Another WrestleMania has come and gone. The show was long and felt a little rushed, but all in all, it was a solid show. Many of the matches seemed to set up storylines going forward rather than being the culmination of an arc, but that’s good news for the future. Between Shinsuke Nakamura’s heel turn and Ronda Rousey looking more comfortable in the ring, WrestleMania was a success for what it was.
To reel the fans in further, this week will mark the second annual Superstar Shakeup. Along with a number of NXT call-ups and the surprising return of Bobby Lashley, this year’s Shakeup will give fans a brand new roster to enjoy this summer. Considering we were already given the dream match of Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles on last week’s Smackdown, it seems highly likely that Bryan will be going to Raw. It’s not every day that WWE gets a main event calibur wrestler coming out of retirement, so it’s a no brainer to put him on the flagship show.
Considering the Shinsuke/Styles feud is apparently just getting started, they’ll probably stay on Smackdown and build to an even bigger match going into Summerslam. Nakamura’s heel turn will breathe new life into his character, and it will be intriguing to see what he can really do with it. It’s still unknown what exactly they’re doing with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, as either man was unable to attain a Raw contract. It would be interesting to see them go back to NXT for a while and work their way back up as part of their struggle; or even if they could work out a collaboration with Ring of Honor for a brief cross-promotional run. As more and more independent stars are getting WWE contracts, giving back and working in a kayfabe return to indy shows for Zayn and Owens could be a cool publicity stunt. Also, as Kurt Angle mentioned, “I hear TNA is hiring.”
The Shakeup may also give us the opportunity to see bad guy Shinsuke against the likes of Finn Balor or Seth Rollins. And since Roman Reigns was unable to beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, we might see The Big Dog jump to the blue brand for some fresh competition. One man who could definitely use a reset is Dolph Ziggler, whose career trajectory is so unstable that he could be in the main event one week and in a dark match the next. Maybe a run on Raw is in the cards for The Showoff, who has had more ups and downs in recent years than Sisyphus.
While I don’t see these brands trading Champions Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to switch midcard title holders. If newly crowned Intercontinental Champion, Seth Rollins, does jump to Smackdown, that would bring U.S. Champion, Jinder Mahal, to Raw. And since Backlash is FINALLY a cross-brand event, there is no combination of superstars following the Shakeup that are off the table. Yes, the experiment of a payperview every two weeks is mercifully over. Thankfully, WWE has come to their senses and will be cutting back on exposure and are going back to monthly payperviews.
Maybe the most anticipated shuffle is in the Women’s division. While Asuka already jumped to Smackdown to face Charlotte, it hasn’t been determined which brand she’ll be staying with. Now that Carmella has cashed in her Money in the Bank contract and won the Smackdown Women’s Championship, it’s her title to lose. This is a big opportunity for the Empress of Tomorrow and, really, any other woman on the roster who could believably defeat Carmella. Also, losing the title makes it very likely that Charlotte will be going back to Raw. Of course, since Ronda Rousey is the biggest acquisition for WWE in the past few years, a match between Rousey and Charlotte is just waiting to be utilized; or better yet, a feud with Asuka....or hey, a triple threat submission match between all three at Summerslam!
“Asuka Lock vs. Figure 8 vs. Rousey Armbar” sounds like a license to print money.
The Superstar Shakeup, while it’s a new take on the old “Draft” model, will bring a lot of new and exciting feud options to WWE. It doesn’t look like anyone will be beating Brock Lesnar anytime soon, and we may have to wait for a new Money in the Bank holder to see the Universal Championship change hands; but in the meantime, it looks like we’ll be getting plenty of new content. As far as keeping our interest post-WrestleMania, the WWE is doing its job.