Very little is known at this moment in time about how the shake-up will take place, with speculation suggesting it will be agreed upon trades between General Managers as opposed to a random draw. Furthermore, it is likely there will not be wholesale changes made in order to prevent completely disrupting the foundation of either Raw or SmackDown Live. Nevertheless, there is no doubt both rosters could use freshening up, and this will keep the momentum built at WrestleMania weekend going a little while longer.
The question now is who needs a change of scenery? The rumor mill has naturally been churning, starting even before Mr. McMahon's announcement. But what they have revealed has not proved universally popular with fans, with the chief cause of concern being the speculation that AJ Styles will be traded to Raw. Styles gave an impassioned promo on the most recent SmackDown Live about wanting to stay on that brand, turning babyface in the process in a show of respect to his WrestleMania opponent Shane McMahon.
With John Cena absent for the foreseeable future, AJ Styles is the biggest name SmackDown Live has right now, and losing him would be a bitter blow, especially as it already feels as though Raw has the vast majority of main event talent. The call-up of Shinsuke Nakamura would help ease the transition, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the plan to trade Styles. Even though it would open him up to new matches and feuds, the fact he has carried SmackDown Live on his back since the Draft means his departure would undoubtedly leave it on shaky ground.
But, while I think AJ Styles' move would be disheartening, there are plenty of other options that are genuinely exciting. In my mind the Superstar Shake-Up can help right some of the most noticeable problems in WWE right now. These include adding new blood into the stagnant women's divisions (particularly on Raw) and tag divisions, and address the imbalance of top stars on both shows. SmackDown needs an influx of big dRaws and feasible World Champions, while Raw could use some people to bolster their midcard and build up their own top stars.
With that in mind, here are the ten superstars/teams (five from Raw, five from SmackDown Live) that I feel could benefit from changing sides in the Superstar Shake-Up this coming Monday.
10. The Ascension
Let's face it - this isn't a trade that would light the world on fire and put Raw's tag team division on notice. The Ascension have been hopeless since debuting on the main roster in early 2015, the momentum of their historic NXT run squandered in a matter of weeks. And I'm not for one second suggesting this move will reinvigorate Konnor and Viktor and push them towards the Raw Tag Team Championships.
Instead, The Ascension would be brought in as a "best of the worst" team. In my mind Raw will be losing a prominent tag team in the Shake-Up (more on that later) and they could use another to help prop up the top tag teams (The Hardy Boys, Enzo & Cass, Cesaro & Sheamus, etc.). The Ascension can run roughshod over The Shining Stars, The Golden Truth and other joke teams and settle into a spot just below the big names, occasionally scoring shock wins and earning title opportunities. It can't be worse than their lot on SmackDown Live right now.
9. Sami Zayn
Many fans have been calling for Sami Zayn to switch over to SmackDown Live in recent months, citing that their creative team would handle his character better than Raw has managed to. I'm personally in two minds over the situation, which is why Zayn ranks so low here. Zayn's booking on Raw has not been as terrible as many claim it to be, and he has scored several big wins without surrendering his underdog status. Plus, with underdog babyfaces like Tye Dillinger and Heath Slater already on SmackDown Live, he could find himself crowded out.
However, on Raw Sami Zayn is far from world championship material - on SmackDown he could be thrust into the main event seamlessly. SmackDown's main event scene is decidedly smaller and more athletic than Raw's, an environment that suits someone of Zayn's ability and endurance perfectly. Through his unmatched connection with the crowd and stellar matches with exciting new opponents, Zayn would be fighting for championships in no time and cementing his spot as a main event player.
This is a no-brainer right? The Cruiserweight Division is on Raw, and Kalisto finds himself doing nothing on SmackDown Live. Few high-flyers has fallen as hard as he has in recent memory. It was a damning indictment to how far Kalisto has fallen that at WrestleMania 32 he walked in as United States Champion; at WrestleMania 33 he was the second man eliminated in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Simon Gotch was eliminated later than that and he left the company days later!
Kalisto needs to be among the cruiserweights and on 205 Live, a place where your action does the talking rather than your mouth. And we know even with the insane moves Kalisto can pull off between the ropes, the most high risk thing for him is putting a microphone in front of his face. Matched up with opposition of a similar size and with excellent workrate, Kalisto can begin to regain the attention of the WWE Universe and cement his importance among his peers. Plus, a reunion with Sin Cara may not be out of the question.
7. The New Day
SmackDown Live could do with a big old helping of Booty O's! The New Day have accomplished everything they can on Raw, becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in history and hosting WrestleMania 33. After being run over by debutants The Revival on the Raw following Mania, The New Day could revitalize the utterly dreadful tag team division on SmackDown Live.
They could remain babyfaces and battle with the crazed Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, or make a shocking heel turn on American Alpha to launch a dream feud in the eyes of many. Heck, even a fashion showdown with Breezango would hold some entertainment value. SmackDown Live needs an established tag team to make their stories meaningful, and whether you love them or you hate them, The New Day will bring much-needed attention to this struggling division.
