In case you missed it, the 2020 WWE Draft has been announced and will be taking place on the October 9th episode of Smackdown and the October 12th episode of Raw.
This is an exciting time for fans of the company. Wrestlers on new brands. New potential matches and feuds. This year, that excitement is slightly boosted because fans are sick of seeing the same matches over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Yes, we’ll end up seeing the new matches over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, but at least there will be a brief break in the usual pattern.
The other major difference, of course, is how COVID-19 has changed the travel aspect of WWE life. In a normal year, Raw and Smackdown are taking place in entirely different cities every week. That means a tag team that gets split up in the Draft is REALLY split up, as they aren’t even travelling together anymore. Same goes for real-life couples that get placed on different brands. Now, with Raw, Smackdown, and NXT all coming from Orlando every week for the time being, with no set-in-stone plans for anything else yet, you have to think we’re going to see less of those splits this year.
There are a lot of people who could benefit from a brand switch right now. That’s quite the understatement, actually. In a week or so, we’ll be looking at who WILL be moving from one brand to another, but for today, let’s have some fun and look at who SHOULD be moving. Simple enough, no? These aren’t going to be predictions. They aren’t even spoilers. It’s just me talking about some moves that I’d like to see happen, so don’t come after me and talk about how “wrong” I was when so-and-so didn’t move to such-and-such show.
Johnny Gargano From NXT To Smackdown: First things first, this one depends on the result of the North American Title match at NXT Takeover 31. If Gargano wins the title there, he’s sticking around. If he doesn’t win, though, it’s beyond time for him to move on. Johnny Wrestling has been working in NXT for over five years now. In those five years, he became the brand’s first Triple Crown winner, bagging the NXT World Title, the NXT North American Title, and the NXT Tag Team Titles (with Tommaso Ciampa) on one occasion each. He has participated in three different fan-voted Match Of The Year winners, as well as been involved in two different fan-voted Rivalry Of The Year winners. What else is there for him to do in NXT? Now, I’ll be the first to scream from the mountaintops that Vince McMahon seems to find pleasure in destroying the momentum of NXT wrestlers when they get to the main roster, but you have to do SOMETHING. You can’t just hoard everyone in NXT until you eventually have 100 different workers assigned to the brand. Gargano needs to spread his wings a bit. Smackdown is, far more often than not, the brand that allows smaller wrestlers to get some shine, especially if they’re not over-the-top characters of some sort. They always try to squeeze some NXT call-ups into these things, and Gargano just makes sense as someone who should move. If you want to make a package deal, you could throw Candice LeRae in, too. Smackdown could really use some more women on their roster, anyway. Of course, Candice is the current #1 contender for the NXT Women’s Title, so any call-up would have to clear that particular hurdle first.
John Morrison From Smackdown To Raw: Admittedly, this one is based more on personal preference than anything else. I’m just not a fan of the current Miz and Morrison tag team. Their pairing worked in 2007. It just doesn’t have the same razzle dazzle to it now. Miz should be doing more as a singles midcard guy, and if we’re being honest, Morrison probably should be, too. I know that some people were expecting some kind of main event run for Morrison when he returned to WWE, but I think that has always been a bit of a stretch. Now, if you put him in the United States Title picture on Raw, or even team him up with someone else and put him in the Raw Tag Team Title picture, he’ll be good to go. Like I said, this is more of my own personal preference, just wanting the Miz and Morrison “experiment” to be over and done with.
AJ Styles From Smackdown To Raw: We’ve all heard the stories about the drama between AJ and Paul Heyman. Yes, Heyman has now been moved to Smackdown, but that’s not why I’m moving AJ back to Raw. Besides, according to Styles himself, he isn’t going to hold his grudge anymore, and it’s not like Heyman is running the show on Friday nights. No, this move is all about the top of the card on Raw. Randy Orton is the top heel on Raw right now, and looking at other top singles heels, you have… Aleister Black? Dolph Ziggler, if he isn’t working with Robert Roode again? Seth Rollins, once his feud with the Mysterio family wraps up sometime around 2032? T-Bar? Raw needs some “fresh” heels at the top of the card. Enter AJ Styles. Obviously, AJ is someone who can come in and have good matches with anyone. Putting him against Drew McIntyre, if Drew retains in the inevitable rematch against Orton at Hell In A Cell, could be something special. If WWE wants to keep building Dominik Mysterio, putting him in matches with a trusted Ring General like Styles would go a long way in making him look good. We know what AJ is capable of against Kevin Owens, and we’re coming up on three years since we’ve seen them have a singles match, anyway. Throw in the likes of Ricochet, Apollo Crews, Rey Mysterio, Keith Lee, Mustafa Ali, or Samoa Joe (if he returns to in-ring competition), and you have a lot of options for Styles in the near future.
