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Imp’s WWE Adventure
All Shook Up From the Shake Up
WrestleMania week has come and gone, leaving the crew to pull together the wreckage left in its wake. So WWE went with their best possible option and smashed the piss out of that reset button. Monday night, half of the SmackDown roster were traded to RAW and Tuesday vice versa. We could argue all day over which brand ‘won’ the Superstar Shake Up (I’m sure great writers on this very site will gladly do so), however I’m instead going to address the titular character of this tale: Mr Shake Up.
Mr Shake Up swept in and flung the WrestleMania wreckage all over the place in a manic attempt to freshen up the state of play. Did it work? Does everything from the mid-card, to the women, to the Big Dog “Woof, woof,” smell fresh? Never mind which brand’s divisions have fared off best, did Mr Shake Up do his job? So let’s go through the divisions of both shows and carry out our performance evaluation; it’s not just Mr Shake Up’s job on the line here folks, it’s the fate of the WWE Universe!
Well, well, well. What have we hear? A US Champion that immediately lost his US Championship to a party who immediately left Monday Night RAW, good work Jinder. You twit. The self-proclaimed Modern Day Maharaja is a perfectly fine mid-card heel, however he reached too far on SmackDown and burnt his perception. We will soon see if WWE’s belief in their veiny Canadian still holds strong, but I think it’s fair to assume the majority of fans wouldn’t be too thrilled with another main event run. Especially if he’d be entering combat with Roman Reigns. *Insert GIF of Simpsons character shuddering*
Obviously the most important cog when it comes to the middle of the card is its champion, which in this case is none other than Mr Monday Night RAW, Seth Rollins. Every single week the man is going out there and putting on stellar matches, however he can only dance with the same workers so many times before the rhythm becomes too familiar. Jinder Mahal could be a fantastic counter to all that, a full on hated heel of which the Fire Man could play off of extremely well. Not forgetting Finn Balor is still around, he and Mahal could always have muscle pose competitions if the wrestling well becomes dry.
Who else did Mr Shake Up fling over? Ah, Dolph Ziggler and his new best friend Drew McIntyre. A very promising pairing at first glance, good work with this one! Could this be a Michaels/Diesel esque relationship? Or simply just a respected worker and a big lad deciding to conquer the tag team world? I’ve gone with the mid-card purely out of how great a heel pairing these two could be, with Dolph using McIntyre as his muscle to climb up the card. The possibilities are bright with these two, time will tell if my optimism was correctly placed.
Then there’s Baron Corbin, he’s is an interesting one, he struggled to really connect over on SmackDown Live. This could end up being the exact refresh his character needed, or a catalyst for him getting lost in the shuffle. Either road is possible right now, but I still see something in this man. If his potential will ever be realised is up in the air, but a new start with some good booking could certainly set him on the right path. The exact same could be said for Chad Gable. Moving to RAW could be fantastic, as long as WWE don’t go, “Jason Jordan? Ha! That was all a joke, Gable is Kurt’s actual son!”
VERDICT: Good job, Mr Shake Up!
The Miz leaving is a huge change in of itself, he was pretty much the face of the Intercontinental Championship this past year. That torch has been well and truly passed to Seth Rollins, who has become the ultimate workhorse of Monday nights. Mahal could be a different kind of opponent for the Intercontinental title contenders scene, or he could end up stinking the joint and taking its momentum down a peg. I’ll stay positive, when motivated WWE can pull things together surprisingly well.
Anyway, if it all goes to crap there’s always Elias to sing us a nice song.
RAW Tag Team Division
Just like The Miz leaving the Interconinental Championship scene, The Bar leaving for Tuesday nights is HUGE for the tag division. They’ve been the pin keeping everything together these past two years and have become a true top team in the process. Their success did come at a cost however, The Revival and Anderson & Gallows never got a look in, meaning the division is bare for teams with momentum. In fact, I can really only name two: Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy and the recently debuted Authors of Pain.
In Saudi Arabia, The Bar will face Wyatt & Hardy for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Quick question, what happens if The Bar wins? Do the RAW Tag titles have to be defended on RAW, even though the champions are on SmackDown? If a RAW Tag Team Championship is defended on SmackDown Live, is it still a RAW belt or now a second SmackDown title? Is RAW just the name of the thing and it doesn’t actually hold any weight? It’s all very confusing, yet ultimately a waste of time jumping into as Wyatt & Hardy are going to win.
