WWE SmackDown was for many years the “B show” where all the seemingly weaker and smaller stars would compete in order to make more money for the company, but the original brand extension in 2002 changed everything. After both set of WWE superstars at the time were divided into the red and blue brands, SmackDown took advantage of this attention they got from the viewers to start competing with Raw for supremacy inside the company. During Paul Heyman’s reign as GM and booker for the promotion, SmackDown reached greater heights and started to defeat Raw in quality of matches for almost a year.
But Heyman needed a robust set of wrestlers in order to get one over Raw, as he handled his impressive set of wrestlers impeccably at the time and gave us some matches which would forever create a place in the show’s history. Be it Eddie Guerrero’s phenomenal rise or the sheer brutality of Brock Lesnar, SmackDown was doing all the right things to make the fans flock from RAW to its own shows and was really helped with the creation of its own pay-per-views as well. As years went on, SmackDown dented a bit, but always kept its audience glued to the show with more talented superstars coming in and elevating the level of the show.
Now that the brand extension has taken place again, SmackDown is arguably coming off as the weaker brand because of its 2 hour slot enabling it to get less number of superstars as compared to RAW, and the show really needs more fire-power to reach the level it did after the original brand extension. Bringing in some of the show’s memorable superstars and legends would definitely encourage a fan to watch the show more and more, as well as helping to develop proper stories and amazing matches which is necessary for SmackDown to compete with the well stacked Monday Night Raw.
15 John Morrison
John Morrison made his wrestling debut as “Johnny Nitro” in the WWE on SmackDown, where he teamed up with Joey Mercury, and Melina at their side to create MNM where they would be some show-off heels. They even won the WWE Tag Team Championships, which they held for 3 months before Morrison and Melina turned on Mercury shortly after the reign. After some time on Raw and ECW, Morrison would then again return to SmackDown, this time with the cocky Miz at his side. As they won the WWE Tag Team Championships, what gave them more fame was probably their show known as “The Dirt Sheet” as Morrison later turned face and started to give A+ matches. This brought him the trust of the WWE officials, who decided to push him as a singles competitor and get him over. Morrison was drafted to Raw when he was being pushed to main event status, but couldn’t survive much in it and left the company in 2011. But with his popularity and success at Lucha Underground, rumors are floating that Vince McMahon desperately wants him back in the company and could push him as a main eventer on SmackDown to make it more lavish and glorious, as Morrison brings some skills which not many others have.
The Cruiserweight Division in WWE was first formally introduced on SmackDown, and Tajiri was at the helm of it for much of its early days. The bizarre Japanese Superstar would bring the Cruiserweight Title along with him when drafted to SmackDown, and with Torrie Wilson at his side, he made the title his. Along with a unique moveset and exciting tempo to much of his matches, Tajiri would soon make the Cruisweight Division a hot prospect on the SmackDown brand before moving to the tag team division for a while. He returned to have another compelling feud with Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight title, beating him for his third Cruiserweight title reign. Tajiri would remain as a prime identity of the Cruiserweight division before he was drafted to Raw in 2004 and would leave the WWE afterwards. Tajiri recently returned in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament, and is rumored to return as a full-time wrestler in the company, as SmackDown could use his innovation and experience to get some of the younger guys over as well as making for some amazing matches in the promotion.
13 The Brian Kendrick
One of the brightest tag team wrestlers in the history of the WWE, The Brian Kendrick probably didn’t realize how big he was about to get when he debuted on SmackDown in 2005 as a Cruiserweight. He then formed a team with Paul London, and they both hit it off impeccably as they dazzled the audience with their fast-paced action and brilliant chemistry. The hard work soon resulted in some rewards for them, as they won the WWE Tag Team Championship from MNM. This would be the beginning of a rather special reign, which would last almost a yearn(331 days to be exact) and they would remain the longest Tag Team Champions before The New Day recently broke that record. Kendrick would then disband from London, going on to create the entertaining “The Brian Kendrick” gimmick where he would be accompanied by the brawny Ezekiel Jackson. This gimmick would be pretty entertaining but short-lived, as Kendrick was released in 2009. Kendrick soon clawed his way back to the WWE as a trainer, and is also competing in the Cruiserweight Classic and with SmackDown lacking in heels with attitude, The Brian Kendrick is the man for them to sign up.
