The Superstar Shakeup completely changed the landscape of WWE more than any of us imagined. Most assumed a handful of wrestlers would switch brands thanks to a random drawing similar to past years. Instead, WWE decided to take a large percentage of established wrestlers and change their surroundings. A great number of SmackDown Live upper card acts were sent to Raw. Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, The Miz and Alexa Bliss all switched brands after being fixtures on the blue brand. The only main eventers that remain are A.J. Styles, Randy Orton and John Cena along with the new stars coming over.
Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, New Day and Charlotte Flair were the major names to leave Raw for SmackDown Live. WWE flipping United States Champion Owens and Intercontinental Champion Ambrose was meant to truly shake up the rosters with new titles on each side. Raw will keep most of their usual top stars like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Sasha Banks. The competition on Raw will be interesting considering Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will rarely ever show up. We'll take a look at the roster on both sides in terms of which wrestlers were winners and losers following the shakeup.
15 Winner: A.J. Styles
The hottest rumor heading into the Superstar Shakeup was A.J. Styles leaving SmackDown Live for Raw. WWE ended up shipping over all the other top stars from SmackDown but left Styles on the blue brand. Styles stepped up following the brand split to become the face of SmackDown leading it to strong success. You can’t mess with a run this hot and Styles staying on SmackDown is best for all.
Not only is A.J. remaining where he is very popular, but he's the top face on the roster. A slight character change into a fan favorite is huge considering the lack of faces on SmackDown. Randy Orton is the WWE Champion but fans are already growing tired of him. John Cena is only around a few months at a time. Dean Ambrose is gone. Styles is the most popular face on SmackDown with his popularity only growing with the lack of established credible fan favorites on the roster.
14 Loser: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt scored the biggest win of his career winning the WWE Championship for the first time at Elimination Chamber in February. The new face of SmackDown Live saw his run end quickly with a loss to Randy Orton at WrestleMania 33. One week after losing the title, Wyatt saw his career change with a move to Raw.
The biggest positive of SmackDown is the booking catering towards storytelling and character progression. A character like Wyatt needs a lot of time and effort to truly succeed in today’s WWE. Raw typically struggles to provide that making it the main reason most diehard fans prefer SmackDown. Wyatt went from being the World Champion on a brand that booked him effectively to a new environment where he will be significantly below the top names like Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
13 Winner: Kevin Owens
The disappointing ending to Kevin Owens’ Universal Championship reign at the hands of Goldberg saw him never receive a rematch. Owens had no path back to the title picture with Brock Lesnar being a part-time performer as the champ on Raw. It was almost a step down and the move to SmackDown Live gives him a chance to rise back to the top. SmackDown provides opportunity for the most talented stars to move to the top of the cards, and Owens has proven he’s a main eventer.
Owens was the biggest singles star to make the move from Raw. The heel work of Owens makes him a perfect opponent for guys like John Cena, A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. Owens has dominated the title picture in WWE winning every male singles title aside from the WWE Championship. That is now open on the SmackDown roster.
12 Loser: American Alpha
American Alpha did not get moved from SmackDown Live to Raw, but it was still a bad week for them. The pairing of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable was supposed to be the faces of the SmackDown Tag Team Division. They've struggled to show enough personality for the role and it forced WWE to make a change. New Day are making the move from Raw to SmackDown to become the top face team in the division.
Both New Day and The Usos are above American Alpha in the pecking order. It will take work for American Alpha to surpass the hugely popular New Day as a face team. A heel change could help them but The Usos are dominating that spot. Gable and Jordan’s stock took a hit this week falling in the rankings of the Tag Team Division.
11 Winner: Alexa Bliss
The success of Alexa Bliss on SmackDown Live saw her become a huge surprise star. Bliss came from out of nowhere to create momentum as the best heel in the Women’s Division. In the short time, Bliss achieved everything one could have in the SmackDown Women’s Division and needed a change after wrestling the same Superstars every week.
The heel work of Alexa would fit perfectly in a feud against the fan favorites Sasha Banks and Bayley. A potential face turn down the road would make her an incredible underdog against Nia Jax. Bliss benefits from the change and has a shot to take over Raw just like she did on SmackDown. It's no secret WWE views Raw with a bit more importance and that can only improve the career of Alexa.
10 Loser: Emma
One women’s wrestler that did not have a good week was Emma. Raw featured Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Mickie James and Alexa Bliss in the ring all in a promo battle about who will be the most dominant woman in the division. Meanwhile, Emma was stuck in a pointless backstage segment with the irrelevant Dana Brooke. A move to SmackDown Live could have led to huge success for Emma.
Sadly, Emma was showcased below the top tier of women on Raw and remaining there for the foreseeable future makes a difficult path to the top. Emma is just as talented as anyone else in the division but the lack of opportunity on Raw is unlikely to change. This was the perfect case of someone missing out by not being a part of the Superstar Shakeup.
9 Winners: Primo and Epico
The tag team of Primo and Epico made an impact on SmackDown Live in the Superstar Shakeup this week after being irrelevant on Raw for months. It appears they dropped the Shining Stars gimmick and are just going to be competing as a credible team this time around. Their debut on SmackDown Live came with an attack on American Alpha.
