With WWE getting ready to shake up the Raw and Smackdown (and possibly NXT) rosters, I figured this would be a good time for me to take a look at some moves that I feel would benefit everyone involved.
Keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily going to be my predictions of what WILL happen. I just have some ideas for people who might need a new start moving forward, that’s all. As far as I know, there hasn’t been any talk of NXT being involved in the Draft, but just for poops and chuckles, I’ll be including them here, because there’s some folks on that roster who could use something fresh, too.
Let’s get this underway, with moves listed in no particular order.
Apollo Crews From Smackdown To Raw: On the day this column is posted, it will have been 47 days since Crews dropped the Intercontinental Title to Shinsuke Nakamura. In those 47 days, Crews has been on the losing end of three televised matches to Nakamura, ranging from a tag team match to a ten-man tag to an official title rematch. In 2021, Crews and Nakamura have faced each other in some sort of match on ten different occasions. The last time Crews was on the winning end of any of those matches (on television, at least) was on May 7th, when his team won the ten-man tag. Oh, and he wasn’t involved in the pin in that match. The last time Apollo has truly defeated Nakamura on television is all the way back on February 26th. That’s a long time ago.
Since we’ve clearly seen that WWE doesn’t have Crews on the same level as Nakamura, why not give the former champion something new to do? I don’t see Roman Reigns dropping the Universal Title to Finn Balor at Extreme Rules, and I also don’t see Reigns switching brands or turning face. That leaves Crews out of options on Smackdown, unless the plan is to just make him and Commander Azeez a tag team on a permanent basis. Honestly, Crews deserves better than that, and there’s not the same appeal in Azeez as we’ve seen with Omos in his pairing with AJ Styles. On Raw, Crews could really do something good with Damian Priest in a feud over the United States Title if Priest doesn’t change brands. Ricochet, who is one of Apollo’s best friends out of the ring, would be another great opponent for him if they end up on the same show. There’s a lot of options for him on Monday nights.
Drew McIntyre From Raw To Smackdown: There’s not a lot of explanation needed for this one, although it’s less of a lock now than it once was. As you probably remember, McIntyre lost a Hell In A Cell match to Bobby Lashley back in June, and due to a stipulation for said Cell match, he would be unable to challenge for the WWE Title ever again as long as Lashley was the champion. Everyone and their mothers assumed this meant Drew would be headed to Smackdown.
Well… Lashley isn’t the WWE Champion anymore. That opens the door for Drew to stay on Raw.
I still think he’s switching brands, though. There’s some money to be made with McIntyre feuding with Roman Reigns over the Universal Title. It just makes too much sense for McIntyre to move from Monday nights to Friday nights.
Liv Morgan From Smackdown To Raw: When I first started this column, Extreme Rules was still a few hours away from happening. This spot belonged to Bianca Belair initially. I was under the assumption that Bianca would lose to Becky Lynch at Extreme Rules, and that it would make sense to move her to Raw as a result. My line of thinking was that Bianca is too good and too special. Moving her to Raw makes her a bigger deal, as she would immediately step in as a huge new challenger for Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. That’s a very fresh feud. Charlotte and Bianca have only been in the same match on five occasions… two Royal Rumbles (2020 and 2021), a five-on-five-on-five Survivor Series match (2019), a three-team elimination tag match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles (2020), and their only singles match, happening on an episode of NXT in February 2020.
I even mentioned Sasha Banks, saying that you could either move her to Raw, too, or you could just keep Bianca and Sasha apart for a while. That would keep a big money feud fresh for the future, instead of potentially running it into the ground like WWE would probably end up doing. It would make their inevitable path crossing in the future a much bigger deal.
Sasha Banks returned at Extreme Rules, and Bianca Belair is clearly still in the Smackdown Women’s Title picture. Unless we’re going to get Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair on this week’s episode of Smackdown and have a very definitive title retention by the champion, you probably have to keep those three women on the same show for a bit. That means I had to change it up.
That’s where Liv Morgan steps in.
