Following weeks of speculation about what may be for certain performers, World Wrestling Entertainment kicked off its newest edition of a brand split with the 2016 WWE Draft on July 19th. Raw and SmackDown received their own rosters and the immediate perception after the fact among fans and wrestling journalists was that Raw finished the day with the better overall squad of the two shows. While that seems to be the case on paper, all we can do as fans is sit back, view the shows and hope that the WWE provides us with reasons to watch five hours of television on a weekly basis. That does not even include editions of NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic that air on the WWE Network.
Sometimes, it’s exhausting being a WWE fan.
One thing the newest brand split provided fans is an opportunity to dream about potential matches that we haven’t yet seen play out underneath the WWE umbrella. These matches includes contests featuring talents exclusive to the Raw and SmackDown brands and also matches that spread across the two rosters that theoretically could be featured on a “co-branded” show such as one of the top-four annual WWE pay-per-views.
We’ll start the list with a match that involves two leaders of a faction that debuted on WWE television earlier this year. This group has not yet had a real opportunity to be elite, but we hope, in time, that a storyline will emerge and then end with a match that should, in theory, be too sweet.
15 Finn Balor vs. A.J. Styles (Co-branded)
The story for this match writes itself so long as the WWE is willing to mention what occurred in a different promotion. Both Finn Balor and A.J. Styles served as the leader of The Bullet Club, and thus not much work would have to be done to build an on-air feud between the two. Even if the WWE chose to not go down that road for whatever reasons, anybody who has watched Balor and Styles in the ring would have to admit that the two would put on a entertaining contest inside of the ring. Since Balor and Styles are on different shows following the WWE brand split, this dream contest would have to be saved for a co-branded show.
That’s perfect. We are envisioning the two facing off at a future WrestleMania, perhaps as soon as in 2017 if the WWE does well to drag the storyline out that long.
14 Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
We all love the tag team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. They are one of the more entertaining acts in the WWE and the realest guys in the room, and you can’t teach that. We also know how the WWE works. The time is coming, maybe even sooner rather than later, when the WWE breaks this duo up and allows both Enzo and Cass to swim on their own.
Knowing that, we can’t wait to see this feud play out following the start of the WWE brand split. The promos cut by Enzo will make this break-up worth watching even before the two men compete inside of the ring. Remember, also, that Cass has shown that he can handle his own on the microphone. Enzo and Cass probably won’t put on a five-star classic, but the hope is that the entire story from beginning to end will be fun. How you doin?
13 American Alpha vs. The Usos
Maybe The Usos are not your favorite tag team in the WWE today because of their association with Roman Reigns. That’s fine, but all have to admit that Jimmy and Jey are great in the ring. The first great tag-team feud to emerge on SmackDown following the WWE brand split should involve The Usos taking on American Alpha in multiple entertaining contests.
American Alpha received their official call-up from NXT to the WWE main roster on the night of the 2016 WWE Draft, and Jason Jordan and Chad Gable are already arguably the best team in the WWE today. The fact of the matter is that American Alpha should be Tag Team Champions in July of 2016. That probably isn’t happening since New Day, the current title holders, are on Raw, and thus we’d like to see American Alpha and The Usos feud for now.
12 John Cena vs. Baron Corbin
We can see you rolling your eyes at this suggestion. Hear us out before you close the door on the idea. Baron Corbin made great strides during his last several months in NXT, and his gimmick as the “Indy-killer” and as the guy who beat up beloved babyfaces is entertaining when written properly. Who better to serve as the latest victim for Corbin than John Cena? The days of Cena being booed out of buildings are finally gone, as is the time of Cena dominating the main event of any WWE brand. Cena could teach Corbin a thing or two, particularly how to work as a monster heel.
You may believe that Corbin received a call-up from NXT to the main roster before he was ready, but what’s done is done. Corbin needs a big feud to help elevate him, and there is no better opponent for him following the WWE brand split than the leader of the Cenation.