While it's a bad sign for American Alpha to fall in the rankings, Primo and Epico will only benefit from working with the former Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The talent of Primo and Epico has never been in question, but they’ve been unable to find the right characters to connect with fans. WWE is already presenting them with toughness and intensity on Smackdown which is a great sign for their chances of turning their careers around.
8 Loser: Cesaro
One wrestler that desperately needed to switch from Raw to SmackDown Live is Cesaro. Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan has publicly discussed how great of an addition Cesaro would be to the blue brand. Cesaro is still waiting for an opportunity to thrive as a singles star in WWE and SmackDown in the land of opportunity.
Instead, WWE opted to keep Cesaro on Raw in a tag team with Sheamus for the near future. The tag team of Cesaro and Sheamus is still below The Hardys, Enzo & Big Cass and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in the Raw Tag Team Division. Cesaro is going to see his talent wasted another year unless WWE makes a trade that sends him to SmackDown Live when the tag team with Sheamus ends.
7 Winners: New Day
Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods are still together as New Day makes the move from Raw to SmackDown Live. The trio is quite popular with merchandise leading to huge success as the biggest tag team act for WWE in many years. New Day however lost a lot of their luster on Raw growing stale after wrestling the same teams every week.
A move to SmackDown Live will allow them to hook up with The Usos after a few years with both teams in new roles. The dream match of New Day versus American Alpha is also possible down the road. New Day will be fresh again with the change allowing them to continue the act after growing old on Raw. The option is also there for interesting singles matches with the likes of A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura.
6 Loser: Kalisto
A change for Kalisto sounds good on paper after struggling to stand out on SmackDown Live. The problem is the obvious future of Kalisto in the Cruiserweight Division. Yes, it improves the cruiserweight depth and gives them another credible star. Sadly, the cruiserweights struggle to get the full attention from the fans at live shows and are viewed as below the other wrestlers.
Kalisto getting placed in the Cruiserweight Division limits him from competing with the rest of main roster stars. One of the strengths of Kalisto is using his size in the underdog role against the larger wrestlers in WWE. Some of his best matches took place against Ryback. Kalisto loses that storytelling perk with most of the wrestlers being closer to his size.
5 Winner: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn has wanted to be on SmackDown Live since it became apparent that show offered more opportunity. The role of Zayn on Raw was limited with him only playing the underdog character to put over guys like Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe. Zayn showed character strength opposing Stephanie McMahon and the heel leadership of role, but it went nowhere.
The move to SmackDown Live allows Zayn the chance to actually move up the card. If he makes the most of his opportunities, he can easily join Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles and others in the main event scene. Zayn’s strength is storytelling and SmackDown offers long term stories to showcase the character progression. The fit is perfect for Zayn and he finally has the chance to prove how great he can be in WWE.
4 Loser: Roman Reigns
The rumors of Roman Reigns moving to SmackDown Live could have helped his career. Everyone knows WWE views Raw as the top show and moving Reigns would have at least presented the belief that they were slowing down from shoving him down the viewers’ throats. Reigns also would have been able to have better feuds and stories with less of the traditional WWE overbooking following him on Raw.
WWE opted to keep Reigns as the face of the Raw brand because they would never dare move the golden boy to SmackDown Live. Dean Ambrose moving to Raw and Seth Rollins remaining is also terrible for Roman. It will just remind fans how Reigns is their third favorite member of The Shield. Unless Reigns reverts back into working with the trio, fans will hate him even more going forward as they despise the good guy.
3 Winner: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair has dominated the Raw Women’s Division since the brand split. The second generation Superstar is already a four-time Raw Women’s Champion and had numerous memorable matches involving Sasha Banks and Bayley. A change was clearly needed after doing everything possible on the Raw brand. The move to SmackDown Live opens up both old feuds resurfacing and new dream matches becoming possible.
Naomi is the current SmackDown Women’s Champion and she is the perfect opponent for Charlotte. Both women are among the most athletic performers in WWE today. Rivalries with Becky Lynch and Natalya can continue with all ladies in a better place today growing as wrestlers. On a personal note, Charlotte and Becky are best friends outside of the ring meaning they’ll actually get to travel and spend their days together again after being apart for almost a year.
2 Loser: The Miz
No one proved SmackDown Live was the land of opportunity more than The Miz did. Following years of irrelevance, Miz used the opportunity presented in the brand split to become one of the best heels in WWE today. Miz’s incredible feuds with Dolph Ziggler, John Cena and even General Manger Daniel Bryan helped carry the show in telling great stories.
The back and forth between Miz and Bryan played a huge role in Miz becoming the top villain on SmackDown Live. Miz was on pace to find his way back into the WWE Championship picture. The move to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup is going to damage his momentum. Miz has no chance at winning the Universal Championship with the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman likely being the only ones involved in the title picture over the next year.
1 Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
As mentioned earlier, the SmackDown roster lost a lot of talented stars making it wide open for the current roster to make moves. Shinsuke Nakamura debuting on the SmackDown Live after WrestleMania 33 showed just how much star power he possesses. New fans tend to fall in love with Nakamura and that is definitely going to continue on SmackDown Live.
Nakamura is already one of the top four faces on SmackDown Live with the new roster. John Cena being a part-time star and Randy Orton losing momentum means Nakamura will likely only be second behind A.J. Styles in the pecking order within a few months. The opportunity is right there for Nakamura to become a main event star and future WWE Champion within the year thanks to the majority of established stars leaving SmackDown.