Day one of the Superstar Shakeup is complete, with a staggering 19 wrestlers now officially part of the Raw brand. With so many moving parts, on top of the debuting and returning superstars of last week, we’re bound to see some people get lost in the shuffle. With that being said, there’s certainly a chance for several men and women to shine on Monday nights. Here’s the full list of wrestlers who found a new home along with their chances of survival on the red show.
The Modern Day Maharajah returns to Raw after only a year away. Jinder Mahal’s stock has certainly risen during his time on Smackdown, becoming a World Champion and US Champion along the way. Mahal may have lost his United States title on his first night back, but you have to feel he will be used well on Raw. He could easily slide into the hole left by The Miz and jump into the Intercontinental title picture. I’m not saying he’s an exact replacement for Miz, in fact, in 2018 not many people are. He will, however, be a great foil for the likes of Seth Rollins and Finn Balor.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
It was inevitable that they would eventually end up on Raw, but the fact that they were fired two weeks ago and haven’t missed any TV time at all is a little jarring. That aside, Owens and Zayn are a great asset to whatever show they’re on, as either allies or foes. It’s unlikely that either man will slot straight into the stacked Universal title scene but an upper mid card run is a certainty. There’s still plenty of mileage in the pairing, especially with a new target of their ire now in the form of the slighted Kurt Angle.
Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre
The interesting if unlikely duo of Ziggler and McCntyre could be just what each man needs at the moment. Ziggler’s momentum has crashed through the floor during the last year, going from World title contender to complete afterthought. Mcintyre has been out of the public conscious since his NXT title loss to Andrade Cien Almas. It looks like they will be tagging together, or at the very least have formed an alliance and that could be a great thing for both men.
While it’s not a pairing I could have ever predicted, Dolph and Drew make for a great, fresh addition to Raw where the whole may be greater than the sum of the parts. It looks like they’ve already been working on their tandem offence and could, in time, become a surprise hit in the vein of Sheamus and Cesaro.
Speaking of The Bar, if you needed any further proof that the team doesn’t have much left in the tank, their loss to Tyler Breeze and Fandango should tell you everything you need to know. Sheamus and Cesaro lost to a young boy named Nicholas at WrestleMania, yet somehow, this feels like the more shocking defeat.
Not that I dislike The Fashion Police. They’ve become a great, fun addition to Smackdown Live and their trade to Raw is fine by me. It’s just, with the best will in the world, they’ve been little more than a comedy act up until this point. Perhaps this is a signal of a more serious Breezango going forward, or perhaps just Sheamus and Cesaro doing the honours on the way out. Either way, I don’t see Breeze and ‘Dango pulling up any trees, but they’ll be a tonally different addition to the Raw roster.
While she’s not somebody I initially envisioned making the switch, Natalya to Raw makes a hell of a lot of sense. As an active part of Ronda Rousey’s WWE training, Natalya will be a welcome sight to the Rowdy one. It looks like they will be working together in the short term, which should help Rousey feel at ease as she transitions to a full-time member of the roster. An eventual singles feud between the two women would again help Rousey as Natalya is someone she will feel comfortable in the ring with and who will make her look like a badass.
Long term, after a program with Rousey, I think Natalya will get lost in the shuffle. In the short term though, it’s a great move for both women. Natalya may drop down to a Mickie James-esque role further down the line but a feud with Rousey would be a great and deserved achievement for the ring veteran.
Big banter Baron didn’t appear live but the hype video for his eventual debut made him look like a big deal. Corbin’s momentum has certainly stalled in recent months on Smackdown and a change of scene could do him the world of good. With that being said, his size and strength doesn’t seem quite as impressive in the world of the Raw giants. Corbin could, and should in my opinion, be a major player in the WWE. It’s hasn’t quite worked out for him yet and I’m not sure if a move to Raw is going to do anything to change that at the moment. Maybe they build him back up in jobber matches over the coming months, otherwise I think it’s a sideways move at best.
Of the two female factions that debuted before The Royal Rumble, Riott Squad is leaps and bounds above Absolution. Liv, Ruby and Sarah may not look like a traditional unit, but their differences actually enhance the group rather than detract from it. They each bring something different to the table and I think they’ll be another great addition to Raw. I imagine Mandy and Sonya will move to Smackdown Live to reunite with new GM Paige to even up the sides and to put the women on the show’s they probably should have debuted on in the first place.
This definitely feels like a move for the sake of it rather than because of any grand plan. Mojo has been treading water ever since his SmackDown Live debut. An Andre Battle Royal win didn’t do anything for his fledgeling career and a heel turn, if anything, sent him backwards. I think there is definitely a place for Mojo on the roster but it’s going to take a dramatic turn of events to get him anywhere above the midcard.
Similarly to Mojo, Zack coming back to Raw isn’t a signal for a renewed push. That ship, I’m afraid, has sailed. Zack will be lucky to get much TV time and may have to settle for putting over some of the newer Raw talents. He has plenty of talent and charisma but if WWE was serious about giving him a more prominent role on either brand they would have done it by now.
Roode was wasted on Smackdown. His entrance, charisma and ring style are such a fit for Raw that it’s a wonder he ever went to the blue brand in the first place. They’ve certainly positioned him high, making him the mystery fifth man in the tag main event. I don’t think it will be long before we see Bobby turn and start challenging for championships. If Jinder can slot into The Miz’ position in terms of card placement, Bobby could certainly be the spiritual successor character wise. They could even give him the lost boys of the Miztourage to play with (The EntouRoode?).
WWE are clearly high on Roode and moving him to Raw is in his best interest. Even if the very top of the card is stacked at the moment, a few trades to Smackdown could definitely see a Bobby Roode shaped hole appearing in the main event.
A very interesting acquisition for Raw. Gable has the talent and ring presence to be a long-time member of the roster. Moving him to Raw gives the opportunity to either reunite him with former partner Jason Jordan or start a feud between the two allies. It doesn’t feel like there is any middle ground with this move. Gable will either find himself quickly involved in a high profile feud surrounded by the likes of Jordan and Kurt Angle, or he will be completely forgotten about and flounder on Main Event. I’m hoping for the former but either eventuality seems as likely.
If WWE wanted to, they could tell a great story with Mike. A new father who has battled addiction for the good of his family. A humbled man who was given too much too soon but is now fighting for redemption. I have a feeling though that this isn’t the route they will take. I’m expecting a Curt Hawkins challenging losing streak before WWE put any faith in him and perhaps that’s for the best.
I wish them well in their future endeavours.
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