It finally appears that Liv Morgan is going to get some sort of sustained push. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. She has come a long way, and she deserves a push. Let’s be completely honest with each other right now, though… with Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, and Sasha Banks on the same show, it’s going to be very difficult for Liv to get a true chance to shine. That’s not even counting Bayley, who is currently on the sideline due to a knee injury, but is scheduled to be back around WrestleMania time.
Raw, on the other hand, could really use some new talent. Asuka, if she sticks around, is on the shelf with a hand injury. Lacey Evans is out on maternity leave. Nia Jax and Eva Marie appear to have been written off of television due to attacks by Shayna Baszler. Mia Yim hasn’t wrestled a match for WWE in 2021 yet. Dana Brooke hasn’t wrestled on television in over three months. Now comes the report that Alexa Bliss is being written off of television for a few months. That leaves Raw with a whopping total of five active women on their roster, and two of them are the Women’s Tag Team Champions, who are free to appear on Smackdown at any time. Liv Morgan, as one of the more popular women on the roster, could easily step in on Monday nights and climb the ladder.
Asuka From Raw To Smackdown: Well, if Smackdown is going to lose one of their women, it only makes sense for them to get one of Raw’s women.
It’s even an easy thing to write into a story. Asuka, of course, won the Money In The Bank briefcase in 2020, but instead of earning a shot at Becky Lynch’s Raw Women’s Title, she became the champion outright when Becky had to relinquish the title so she could start a family. While we’ve seen Becky vs Asuka in the past, we never got to see it then. It makes sense for Asuka to want to face Becky, as she’s the Smackdown Women’s Champion. However, it actually makes sense for Becky to want to face Asuka, too. Even as a heel, the story of her being upset about having to just GIVE a title to Asuka last year is easy to put together.
Asuka hasn’t wrestled in over two months. It was initially reported that she was physically fine, but that WWE Creative simply didn’t have anything for her at the moment. She came out quickly and shot that report down, and then posted a picture of her at the dentist a month ago. In said picture, she was wearing a clunky sling/brace on her left arm. There haven’t been any further updates on her condition. We don’t know if she’s coming back in a week, a month, or six months. Whenever she returns, here’s to hoping that she’s back to being the badass we all know and love, and preferably on Smackdown.
The Street Profits From Smackdown To Raw: This seems to be another popular pick on Vanessa Minnillo’s internet. Admittedly, it isn’t quite as popular a pick as it was before Extreme Rules. People, myself included, thought it would be a good move for the Profits and Bianca Belair to head on over to Raw. I’ve already covered why I initially thought Belair would be a good choice, but the Profits just make sense, even now. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have been trying to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles ever since dropping the belts on January 8th. First, they tried to win the titles back from the team they lost them to in the first place, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. They were unsuccessful, and would eventually work their way back into title contention when The Usos became the new champs on Smackdown. They have now failed to win the titles on multiple occasions.
Some are concerned with splitting up the real-life husband and wife team of Montez Ford and Bianca Belair, but it’s not like this company hasn’t done things like this in the past during Drafts. Things are different now, anyway, with WWE doing far less travel and shows than they used to. Back then, if you and your significant other were on opposing shows, you would rarely get a chance to see each other, especially when WWE was doing brand-specific pay-per-view shows. Now, if Belair and Ford are on different shows, they’d still get to see each other relatively often. That’s fine.
Ford and Dawkins could be a lot of fun if they returned to Raw. R-K-Bro, The Viking Raiders, AJ Styles & Omos, The New Day… the list goes on of teams that could do some very good work with the Profits.
Dakota Kai From NXT To Raw: Let’s have some fun. Dakota was one of the top NXT performers during the Pandemic Era of the show. She was cutting good promos and having entertaining matches left and right. Moving ahead, she was placed into a good storyline with Raquel Gonzalez, which led to… a loss at Takeover 36, and absolutely nothing else since. While we could still see more with that feud, it sure seemed like Raquel moved on to a potential feud with Kay Lee Ray pretty quickly.