12 Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy is probably still wondering what went wrong for him in the WWE, where he was once touted for big things. Kennedy made for his own downfall with his addiction to drugs, as the talented, charismatic superstar was at one point loved by the WWE higher-ups. Kennedy debuted as a slimy, arrogant heel on SmackDown where he received a late push when he won the United States championship. His time in the brand would then be a rivalry with the brand itself, as he would persistently voice his want to be drafted back to Raw and would be in some prominent matches thereafter. He would feud with the top stars of the brand, as well as establishing himself as a top heel. But Kennedy would eventually be drafted to Raw, where he would win the Money in the Bank briefcase too (but would lose it to Edge) and things went downhill from this point. Kennedy was originally touted to be revealed as Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son and great things were coming, but a 30 day suspension for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy put an end to that and later on he got injured too many times to stay relevant again. He was released in 2009 because of problems with other wrestlers, but could be back with SmackDown in need of some top-level heat and if he can come clean in the WWE, he could well be signed back to help elevate the storylines on SmackDown.
11 Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger is probably one of the most unfortunate wrestlers of the past few years, as his fall from grace since his World Heavyweight Championship victory in 2010 is almost pitiful. The talented wrestler might be a jobber right now, but when he debuted on SmackDown he looked to have a bright future. Swagger won the Money in the Bank Briefcase at WrestleMania XXVI and cashed in on Chris Jericho to win the World Title of the SmackDown brand. His reign looked promising at first, when he defeated Jericho and Edge in a triple threat match, but his lack of personality and mic-skills led to him dropping the title soon. He fell down the peck, later forming “The Real Americans” with Cesaro as they had a good outing on SmackDown. Later on as the brands united, Swagger soon turned into a jobber and got lost in the shuffle of superstars in the company. Swagger must’ve been gutted to being drafted to RAW, as his destiny leads to jobbing in this draft but will be hopeful he’ll be back on SmackDown soon where he can probably prevail due to SmackDown’s “giving underdogs a chance” mentality.
Montel Vontavious Porter had great potential in the WWE until his sudden departure, as he was one of the more charismatic heels in the SmackDown brand in the mid 2000s. MVP would have quite the lavish attitude and personality, showing himself to be “bigger” than everyone else and this got him quite a lot of heat from the crowd. His constant performances moved him up the ladder, where he was one of the better heels and a compelling feud with Chris Benoit for his US Title (which MVP won in the end) cemented him as one of the top guys on SmackDown. MVP would have an impressive reign as US Champion, holding the title for 343 days which is only second to Dean Ambrose’s reign. MVP would then “go broke” which made him unable to show-off like before, as a draft to Raw didn’t do anything but make it worse for him to shine. His Raw term ended with him being released in 2010, as he went on to wrestle for many other promotions in the next years. But with the brand split taking place, it was rumored that MVP would be brought back to the SmackDown brand as he appeared at an NXT live event recently as well. The baller would be balling on SmackDown right now with his arrogance and charisma.
9 Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre is the case of potential wasted in a wrestler, as the guy was touted to be a much bigger superstar than he actually was in the WWE. After being introduced in the WWE by Vince McMahon as his “Chosen One”, McIntyre looked like a vicious, cocky heel the WWE was craving and got pushed as a higher mid-carder at first and went on to win the Intercontinental Champion by defeating John Morrison. Drew would then have some really good feuds and had established himself as this evil heel who didn’t care about anyone and sucked up to Mr. McMahon. But the brand switch hit him hard, as McIntyre would find no love from Raw and then almost instantaneously be drafted to SmackDown where he would go on an eight match losing streak. His downfall had just begun, as Drew was then downgraded to NXT and then became a jobber by forming “3MB” with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. McIntyre’s reputation would soon become forgotten through this stable, as he was finally released after 2 years of torture. Drew now works heavily in the Indy field, appearing on TNA but could be tempted to come back to the WWE if given a good offer. And with SmackDown needing someone with McIntyre’s heel potential, this move will be delightful for fans if it happened.