Tommaso Ciampa From NXT To Raw: Hey, remember what I said about Johnny Gargano earlier? You can pretty much say most of the same stuff about Ciampa. Other than the North American Title, Ciampa has accomplished it all on NXT. Moving guys like him and Gargano to the main roster can allow new names to get their pushes on Triple H’s favorite brand. I think Smackdown would be a good place for The Psycho Killer, but since I already placed Gargano there, I wanted to make sure these two are kept far apart for a while. Eventually, if you want to introduce their feud (or team) to main roster viewers, that’s fine, but they’ve basically spent 99% of the last five years involved in one lengthy storyline together. It’s time for them to go their separate ways for now.
Zelina Vega From Raw To Smackdown: It’s clear that there’s something there with Zelina’s in-ring ability. It’s also clear that she isn’t going to be defeating the likes of Asuka anytime soon. There’s also the little detail of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch on Raw (for now, at least), and if WWE doesn’t have Zelina on Asuka’s level, they certainly won’t have her on Charlotte and Becky’s levels. To be fair, she isn’t on the level of Bayley or Sasha Banks, either, but work with me for a moment. If you look at the overall women’s rosters for both shows, the first thing you would notice is that Raw’s side is insanely crowded. There are currently 18 contracted woman on Raw, counting inactive ones, while Smackdown only has a total of nine women. Ten, if we’re counting Candice LeRae from the earlier move. That alone makes this move worth doing. Smackdown is also currently home to women that are more character-driven than being showcased for their in-ring skills. That isn’t to say they all suck as wrestlers. However, with the likes of Carmella, Lacey Evans, Naomi, etc, you have women that are presented and pushed more because of who they are than what they do, you know? Zelina has more wiggle room, so to speak, on Smackdown. She can make her way up the card easier, and the next thing you know, she can be viewed as a legitimate contender for the brand’s title.
Braun Strowman From Smackdown To Raw: We need… neeeeed… to split up the trio of Strowman, Roman Reigns, and Bray Wyatt. Obviously, Roman is going to continue doing his thug thizzle on Smackdown, so that left it down to Braun and Bray. I went back and forth between the two of them for a moment, but the current story with Alexa Bliss, mixed with the aforementioned fact that Smackdown can’t afford to lose many (any, really) women to Raw (I could’ve sent Bray and Alexa together) means that Braun is on the move here. Like AJ, Braun could be a nice addition to the main event scene on Raw. Not that Drew McIntyre is a tiny man, but having a face champion square off against a heel monster is about as tried-and-true a formula as there has been in professional wrestling over the last several decades. The Raw commentary team would take huge, steamy dumps all over themselves if Drew was cutting a promo in the ring, talking about how he finally vanquished The Legend Killer, only for the familiar yell at the beginning of Strowman’s entrance theme to be heard throughout the Thunderdome. Again, this is more about getting Strowman away from Reigns and especially away from Wyatt than anything else, but the move still makes sense to me.
Chad Gable From Smackdown To NXT: Yeah, let’s get a little kooky. Why not? Finn Balor, Tyler Breeze, and Fandango have all had their own versions of a career renaissance since being moved from the main roster to NXT. There’s no reason Chad Gable couldn’t have the same type of success. He remains one of the better in-ring workers on the entire roster, but has been almost crippled by some of the shittiest character development and writing you’re going to see in this business. I refuse to call him by the name WWE has him going by. In this article, I have NXT losing two of their biggest stars to the main roster, so it’s only right that they gain at least one person, too. A lot of people think Gable can’t be pushed as a serious singles wrestler because of his perceived lack of charisma. He’s certainly not The Rock in his prime, but he’s also not as bad as some make him out to be. NXT is a place where those types of deficiencies can be hidden a bit, anyway. The focus will be more on what he can do from bell-to-bell, and that, my friends, is GO. There is a roster full of workers he can have good-to-great matches with on a weekly basis. Isn’t that kind of the point?