6. Mickie James
Mickie James hasn't been back in WWE long, but even so she could really benefit from a return to her roots on the Raw brand. James' initial heel turn upon her reemergence on SmackDown Live was very well executed, but the lead up to WrestleMania crippled that push and now she's babyface… sort of at least. Her motives have been utterly derailed in only a few short months, and she could do with a switch to get them back on track.
Plus, Mickie James vs Sasha Banks is a dream match for many fans, as two of the most accomplished women's wrestlers in history square up both on the microphone and in the ring. Feuds with Bayley and Emma would be equally intriguing. But, the biggest benefit James can bring is passing on valuable experience and lessons to stars trying to reach their full potential, such as Nia Jax and Dana Brooke. With her fluidity in the ring and helpful guidance, it could steady the course for women's wrestling in WWE for years to come.
5. Samoa Joe
Although Samoa Joe has barely scratched the surface on Raw since debuting in January, a star of his caliber is desperately needed on SmackDown Live. With the arrival of Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles seemingly turning babyface recently and both Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt splitting the audience, SmackDown Live needs a fully-fledged heel to provide a genuine opposition to this collective, with The Miz and Baron Corbin playing supporting roles for the time being.
On Raw, with such a significant number of powerhouses already in place like Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar, Joe is simply another cog in the wheel and may struggle to stand out on his own. On SmackDown Live, Joe instantly becomes one of the most dangerous threats and would be a perennial adversary in the WWE Championship scene. With his unparalleled intensity and no-nonsense attitude, Samoa Joe would add significant credibility to the blue brand.
4. Apollo Crews
SmackDown Live has demonstrated an excellent track record in taking their limited resources from the initial Draft and making the most out of their performers. Unfortunately, that ability is far from universal, and Apollo Crews is the biggest exception. Gifted in the ring with outstanding athleticism, Crews is about as bland as it gets and has not evolved as a character whatsoever since being called up to the main roster. A change of scenery might be the only thing that has a chance of salvaging his crumbling career.
Crews would benefit from Raw's considerably deeper midcard and the show's third hour which would make it more likely he appears on TV, something that is far from certain on SmackDown Live. Facing established competition like Kevin Owens and Rusev will allow him to build momentum, and hopefully their excellent character work will rub off on Crews rather than expose him further. Frankly, if nothing else, the trade would allow him to escape the cancerous effect a feud with Dolph Ziggler has on a superstar's career these days.
3. Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair is without question the most well-rounded women's wrestler in WWE right now, and outshines virtually all her peers in the ring and on the microphone. However, she has accomplished everything she can on Raw and needs a new kingdom to rule as its Queen. Her achievements in the past two years lends instant credibility to the SmackDown Live Women's Division, and with its added depth Charlotte will have the opportunity to flourish in new and intriguing feuds.
No matter how good the matches have been, the combination of Charlotte with Sasha Banks and Bayley is now becoming stale, and Charlotte's presence as a prominent heel is impeding Banks from making a much-anticipated turn. Making a move opens up the potential for a long-running feuds with Becky Lynch and Naomi, as well as produce more excellent matches with Natalya for their growing collection. The crown on SmackDown is waiting to be claimed, and Charlotte is ready for her coronation.
2. Luke Harper
The trades I have proposed from SmackDown Live to Raw have been noticeably less impactful on first glance than the other way around. But SmackDown live needs more main event talent and can expend some of its midcard stars to accommodate them. Luke Harper has tremendous potential and is arguably one of the best in-ring workers in WWE currently - a move to Raw could be the chance to finally cement him as his own man.
Let's face it - as long as Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper are on the same show they will share a connection that has the potential to hamper their respective careers. If the Wyatt Family has been torn apart for the foreseeable future, it makes logical sense to keep them far apart. Harper's size and athleticism means he can carve out a nice career in Raw's midcard and regularly challenge for the United States Championship as a babyface or heel, all the while being a great opponent for main event stars to tangle with to make them look good.
1. Seth Rollins
If AJ Styles is destined to jump to Raw, SmackDown Live needs a top babyface to fill the void. Who better than Seth Freakin' Rollins? Rollins is a former WWE Champion which lends instant credibility to the blue brand, plus after the end of his feud with Triple H it feels like he needs a fresh start - preferably away from Stephanie McMahon. On SmackDown Live, Seth Rollins instantly becomes the top good guy (provided Styles departs) and would be a constant presence in the main event picture.
Think about the potential of Rollins against the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Bray Wyatt and The Miz, as well as recapturing the magic he has woven opposite Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton. Rollins' star power and the momentum he is carrying after vanquishing his former mentor is perfect for dRawing more eyes to SmackDown Live and making it feel as an equal to Raw. With "The Man" on top, the future for SmackDown Live becomes that much brighter.