Alright folks, the RAW folks made their moves, and it was….moves. Here’s the recap, followed by the review. We’ll do the SmackDown recap on Tuesday with a total followup on Wednesday.
Apollo Crews, The Miz and Maryse, Dean Ambrose, Curt Hawkins, Bray Wyatt, Kalisto, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Alxea Bliss, Mickie James
– The WWE has had rumors floating around for a while now about AJ Styles and Alexa Bliss going to RAW while Charlotte Flair went to SmackDown. That being said I’m both disappointed and relieved at the very site of the names. Disappointed because the biggest names to move to RAW were failed world champions Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. Relieved because I get to keep watching AJ Styles on SmackDown.
RAW didn’t get much in the way of tag teams. Rhyno and Heath Slater became stale near the end of their SmackDown run, and didn’t really impress many others after their initial pairing. This lack of tag team play however is lessened by the addition of the Hardy’s. It also stands to reason that if The Hardy’s joined RAW, then the Club is moving to SmackDown.
Why Curt Hawkins moved to RAW is baffling. RAW already has plenty of jobbers. That also doesn’t help explain why Apollo Crews was moved to RAW. Crews didn’t find room in the less crowded SmackDown pool, so how is he going to find room on RAW? Crews hasn’t shown a lot of charisma, even in his indy days, but he’s far too talented in the ring to be a jobber like Curt Hawkins.
A decent move was the transfer of the Mickie James and Alexa Bliss feud to RAW. While I’ll miss my beautiful Buckeye gal on SmackDown, Bliss has an opportunity to work with Banks and Bayley and showcase just how good she can be. James is there only for enhancement fodder and to hopefully put over Bliss. This all but guarantees Charlotte Flair or Nia Jax going to SmackDown.
Bray Wyatt will finish his feud with Orton and then start one with Finn Balor, which theatrically will be a marvel to watch, but as Wyatt has proven (or hasn’t proven) will be abysmal in the ring.
The two big moves, that makes sense and were wasted in the opening moments of RAW instead of spread out throughout the show, are Dean Ambrose, The Miz and Maryse pairing going to RAW. Ambrose will be reunited with The Shield, in essence. There’s also minimal reason now to believe that Roman Reigns is going to SmackDown now that Styles is staying put.
The Miz and Maryse actually make the most sense. There’s a ceiling on SmackDown for Miz. Styles, Cena, they’re always going to be the go to guys for the title, yet RAW has an open slot or NINE. No matter how good wrestler-X is, be it Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, and Sami Zayn, they’re not guys who have a track record. In fact, Rollins and Reigns have arguably the worst track records of any top guy on the brands. Their house show runs were down, their t.v. show stats were down. Reigns has “go-away” heat because he represents Vince McMahon’s image and lack of respect for pro wrestling. So Miz, who is in the midst of a redemption run, provides fervent fan support at the moment, and as a heel, can bring in both the main stream and diehard fans to shows.
The biggest winner though is Kalisto, as he goes from a jobber on SmackDown to an instant title contender for the Cruiserweight division.
With Dean Ambrose coming to RAW, SmackDown will end up getting Kevin Owens and his United States Championship.
Byron Saxton and David Otunga are both terrible. Otunga because he’s lost and Saxton because he’s bastardized by the other announcers. So yeah. Fire them, go two man. Move on.
So lets get to the SmackDown predictions.
First and foremost, Charlotte’s a lock. I can’t see Charlotte spending the next 18 months not around the title, and with Jax’s arrival, the budding Banks/Bayley feud, Bliss and James joining the brand, it makes sense that the WWE would move Charlotte to feud with Becky Lynch and Naomi for the rest of the year.
Next up, and a lock in essence is the United States Champion. Not necessarily Kevin Owens, but at least his title. I think Owens on RAW makes sense if this alleged new Triple H stable comes to fruition, however if that idea has gone by the wayside, then Owens on SmackDown to replace Miz and Wyatt makes all the sense in the world. Plus, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens is a decent enough feud to headline through the end of the year, assuming Randy Orton drops the belt to Styles or Owens at SummerSlam.
I would be surprised if The Club now doesn’t move to SmackDown, as The RAW Tag Team title scene looks DEEP with average teams, and The Club is as average on RAW as they come. On SmackDown they would pair well with American Alpha, and would easily take the belts off of The Uso’s.
While not a huge pick, I don’t see how Big Show’s squash last night did anything for him. WWE does not have a history of pulling the trigger on major matches all too often that the fans want to see. So Show vs. Strowman won’t happen. Show makes the most sense on SmackDown as he comes back to a brand that he was known with, and will have more opportunity to flourish in what many expect to be his last year in the company.
Honestly, the next three are going to be bundled as “jobber picks” but all could flourish on SmackDown. Alicia Fox won’t be a champion ever again, but she can be fed to some SmackDown talent for shits and giggles. Goldust is another name that might find light in the tag team or United States title scene. Finally there’s Drew Gulak, who could really surprise people if signed to a full-time contract and given a shot in SmackDown to work with Styles, Nakamura and American Alpha. In fact, Gulak and Goldust as a new Steve Blackman/Al Snow pairing would be money.
However, the big addition isn’t coming – yet. The big name which will pop up in a few weeks when recovered will be Rusev and Lana. I think Rusev on SmackDown becomes an instant title contender, and with Orton, Cena, Styles and Nakamura now the top dogs on the brand, it gives Rusev a real shot to showcase he’s the most underrated wrestler on the roster.
– Kevin Owens, The Club, Charlotte Flair, Big Show, Goldust, Alicia Fox, Drew Gulak
(Eventually – Rusev and Lana)