The Superstar Shakeup has come to an end, and it was successful in giving both brands a face lift. Raw was able to acquire several notable names such as Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, The Miz, Alexa Bliss, and Micke James. On the Smackdown side, they got United States Champion Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The New Day, and Charlotte Flair. Whether you liked the changes or not, there’s no denying that it’s an interesting time in the landscape of the WWE.
Are we finally going to witness the dawn of a new era or will we see the same stuff again? Nobody knows the answer except for the creative team, but one thing is certain, fans from all over the world will be watching for the next couple of weeks. For now, let us talk about what needs to happen on both Raw and Smackdown after the shakeup. Some of the entries here have a huge chance of becoming reality while the others may only be wishful thinking. Whatever happens, we all just hope that it will pave the way for a real revolution. The company should realize that this year’s lineup of superstars is the best ever. So, let us begin…
20. Less Stephanie McMahon – Raw
WWE should realize by now that the majority of the fan base is already sick and tired of the boss’ daughter always getting the spotlight on television. Whether she’s opening the show with a 20-minute promo or being involved in a backstage segment, you know that Stephanie McMahon will say something demeaning to a heel or face without any comeuppance. Yes, she did go through a table at WrestleMania, but don’t expect her to be out for so long. We might see her return in just a few months and be her usual self again. If the company really listens to its fans, they should put less emphasis on Stephanie and more on the wrestlers. As a matter of fact, they should finally put an end to the dictatorial authority figure storyline. It’s been done way too many times already.
19. Don’t Waste Tye Dillinger – Smackdown
Tye Dillinger made his main roster debut two weeks ago on Smackdown, and it was glorious (sorry about that, Bobby Roode). Last Tuesday, he continued to impress by beating Aiden English in singles competition. The crowd reaction on both nights was proof that the Perfect 10 is a superstar indeed. With that being said, it would be a shame if the WWE fails to elevate him. They already failed with Apollo Crews, so let’s hope they won’t make the same mistake with this one. With a strong fan base, Tye is perfect for a classic underdog story. He can have decent run in the midcard and when the time is right, he can fight his way to the main event scene (similar to what Daniel Bryan did in 2013-2014).
18. Make Angle An Effective GM – Raw
Water is wet, sky is blue, and Kurt Angle is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. When the Olympic gold medalist was named the new general manager of Raw, both casual and hardcore fans marked out. He played the GM role well in 2004, so it’s exciting to see what he has to offer this year. Not only is he a remarkable wrestler, but he’s also golden on the microphone. If there’s one thing we all don’t want to see, it’s him being the next Mick Foley. The hardcore legend was “fired” last March by none other than the evil queen Stephanie McMahon, and he never got his payback. Please WWE, don’t let Steph do the same to the man who won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck. Make Kurt the manifestation of Foley’s revenge.
17. Mojo Rawley vs. Zack Ryder Feud – Smackdown
Whether you enjoyed the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal or not, you have to give props to the WWE for making it an unpredictable bout. Mojo Rawley was the last man standing, and on Smackdown Live two weeks ago, he said that he was just getting started. In case you didn’t notice, Mojo never mentioned his tag team partner Zack Ryder, who is still recovering from injury. Even on last Tuesday’s episode, there were no signs of the Long Island Iced Z.
When Zack Ryder returns, a feud between him and Mojo could be a good storyline. They can book Ryder to turn heel because of jealousy or go with Mojo, claiming that he doesn’t need his partner anymore. It will elevate both guys and add more value to the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy.
16. Push Apollo Crews – Raw
Even though we stated earlier that Apollo Crews failed on Smackdown, there is still hope for him. Drafting him to Raw last Monday was an awesome idea because it will give him a well-deserved fresh start. Watch Apollo Crews’ indie matches online and you will see that he is a one-of-a-kind athlete. With just a few changes to his gimmick and proper booking, he can be back in the spotlight in no time. Let him show off his aggressive side while maintaining his status as a babyface. His current smiling face gimmick doesn’t really help him. Of course, the creative team also needs to provide him with a feud that will put him over. A shot at the Intercontinental Title can be a good suggestion.
15. Elevate The Women’s Division – Smackdown
Smackdown may have lost Alexa Bliss and Mickie James, but they got Lana, Tamina, and The Queen Charlotte Flair. The blue brand has a solid women’s roster right now, and the creative team should handle it properly. After recently falling victim to bad booking, Becky Lynch needs to redeem herself by being in the spotlight again. As for Naomi, she needs a credible challenger for her Women’s Championship. It can be Becky or Charlotte, but it’s best to save that for SummerSlam. Lana may remain as Rusev’s manager, but it would be great if the WWE decides to let her show off her in-ring skills. Without a doubt, things are looking good for the Women’s Division. We hope to witness many incredible matches and moments this year.
