In 2017, WWE will be entering its first full year since the 2016 WWE Draft shook up the landscape. With half a year having concluded since the draft took place, both Raw and SmackDown have seen their fair share of both riveting feuds as well as those that were lackluster.
On Raw, fans saw the women's division feud between Sasha Banks and Charlotte that they simply couldn't get enough of. On Smackdown, fans saw AJ Styles put on enthralling feuds against the likes of Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler.
On the other hand, Raw fans were force fed an endless helping of a face Roman Reigns that is dreary to watch. On the other side of the fence, SmackDown didn't have the star power that Raw did once the draft concluded. This mainly stemmed from the fact that Raw received three picks for every two picks SmackDown received.
Here, we take a look at eight Raw feuds and seven SmackDown feuds we want to see in 2017.
15 RAW: Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar
There is no one on either the red brand or the blue brand currently that is getting a bigger push than Sister Abigail's former black sheep, Braun Strowman. The Mountain of a Man is being pushed to the moon and beyond and with Vince McMahon's infatuation with gargantuan wrestlers, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Standing 6'8'' and weighing 385 pounds, Strowman is one of the largest individuals in the company and has a physique and persona that is amongst its most intimidating. In comparison, Brock Lesnar stands 6'3'' and weighs 285 pounds. Strowman has five inches on Lesnar in the height department and one hundred pounds on the "Beast Incarnate" in the weight department. If WWE is intent on pushing Strowman as a monster heel for years to come, there is no better feud than one with Lesnar.
14 SMACKDOWN: Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch
In November of 2016, Mickie James returned to WWE after having last appeared within the company's squared circle six years prior in April of 2010. James showed in her NXT Championship match against Asuka that she hadn't missed a beat and apparently WWE thought the same as they inked her to a contract the following month. James just debuted on Smackdown as the woman behind the La Luchadora mask. The best in ring competitor on Smackdown and lone "Four Horsewomen" member on the blue brand is Becky Lynch, and a rivalry with Lynch is welcome in any capacity as the two are a surefire lock to put on a clinic in the ring.
13 RAW: Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro
Montreal's Sami Zayn and Switzerland's Cesaro may very well be the two best workers on the Monday Night Raw roster. The two are no stranger to competing against each other as they tore the house down in August of 2013 in a two out of three falls match in the NXT ranks. Six months later, the two locked up once again in February of 2014 and gave fans something to clamor about just as they did in the previous year. With both Cesaro and Zayn currently playing the roles of faces and with the former being involved in tag team action and the latter being involved in singles competition, this isn't exactly the easiest feud to book, let alone culminate. But, make no mistake, if and when these two are involved in a proper feud, expect them to replicate, if not surpass their stellar matches in NXT.
12 SMACKDOWN: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin's been on a role as of late as he tries to establish himself as a pivotal player in the main event scene. Despite his loss to John Cena on the January 11th, 2017 episode of Smackdown, Corbin isn't by any means buried. Moreover, Smackdown is in the need of a top level heel as Bray Wyatt continuously flounders on the card, The Miz seems to be relegated to the mid card and Randy Orton's character is as unpredictable as they come. But, before you become the main event heel, you have to become a mid card heel. A feud with Corbin vying for Dean Ambrose's Intercontinental Championship would help establish himself as a mid card heel. Once he that he can hang in the mid card, he can be elevated to the main event scene.
11 RAW: Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax
Along with AJ Styles, Charlotte Flair was the WWE's MVP in the 2016 calendar year. Her feud with Sasha Banks gave fans a women's rivalry that they were invested in for the first time in a decade, since Trish Stratus and Lita had battled against one another. Flair is currently in her forth reign as Raw's Women's Champion and despite her looking like a dominating and imposing figure to her competitors, there's another woman on the roster that looks dominating and imposing to Flair. That woman is Nia Jax. Jax stands 6'0'' and weighs in at 240 pounds, yet hasn't been thrust into the title picture. Instead, she regularly lays waste to local competition. She's currently involved in what is her first meaningful feud with Sasha Banks. If the WWE wants Jax to be perceived as a threat, a feud with Flair do just that. Not to mention, it will catapult her into the title picture.
10 SMACKDOWN: Shelton Benjamin vs. The Miz
With the exception of Bill Goldberg, Shelton Benjamin is likely the biggest acquisition outside of the WWE ranks since the 2016 WWE Draft. However, unlike Goldberg, Benjamin hasn't wrestled a match since his signing due to a torn rotator cuff. Benjamin last appeared in the WWE in 2010 and he is no stranger to being a central player in the mid card scene as evidenced by his 3 Intercontinental Championship reigns along with his 1 United States Championship reign. You know who else isn't a stranger to being a pivotal player in the mid card scene? The Miz. Miz has actually doubled up Benjamin in both departments with 6 Intercontinental Championship reigns and 2 U.S. Championship reigns. With the Miz playing the heel role and Benjamin playing the face, this feud has the potential to supply fans with enjoyable in ring matches.
9 RAW: The New Day vs. Enzo and Cass
"Professor X" Xavier Woods and "Smacktalker Skywalker" Enzo Amore are two of the best on the mic on Monday Night Raw. Despite this, the two tag teams have never been involved in a proper feud. A lot of this likely stems from the fact that the two are not only the two most over tag teams on Raw, but two of the most over acts in the company point blank. Recent reports have indicated that there are preliminary plans to turn the New Day heel. If this indeed ends up coming to fruition, this feud writes itself. However, even if it doesn't the two can still play up an angle in which the winner of their feud becomes the number one contender for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship.
