This week in WWE: The Superstar Shake made some much needed changes
This is a weekly look at the action in the WWE:
Kurt Angle welcomed the fans to the Superstar Shakeup, a week full of surprises. Jinder Mahal was the first to be moved from SmackDown Live to Raw, and he was welcomed to Raw having to defend his US Title. Mahal’s arrival would be spoiled by Jeff Hardy who defeated him to become United States Champion. Bayley and Sasha Banks tried to settle their differences in the ring, but were interrupted by an attack from former SmackDown faction, The Riott Squad.
The Miz welcomed Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to Raw, and explained to the audience how they would be joining him in creating the best faction. Kurt Angle crashed the party, though, revealing to Miz that he will now be part of SmackDown Live. He offered Miz a going away present, a ten man tag in the main event. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated The Revival to win a chance to challenge The Bar for the Raw Tag Titles. Dolph Ziggler made his arrival, and Titus World Wide raced to the ring in attempts to recruit him. Ziggler explained he did not need to be recruited, as he did not come to Raw alone. Drew McIntyre surprised Titus and Apollo with a brutal attack.
The newest Raw member, Natalya, defeated Mandy Rose with a Sharpshooter. Sonya Deville spoiled Natalya’s victory by attacking her. This prompted Ronda Rousey to come down for the save. Breezango had a nice debut as they upset The Bar after Tyler Breeze rolled up Cesaro. The Miz, Mizterouge, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn challenged Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, and the new member of Raw, Bobby Roode in the main event. Strowman sent Miz to SmackDown with a loss after hitting him with a Running Power Slam and pinning him for the win.
AJ Styles opened the show expressing his frustrations with Nakamura’s recent behavior. He demanded Nakamura come and face him. Instead, he was confronted by Rusev and Aiden English. AJ Styles accepted Rusev’s challenge, though their match did not go for long as Aiden English got involved. Daniel Bryan raced to the ring for the save. Paige, the new SmackDown GM, announced a tag main event featuring all four men. Shelton Benjamin demanded an opponent worthy of his level. Randy Orton appeared to answer his call, instead, the new United States Champion, Jeff Hardy did. Hardy defeated Benjamin after a Swanton Bomb. Samoa Joe made an impactful debut on SmackDown defeating Sin Cara. He, then, took to the mic to explain things are about to change in “the land of hand outs.”
Carmella celebrated winning the SmackDown Women’s Title. Her party was spoiled by Charlotte, and the Iconics. This led to a match between Charlotte and Billie Kay which Charlotte won. The Iconics tried ambushing Flair, but Becky Lynch and a debuting Asuka saved the former champion. Nakamura once again spoiled a main event as he lowbrowed Styles. His attack distracted Styles’ partner, Daniel Bryan, who was, then in turn, surprised by a monster kick from a returning Big Cass.
Boy, did the Superstar Shake Up do a lot of good for both shows.
Raw’s tag division finally looks in good shape, and Bobby Roode desperately needed a change in the cards. Ziggler getting paired with McIntyre makes him the most interesting he has been in years. Also, the seeds have been planted for Ronda Rousey’s first solo feud with Natalya. All in all, Raw got a plethora of talent to rebuild their mid card. Getting guys like Corbin and Roode allows two guys the opportunity to be freshened up.
SmackDown Live, though, absolutely left the week with a better roster. It’s clear there was no space for people like Samoa Joe and Asuka at the top of the cards, where they belonged, on Raw. Moving them to the blue show was absolutely brilliant. Moving Absolution to SmackDown can lead to a future story where Paige starts to favor her girls. Not to mention, it freshens up the Women’s Division. Where I think SmackDown really got elevated, though, was with the wrestlers they added via NXT. Former Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega will add so much to the blue show, especially considering what Zelina can do on the mic to elevate Almas’ feuds. The call up of Sanity, too, adds another dimension as there is absolutely no telling what the faction will get themselves into when they arrive on SmackDown.
All in all, the Superstar Shake Up did exactly what it should have for both shows. For the better part of last year, SmackDown was clearly behind Raw. These moves, at least on paper, give us the impression that SmackDown will once again be the dominant force it was when the brand split first happened almost two years ago.
Also, worth mentioning is the fact that WWE will go back to sharing their Pay-per-views. This was something that was definitely needed. The excess of shows was definitely taking its toll last year with the story lines. Combining them again allows the PPVs to be focused. There is no need to fill a card with filler matches. So long as they do not fall into a trap where every title has to be defended at every show, this effort should pay off.