14. Continue Samoa Joe’s Push – Raw
We can forgive the WWE for not putting Samoa Joe at WrestleMania 33. It’s still too early, and a singles match with a huge name will only look rushed. However, the company must make sure that The Destroyer will have a monumental match at next year’s Showcase Of The Immortals. Joe has been impressive so far and now is the time to push him harder. He can stay as Triple H’s enforcer, but don’t let The Game take away his spotlight. If he’s booked as a legitimate threat, he could be one of Raw’s greatest heel characters of all time. Last Monday’s Raw teased a feud with Seth Rollins, and we’re okay with that. We also hope to see him go one-on-one with Balor and Lesnar this year.
13. Keep John Cena’s Role – Smackdown
Say what you want about Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, And Respect, but his recent WWE run was an unselfish one. He put AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt over, and he agreed to let Roman Reigns fight Taker at the main event of WrestleMania. John Cena today is what a part-timer should be. With Brock Lesnar already representing Raw, it was smart for the company to keep Cena on Smackdown. Set him up with a major feud upon his return, and let his opponent shine. He already has a legendary status, so a loss against an up-and-coming star won’t hurt him at all. Since the 16-time WWE Champion is still healthy, we will certainly see him in more four-star matches this year. Just imagine a Cena and Nakamura bout at SummerSlam.
12. Don’t Bury Bray Wyatt… Again! – Raw
Everyone thought that the Eater Of Worlds will finally get his WrestleMania moment, but the WWE didn’t listen to the vocal fans again. Bray lost his WWE Title against Randy Orton in a lackluster match. Two weeks ago on Smackdown, Wyatt challenged the champ to a “House Of Horrors” match, and now that he’s drafted to Raw, it looks like he won’t be getting the win. We can forgive his impending loss against The Viper if the creative team will make him relevant on the red brand. He teased a program with Finn Balor last Monday, and hopefully, the storyline will be beneficial for him. Bray Wyatt is simply too good to be forgotten. It’s also the best time for him to do a Sister Abigail angle.
11. Make Kevin Owens A Credible US Champion – Smackdown
Indie wrestling fans marked out when Kevin Owens won the Universal Title last year. Unfortunately for Owens, he wasn’t booked to be a fighting champ. He usually won his matches via disqualification or interferences and often loses on the go-home shows. To make matters worse, the “Prize Fighter” lost the title to Goldberg at Fastlane in just 22 seconds! Now that he’s the United States Champion on Smackdown, WWE should make it up to him by giving him a much better run. They can still let him win some matches by cheating, but don’t overdo it. A heel getting a few clean wins will bring more heat to his character.
He will defend his belt at Payback against his former best friend, and while we all love Jericho, Owens needs the victory more. By being a member of the blue brand roster, he can produce memorable matches with AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Harper, and Tye Dillinger. His arch nemesis Sami Zayn is also part of the brand, which can lead to another historical rivalry.
10. Turn Sasha Banks Heel – Raw
Since Charlotte is now on Smackdown, Raw’s Women’s Division is lacking a true heel. You may suggest Nia Jax, but she still needs to work on her wrestling and promo skills. If there’s someone who is ready to be the main villain, then that would be The Boss Sasha Banks. She already teased it on Monday by taunting Bayley, and it was able to garner a shocked reaction from the crowd.
After a historical feud with The Queen last year, Sasha deserves to have another main event push. Jobbing to Nia Jax at the Royal Rumble didn’t help her at all, but it can be forgotten if she becomes a full-fledged heel. With her “boss” character going against the lovable Bayley, it has the potential to be one of the year’s greatest rivalries.
9. Don’t Waste Sami Zayn – Smackdown
Even without winning a single title last year, Sami Zayn remains to be one of the biggest babyfaces on Raw. He has the perfect underdog persona, and his in-ring work never ceased to amaze the crowd. Most of the WWE Universe said that he’s better off at Smackdown, and last Tuesday, that fantasy turned into reality. Now that the Underdog From The Underground is part of the blue brand, fans are expecting to see him get a major push. He got involved in a few notable storylines on Raw, but it was not enough to elevate his status. The creative team has the power to change it this year. Give Zayn an opportunity to shine not only in the ring, but also on the microphone.
8. Make Seth Rollins The Top Face – Raw
Roman Reigns as a babyface just doesn’t work, and we’ll talk about that later. If the WWE wants a superstar that will be cheered by the fans, it’s none other than Seth Rollins. Apart from his in-ring abilities, he’s also much better when it comes to doing promos. No disrespect to Reigns, he has improved a lot, but Seth is just a more effective hero character than him.
Seth’s victory against Triple H was the perfect passing of the torch moment, which should make way for a well-deserved run as the top babyface. He doesn’t have to win the Universal Title in an instant, but hopefully, he’s already holding the belt by the end of the year. We’re also looking forward to his rivalry with Samoa Joe. The company better make it a good one.