8 Mark Henry
“The World’s Strongest Man” was a force to be reckoned with on SmackDown, where he would destroy his opposition and be a terrifying figure for many years. Mark Henry had been a powerful figure in Smackdown for a lot of years, but finally found a push in 2011 when he created his “Hall of Pain” gimmick where he would absolute crush his opponents, often injurying(kayfabe) them. Henry not only wasted the light-weights, but also managed to put The Big Show in the shelf and asserted his dominance when he finally won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career at the age of 40. Henry would be a force to be reckoned with and one of the most dominant superstars of Smackdown during this run, which came to a sudden end. With Smackdown needing some fire-power, everyone hoped that Henry would return to his old hunting ground but was surprisingly drafted to Raw where he was back to jobbing to mid-carders. One can hope that the tides change for the big man, who needs another glorious moment before bowing out from the company he has remained loyal for since his first day.
Carlito probably still remains as one of the coolest heels in Smackdown’s history, as the cocky Carribbean caught everyone by surprise when he beat John Cena in his debut match to win the US title. This triggered a 14 match winning streak, as Carlito’s disrespectful charisma was a winner for creative. He would go onto defeat the likes of Rob Van Damn, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio in his winning streak and later on went onto defeat The Big Show in their feud as well. Carlito then got drafted to Raw, where he won the Intercontinental Title in his debut match but was soon degraded to the lower card. After he was redrafted to Smackdown a couple of years later, Carlito went onto team with his brother Primo as they went onto unify the WWE Tag Team and World Tag Team champions. Carlito’s WWE run came to a bitter end when he failed their Wellness Policy and refused to go to rehab. But rumors are afloat that Carlito is being tracked by the WWE, with them wanting him to return and his gimmick would be perfect for Smackdown right now, making for a strong mid-carder who can give some amazing segments and matches.
“The Animal” Batista might have risen from the ashes of Evolution, but he was the man everyone tuned in to watch Smackdown for a number of years as he ushered them to success in the mid 2000’s. After being drafted to Smackdown in 2005, Batista soon established himself as the top dog of the brand by decimating other opponents in the brand and winning key feuds to make him the guy to beat in the brand. After an injury lay-off, Batista also looked for his claim in the tag team division as he tagged with Rey Mysterio and won the WWE Tag Team Titles with him, later on turning into an animal after another injury. He tore through the roster and some of its biggest superstars to have numerous World Title reigns, before he was drafted back to Raw in 2008. He would win the WWE Title during this stint, but later on left the promotion due to other wishes. Batista has been hesitant on returning to the WWE since he last left in 2014, saying “he’s looking for the right opportunity” but the company could bring him back for another short stint and make him a guy to usher Smackdown into gaining more popularity and holding its belt for sometime, as his current popularity will get a number of fans tuning in to watch The Animal demolishing his opponents.
5 Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy saw his singles WWE run come quite late into his career, as he got pushed as a singles wrestler a bit after returning to the company in 2006. Hardy would be transitioned from an upper mid-carder to the main event status, but a proper push would only arrive after he joined the Smackdown brand in 2008, after which he would win the WWE Championship. He would lose the title to Edge after his brother Matt cost him the match, and after winning the feud against Matt, Jeff would now focus on winning the World Heavyweight Championship. He did so from Edge at Extreme Rules 2009, but would see his moment stolen by CM Punk who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase immediately afterwards. Hardy would win the championship back from Punk, but the feud with gain another level when Punk issued a stipulation in their Steel Cage match that Jeff would leave the company if he lost the match. Jeff went onto lose it and left the company, going back to TNA where he’s now “Broken Nero”. Jeff seems to have achieved everything in TNA, and an enigmatic fan favorite like him returning to Smackdown would take things up a notch as fans have been wanting his return for years now, and fulfilling that wish could help sky-rocket Smackdown’s ratings.