Well, if she’s going to be back out of the NXT Women’s Title picture as quickly as she got in it, let’s move her to Raw. WWE’s “flagship” currently has a total of 12 women on the roster. I’ve already talked about how thin the Raw women’s roster is. Of those 12 women, one is out with an injury (Asuka), one is out on maternity leave (Lacey Evans), one was just written off of television due to an injury that might be an “injury” (Nia Jax), one is barely even considered a wrestler and has apparently also been written off (Eva Marie), one who hasn’t had a televised match in three months (Dana Brooke), and one hasn’t had a match of any kind in 2021 (Mia Yim). The brand is in dire need of some extra faces. Having those extra faces be fresh faces only makes it better.
Bron Breakker From NXT To Smackdown: Okay, okay… I’m kidding.
It would be pretty stunning to see Bron moved to the main roster at this early stage in his career, but should it be? WWE has decided that someone who only made their pro wrestling debut a little less than a year ago, and who has only been training at the Performance Center for seven months, is worthy of a spot in NXT 2.0 right now.
Not just a spot. Not your dog, Spot. Not a liver spot.
He’s already teaming up with the NXT Champion on television, all while making it perfectly clear that he has his sights set on that NXT Title. He’s on an insanely fast rise. Send him to the main roster in October, give him the Intercontinental Title in December, have him win the Royal Rumble, have him be the one to beat Roman Reigns for the Universal Title, and then never have him retire undefeated… in 2040. If we’re gonna get nuts, let’s get NUTS.
Edge From Smackdown To Raw: Man, Edge has had a strange run since returning from what was thought to be a career-ending injury. An all-time great return at the 2020 Royal Rumble, followed by a weirdly overbooked feud with Randy Orton (THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVERRRRR), where he suffered a torn triceps. He would return after seven months away, and would win the 2021 Royal Rumble. He would move over to Smackdown to feud with Roman Reigns, and was on the losing end of three straight matches that involved Reigns. From there, he moved on to a feud with Seth Rollins, which has been going on for a few months now, with what appears to be a major “rubber match” on the way after Edge beat Rollins at SummerSlam and then lost to Rollins on Smackdown a few weeks later. He’s been back for nearly two years now, and he has only feuded with three people in that span.
If Reigns is going to continue building on this lengthy reign with the Universal Title, it probably makes sense to move Edge away from him. I think most people are expecting Edge to win at least one more World Title of some kind before he retires for good, so he should be on the show that isn’t going to have one man hold the brand’s top title until the year 3000.
Can we just agree that Edge and Orton should be kept apart? It’s going to be impossible for them to top THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, anyway.
Scarlett From NXT To Raw: For the love of all that is holy, can we get Scarlett back with Karrion Kross already?!? I don’t care if Scarlett becomes a wrestler herself. What I do care about is just how much less interesting the Karrion Kross act is without Scarlett and the ring entrance we got used to seeing in NXT. Fix it, WWE.
I guess you could also put Io Shirai in this category, too. Not to be with Karrion Kross, but to be on Raw. There’s not exactly a ton left for her to do in NXT anymore. As we saw with Kross, it’s not like Vince McMahon has an issue with putting an NXT title holder on the main roster while they’re still champion. Io could easily be on Raw while she’s still one-half of the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, and then just transition completely once she and Zoey Stark drop the titles.
Kevin Owens From Smackdown To Raw: Owens is another person who has suffered from the “Roman Reigns Effect” on Fridays. In the span of 42 days, from December 20th of last year to January 31st of this year, Owens lost three Universal Title matches to Reigns. Owens would follow that up by losing to Apollo Crews three times in the span of… 42 days… from April 23rd to June 4th, failing to win the Intercontinental Title at every turn.
As popular as Owens continues to be with the WWE Universe, he is pretty much just floating around in purgatory on Smackdown these days. He’s being kept away from the main event scene and yet another feud with Reigns, but he’s also doing enough that you can’t exactly say he’s a “jobber” or anything. He’s just kinda… there. A move to Raw could be beneficial for him. I know of a few people that are predicting this move, but with the twist that Owens turns heel sooner than later and goes after Big E and the WWE Title. That’s obviously a possibility. Even with the moves I’ve made in this column, Raw could use another top face or another top heel, and we know Owens can play either role with aplomb. It’s not like he would need to turn heel to be a top guy on the brand, though, even with the current champions on Raw being faces. Damian Priest is already proving to be a “take on all comers” kind of guy, and there’s enough history between Owens and The New Day to make for a reason to have that match/feud take place.
