The WWE is nearing the six month mark since its Draft Lottery on July 19th, 2016. Since then we’ve seen superstars appear on their respective brands with both brands having respective PPV events (with the exception of the “Big Four” Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series including participants from both shown on the same show).
While the draft allowed for more opportunities as new belts were introduced and the likelihood of less superstars getting lost in the shuffle, it hasn’t exactly been flawless. Moreover, there are moves that can be made that can be beneficial for both brands. For instance, SmackDown is often referenced as the “wrestling show” which focuses more on in ring action as opposed to Raw. As a result, SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan has been a vocal advocate of acquiring Cesaro and Sami Zayn who are two of the company’s best in ring talents.
Here, we take a look at fifteen trades that Raw and SmackDown should make.
15. Raw trades Paige for SmackDown’s Nikki Bella
Paige hasn’t been seen on WWE programming since July of 2016 as a result of two wellness policy violations and neck surgery. If everything stands pat when Paige returns, she almost certainly falls behind the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley. There’s also a good chance she falls behind Nia Jax and a possibility that she even falls behind Dana Brooke. However, if she’s traded to the SmackDown brand, she almost immediately comes off as a legitimate threat to the SmackDown’s Women’s Championship. Nikki Bella has improved significantly in the ring and a move to Raw opens up more feuds for her then she currently has on SmackDown. Raw gains an established veteran in Bella and SmackDown gains the young gun, Paige, who has reached the pinnacle of the Women’s division in the past. It’s a win win for both brands.
14. Raw trades Cesaro for SmackDown’s Dean Ambrose
Cesaro currently holds gold as one half of Raw’s Tag Team Champions along with Sheamus. Dean Ambrose currently holds gold as the Intercontinental Champion. When you have gold around your waist it usually means that you’re doing something right. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do better. Cesaro’s pairing with Sheamus has garnered the same reaction since its inception; Cesaro receives a raucous applause and Sheamus receives a hound of boos. Cesaro is better suited as a singles competitor as he is arguably the company’s best worker and SmackDown emphasizes wrestling more so than Raw does. Putting Ambrose on Raw allows for the potential reunion of The Shield if and when WWE decides to revisit realigning Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as the dominant trio they were when they first debuted.
13. Raw trades Sami Zayn for SmackDown’s Dolph Ziggler
Daniel Bryan has made it no secret that he would welcome Sami Zayn to SmackDown with open arms on numerous instances. On November 28th, 2016, Bryan tweeted the following “dear @iLikeSamiZayn, #TeamBlue will never hold you back #BlueIsBetter”. With Ziggler having just turned to the dark side by turning heel, SmackDown is desperately lacking in the mid card face department. With the exception of Dean Ambrose who is the company’s current Intercontinental Champion, its hard to determine if there’s a second viable mid card talent on the SmackDown roster. Zayn can fill this void. Ziggler can steal the show on Monday Night Raw and express how he’s fed up of being held back on SmackDown and how he’s hear to wreak havoc on Raw and anyone in his path.
12. Raw trades The Club for SmackDown’s The Vaudevillains
By trading The Club to SmackDown, Gallows and Anderson have their linchpin AJ Styles at their disposal. The two baldheaded cueballs can either serve as adversaries to Styles in some fashion or his companions as they were originally. The Club has severely faltered ever since Styles was drafted to SmackDown and a change of scenery would do them well. Similar to The Club, The Vaudevillains are trapped in tag team purgatory and this was never more evident then when the duo lost their spot on Team SmackDown at Survivor Series when they lost to Breezango. The current state of The Club and The Vaudevillains is doing nothing to bolster either team and switching rosters gives them a clean slate and new opportunities.
11. Raw trades Chris Jericho for SmackDown’s Randy Orton
For many the Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens alliance on Raw has been one of the most enjoyable storylines on Raw, if not the most enjoyable. However, while the pairing has provided for many laughs (mainly pertaining to the list), Owens has been booked as one who frequently needs Jericho’s assistance to retain the WWE Universal Championship. The alliance was a little odd to begin with considering that Owens character dictates he stands alone as opposed to aligns with others. Moving Jericho to SmackDown allows Owens to defend his title without Jericho’s help. Orton is currently a member of the Wyatt Family, but his allegiance to Bray Wyatt isn’t the equivalent of Luke Harper’s to Wyatt. With Orton on Raw he can serve as the veteran talent that can be a threat to the WWE Universal Championship.