Samoa Joe From Raw To Smackdown: Of course, there’s an asterisk that comes with this one, as well as another mini asterisk. I’m only talking about this move if Joe is going to return to being an active wrestler again. As much as I love the work he does on commentary, we need to watch him mollywhop people again. The mini asterisk is simple… if WWE can’t secure an appearance for The Rock to be involved with this current Roman Reigns storyline, perhaps for a match at WrestleMania, then I like the idea of having Samoa Joe be the one to battle Samoan Joe. Hell, Samoa Joe is overdue for a run as a World Champion. Do you remember the work he put in for those few months on Raw when he was beefing with Roman, Braun Strowman, and Brock Lesnar? Even though he didn’t win the Universal Title, it could be argued that nobody looked better in that feud than Joe did. Before I get anybody hitting me up… I am well aware that Joe is not related to the Anoa’i family. Realistically, he doesn’t have to be. He can relate without relating, I guess you could say. He certainly understands the Samoan culture, what it’s like to grow up in a Samoan household, what it’s like to watch people like him dominate the wrestling industry for decades. The whole “Tribal Chief” tag is something that would easily get on his nerves, too. I know that The Rock is who people are assuming and/or hoping is the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow here, but don’t underestimate how entertaining it could be if Samoa Joe were in that position instead. We all know how busy Rock is, so it’s not like you can just put it in stone that he’d be able to participate in a program, family or otherwise. Time will tell.
Imperium From NXT/NXT UK To Smackdown: The whole group, not just the tag team. If you see other people doing columns and lists like this, a popular pick to be moved in the Draft is Undisputed Era. So popular, in fact, that I purposely left them out for that fact. I certainly think it’s more likely we’ll see UE get called up, but I like the intrigue of seeing Imperium. Initially, I had them going to Raw, but with The Hurt Business and Retribution already there, adding another stable seemed like overkill. Another asterisk needs to be placed here, as two members of Imperium (WALTER and Alexander Wolfe) haven’t wrestled in America since January because of COVID travel restrictions. It wouldn’t exactly make sense to draft the group to the main roster, only to keep half the group away for what could be months. Years? Decades? Centuries? Infinity? Well, I guess you could bring Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner in first, as they would be available right away, and you could have WALTER and Wolfe join them once the travel restrictions are over and done with. It would be easy to just have Barthel and Aichner come in on their own, but… that’s not what I want!!![/whine] I want to have Barthel and Aichner going after the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, while Wolfe eventually works his way to being a possible Intercontinental Title contender, while WALTER tears shit up and makes it to the main event scene. Is that too much to ask for?!?
Apollo Crews From Raw To Smackdown: This one comes with another tiny asterisk. Not only am I moving Crews, but I’m moving one of his two best friends, Akira Tozawa or Ricochet, to go with him. Having feuded with The Hurt Business since the episode of Raw after the Montreal Screwjob, it’s time for Crews to move to something different. I’ve been holding out hope that Crews would be placed in a team with either Tozawa or Ricochet since they were all put on the main roster. I have always been a fan of the “one power guy and one speed guy” teams for as long as I can remember, and the added bonus is that Crews is a power guy AND a speed guy, all in one. The chemistry that Crews has with both men is very obvious when you watch them work together, and Smackdown would really benefit from another tag team. Crews can also be pushed as a singles wrestler pretty easily. As can Ricochet. Tozawa is talented enough, but it remains to be seen if WWE can get behind him enough for something like that.
What do you think of my moves? Do they make sense to you? Who do you want to see moved from one brand to another this year? You know the deal… hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), to let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, and Jimmy Uso: Who else would get the top spot this week? As I said in my Running Diary over the weekend, the Reigns vs Jey match is my Match Of The Year so far, with unmatched emotion and storytelling. The entire feud is something that I’m watching in amazement, partially because of how good it is, but also because it’s coming from a company that isn’t exactly on a hot streak when it comes to their writing. I eagerly anticipate the next chapter that these men will deliver.
- Kyle O’Reilly: When you win a Gauntlet Eliminator to become the #1 contender for the NXT World Title, you’re having a good week. When it signals your biggest singles push in your time with NXT, thrown in with a possible face turn, and some character development, then you’re having a really good week. I’m very interested to see how O’Reilly fares in this spot. It’s not like he hasn’t been successful as a singles worker before NXT. He’s a former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Champion, as well as a winner of the company’s prestigious Battle Of Los Angeles tournament. He’s a former Ring Of Honor World Champion, as well. Ironically, he defeated Adam Cole to win both of those titles, and in even more ironicnessability, he dropped the PWG World Title to Roderick Strong and the RoH World Title back to Cole. That has nothing to do with anything. Just some fun facts to share.