Your turn, ReaderLand. Who do you want to see go from one brand to another? You can either predict who you think will switch brands, or just discuss who you feel needs it. Whatever floats your boat. You know the deal. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Kenny Omega vs Bryan Danielson: Simply put, one of the greatest wrestling matches to ever take place on free television. The time limit draw works well, obviously setting up a rematch at some point. What I liked best about the draw was that they stayed away from the usual “face wrestler was one second away from winning when the time expired” trope that you usually see in situations like this. In an evenly-fought battle, Omega and Danielson were toe-to-toe until the very end. An easy Match Of The Year contender here.
- Roman Reigns: A really good match against Montez Ford, followed by a really good match against The Demon two nights later. Let’s also not forget that he was in a very good six-man tag match on last week’s episode of Raw, followed by a great Triple Threat match later in that same Raw episode. Four tremendous performances in a six-day period. The man is on fire, no matter who he steps into the ring with.
- Becky Lynch vs Bianca Belair: One of the best women’s matches of 2021 was building to something even better when it ended due to interference from the returning Sasha Banks. Some people were a little upset over the way the match ended, but at least it sets something up that has the potential to be even bigger and even better. If we’re actually going to get Becky vs Bianca vs Sasha, it has the makings of an all-time great match.
- Riddle vs AJ Styles: There aren’t many people in WWE that can say they’ve had a better year, in-ring, than “Don’t Call Me Matt” Riddle. On the other side, there aren’t many people in WWE that can say they’ve had a better career, in-ring, than AJ “Don’t Call Me Matt” Styles. You know there’s going to be some major quality when these two are involved. They’ve had some really good matches over the last few months, but I think this might’ve been the best of the bunch.
- Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston vs Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer: I saw that some folks were disappointed that this wasn’t some hardcore-style bloodbath, but I don’t know why there was any sort of expectation of that happening at all. This was always going to be a New Japan-style match, where it’s stiff and hard-hitting, and not a “death match” type of deal. It was a really good brawl that was, sure enough, stiff and hard-hitting throughout. As an added bonus, we got the AEW debut of the legend himself, Homicide. I don’t know if it was a one-time deal because they were in New York, or if Homicide is sticking around in AEW for a bit, but it was great to see him there, receiving a huge hometown pop. He looked like he was really enjoying himself out there. If he is going to stick around for a bit, though, I want to see him rekindle a feud with Colt Cabana, just for old times sake.
- Britt Baker vs Ruby Soho: A ton of people were totally sure that this was going to be the spot where Britt Baker’s reign as the AEW Women’s Champion came to an end. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but the fact that Ruby only lost because of heavy interference by Rebel and Jamie Hayter keeps her protected and will set up a rematch at some point. That works for me. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if THAT is when Doc Smiley’s reign comes to an end.
- Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs Adam Cole & The Young Bucks: Something that AEW does really well (or poorly, depending on the type of wrestling you like) is put together six, eight, or ten-man tag matches and have them present as pure and utter chaos. The kind that makes me glad I don’t have to type out the play-by-play from start to finish. This was another one of those matches. It also won’t be the last of these types of matches from AEW in this week’s rankings.
- Big E vs Bobby Lashley: Their show-opening match on Raw was good, but their main event match inside of a Steel Cage was even better. For now, don’t include me in the group of people that are marking out over a Hurt Business reunion. First and foremost, Lashley’s run since the group split up has been incredible. Secondly, their “reunion” didn’t make a lick of sense whatsoever. After all this time apart, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander just randomly show up at ringside during a Lashley match, but they did nothing to help him win the match. In fact, they were directly responsible for him not winning the first match. Then, they show up again during the second match, only to have their attempted interference thwarted almost immediately, and then they disappeared, leaving Lashley and E to finish the match on their own. What… what was even the point of all that? I’d get it if they were there to help Lashley win the WWE Title back. It might have made sense if Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were on Smackdown, leaving Big E all by himself with nobody to help him overcome the three-on-one odds. If we really are getting a Hurt Business reunion, are they now there to help Lashley defeat a nearly 55-year-old Goldberg in Saudi Arabia at Crown Jewel on October 21st? Lashley didn’t exactly need their help to beat Goldberg at SummerSlam. I just don’t get it.