Antonio Cesaro was one of the most talented wrestlers in the world when he joined the WWE, but his time since his debut has been difficult as he has been unable to “get over” in Vince McMahon’s eyes but his days at Smackdown was probably the best in his career. He debuted as an arrogant, technically impressive wrestler who won the US Title soon after debuting and defended his title comprehensively against other mid-cards. Cesaro was impressing every week which propelled the company to keep the title on him for 239 days, before he was put in to an underwhelming team of “The Real Americans”(even though he’s not an American). This made no sense and dented his past success, as he had to scratch and claw his way onto being over again and by 2016 was one of the more popular stars in the WWE, having his own “Cesaro section”. Many were hoping that he get put in the Smackdown brand and be branded as its top star, but he was drafted to Raw and voiced his displeasure at being drafted to Raw in a shoot interview later on. The WWE could use this shoot interview to get him on Smackdown, where he would revel at the opportunity at attaining main-event success and even becoming the WWE World Champion as he definitely has it all to carry off as a world champion, which he probably can’t achieve in the stacked roster of Raw.
3 The Undertaker
The Undertaker attained a legendary position way before being drafted to Smackdown in 2002, but he went onto create his own legacy in the brand as probably it’s best ever superstar. The Undertaker would create instant classics against Brock Lesnar in Smackdown, putting him over before returning as The Deadman to Smackdown as he would go onto terrorize more wrestlers. After a controversial feud with Muhammed Hassan, after which he would feud with more intimidating superstars and continuously winning key feuds. He finally won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2007 at Wrestlemania 23 and would become the prime main eventer for the brand, winning the World Heavyweight Championship numerous times in the next years and marking the brand as his hunting ground. But as he grew older, Taker would compete less and less and appeared even more limited events after having his Wrestlemania streak broken by Brock Lesnar in 2014. The Undertaker is now listed as a free agent by WWE, but he could be put in Smackdown, and even limited appearances would be treated as gold by the fans who would want the Phenom to get one last hurrah before riding into the sunset in a few years, and his home of Smackdown should be who he’ll represent after ending his WWE career.
2 Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio was probably one of the best ambassadors for the Smackdown Brand, where he rose from a Cruiserweight to a World Heavyweight Champion and was one of the reasons why people tuned in to watch the show. After being the face of the Cruiserweight Division for quite a while, Rey moved to have compelling feuds with the likes of Eddie Guerrero as well as paying tribute to him after his tragic death. Mysterio would keep the legacy of Eddie afloat, as he went onto defy the odds by winning the Royal Rumble and then going onto win the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 22. Mysterio would be involved in the main event scene from then on, often competing for the World title. After a brief stint on Raw, Mysterio came back to Smackdown to keep on fighting for the World Title and elevated the status of the title, inspite of being a Cruiserweight himself. Mysterio faded away in his last few years, but rejuvenated himself after his release by dazzling in the Indy circuit and at Lucha Underground. A return could be on the cards for The Ultimate underdog, who would revel at the opportunity of putting the blue brand on top again and could have some dazzling matches with the talented roster as well as lighting a fire in the brand as well.
1 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle was one of the prominent draft picks for Smackdown in the original Brand extension, as he would go onto elevate the brand into success after The Rock left the WWE. Angle would not only entertain the fans by ridiculous antics and gimmicks, but would then also do the job of putting over wreslters- most notably in Brock Lesnar who he passed on the torch for being the ruler of the roast in the brand. Angle also did a fine job as the GM of Smackdown while recovering from his injury, which was pretty short-lived. Angle then went onto put over wreslters inspite of winning the feuds himself, as he made them look strong by winning the matches dirty. He then represented his brand in an inter-promotional match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 21, which he won in a classic match. Angle would then go back to the main-event status, soon winning the World Heavyweight Title again before losing it to Rey Mysterio in the next Wrestlemania. Towards the end of his WWE career, he was drafted to ECW which didn’t bode well for him as The Olympic Hero left the company. Angle spent the last decade helping TNA gain main-stream status, but is now a free agent who has been vocal on an interest of returning to the company. Angle could be brought back to mentor American Alpha, one of the most promising tag teams in the WWE right now while being a part-timer himself in wrestling where he could wrestle in the main PPV’s of the company, as Angle’s return could trigger some more classic moments and matches because of how good he is in the field of sports entertainment.