HomeWrestlingWWE Superstar Shake-up 2019: A Look At The Moves

WWE Superstar Shake-up 2019: A Look At The Moves

The Superstar Shake-up episodes of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live have concluded. We’re going to go ahead and get our Todd McShay/Mel Kiper Jr.-like hat on and briefly look into who moved where and what it means for each show. Now, there are a couple variables still to be determined (i.e. Sasha Banks, Nikki Cross). We will come back to them at the end. For now, let’s look at the moves by brand.

The Following Superstars Moved to SmackDown LIVE
in This Year’s Superstar Shake-up:

Roman Reigns: If you’re moving to FOX in October, you want your biggest super star on the show. Moving Roman was the biggest move of the two shows. It’s a fresh start for him now that The Shield has gone their separate ways. A wealth of programs for Roman to have on this show. Just think about it; Reigns vs. Bryan. Reigns vs. Kingston. Reigns vs. Murphy. Reigns vs. Orton. Roman Reigns is going to excel on the blue brand and breathe new life into his top run.

Finn Bálor: The Intercontinental champion comes to Tuesday nights even after a strong match the night before with Andrade. Smackdown Live has a lot of faces on the show, so a possible heel turn for Balor would be interesting. This move gets him away from that heel circle of Corbin, McIntyre, and Lashley. Just looking at this opening match with Ali, think of all the match combinations that we haven’t seen as much of with Balor. Even if you want to keep him as a babyface for a little bit, think of a brief feud between Balor and Randy Orton stalking him. Balor is operating on a high arch and this was a good move overall.

Elias: RAW is still a very heel heavy show, so Elias moving is a no brainer. His banter with the crowd is going to go over great considering the impending moving to FOX. He’s not bad in the ring. The mainstream crossover appeal is very apparent.

Bayley: Whether you are with the Boss and Hug fallout, Bayley needed to get away from that. What gets lost in the maelstrom is that Bayley has put together a great body of work in that tag run. With Bayley becoming a singles competitor again, it gives her a chance to refresh her character and remind people why she was so heralded in NXT. WWE has a chance to build Bayley up again on her own on a new brand.

Ember Moon: Some people may have forgotten about Ember Moon because she was out with an elbow injury, but she is a quality wrestler in an very stacked women’s division in Smackdown Live. I’ve been clamoring for Moon and Asuka to continue their feud that they had in NXT because it felt like it was open-ended. Moon is a solid singles competitor. She should have some good programs with the likes of Charlotte, Carmella, Bayley, and more.

Kairi Sane: The Pirate Princess did all she could in NXT. She won the women’s title and also had the Sky Pirates tag team with Io Shirai. Bringing her up and immediately putting her together with Asuka makes a formidable tag team in a still developing division. The IIconics won’t be the tag team champions forever and singles wise, the Smackdown women’s division is pretty full at the moment.

With Paige as the manager for the team, it just allows Sane to show her wrestling has she continues to develop her English. Sane is in a tag team for now, but it’s only a matter of time before she gets a proper singles run.

Lars Sullivan: With Braun on RAW, there was no need to have two monsters on the same brand. Keep them apart. The past two weeks, WWE have been building Lars Sullivan as this unstoppable force. Hell, he’s destroyed tag teams by himself. The same way that Roman Reigns really helped his feud with Braun Strowman, he could do the same thing here with Sullivan. You could also do the whole big man/little man program that WWE likes to do as well with a baby face wrestler.

Buddy Murphy: Murphy’s star couldn’t be any higher coming off his reformation on 205 Live and run with the Cruiserweight title. This move was one of the ones I was most excited about. You’ll see a flash of this on NXT TV when he fights Velveteen Dream for the North American Championship, but the sky is the limit for this guy. He is able to have these sensational type matches with main roster talent now. People will be able to see how much he’s grown on a televised basis every week.

Liv Morgan: The Riott Squad has been broken up discretely with an announcement in the dead of night. If I put money on it, I would have thought that Ruby Riott would be the one that split and Liv and Sarah Logan would continue as a tag team. They were really good together in that Elimination Chamber match.

Having said that, Morgan has a good personality and has improved in ring from what we’ve seen. With all the talent that is on Smackdown Live, she gets further time to develop her own character and stand out. The Riott Squad were losing profusely towards the end of their run on RAW. Morgan gets to wipe the slate clean now.

Chad Gable: Gable returns to the blue brand as a singles competitor. His first run with Jason Jordan as American Alpha did not have the intended effect for a few reasons. Gable has always had the ability to put together a great singles run. He will definitely have the talent around him to put together great matches to showcase himself. If you wanted to go the tag route, Apollo Crews is now on Smackdown Live as well. That’s a strong, athletic tag team that Smackdown gains…

Apollo Crews: Which is a perfect segue to Crews. He’s another guy with great ability and athleticism that didn’t quite catch on RAW. Again, another piece within a bunch of great wrestlers to show what he can do.

Mickie James: With a lot of younger talent over on the Smackdown Live side, James gives the division a veteran presence. She can still put on good matches and there are options here. You don’t have to pair James just as a lackey like they did with Alexa Bliss. She can be on her own and give one more full run. (Remember the match that she had with Asuka back in NXT?)

Otis/Tucker (Heavy Machinery): Smackdown Live lost the Usos and presumably, The Bar if Sheamus is planning to slow down, the division is looking a little thin. Imagine Heavy Machinery versus The New Day and how fun that would be? Especially with Dozovic and how hilarious he is, the FOX audience is going to love them.