So, who did Mr Shake Up throw Monday’s way in exchange? The Fashion Police, the comedy relief of SmackDown Live this past year. Sure they’re fun, but are they really credible opponents for the champions? Same with The Ascension, I’ve lumped them together with the rest of the jobbers in my mind for a reason. What about The Miztourage? Sure they found momentum with The Miz, but without him will they actually have any purporse?
Then there’s Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, perhaps two guys at the top of the list of folk in need of a brand switch. They’re both damn good wrestlers and entertaining characters, but my God did that rivalry with Shane McMahon suck the energy out of SmackDown Live. The switch to RAW should be great for them, but will they be competing as a team or as singles wrestlers? As they had a new flashy entrance graphic, I’ll go with team. The strongest reason for that being that Wyatt & Hardy now have credible opponents!
VERDICT: Final verdict on Mr Shake Up held off until things play out a bit more.
This is a case of folks being thrown all over, it’s not Mr Shake Up’s fault if the pieces aren’t put together very well afterwards. For me this division hangs on the Owens & Zayn factor. Without them it’s bare, with them there’s a top heel team for the champions to face. Other than that, RAW has some building to do.
RAW Women’s Division
First off, Ember Moon was a fantastic addition that I expect will do very well on Monday nights. I also expect Nia Jax to have a decent run as the babyface champion, Alexa Bliss to be entertaining in her villainous pursuit to do anything to get back her title and Sasha & Bayley to keep acting like those annoying kids in class that keep falling out over everything. But there are really two acts that Mr Shake Up threw RAW’s way, that could really freshen up the scene.
First off, the lass that impressed everybody at WrestleMania: Ronda Rousey. I’ve seen some criticism that WWE are trying to make her the female Brock Lesnar too hard, a statement of which I totally disagree. If anything, her push so far has been a mix between Lesnar, Angle and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The freak athlete, that’s adjusted to wrestling incredibly well and has routinely kicked the arse of the authority. There’s also obviously a bit of Rowdy in there too. But putting all that aside, she’s white hot after ‘Mania and WWE seem to understand that a slow build of momentum is the perfect way to build her up to an eventual title match. And Mr Shake Up bringing over Natalya could be a perfect learning curve for both Rousey and her Rowdy character.
Then there’s the Riott Squad, a group of which has a leader with great potential. They were just a tad directionless on SmackDown Live, maybe acting as a catalyst for Bayley and Sasha truly becoming bitter enemies could be a perfect arc for them. Or perhaps they’ll fall into the background when their work in that feud is done like they did on SmackDown, we’ll see.
VERDICT: I’ll let you off this time, Mr Shake Up.
Rousey was given someone to build off of and Banks n’ Bayley someone to face as they fall out. Really the trades were just people to help establish their current stars, I don’t really feel like these trades will freshen anything up at all. But had Rousey and Ember Moon already done that anyway? Was there actually a need for any hot trades?
RAW Upper Mid-card
Right, so RAW’s biggest problem is that their Universal Champion is never there, so they don’t really have a main event. And in their desperate attempt to get Roman Reigns over, the main event actually only has one guy aside from the champion. Everyone else feels like they’ve been pushed down from that status in some way or form. Not saying those talents will be in those positions permanently, but the main event scene is one the WrestleMania storm completely destroyed.
There are some guys in here that could easily slip down to the mid-card, just as easily as they could be built back up to feel like main event guys. First there’s those already on the roster: Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and to some degree Elias. Bobby Lashley only just returned last week, so it’s pretty unknown where he’ll fall. Those first four guys could easily step up the card, but only once things have moved on from Brock Lesnar. It’s like a roster waiting in the wings, patiently treading water waiting for the Roman life raft to come bring them ashore. Every challenger lost to Lesnar to make Reigns’ eventual win feel that bit more impressive, but then the Big Dog lost. So now what?
RAW’s Intercontinental Championship scene has become the main event most weeks, without ever being the actual main event. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns are the main event, which means that after Saudi Arabia that division will consist of just one and will need to be built up all over again. So where will Bobby Roode fall, for example? Apparently rated very highly backstage, whilst also feeling not quite right in the good guy role. Could this be the perfect opportunity to turn the man heel and propel him up the card? KO & Zayn could also slot here, the upper mid-card is full of guys that could end up anywhere after Roman wins the belt.
