TJR: WWE Superstar Shake-up 2019 Predictions (Part 1 of 2) – Smackdown to Raw

It’s that time of year where WWE has decided to “shake things up a little” like they do every year they’ve had the brand extension. It’s something they like to call the Super Shake-up. (I think Shakeup can be spelled like that without the dash, but I’m following the way WWE does it.)

This version of the brand extension started in July 2016 when Smackdown became a live show on Tuesday nights known as Smackdown Live. In the nearly three years since then, there have been some superstars that have been Raw only (names like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman come to mind) while others have been Smackdown only (names like AJ Styles, Becky Lynch and Randy Orton come to mind) as their main shows.

The problem with the Superstar Shake-up is that WWE doesn’t try to explain *HOW* any of this happens. All they do is say this wrestler is on Raw, that wrestler is on Smackdown and then they don’t try to explain why any of it happens. When they had Stephanie McMahon as the Raw Commissioner that had a GM (first Mick Foley, then Kurt Angle) or when Shane McMahon was the Smackdown Commissioner that ad a GM (first Daniel Bryan, then Paige), at least we could say one of the McMahons picked that person. Now that there are no on screen authority figures

Since the 2019 Superstar Shake-up upon us, I thought it would be a good time to offer up some predictions for who is going where. In each case, I’ll try to provide some opinions on the wrestler and why I think a move is possible.

There are a few points to make before I get started.

* Smackdown is moving to Fox in October, so there are some people that think WWE is going to load up on Smackdown. I’m not sure about that because Raw is the three hour show, they are also getting paid a lot of money from USA Network (both TV deals are over $200 mil per year for five years) and Raw clearly needs a boost. Plus, is there really anybody on the current WWE roster that could be considered a big draw? Ratings are not going up and attendance is going down rather than up. When Roman Reigns first came back there was initially a boost in the ratings, but then they went back down to what normal levels are. Ten years ago with John Cena around, he was that big name. There really aren’t a lot of big names on the current roster right now.

* Couples will be together. I think every married couple (Rusev and Lana, Jimmy Uso and Naomi, Aleister Black and Zelina Vega recently got married, etc.) should absolutely be together. I also think that wrestlers that are dating should probably be on the same show too.

* Some of the recent NXT call-ups have been on Raw and Smackdown for months. I think WWE is going to decide to keep them on just one show starting this week. That means Ricochet, Aleister Black, Lars Sullivan, EC3, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery and Nikki Cross. I believe Johnny Gargano is back to being NXT only now. As you can see in the graphic above, Sami Zayn is grouped in with the NXT guys because WWE likely thinks of him as a free agent.

* Last year, there were 14 moves from Smackdown to Raw including a NXT star (Drew McIntyre) to Raw. That included duos and trios (Riott Squad). From Raw to Smackdown, it was 11 moves. I think there will be more moves this year due to the NXT names that need to be assigned to shows as well.

* Becky Lynch is on both shows right now due to being the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion at the same time. I’m not going to include her here because my predictions are for the moves they make on Monday’s show. I also get the feeling that she’ll hold at least one of the titles for a very long time, perhaps even one year.

* It’s possible that some of the current champions are moved, but I am not going to predict that. It’s too tough to expect that to happen and to try to figure out how WWE might do it.

* Only full-time superstars will be mentioned. That means no Ronda Rousey, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, John Cena or anybody else like that.

I can probably think of other stuff, but it’s rambling at this point, so let’s get to the column.

Smackdown to Raw

Male Superstars

AJ Styles – I thought Styles would be moved to Raw last year. Instead, he had a one-year long title reign where he remained the guy that said that Smackdown Live was the house that AJ Styles built. In the last few months, though, he wasn’t featured as much on Smackdown. That makes me think that he’s going to Smackdown to create some new rivalries. Plus, Raw needs to have better matches on the show. Adding one of the best workers like Styles would be a positive step in that direction. The Raw feud I want to see the most? Styles vs. Rollins. I also would love to see Styles vs. Balor one more time at least.

Daniel Bryan – The former WWE Champion would fit in well over on Raw as an immediate opponent for the Universal Champion Seth Rollins. If those two guys had a long-term feud that lasted several months, it would be amazing to watch. I hope they stretch it to SummerSlam for a blowoff match.

(Another name I thought about moving was Randy Orton, but I think Styles, Bryan and Orton all going at once would be a lot of star power for Smackdown to lose. I’ll keep Orton on SD.)

The Miz – It makes a lot of sense for Miz to be moved back to Raw because his reality show “Miz & Mrs” is on USA Network, which is obviously where Raw is. Smackdown is still on USA Network until the end of September, but I don’t think WWE would want Miz to be on Fox when the reality show is on USA. A fresh start back on Raw seems like the logical choice for The Miz, who is now a babyface after many years as a heel.

Sami Zayn – There’s an opportunity for Zayn to be a top heel on Raw. They could even have him align with Daniel Bryan (and Rowan) as a group that rips on the fans. I’m all for stables in today’s WWE because they need more of them. Since Raw is the longer show, there is more time for promos. I am keeping Kevin Owens on Smackdown, so it would allow Sami/Kevin to see how they do without eachother.

