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Posted in: Latta’s Lariat
Latta’s Lariat #47: The Best Candidates To Switch Brands In The 2018 WWE Superstar Shakeup
By Rich Latta II
Feb 6, 2018 - 3:22:04 PM

LARIAT


Enjoy The 2018 WWE Royal Rumble Rap Review




Following Wrestlemania 33, WWE instituted a Superstar Shakeup. At first, it was thought to be a midseason shakeup before the real draft would come sometime later in 2017. Well, that turned out to actually be the draft. Over the following months, experimentation occurred, and we saw quite a few rivalries get worn out like LeBron in the second half of an NBA Finals game. What up The Shield/Jordan vs Sheamus and Cesaro!


With a landscape that is a little long in the tooth, I’ve decided to explore shaking things up a little and giving both shows a little bit of what the other has. The rules I’ve invented are as follows.


Trade 1 Tag Team on each show


3 Raw Men Switch (Two stars, 1 lower card guy)


3 Smackdown Men Switch (Two stars, 1 lower card guy)


3 Women From Each Show Traded


1 Call Up For Each Brand


The Usos Traded To Raw for The Bar.


The cornerstones of Raw and Smackdown swap places and run through the new challenges on each roster. The Usos and The Revival could break into a long rivalry, as NXT’s Top Guys can go toe to toe with the decades' top team over the summer. American Alpha & The Bar would be a physical freak show, and The New Day vs The Bar would be welcome after all the time apart. I think trading champs for champs gives WWE the ability to move them up and down the pecking order since both teams are already the at the top on their respective sides. It’ll create great matchups without upending the hierarchy.


Raw Men To Smackdown


Seth Rollins.


The former #1 overall draft selection has effectively turned into a mid carder on Monday Night Raw. With Raw transforming to the 260 LB + Main Event division AKA where the Big Boys Play, Rollins was moved over to the tag scene, after sniffing around the IC Title following Wrestlemania 33. The Triple H match was not a launching point for him, as much as it was a close of one era of his career. He seemed like a lost man until teaming up with Ambrose, and losing Dean has only amplified the feeling that Rollins doesn’t have the gloss he once did. Sending him to Smackdown and re-establishing him in the main event scene would create a host of fresh first time matches, and allow him to build a face run that can be the B-Side to his 2015 heel one. Plus it gets us closer to Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles, Nakamura, and a host of other lower-tier workers that can be put with Rollins to get better.  


Samoa Joe.


Joe’s had awful timing with injuries since last fall. His potential programs with John Cena were twice delayed, and despite the level, he was able to reach in his Lesnar feud, he seems like he is destined to be the odd big man out. Now he could stay on Raw as a potential Reigns Universal Title challenger post Wrestlemania, but I’d feel a lot better about that had they not had Reigns already defeat Joe. Sending him to Smackdown instantly gives them their best monster heel, and a guy who can face AJ Styles should he keep or lose the championship following Wrestlemania. Joe’s path to the World Title is seemingly a lot less crowded on Smackdown. The way Joe heated up the ratings last July in his feud with Lesnar should be taken into account for what he could do for the Blue Brand. There is perhaps no more intense talker in the game than Joe when he’s firing on all cylinders.


Big Cass


Big Cass hasn’t been seen since he tore his ACL to shreds in the process of handing out a beating to Enzo Amore. This is a perfect chance for him to come back as either a face or a heel to continue what he started. His reaction will be interesting because his entire heel run was based on the crowd’s love of that team. Now that Enzo isn’t in the picture at all, or even redeemable, should Cass stay in the heel role he had gotten started? I think Cass will come back motivated to get back the time lost, and Smackdown will be a perfect place for him to ease into getting his confidence back in his leg, and as a performer. .


Smackdown Men To Raw


Jinder Mahal


Let’s see if WWE will take the same leap of faith on Raw that they did on Smackdown with Jinder. Spoiler alert, I don’t think they do. We won’t have to worry about him going over Roman Reigns, but his act has run its course at the top level on Smackdown. A change of scenery could net him a longer shelf life as he is a very 1-dimensional character. Maybe a face turn could be in order. Either way, Smackdown had its soul sucked from them last year; let’s see Jinder on Raw and see if he can hang.


Randy Orton


There’s no real good place for Randy Orton honestly. He doesn’t inspire much as a face outside of The RKO and has always been a better heel. He could turn and be better for both brands and really embrace “Old Man Orton” status. My vision of Smackdown just doesn’t have him in it anymore. Raw getting Orton gives them a reliable star and name that has been on television for almost 16 years. He’s versatile enough to slide where they want him to on the roster, although you run the risk of him mailing it in with the wrong program. Orton has some top-level feuds left, and there are newer stars on Raw that could benefit like Elias, Finn Balor, or even Strowman.


