Now I don’t get what exactly people see in Jinder, outside of him being the perfect enhancement worker, but he somehow still seems to get himself into televised feuds. Smackdown capitalised on the post-Andre heat between him and the new it couple of Mojo Rawley and Gronk, which could be an ideal feud for them to promote Mojo Rawley as a new mid-card star.
Or none of this could happen at all.