The Following Superstars Made the Jump to Raw
in This Year’s Superstar Shake-up

AJ Styles: Styles was the face of Smackdown Live since 2016. He gave two lengthy runs as WWE Champion over on the blue brand. As he falls back into a role with lesser dates, the move to RAW gives him fresh match-ups ranging from Sean Rollins, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley to give a couple names. If you trade Roman Reigns to Smackdown Live, it’s only right to give a major piece to RAW. They didn’t need to be on the same brand.

The Miz: Honestly, The Miz had done everything he possibly could on Smackdown Live except win the WWE championship. A move definitely seemed natural here in a brand that could use more charismatic guys that could put on a good match for what they were losing. RAW needed another strong babyface type to come to the brand and The Miz is perfect for that type of role for the time being. Who knows? Another world title run down the line?

Ricochet/Aleister Black: Let’s keep these two together just for the sake of continuity. The past couple of months, Ricochet and Aleister Black have shown themselves to be an exciting and formidable tag team. Winning the Dusty Rhodes Classic was just the icing on the cake. If you decide to keep them as a tag team, there are a lot of good match ups on the RAW brand for them.

What I feel that everybody is going to want is for these two men to do their thing as singles competitors. I would anticipate that happening sooner than later. Ricochet and Aleister Black are the Swiss army knives of the RAW brand.

Erik/Ivar (The Viking Experience): War Raid…excuse me, The Viking Experience have moved up from NXT while still currently holding the NXT tag titles. We’ve seen this before with Kevin Owens and the NXT Title, so it’s not something new. I was puzzled by it because the NXT tag division isn’t as deep, but it hinted to me that a team like Street Profits are going to get pushed up.

Andrade/Zelina Vega: Andrade had some memorable matches over on the Smackdown brand. The feud with Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, and AJ Styles to name a few. Unfortunately, you only get two hours a week on Smackdown, so there were periods of time where you didn’t see Andrade or Zelina. That’s not a problem on the RAW brand. Andrade will be able to display his brilliance on a big stage.

Rey Mysterio: The legend rides again. We have not seen Mysterio as a consistent presence on RAW since 2014 up until Monday. RAW seems like a roster that is comprised more of the part-time talent. Mysterio brings a veteran presence that can still go and put on great matches when he’s called upon. He can reignite his feud with Andrade. He will put on a great series of matches with Cedric Alexander. Mysterio will always give you flexibility despite his size and age.

Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso (The Usos): Any complaints about the RAW men’s tag team scene being weak should be null and void now. Earlier, I talked about Ricochet/Aleister Black and The Viking Experience. Also, think of The Revival as well. Think of all the fresh match-ups that the Usos can have as they head toward an eventual RAW tag titles run.

Naomi: A wrestler that definitely needed to move from the Smackdown brand was Naomi. She does have a championship reign under her belt. With the RAW brand, they definitely need faces in that RAW women’s division. She gives experience as well as someone who can be reliable as a challenger. For someone who got caught in the Becky/Charlotte/Ronda mish-mash that crept into both shows, she gets to be in front of a new audience on Monday nights.

EC3: EC3 finally has a brand, but I’m not sure what they are doing with him other than a mid-card capacity. This past week, they had EC3 get squashed by Braun Strowman. Maybe they bring Drake Maverick back as his manager going back to their TNA Impact days. EC3 definitely needs an actual role.

Lacey Evans: The first challenger against our new “champ champ.” Here’s the thing; Lacey Evans was a good heel in NXT. It may have been hard to believe given the “walk down the ramp” buildup, but she had a good role where she won a lot in developmental. Looking how sparse the RAW women’s division is now with Ronda being gone and Bayley/Ember leaving, Evans is going to have to be one of the top heels going forward.

Eric Young: I’m not too sure what Eric Young’s role will be. Perhaps pair him and Nikki together given their Sanity history? Otherwise, “shrugs.”

Cedric Alexander: One of the consummate workhorses of the 205 Live brand gets his chance on the main roster and a well deserved one, at that. Smackdown Live has Ali and Buddy Murphy. Alexander can do on RAW what they are doing on the blue brand. To complement the acquisitions of Ricochet and Rey Mysterio, Alexander gives another athletic and dynamic piece to break up the big man log jam.

The Winner: Smackdown Live got the best of the shake-up this year. They had to. The move to FOX dictated what that was going to be. Smackdown’s men’s single division is amazing from top to bottom. However, RAW is not as bad, especially on the men’s side. Ricochet, Aleister Black, Viking Experience, Andrade, AJ Styles just to name a few is a good haul. Considering that you get to pair them with the likes of Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, and Sami Zayn. RAW definitely won on the men’s tag team side.

The women’s division favors Smackdown Live heavily. That division is loaded to the gills and it’s going to be fun seeing what WWE can do creatively. I’m not sure what RAW is going to do outside of Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Lacey Evans. Don’t forget Ruby Riott, but the brand is in desperate need of a couple more pieces. Nikki Cross hasn’t really been assigned a brand yet. Despite her displeasure with the booking, this is a big opportunity for Sasha Banks to come back and be one of the leaders of the brand.

I was puzzled to see that Shayna Baszler hadn’t been moved up yet. She’s beaten almost everybody in NXT and with Ronda Rousey gone for the presumable future, Baszler would have been a good cog to fit in that top heel piece on the red brand. What’s Bray Wyatt status? We’ve all seen the somewhat silly vignettes, but where does he land? Brock Lesnar? What’s his status going to be?

There are still some questions to go, but overall everything is set as we go into the “new season” of WWE.

Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.


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