8 SMACKDOWN: Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella
Buddy Murphy and Big Cass' respective significant others, Alexa Bliss and Carmella were both drafted on July 19th, 2016 to Smackdown Live. Bliss was drafted at the forty-seventh slot whereas Carmella was drafted at the fifty-ninth and final slot. Bliss is currently holding gold as Smackdown's Women's Champion while Carmella finds herself involved in a confusing and questionable storyline with the King of "no chin music", James Ellsworth. Carmella can vent her frustration saying unlike Bliss she wasn't given an opportunity at gold the minute she came up and that she is sick of waiting her turn to be on top of the mountain. Carmella can also play up the angle of her being the last draft pick and say she's here to prove to the fifty-eight picks before her that she should've never been overlooked.
7 RAW: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens
Finn Balor and Kevin Owens are two of the biggest names to have stepped foot in NXT. Balor having spent close to two years down in Full Sail before being promoted to the main roster will forever be referred to as the backbone of NXT. On the other hand, Owens took NXT by storm as within two months of his debut he had claimed the NXT Championship. In just six months Owens had made his debut on WWE's main roster and within nine months his stint in NXT had concluded. Owens' final match in NXT was against none other than Balor. The Demon King, who had defeated Owens for his title in July of 2015, had also come out victorious in a rematch between the two at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. The two can play up their NXT history and duke it out in the big leagues now to the pleasure of fans worldwide.
6 SMACKDOWN: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
Earlier this month, AJ Styles said the following about the fans' reaction towards him, "Sometimes I feel like if I'm not getting people to boo me, then I'm not doing my job right. So that's on me. I need to be better about being the bad guy. And sometimes they just refuse. These fans just refuse to accept me as the bad guy". To take a page out of Dolph Ziggler's playbook: "It's too bad that AJ Styles is too good"! Despite Styles playing the role of a heel it's hard to treat him as one simply because he excels on the mic, in the ring and in any role he is given. On the other hand, Baron Corbin is a heel that is strongly disliked by the masses. Booking Corbin strong against Styles legitimizes the "Lone Wolf" as a main event player. As for Styles, he just may have to suck it up because the likelihood of him getting showered with boos or even sprinkled with them is rather slim.
5 RAW: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
On August 22nd, 2015 NXT made its way over to Brooklyn and while Finn Balor and Kevin Owens may have been the main event, the two were overshadowed by the "Legit Boss" and the "Legit Hugger". Banks and Bayley received high praise for their matchup as it was named NXT's Match of the Year for 2015 by the likes of PWI, Rolling Stone and WWE. The two also put on an equally competitive and captivating matchup in their rematch at NXT TakeOver: Respect as the two engaged in battle in the first ever women's ironman match. The two are currently aligned together as they have a common enemy in Charlotte Flair. However, when and if Bayley is able to dethrone the "Queen", Flair, expect a Banks heel turn (where she's at her best) against her buddy, Bayley.
4 SMACKDOWN: AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
In the final quarter of 2016, Randy Orton shifted over to the dark side once again when he turned heel by aligning himself with the Wyatt Family. Orton has always thrived as a sadistic and cunning heel and was at his best in his role as the "Legend Killer" and as the "Apex Predator". With both Styles and Orton playing the roles of heels currently, one would need to turn over to the face role in order to strengthen the feud. The logical answer here is to Styles face as he's practically treated as one by the fans. The two main event players would easily grasp the attention of viewers as WWE could build Orton up as one who has dominated WWE for a decade plus whereas Styles has dominated everywhere he's been and is now looking to do the same within WWE.
3 RAW: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
All good things must come to an end and the partnership between the Canadian best friends Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens is no different. The two currently reign supreme on Monday Night Raw with Jericho having newly been crowned the United States Champion (the only belt that had evaded him in his WWE tenure) and Owens in his fifth month as the WWE Universal Champion. Tension has been teased between the two on many occasions such as Jericho demanding Owens abide by his demand to steer clear of ringside during his matches and Owens walking out on Jericho numerous times while he was beaten down by the likes of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. The two have provided WWE audiences with a number of laughs and together have been quite the pairing. However, sometimes best friends make better enemies. Just ask Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
2 SMACKDOWN: AJ Styles vs. The Miz
At this very moment its hard to argue that there is a heel within the company that is doing better work then the Miz. Whether Miz is on "Talking Smack" putting Daniel Bryan in his place for referring to him as a "coward" in the ring or pushing the envelope by insinuating the sexual tension between Dean Ambrose and Renee Young or putting on a phenomenal in ring program for the Intercontinental Championship with Dolph Ziggler, Miz has bested the locker room time in and time out in recent months. Moreover, Miz's current program with Ambrose, while intriguing, is unfair to him. Miz should be vying for the brand's number one prize, the WWE World Championship. Whether or not Miz will get a chance to go up against AJ Styles for the title remains to be seen; however, the two should be involved in a feud regardless of if it is or is not for the belt.
1 RAW: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
When Mick Foley announced that Raw had selected the "Demon King" Finn Balor with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 WWE Draft, many were surprised to see the NXT talent taken as high as he was. Balor made an immediate impact as on his first night on Raw he won two fatal four way matches which granted him an opportunity against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for the newly created and vacant WWE Universal Championship. The "Architect" and former Bullet Club member put on a stellar matchup at "the biggest party of the summer". Unfortunately, the feud was short lived as Balor had endured a devastating shoulder injury in the match that currently still has him sidelined. Fans received a teaser when the two first tangled up on the main roster and based on their inaugural match, fans are in for a treat when the two are involved in a lengthy program.
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