10. Raw trades Michael Cole for SmackDown’s Mauro Ranallo
This is about as lopsided a trade as their can be as Mauro Ranallo is leaps and bounds ahead of Michael Cole. However, with Vince McMahon having always treated Raw as the flagship show and SmackDown as the stepsister show, its time that the announce team was treated as such as well. Ranallo may be new to the WWE, but he is no stranger to commentary. Moreover, he has been in more high profile situations then Cole has. Ranallo has been the voice of Showtime boxing, the now defunct Strikeforce MMA promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling and a number of other promotions. In other words, Ranallo is no spring chicken; he is used to calling any and all forms of combat. Ranallo alongside Corey Graves on paper is a recipe for success and Cole has worked with JBL on commentary in the past so the two are aware of how the other works.
9. Raw trades Emmalina for SmackDown’s Naomi
Vignettes for Emmalina have been airing on Raw for the now rebranded Emma since October of 2016. Emmalina was scheduled to debut on December 12th, 2016, but that never ended up materializing. Since then more vignettes have aired for Emmalina’s debut. Emmalina’s character can be depicted as one that is immersed in her own beauty. The early indication is that the character is going to fall flat on its face. How about calling an audible, WWE? Why not have Emmalina debut as a sadistic heel? The WWE did this when Brodus Clay’s vignettes aired and indicated that he’d be a heel that would take no prisoners. Instead, he ended up being a fun loving dinosaur. Having Emmalina debut on SmackDown is already something that will catch fans offguard; having Emmalina debut as a heel will only catch fans by surprise more. Naomi has nothing compelling going for her on SmackDown and a change to Raw will hopefully open up a storyline for her.
8. Raw trades Curtis Axel for SmackDown’s Apollo Crews
It wasn’t long ago when Axelmania was running wild. It wasn’t long ago when Apollo Crews was wowing crowds down in NXT.What’s Curtis Axel currently doing? What’s Apollo Crews currently doing? Crews is only twenty-nine and despite his muscle mass is one of the company’s most agile and acrobatic workers. Axel is one who can go with the likes of anyone and him training with the Rock and Brock Lesnar prior to the two returning is a testament to the trust WWE has in him. Neither Axel nor Crews is involved in a feud on their respective brands and are lost in the shuffle. The two appear sporadically and will more often than not appear in backstage segments as opposed to in ring matches. By having Axel and Crews swap brands the two now get an opportunity to establish a feud on the opposite show.
7. Raw trades Rusev (and Lana) for a SmackDown Superstar to be named later (Shelton Benjamin)
On the surface this trade looks like a complete ripoff as Raw is giving up one of its most high profile heels for an unknown superstar. However, in order for this trade to work, Raw has to acquire a superstar that can make a splash once he appears on the Raw roster. Shelton Benjamin was originally signed by SmackDown but has yet to appear on the blue brand as he is out of action with a torn rotator cuff. Vignettes aired for Benjamin in the weeks before his injury was disclosed and stopped once the injury became public knowledge. When Benjamin is set to return SmackDown should once again air the vignettes. But, while fans are expecting Benjamin to return on SmackDown, he shows up on Raw and is revealed as the superstar Raw acquired in the Rusev deal.
6. Raw trades Bo Dallas for SmackDown’s Tyler Breeze
Bo Dallas and Tyler Breeze are two of the youngest superstars on WWE’s main roster with the former being twenty-six and the latter being twenty-eight. The two made quite the impact in NXT with Dallas even claiming the NXT Championship for 280 days. Breeze never claimed the NXT Championship like Dallas, but was frequently in the title picture. The two have struggled to make a splash on the main roster and the majority of it has to do with their booking. Dallas was recently a part of the Social Outcasts which was essentially today’s version of the J.O.B. Squad. Breeze is currently in a tag team with Fandango with a Fashion Police gimmick that spells disaster each and every time they step onto the ramp. With Breeze being sent to Raw he’s no longer aligned with Fandango and he receives a fresh start. Dallas also can speak of how he was held back on Raw and how he won’t let anyone get in his way on SmackDown.