- Cody: He returned with a new look and a desire to rid the world of The Dark Order. Honestly, AEW is just a better show when he’s around, and I’m glad to see him back. The build is apparently working towards a Dog Collar Match between Cody and Mr. Brodie Lee, and that one is going to be bloody and violent.
- Candice LeRae: She won a Battle Royal to earn a shot at Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Title. The only downside to the entire thing (something that isn’t her fault at all, by the way) is that the match featured a bunch of “nobodies” to fill the spots due to some possible issues with COVID keeping other names away from the tapings. Again, though, when you win a match to become the top contender for a title, you’re having a good week, and you belong on lists like this.
- Sami Zayn: Not only did he survive a brutal Ladder Match to win/retain the Intercontinental Title, but he looked like a genius in doing so. I haven’t seen brilliance with handcuffs like that since that time I spent with Lady Sonya during my bachelor party.
- Eddie Kingston’s Squad: Sure, Kingston was unsuccessful in winning the AEW World Title on Dynamite, but he looked really good in a losing effort. Kingston, Rey Fenix, Butcher, Blade, Penta el Zero M, and even Ricky Starks got to look strong after the match, delivering a beating to Jon Moxley, Will Hobbs, and Darby Allin. We still don’t really know what’s going on with Kingston and his crew, but whatever it is, I’m interested. Just keep letting Eddie cut those great promos he does so well.
- NXT’s Mystery Return: The vignette has people talking about who could be making their return, and that alone puts it on this list. The fact that Bo Dallas seems to be the odds-on favorite to be revealed as who the vignette is for, on the other hand… not so much.
- Mustafa Ali: Hey, Mustafa. Welcome back to television. I hope you enjoyed a victory over The Hurt Business. Now, enjoy your never-ending feud with the group that will lead to you losing to Bobby Lashley in multiple opportunities at the United States Title. Then, because it’s WWE and they don’t really understand what works and what doesn’t, enjoy your trip back to working on random episodes of Main Event. At least you get to have some success now, though, right? Hooray!
- Fans Of Aalyah Mysterio: Yes, I’m listing this for another week. She’s becoming more and more popular online, especially now that WWE has been sharing her Instagram account on their page, giving 22+ million people a closer look at her. While we’re on the subject of Aalyah, I don’t think her current story is as big a deal as some are making it out to be. Yes, there’s a 13-year age difference between Aalyah and Murphy, but it’s important to remember two things. One, it’s just a storyline. As far as we know, this isn’t Murphy actually trying to get into her pants, but even if he was, that brings us to the second point to remember. Two, she’s a legal, consenting adult. Also, do you think Rey Mysterio would be allowing her to be involved in this entire thing if there was anything truly creepy about it? I don’t. Yes, yes, yes… WWE has some people on their roster that have been getting in trouble recently because of talking to younger people on the internet, but that’s the key thing. What Velveteen Dream did, and is accused of doing, is completely different than a storyline involving Aalyah and Murphy. Now, if you want to talk about Aalyah’s acting ability, you might have some justified complaints.
- Private Party: It remains to be seen if it will lead anywhere, but Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen have been in a bit of an alliance with Matt Hardy for a bit now, and they’re really using the “rub” that comes with that. They’re now working in matches against the likes of Chris Jericho. When you’re working with Jericho, you know it’s going to get a ton of build and attention. Private Party are a very talented tag team, deserving of more than what they’ve had in AEW so far. I’d like to see a more focused push for them, but we’ll see what happens.
This Week’s Playlist: “Don’t Be Cruel” by Bobby Brown… “Roni” by Bobby Brown… “Rock Wit’cha” by Bobby Brown… “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown… “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown… “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown… “Do What I Gotta Do” by Ralph Tresvant… “Money Can’t Buy You Love” by Ralph Tresvant… “One More Day” by New Edition… “If It Isn’t Love” by New Edition… “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe… “All I Do Is Think Of You” by Troop… “Comforter” by Shai… “Baby I’m Yours” by Shai… “Come With Me” by Shai… “Ready Or Not” by After 7… “Sara Smile” by After 7… “Til You Do Me Right” by After 7… “Can’t Stop” by After 7… “Casanova” by Levert