I put Ziggler solidly in the mid-card, but with McIntyre as his Diesel driving him forwards, could he be a top contender faster than expected? In short, every male trade to RAW is difficult to place as we have no idea where they’ll land. We have no idea if they’ll have any opportunity to climb. What if WWE are blind enough to go with Lesnar/Reigns III at WrestleMania 35? And finally, what about Dean Ambrose? At some point the Lunatic Fringe will be fit to compete again, where the hell will he fall? There’s as much of a chance for a main event heel turn as there is that he’ll just fall back into the mid-card as Roman fights a monster.
Bobby Roode was the only trade to this division, in fact RAW lost more than it gained. But if Reigns does come back from Saudi Arabia with the Universal Championship, Monday nights will feel different anyway. The champion actually being there, allowing their wrestlers to actually compete for the top prize every PPV. A main event should get established in the process, meaning the upper mid-card will indeed be shaken up. Clever work Mr Shake Up, doing your job without really doing anything. That’s the best kind of work.
Overall, RAW didn’t really have any game changing trades. There are a few with potential, like Ziggler and to a certain degree Corbin. However, the real feeling of freshness will come around after Saudi Arabia. Unless WWE go for Lesnar/Reigns III, then I’ll give up and wish Fenichel the best of luck in staying positive whilst having to cope with another year of Lesnar. Stay strong, Dave!
SD Live Mid-card
Holy mother of God, SmackDown’s done pretty well for itself! Trading United States Champion Jinder Mahal for United States Champion Jeff Hardy was a genius move. Suddenly SmackDown Live’s mid-card feels fresh, in spite of the fact part of the division exactly the same as it was 10 years ago. A heel Shelton Benjamin wrestling Jeff Hardy over the US Championship, it feels so familiar, yet different at the same time. Maybe Orton’s hair is throwing me off.
We also saw ‘big’ additions in Big Cass and former NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas, guys who’ll more than likely get a big push to help them before settling around the US title scene. Really it’s the best place for them, I can’t complain when it’s exactly what NJPW have done with Jay White. It’s a tactic that works, hell, it’s the tactic they used for Kevin Owens. Big splash with his debut, settled down into the mid-card before being elevated back to the top of the card. We’ll just ignore that time Jinder was the main event whilst Styles and Owens fought over the mid-card title. 2017 was weird.
Then there’s SAnitY. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dane and Ni- wait, where’s Nikki? WHAT?! Have they really called up SAnitY without Nikki Cross? She’s like the beating heart of that group. Strange. Anyway, with hope she’ll get added in time, SAnitY really could cause chaos in any division. Be it tag, mid-card or main event, they’ll well and truly shake things up. Hell, in time they could reign all three, Young will just have to get past his fellow TNA alumni first.
VERDICT: The Stupendous Mr Shake Up.
Some things feel similar, whilst also being completely different in the best ways possible. Two hot NXT acts in Cien and SAnitY, the always popular Jeff Hardy and the Enzo-less Big Cass. Not bad, Mr Shake Up. Not bad.
SD Live Tag Team Division
This one is interesting, and also short. One massive trade and one with little momentum that could easily be rebuilt to be something big. There’s also SAnitY, as I stated earlier, who could end up anywhere or everywhere. But let’s start with The Bar, as they said in their promo, it’s time to find out if they can hang with New Day and The Usos. Really, just adding Sheamus & Cesaro makes this division must see. I feel like this trade is a bigger deal than it actually seems, RAW’s tag team scene is nothing in comparison. Never mind the SmackDown Six, we’ve got the SmackDown Nine in the tag division. Falling short of spectacular should be a disappointment for this division, they have all the tools to create something incredible.
And then there’s Anderson & Gallows, one of RAW’s tag teams with no momentum after continuous losses and next to no character work. Could they roll in as a surprise wheel in the tag scene? There’s always the chance they’ll team up with Styles again, rivalries between three man teams are often pretty damn fun in WWE. But they are coming in to SD Live having not really done much on RAW and being two of the early eliminations in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. They don’t really have anything right now, which makes them perfect for a trade. If nothing comes of it of course, there’s always the chance they’ll become the new enhancement talent of Tuesday nights.
VERDICT: SD Live’s tag scene is both figuratively and literally The Bar.
Just getting to see The Bar versus SD Live’s top tag teams is a big enough breath of fresh air, those four teams alone takes the division miles above what RAW has to offer. Then there’s also Anderson & Gallows and SAnitY, the division is strong as hell at the top with genuine depth as well! The best kind of Shake Up.