11 A.J. Styles vs. Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been sidelined throughout 2016 because of a legitimate shoulder injury. Orton is expected to return to action at SummerSlam, and he will then join up with the SmackDown roster once he is ready for full-time duty. One match we have yet to see occur in the WWE is Orton versus A.J. Styles. Both men made waves during their early years in professional wrestling, and the time has come for the two to meet up inside of the ring either during an edition of SmackDown or at a pay-per-view.
Orton and Styles may not cut the greatest promos leading up to that contest, but the match itself should be entertaining and fun. It is also a fresh contest that hasn’t before been seen in the WWE and it could be a way for Styles to further cement himself as a true top-tier performer in the WWE Universe.
10 10. Jason Jordon vs. Chad Gable
We have to begin by pointing out that we do not want to see this match for some time, perhaps for as long as even a year. American Alpha needs to work together as a unit versus SmackDown and Raw teams, and the duo should have a lengthy run as Tag Team Champions before it is even teased that the two will feud.
Both Jason Jordan and Chad Gable have the goods to work and excel as singles workers and the obvious chemistry that the two have should help make for a great match. Jordan would work as the overpowering heel tossing Gable around the ring. Gable knows how to play babyface in peril as well as anybody on the main roster. This match will be glorious once it occurs and it could help launch both men into singles competition and to main-event status. Do it right, WWE, and wait long enough before you kick this feud off.
9 9. Balor Club vs. New Day
Yes, we are assuming after the start of the WWE brand split and the WWE Draft that Finn Balor will eventually replace A.J. Styles as the leader of The Club. Balor was added to the Raw roster on the night of July 19th, but it has not yet been made clear what type of persona Balor will play on the main roster.
Unlike in other promotions, Balor worked only as a babyface throughout his entire stint in NXT. Balor made a fine babyface who got over among audiences and who sold merchandise. The real money with Balor, though, is as a heel and as the true leader of the WWE’s version of The Bullet Club. As long as the WWE Tag Team Champions are going to reside on Raw, it is only fitting that this new version of The Club should feud with New Day. The belts will eventually be on the line, but let’s begin with multiple three-on-three contests.
8 8. The Club vs. American Alpha (Co-Branded)
It was previously mentioned that it is assumed that Finn Balor will join up with The Club to form the latest WWE version of The Bullet Club. Even before that happens, however, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows can remain as a tag team that feuds with the likes of American Alpha.
This is a classic babyface-versus-heel feud, with The Club serving as heels and American Alpha working as the beloved babyfaces. All four of the wrestlers involved here are great workers, which is a big reason why we can’t wait to see this match following the WWE brand split. It’s too bad that The Club and American Alpha are on different shows and different rosters after the WWE Draft. That just means that we’ll have to wait until a show such as Royal Rumble or WrestleMania to watch this match take place. American Alpha would, however, need a third partner if Finn Balor does link up with The Club.
7 7. Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss
Remember when Alexa Bliss first showed up on NXT as an undersized babyface who was not all that impressive inside of the ring and not all that memorable on the microphone? The WWE fortunately pulled the plug on that experiment and turned Bliss heel en route to aligning her with the tag team of Blake and Murphy.
Natalya may not be atop the women’s division these days, but she unquestionably can hang inside the ring with any worker. She is the perfect wrestler to serve as an opponent for Bliss following Bliss being called up from NXT to the main roster and to the SmackDown brand. Bliss needs to remain a heel for the time being and that makes Natalya an obvious choice to work opposite of Bliss. The WWE has a potential future star in Bliss so long as the company does not drop the ball. Bliss can eventually turn babyface, but not until she takes care of wrestlers such as Natalya.