Mojo Rawley


Mojo Rawley is the wildcard pick here. With his unsuccessful challenge to Bobby Roode’s United States Championship, Raw would be a fresh coat of paint for a guy that may have sparked WWE’s entire switch to the cell phone promos. He isn’t really much in the ring at this point, but he’s got believable intensity and a gift of gab that can take him far in WWE. Raw is a longer show where he won’t have to fight for time, and he can rise in a more organic nature, akin to Elias. He’s a down on his luck man’s version of a young John Cena right now.


Raw Women To Smackdown


Asuka


Why would I send Asuka to Smackdown? Simple. Less talking and more wrestling. Also, by that point, Asuka will have beaten everyone on Raw. If rumors hold, Asuka is set to challenge Charlotte at Wrestlemania 34 and should she be successful, her jumping to Smackdown could be the signature thing this shakeup needs. The feud can continue and give us plenty of Charlotte vs Asuka before they head off in their own directions. They’ll be the anchors of SD Live, aided by the next two women.


Bayley


She hasn’t been the same since Alexa Bliss beat her with the Kendo Stick. Smackdown could be the place to remove her away from all her failures on Monday Night Raw and rebuild her to the point where she could be rehabbed by Summerslam if it is handled correctly. She seems like she is due to face Sasha Banks, and dropping her in a new environment following that would be a smart play because Raw hasn’t been kind to everyone’s favorite hugger.


Sonya Deville


Yes, I’m breaking up Absolution. Who cares? There is nothing left for them to do. Once the Royal Rumble was out the way it became clear the only reason both The Riott Squad and Absolution were called up was to make it seem like there were fewer surprises and give the regular roster a few more familiar faces to add to the match. With Paige out of action, it’ll be time for Mandy to stay on Raw, and Sonya to put her hair up and square up on Tuesdays. She’ll have potential as long as they never hand her a microphone.  


Smackdown Women To Raw


Becky Lynch


Becky has been marginalized ever since she lost the Smackdown women’s title to Alexa Bliss who never actually defeated her cleanly. In my proposed scenario, with Asuka, Bayley, and Charlotte ruling the land of opportunity, there is a top tier babyface spot wide open on Raw for Becky, who is one of the most beloved women on the roster. After being a good soldier while others shined in front of her on Smackdown, Raw could be the best place to re-establish the woman who pulled the revolution out of the fire it was in back in January of 2016.  


Naomi


This is just a change of scenery for Naomi. Leaving her on Smackdown without much to do besides putting the newer women over as a face isn’t really appealing to me, so I’m stealing her for Monday’s and thinking about using her in the upper mid card or even turning her heel to avoid The Glow character burning out quickly on Raw.


Carmella


We’re getting crazy here. I don’t think Carmella hanging around with the briefcase should be a thing while Asuka and Charlotte are locked into a great rivalry, so I’m moving her over to Raw to be the threat to get the Women’s title off of Nia Jax at one point in a shocker. If Carmella showed up on Raw with the briefcase, she instantly has credibility that would be forgotten on Smackdown. I’d be tempted to even position the draft date to where Carmella’s first appearance on the show would be her cash-in.


Call-Ups


Raw Gets Aleister Black


Black has been fully formed from day 1. I’d put him on Raw to give them a replacement for Seth Rollins, as an exciting face that is capable of having blow away matches. He is what Elias, Corbin, Mojo or any other young hopeful isn’t. Ready to wrestle in the main event capacity once the bell rings. Raw will be better for being able to plug Black, and someone like Finn Balor in with their top rotation.  He’s not a talker, but he is a super wrestler.


Smackdown Live Gets Drew McIntyre


McIntyre never really felt fit for NXT. He’s always been better suited to be on the main roster, as he blows away most of the long-haired 6’5 guys they already have in both talking and wrestling ability. This could go either way, but I think McIntyre could be WWE Champion within a year, as he is the reverse Baron Corbin in literally every way, from his intensity to his wrestling, to his hair.


However the shakeup unfolds this year, it is sure to create conversation and a brand new landscape for WWE. Using my parameters, who would you move this upcoming year?




Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & host of the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com He appears monthly on Chad Matthews' podcast The Doc Says after Raw PPVs. GFX by @SirMikeFergus Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta Look Him Up On Youtube As Well. 

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