There was a clear winner and a clear loser in last week’s WWE Superstar Shakeup. SmackDown Live, ironically which some view as the “B-show,” blew Raw out of the water with its acquisitions in last week’s roster shakeup.
SmackDown pulled in five potential main-event wrestlers, including arguably the top female wrestler on the WWE roster, while shedding some dead weight that has dragged down the booking in recent months.
Top 5 SmackDown Giveaways
1 – Jinder Mahal
Anyone who has watched SmackDown over the past year knows that the Jinder Mahal project simply didn’t work. His mega push to the top of the card and WWE Championship felt forced (because it was) and Mahal never caught on, even as a heel.
2 – Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler should mean so much more to the WWE roster, because he’s quite good, but the booking he’s had to suffer through on SmackDown has made him nothing but dead weight on the show. Last fall, Ziggler won the U.S. Championship and then almost immediately relinquished it and vanished from TV. Then he returned at the Royal Rumble, and nothing was ever explained about why he left, why he was returning, and what was going to be different this time around.
3 – Baron Corbin
Vince McMahon loves Corbin, so his forced push is just going to continue on Raw. That said, SmackDown is lucky to get away from McMahon’s special project. At this point, Corbin feels like the heel version of Roman Reigns. Vince loves him, and he’s going to push him no matter what the reaction is from the audience. Unlike Reigns, people don’t boo Corbin … they generally don’t react much at all.
4 – Natalya
Like Ziggler, Natalya should mean so much more to the roster. She was part of the women’s revolution before that was something cool. She’s great in the ring and has a really unique look. But, her booking has been borderline offensive as a wrestling fan. A perfect example: she moved from SmackDown, where she was a heel, to Raw, and she immediately became a babyface. The reason? Essentially, it’s because the story was she’s friends with Ronda Rousey.
5 – Mike Kanellis
Mike Bennett, as he’s more prominently known, is also really good. He’s not at the level of Ziggler, but he’s a usable piece on the roster. Despite debuting with some promise last year, Kanellis never got a chance on SmackDown. He probably won’t on Raw either, even with the more television time available, because that’s WWE’s M.O.
Top 5 SmackDown Additions
1 – Samoa Joe
Joe immediately becomes the top heel on the SmackDown brand. Joe was hampered by injuries on Raw, but he will be a main-event player on the SmackDown side of the roster as a top heel. If WWE wants to keep him a heel, the smart move is to get him the hell away from Roman Reigns, because Joe is going to be reacted as a babyface any time he’s opposite Reigns.
2 – The Miz
Has there been a better heel the last year on WWE television than Miz? Honestly, I’m not sure there has been. Miz doesn’t try to be cool, he tries to be hated and he’s good at it. Like Joe, Miz will be a welcome injection on Tuesday nights as the best mid-level heel in the company, and I think you can move him into the WWE Title picture at times, especially if it’s opposite someone who you know can carry the match (like AJ Styles).
3 – Jeff Hardy
Prior to leaving the company in 2009, Jeff Hardy main-evented SummerSlam and was viewed as one of the top babyfaces in the company. That run came on SmackDown, and now Jeff gets another shot to star on the blue brand again. I think he’ll get back there.
4 – Asuka
Asuka vs. Charlotte? Sure! Arguably the best full-time wrestler on the women’s roster (if you exclude a draw like Rousey) Asuka still has loads of untapped potential. If the goal is to get her to a 1-on-1 against Rousey at some point, which would be an awesome match, it’s wise to keep them on opposite shows right now.
Can you imagine if they kept Asuka’s streak intact? An undefeated Rousey vs. an undefeated Asuka might have been able to headline a future WrestleMania.
5 – Big Cass
Cass was getting a great push on Raw late last summer before he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for eight months. Again, with so much turnover on SmackDown, Cass might get a chance to inject himself into the main-event picture fairly quickly.