6 6. Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor
There are two things we need to say about this potential feud. For starters, Roman Reigns needs to play the role of the heel. Reigns does not necessarily need to go full-heel all of the time, but he should be the heel here. Second, this match should lead to Reigns eventually linking back up with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to re-create The Shield in order to feud with Balor, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
Just think of all of the fun matches we could see from a feud involving The Shield and The Balor Club. The three-on-three contests alone would be money, let alone all of the possible singles contests we would be treated to throughout the duration of the storyline. There is legit money to be made from this feud if the WWE does well to book it properly and then continue it for months until we see a final payoff.
5 5. The Vaudevillians vs. American Alpha
This idea comes straight out of the mind of a fan who grew up watching wrestling in the 1980s. In a way, that makes it tremendous. American Alpha are the prototypical babyfaces who never take shortcuts and never cheat to win. The Vaudevillians, as their name implies, are villains and dastardly characters who don’t care about the fans and don’t care how they win so long as they emerge victorious.
What more could you need to know? The idea of The Vaudevillians taking hilarious bumps as they are suplexed nearly out of arenas bring a tear of joy to the eye of an old-school wrestling fan. We may even need to send a poet in to create articles on this feud for this website and for WWE.com. American Alpha would obviously need to emerge victorious here, but the two teams could have multiple matches before eventually going their separate ways.
4 4. Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews
Bray Wyatt and Apollo Crews are two characters that need some rehabilitation following the WWE Draft and WWE brand split. Wyatt should be one of the top heels in the WWE, while Crews is far too talented an athlete to be stuck in meaningless feuds. The WWE would do well to have the two face off against each other. Wyatt and Crews have not been stellar on the microphone during their recent days in the WWE. That’s too bad, as both can cut good promos when the handcuffs are released and when the WWE allows them to go off script.
We don’t need to see Wyatt and Crews engage in debates. We want to see entertaining matches and the two can deliver the goods. It also doesn’t hurt that a program involving Wyatt and Crews is fresh and one we haven’t yet seen in the WWE.
3 3. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
The reality of the situation is that Sasha Banks is better as a heel than a babyface feuding with Charlotte and with other heels in the women’s division. Before Banks makes the turn that hopefully leads to the official formation of The Four Horsewomen (let us dream), we need to see a babyface Banks face off with the true monster heel of the women’s division in Nia Jax.
Jax is set to make her debut on the main roster after being drafted following the start of the WWE brand split, but she still needs some seasoning before she is ready to routinely hang with the top female wrestlers in the company. Banks is the type of worker who can help lead Jax to some entertaining matches and who can serve as a great opposite in size, talent and on-air personality. Jax will eventually be a champion, but after she loses a feud a Banks.
2 2. A.J. Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
The SmackDown roster came out on the losing end of the WWE brand split and WWE Draft in the eyes of many wrestling fans posting on social media and in online forums. One good thing that draft gave us is a possible feud involving A.J. Styles and Dean Ambrose.
Styles and Ambrose feuding over a championship makes sense if the WWE is going to have separate titles for the two brands, as Ambrose should theoretically carry such a championship in the early days of the current version of the brand split. Styles versus Ambrose is, forgive the pun, somewhat of a styles clash, but such a lack of chemistry can make for fun matches. Either Ambrose or Styles should be given the task of carrying the SmackDown brand leading up to co-branded shows such as SummerSlam and Survivor Series. What better way to pick that man than by having them decide inside of the ring?
1 1. Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar
This is what wrestling journalists such as Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer have, in the past, referred to as a “mean guy match.” It doesn’t matter the year, the promotion or the audience attending the show. Wrestling fans will pay attention and viewers will tune in to watch two big dudes just beat each other up.
If the idea of Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar having a match at a big show such as WrestleMania doesn’t get you excited, imagine the gold that would be created by Owens and Paul Heyman cutting promos leading up to the contest. This, to steal a phrase, is a main event anywhere in the country, and wrestling fans everywhere would be treated to quite a show if the WWE decides to go with Owens versus Lesnar at some point following the start of the brand split. Make it so, WWE, and please make it awesome.