7. An Epic Nakamura Vs. Ziggler Rivalry – Smackdown
Shinsuka Nakamura is now on the main roster, and he is said to become the top face of Smackdown. On the recent episode, The King Of Strong Style formally introduced himself to Dolph Ziggler. Dolph may have lost a bit of momentum last year, but this feud can save him. Both superstars are known to be great workers, so expect their bouts to end up in numerous best matches lists. The WWE should still make Ziggler look strong, even if we all know that Nakamura will go over. It’s the only way to add excitement to the rivalry. Keep the promos simple and let the wrestling do the rest. Afterwards, Nakamura can get a title shot while Ziggler continues his role as an arrogant heel.
6. Elevate The Cruiserweights – Raw
After the impressive Neville vs. Austin Aries match at WrestleMania, WWE must realize by now that the cruiserweight division is money. Instead of love triangles and other absurd storylines, the creative team should just stick to the basics. Neville’s feud with Aries didn’t need to have a subplot to be effective, all it needed was some good old trash talking and action-packed wrestling. With this type of booking, the whole division has an opportunity to stand out. Maybe a tournament for the Cruiserweight Title on Raw and 205 Live will help or anything that will showcase the wrestling skills of each superstar. The company should keep in mind that the CWC was a success because of the in-ring action. TJ Perkins’ heel turn last Monday was effective, and we hope it will lead to greater things for him. After all, he was the winner of the first CWC. Lastly, with Kalisto joining Raw, he deserves to have a spotlight in the division.
5. Put More Focus On The Tag Division – Smackdown
Last Tuesday, The Usos and American Alpha had an impressive match for the tag team titles. If Smackdown continues to put more focus on the tag team division, it will definitely get a larger following. Hopefully, The New Day being drafted is a sign that real changes will come. Primo and Epico also joined the blue brand, and their team can work if they abandon The Shining Stars gimmick. A character change, similar to The Usos, is the perfect way to make them credible. As for teams like The Ascension and Breezango, all they need is proper booking to be relevant again. The tag team division wasn’t able to make an impact last year, but it’s never too late. Today’s lineup has a chance to give the crowd plenty of memorable moments.
4. Turn Reigns Heel – Raw
He beat The Undertaker at The Showcase Of The Immortals and received the loudest boos ever at a Raw after Mania event. If Vince McMahon wants to prove that he’s not out of touch, then he should turn Roman Reigns heel very soon. Seriously, who can sympathize with a guy who defeated arguably the most respected wrestler of all time in his retirement match? Reigns didn’t show an ounce of respect for Taker after the bout. He just stated two weeks ago that “it’s my yard now”.
On Monday, WWE once again tried to get the crowd to sympathize with Reigns by letting Braun Strowman viciously attack him. What was the result? The audience just chanted “Thank you, Braun!” Roman can stay as a face in this feud, but he really needs to turn afterwards.
3. Give Rusev Another Push – Smackdown
Rusev started out as a monster heel in the WWE, but after dropping the US Title at WrestleMania 31, he became a jobber. He went through the same phase again last year, and now that he’s drafted to Smackdown, let’s hope that he will finally have a stable character. The Bulgarian Brute can bring back his dominant bad guy character or he can turn face without losing his badassery. We don’t mind seeing him as the blue brand’s version of Brock Lesnar. He’s currently recovering from a shoulder injury, and once he returns, the crowd will surely be cheering for him. Whether he’s going to be a heel or face, the WWE must give Rusev a decent push. No more losing in squash matches, please.
2. Less Focus On The Part Timers – Raw
This is probably the most impossible thing to happen in this list. As long as part timers continue to draw higher ratings and produce higher ticket sales, the company will keep on using them. Let’s just hope that this time they won’t do it at the expense of the full time superstars. What’s the purpose of their hard work if they’re just going to get squashed by Lesnar or Goldberg? Putting the active members of the roster over is the only way for them to get more exposure. It worked with John Cena on Smackdown, and it’s guaranteed to work on Raw as well. WWE should realize that with superstars like Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, the future is undoubtedly in good hands.
1. Set Up Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles For WrestleMania – Smackdown
If you haven’t seen the match between AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10, then you should go check it out online now. The bout was a technical wrestling masterpiece, and it would be a big mistake for the WWE to not set up a rematch. Now that both guys are still on blue brand, let them go at it again at next year’s WrestleMania. It doesn’t even have to be for a title; just the two of them facing off in the Grandest Stage Of Them All is enough to produce the loudest “This Is Awesome” chants. What better way to represent “the wrestling show” known as Smackdown than with two of the best wrestlers today. Book it, Vince! Give the hardcore fans what they want!
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