Ranking WWE SmackDown LIVE's Superstar Shake-Up

Well, the Superstar Shakeup happened this past week, which leaves us with a? drastically altered(?)(slightly modified? mostly-the-same just with different names?) look for both WWE RAW and WWE SmackDown LIVE. So let's take a look at which stars have the greatest chance of breaking out and making an impact on their new brands:


The Best:

1. Roman Reigns - I know, obvious statement is obvious, but Roman Reigns is inevitably going to upend the WWE SmackDown LIVE status quo. Obviously WWE has big plans by launching him into a feud with Vince McMahon. But also, he'll probably topple Kofi Kingston at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship, and I'd be surprised if Daniel Bryan isn't in his crosshairs pretty soon. But the question for me is, does WWE think Roman is a good guy or not? Some say his actions from Tuesday were heelish (I'd argue they were more IDGAF shades of gray). But grumbles from the fans are happening again? and putting Reigns over the new people's champion Kingston will inevitably set him up for jeer city. Either way, SmackDown LIVE is a safe space for Roman (since its the B-brand, it allows him to be "the guy" without feeling like the man is forcing us to accept him as "the guy"), and he adds an air of main-event credibility the roster needs as it heads to FOX in the Fall.


2. Lars Sullivan - This dude, God Bless him, had a mental health crisis and WWE let him keep his spot – which is awesome (for both parties). Obviously WWE thinks Lars could become its go-to monster on Tuesday nights, and I love the classic "bad guy squash everybody" path to building up new heels. I bet he takes out Finn Balor this summer, possibly squashes The New Day and Kofi later this year, and I'm penciling him in for a feud with WWE Champion Roman Reigns by early 2019. If so, Sullivan got the Braun Strowman stairway to success WWE never fully embraced.

Lars Sullivan could be a gamechanger for both SmackDown Live and the whole WWE as he becomes our Brock Lesnar of the next decade (that is, once Lesnar fully embraces his Minnesota mountain-man mystique and retires from pro wrestling and, really, civilization as we know it).

3. Finn Balor - Everyone thinks Finn needs to leave WWE or whatever, but WWE and Vince & Co. continue to prove they think he adds value. Bringing over the Intercontinental Championship means Balor immediately has a spotlight on the blue brand to feud with? Ali, Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens? and if Daniel Bryan needs a dancing partner upon leaving his Toxic Avenger championship run behind, these two could do great things in a SummerSlam barn-burner that also elevates the IC Championship in the process. While Roman Reigns being on SmackDown LIVE does take up a lot of main-event space, Balor chasing a legend like Randy Orton on his pathway to claiming his first WWE Championship would make a great WrestleMania 36 story.


4. Elias - I know – he's the biggest draft shakeup superstar acquisition in the history of pro wrestling sports entertainment history or whatever – but even then, he's not one of my top three guys on this list. Still, the move to Tuesday nights could prove profitable for Elias who currently does more sideshow/entertainment work (I mean, he's great at it, and WWE SmackDown LIVE probably needs more of it, but still) than wrestling. This man has the look, he has the charisma, and he has the working effort to be one of the top guys on the b-show. Fans already know him. So maybe Vince McMahon lets him loose on Finn Balor, or pairs him with a workhorse like Daniel Bryan ("you waste so much wood on those guitars, you're single-handedly killing the emperor penguins!"), where Elias can be treated as a serious in-ring threat again.

5. Ember Moon - Love love LOVE this addition. Ember Moon was quickly overlooked on RAW before getting injured. Here, on SmackDown LIVE, she was already treated bigger than her debut on the main roster, and being surrounded by Asuka, Charlotte, Bayley, and more, gives her a-thousand-and-one ways to increase both her working profile and her promo work. Ember Moon already has a unique look that should help her stand out. And if she's allowed to go the distance with Becky Lynch at a B-level pay-per-view? We could (hopefully, possibly, maybe?) see her as WWE Women's Champion by 2020.


The Rest:

I really dig Bayley, but she's been so misunderstood and underutilized for so long, I can't even remember why she felt special. SmackDown LIVE is already crowded place to be. I'm not sure her odds of breaking out increase much here.

Kairi Sane is everything you could hope for in building out a deep, dynamic women's wrestling roster in 2019 – she has a unique character, endless charm, and a high-flying finisher that makes the crowd take notice. But pairing her with Asuka in a "must they minimize all Japanese women on the main roster?" moment really took the wind out of her... sails.

Chad Gable can go. He's got a Kurt Angle/2001 vibe to him. And now he's back on his own. Hopefully this means WWE plans on doing something serious with him, but you can't make a buck off of "hopefully." So we'll see.

Buddy Murphy got a promo this week! And it was good, so maybe WWE does have plans for him. On second thought, "WWE does have plans for him" about ANYBODY is a nonsensical statement.

Cannon Fodder:

Apollo Crews can do that moonsault thingy, so he'll probably do that? if they ever let him on TV again. So? probably not.

Mickie James on a crowded SmackDown makes ZERO sense, as does her idea for a RAW MILF shirt in 2019.


Otis and Tucker sure are funny, I'm supposed to think. They'll be feuding with The Ascension on WWE Main Event by year's end. (Wait, is WWE Main Event cross-branded? Is WWE Main Event still even on?)

I know WWE, I saw Suicide Squad too. #LivMorgan