Lars Sullivan – The big man Lars is going to be one of the most pushed guys in WWE for the rest of this year. If he loses a match any time soon, I’ll be surprised. Putting him on either show is going to lead to the same results for him.

Aleister Black – I feel like WWE debuted Black and Ricochet as a tag team because it was a way to introduce them to the WWE Universe fans that focus mainly on the main roster show. (You should watch NXT too!) I think with the Superstar Shake-up, the duo will be split up. I would love to see Black in a rivalry with guys like Daniel Bryan or Sami Zayn because I think they match up very well in terms of their style. Black settling in on Raw means that his wife Zelina Vega would be heading to Raw too, so that sets up the next two names.

Andrade w/Zelina Vega – I think the Andrade pairing with Vega needs to stay together. Vega is married to Black, so they’re going to be on the same show. Let’s see Andrade in a feud with Finn Balor. They would have some awesome matches together. Andrade is dating Charlotte Flair (they went public with that over the last week), so that should tip you off about where I see her going.

Cesaro – I don’t expect that many tag teams to split up, but if one of them does then it will probably be The Bar duo of Sheamus and Cesaro. They had a nice run as a team. I think there’s value for both guys in singles, especially with Cesaro, who has untapped potential as a singles wrestler. I like Cesaro on here because he’s close friends with Rollins, Zayn, Bryan and guys like that. If all those guys are on the same show, they will try to get management to use Cesaro more.

Shinsuke Nakamura – A fresh start is needed for Nakamura. I’m not sure if being a heel is the best thing for him, so perhaps a face turn is needed. Can we get a Nakamura vs. Zayn match? They had the 2016 WWE Match of the Year in my opinion in what was Nakamura’s WWE debut match at NXT Takeover Dallas. I’d also love to see him against guys like Finn Balor and Daniel Bryan. They would bring out the best in him.

Rusev w/Lana – I really hope Rusev’s career can get back on track. He’s a very talented wrestler that can succeed as a face or a heel. It’s just a matter of booking him the right way.

Rowan – Keep him with Daniel Bryan as his “heater” meaning a bodyguard type of big guy that can protect Bryan. They work well together.


Tag Teams

The Usos – There are no “locks” when it comes to the Superstar Shake-up because you never really know what might happen, but after they lost the Smackdown Tag Team Titles to The Hardy Boyz on Smackdown last week, I think most fans would predict The Usos to Raw. Plus, they have been part of Smackdown for the last three years. A move to Raw makes a lot of sense. They can be the leaders of the Raw tag team division and win the titles probably soon after they get there.

Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe) – These guys are too good to not be used on television regularly. The Raw tag team division is in need of some fresh blood and they could help fill the void while receiving a big push as a heel team. If it was up to me, they would be one of the top heel tag teams on Raw and potential future champions.

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson – They have not been used well on Smackdown at all. I think putting them on Raw with Styles and Finn Balor (who I am keeping on Raw) is a great move that will make them happy while WWE could have them re-form “The Club” or give them some new name to use. I know their contracts are up later this year, they have yet to re-sign and there are rumors they may be gone, but I also think WWE may try to make them happy by putting them on the same show with some of their best friends. It makes sense, I think.


Women’s Wrestlers

Charlotte Flair – I think moving Charlotte back to Raw makes sense because she can be the top heel woman on Raw like she was in the past. There’s also more time on Raw for promos, which she does more of as a heel. I think she has very good matches too, so her presence would help Raw a lot. A rivalry I’d like to see for her is against Alexa Bliss, who could use a face turn. They have both accomplished a lot on the main rother, but they have been on opposite shows and only had that Survivor Series 2017 match. I think Bliss could do well as a face against the right heel, so that’s where Flair fits in. I’d also like to see Ember Moon against Flair too. That would be fun. As I mentioned earlier, she is dating Andrade, so they’ll be on the same show.

Naomi – I’m a Naomi fan and I think she needs a fresh start. I think if any woman on the Smackdown brand was to complain about how she has been booked in the last year, Naomi has every right to complain. She is popular with the fans and they just didn’t have much for her to do all year. Plus, I have The Usos moving and she’s married to Jimmy Uso. That makes the Raw move more likely.

Mandy Rose – This may not make her happy to have her move without her best friend in WWE, Sonya Deville, but it feels like the right time to see how they do on their own. Long term, I think she’ll have a run as a babyface that WWE will push hard because we all know good looking blondes are favorites of Grandpa Vinny. (Becky Lynch tweeted about it too.) With Charlotte Flair there as a top heel, they can use her status to help elevate Mandy when they have a feud.

Nikki Cross – I like her gimmick as the crazy woman that likes to “play” and the intensity she brings really helps her character. They can use her as a heel or face. I feel like she’ll be effective in either role. Also, she is married to Killian Dain, so they should be on the same show too.

Lana and Zelina Vega would slot in here because they wrestle sometimes along with being managers.


Final Thoughts

That’s 18 moves in all counting pairs and teams too. As I said, I expect it to be more than last year because of the NXT talents that are considered free agents that have to be assigned to one of the shows.

I’ll be back on Monday morning or early afternoon with the Raw to Smackdown moves. I expect some big names moving that way too.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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