The annual WWE Superstar Shakeup took place this week on both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live as WWE executed its post-WrestleMania roster shuffle.
The biggest news stemming from the shakeup is that Roman Reigns has been moved over to SmackDown Live. That’s big news, but not a total surprise. Reigns will be anchoring a show that’s headed to the Fox network in October and will air live on Friday nights. WWE needed its biggest name — which despite his detractors, is Reigns — on SmackDown heading into the network launch.
WWE did something similar with John Cena, when SmackDown moved to SyFy and then again with Cena when SmackDown debuted on USA Network.
Reigns has been receiving somewhat muted reactions since his return to leukemia treatment a few weeks before WrestleMania. That’s usually a bad thing, but considering he was getting booed out of buildings on a regular basis prior to the diagnosis, a muted reaction can be considered a good reaction. However, it remains to be seen whether or not Reigns will continue to get that type of reaction ahead of the SmackDown launch, which is still six months away.
The crowd falling mostly silent when Reigns enters the arena has more to do with the core of the anti-Reigns movement feeling uncomfortable booing the guy who just had to battle cancer. Over time, that will fade and that segment of the audience — which WWE can say is small but it seems to overpower arenas — will go back to treating Reigns with the same booing and jeering that they did prior to him taking his leave for medical treatment.
The other big moves in the shakeup include AJ Styles being moved to RAW and Finn Balor taking the Intercontinental Championship over to SmackDown. The Miz was also moved to RAW, which seems odd considering his Miz & Mrs. reality show airs directly after SmackDown, and WWE has used Miz promos to promote that show.
WWE now heads overseas for a European tour and the “new” season, as it feels, will continue as the company heats up new feuds ahead of Money in the Bank in May.