- Penta El Zero Miedo, Rey Fenix, Santana & Ortiz vs Private Party, The Butcher & The Blade: O hay dare, yet another AEW multi-person match that is pure and utter chaos from bell-to-bell. When these types of matches are done right, I really dig them. This was done right. Again, I’m REALLY glad that I don’t have to cover the play-by-play for these things. I feel bad for the people who have to cover tonight’s big 16-man (!!!) tag on Dynamite.
- SummerSlam 2022 Possibly In Wales: In March of 2015, I wrote a column on another site about venues that should host a future edition of WrestleMania. One of the venues I listed was Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. I made mention of how gorgeous the stadium is, and how it has a retractable roof to prevent any weather issues from affecting the show. To take it even further, I brought up nearby Cardiff Bay, which is a hugely popular area for tourists and locals alike, with restaurants, shops, museums, and tons of beautiful scenery. I wasn’t sure if WWE would ever branch out like that, but hey, I thought it would be a good choice. Well… fast forward six-and-a-half years, and the early rumor is that Millennium Stadium, now known as Principality Stadium, is the frontrunner to be named as the host of the 2022 edition of SummerSlam. I’m going to take partial credit for this one.
- The New Day vs Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles & Omos: A six-man tag match where all six participants got a chance to shine and do what they do so well. I can’t complain about that.
- The Usos vs The Street Profits: A tag match where all four participants got a chance to shine and do what they do so well. I can’t complain about that. As I mentioned before, I am curious to see what happens with the Profits during the Draft now that they have been unsuccessful in winning the Smackdown Tag Team Titles once again.
- Shayna Baszler: First, she “injures” Nia Jax, reportedly taking Nia off of television for a while. Then, she “injures” Eva Marie, reportedly taking Eva off of television for a while. I don’t know about you, but this is one of the biggest face turns in recent wrestling history. I’m just glad to see Shayna being a badass once again. Let’s see where it goes.
- Damian Priest vs Sheamus: They have now had 628 matches against each other in 2021, with 628 of them being super stiff and super entertaining. With Priest retaining the title yet again, I really do hope we can move on from this feud, either through the Draft or better writing (lol).
- CM Punk vs Powerhouse Hobbs: Yeah, yeah, I know… that Hurricanrana spot was dog-walking-backwards ugly. I’ll say this, though… it actually made sense in the match. Both men were spent at that point. They had beaten the hell out of each other. Hobbs is a massive human being, and Punk is still working on his cardio. I’m not saying they meant for the spot to look like that. What I am saying is… that one moment, coming at that particular place and time, made sense. Had the move happened in the first two minutes of the match, I would be singing a different tune. As an overall match, this was a lot of fun. Hobbs got a ton of offense in, and even in a loss, he looks like someone with a very bright future with AEW.
This Week’s Playlist: “Butter” by BTS… “Ugly” by Bubba Sparxxx… “Deliverance” by Bubba Sparxxx… “Back In The Mud” by Bubba Sparxxx… “Run Away” by Bubba Sparxxx & Frankie J… “Awnaw (All Hooks Up Version)” by Nappy Roots… “Slums” by Nappy Roots… “Po’ Folks” by Nappy Roots & Anthony Hamilton… “Awnaw (Rock Remix)” by Nappy Roots & Marcos of P.O.D… “Roun’ The Globe” by Nappy Roots… “Sick & Tired” by Nappy Roots & Anthony Hamilton… “Party Hard” by Andrew WK… “So What” by Field Mob & Ciara… “Blacker The Berry” by Field Mob… “Georgia” by Field Mob, Ludacris & Jamie Foxx… “Epic” by Faith No More… “Hunger Strike” by Temple Of The Dog… “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden… “Spoonman” by Soundgarden… “Man In The Box” by Alice In Chains… “Them Bones” by Alice In Chains… “Would?” by Alice In Chains… “No Rain” by Blind Melon… “Like A Stone” by Audioslave… “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane’s Addiction