5. Raw trades Sasha Banks for SmackDown’s Becky Lynch
Sasha Banks just came off a feud for the ages with Charlotte Flair in which the two played hot potato with the Raw’s Women’s Championship from July of 2016 up until December of 2016. The feud culminated in 2016 when Charlotte defeated Banks in an Iron Man (or Woman, take your pick) match at Roadblock: End of the Line. After a feud with Flair there’s nowhere left to go but down. Banks is currently feuding with Nia Jax which is about as intriguing as watching paint dry. By trading Banks to SmackDown, she could engage in a compelling feud with SmackDown Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss. By trading Becky Lynch to Raw, she can vie for Charlotte’s title along with Bayley as WWE can play up the Four Horsewomen angle and their NXT history. This strengthens both Raw and SmackDown’s Women’s divisions.
4. Raw trades Titus O’Neil for SmackDown’s Kalisto
The basis of the Cruiserweight division is for wrestlers that are 205 pounds and under to have a division that allows them to face off against others that have a similar build. The Cruiserweight division is also exclusive to Raw. Kalisto, who weighs in at 170 pounds and stands 5’6” is tailor-made for the Cruiserweight division. Yet, the luchador inexplicably finds himself on SmackDown. Titus O’Neil is currently not involved in a meaningful storyline and appears at random instances on Raw. Most recently, he appeared in a segment with the New Day where he berated Xavier Woods for being the trio’s weak link. He lost. Had O’Neil won maybe the storyline could’ve gone somewhere. But, with the loss it likely was a one-off. This trade allows Kalisto to become a player in the Cruiserweight division on Raw and for O’Neil to hopefully be better utilized on SmackDown.
3. Raw trades Paul Heyman for a future pick from SmackDown
Despite the amount of managers in WWE today being as low as it’s ever been, Paul Heyman is one of the greatest managers to ever be employed by Vince McMahon’s company both past and present. The turmoil between Heyman and Stephanie McMahon in the past makes this an easy trade. McMahon can berate Heyman and tell him she’s traded him to SmackDown and that he will no longer be able to manage Brock Lesnar (who is a Raw exclusive superstar). Heyman will not want to stay idle and will look to find another client(s) on the blue brand. With Heyman appearing just slightly more than Lesnar does, WWE is doing its fans a disservice by not aligning Heyman with a young upstart who could benefit from his services.
2. Raw trades Darren Young and Bob Backlund for SmackDown’s The Ascension
When Darren Young and Bob Backlund first aligned with Backlund acting as Young’s life coach, the pairing looked like it was going to be successful. A couple months after the two aligned, Young was facing off against The Miz at Battleground and signs pointed to him winning Miz’s Intercontinental Championship. However, Miz came out victorious and two weeks later, Young saw himself in a lackluster feud against former Prime Time Players tag partner, Titus O’Neil. It’s been all downhill for Young ever since. On the other side of the fence, it’s been all downhill for The Ascension ever since they debuted on the main roster. Despite having the longest tag reign in NXT, that hasn’t done anything to help Konnor and Viktor in the close to two years they’ve been on the main roster. Maybe a move to Raw helps?
1. Raw trades Finn Balor for SmackDown’s The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper)
Finn Balor has been sidelined since August of 2016 as a result of sustaining a shoulder injury in his WWE Universal Championship match against Seth Rollins. The hot rumor is that Balor is targeting a return for WrestleMania season, but that isn’t a sure thing as of now. Karl Anderson recently revealed that he and Gallows pitched reforming “the original Bullet Club. We’ll just tear everything apart. That’s one of those pitches we’ve thrown. We’ll see if it sticks or not” on the Sam Roberts podcast with Finn leading the faction. With Balor making the move to SmackDown (and The Club also making the move in the trade for The Vaudevillains), all current Club members (Anderson, Balor, Gallows and Styles) are on the blue brand. This allows for a number of directions the creative team can go in. With Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper on Raw they can revisit a feud with The Shield or former Wyatt Family member, Braun Strowman.