SD Live Women’s Division
SmackDown got Asuka, need I say more? With Carmella as champion, there are now immediately three top contenders in Charlotte, Becky Lynch and of course the Empress herself. A pretty solid title scene, in a division that now has more depth thanks to the debut of The Iconics and Deville & Rose switching over. Sure the later feels a bit like a straight trade for the Riott Squad, but I’d say SmackDown benefits way more from that one. Especially when you take into account that Paige is General Manager, time for storylines about conspiracies of preferential treatment to begin!
Switching back to Asuka, the Blue Brand is immediately given a story for after Carmella loses her Women’s Championship. The Queen and The Empress are sure to dance again, but Carmella being champion is the perfect kind of villain to be holding off that match. Taking the spotlight whilst the atmosphere builds for the WrestleMania rematch, who knew having something ready for the future added so much needed depth? There’s also Becky Lynch hanging about in the background, I’m never against some straight fire being added to my Women’s Championship matches.
VERDICT: Depth is always great, especially when it comes in the form of an Empress.
The only person that loses out here is probably Naomi, the SmackDown Women’s Division now has their own top six and she’s unfortunately not part of it. If anything that’s a huge positive, it shows how strong the division is at this moment. Hell, if SmackDown had only traded in Asuka they would have given the division enough freshness. But with The Iconics and Absolution as well? Yeah, 2018 is looking bright for this division.
SD Live Main Event
Now this, this may be the IWC’s wet dream. Has SmackDown just instantly become the internet’s favoured brand with a couple of acquisitions? That main event scene is incredibly strong, I fully expect this coming year to be nothing but fantastic for the Blue Brand. There was already AJ Styles in a feud with a now heel Shinsuke Nakamura, that felt like a huge injection of energy by itself. But add on the new folk revealed/elevated last night? Wow.
Before we move to the traded folk, let’s not forget how awesome it is that Daniel Bryan ended up not being traded. He’s an act that really takes SD Live to another level, quite possibly the only man more popular than AJ Styles. But that of course ignited another trade, The Miz. The feud I thought was never going to happen, the angle that started on Talking Smack and launched The Miz into greatness. The only downside to that rivalry was at the time I thought nothing was ever going to be able to come of it, Daniel Bryan was retired, so why push it? Well holy crap, that angle is the storyline reasoning to Miz being brought to SmackDown. You have my interest, WWE! Here’s hoping Miz becomes that main event star he was never allowed to become on RAW.
Then there’s Joe, Samoa ‘Freaking’ Joe. One of the best talkers WWE have ever had, a man that got so over in such a short span of time last year. To a point where he felt like a true contender to Brock Lesnar’s throne, and he was to be given a rivalry with John Cena before he got injured right before the Rumble. Joe would have undoubtedly had a big match at WrestleMania were he not hurt, I fully expect him to be a major player for Tuesday nights going forward.
VERDICT: Mr Shake Up brought two people over, and they’ve made the main event scene feel absolutely incredible.
AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe. That is one stacked WWE Championship scene. With potentially more via the likes of Big Cass, Randy Orton and Eric Young. Guys who I suspect will settle in the mid-card for a short while, but could easily step up to be main event players. I’m expecting fantastic things from that roster, the Shake Up really has changed the perception for SmackDown Live. Perhaps in one night the momentum has shifted back to Tuesdays in a major way, at least in my book it has.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for SD Live going forward.
Overall, SD Live only needed to bring in one or two people in each division to really give it one powerful jolt. Jeff Hardy for US title/Cien for the mid-card as a whole, The Bar for the tag teams, Asuka for the women and The Miz/Samoa Joe for the main event. SmackDown was already set on a strong path with the heel Nakamura and recently back in action Daniel Bryan. WWE have built around that so damn well, perfect additions whilst simultaneously trading away a few acts that were in some ways holding the show back.
No more Jinder Mahal, no more babyface Bobby Roode and no more Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens. In its place? Styles vs Nakamura, Bryan vs Miz and Samoa Joe vs everybody. What a fantastic job Mr Shake Up has done here.
You’re safe for another year Mr Shake Up! The WWE Universe has been saved.
And that’s it! Do you think Mr Shake Up carried out his job to satisfactory levels? With the core motivation to freshen up both RAW and SmackDown Live, did the Superstar Shake Up succeed?
I will be back soon for another adventure!
This Thursday I will be LIVE on LOP Radio with for Perfect 10 Wrestling, talking the Shake Up, NXT Call ups and the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia.
Contact Imp via email: [email protected]
Or follow Imp on Twitter: @TheDamnImplicat
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