It’s time for the WWE Superstar Shake-Up. With the rosters being divided, it’s time to blur those lines and move some people between brands. Anyone could end up anywhere. But there are a few matters to be on the lookout for on both Raw and Smackdown. The first is that Charlotte was unceremoniously attacked by Nia Jax after their loss in the 6-woman tag last week – and they’ll meet in the ring this week. Additionally despite being on opposing sides the previous week, Emma seems to think that she still has a partnership with Dana Brooke. We shall see how that unfolds. Over on Smackdown we’ve also got a return to look forward to – in addition to the shake-up.
Charlotte vs Nia Jax
Winner: Nia Jax
Emma tries to make nice to Dana Brooke.
The new members of Raw are revealed: Alexa Bliss and Mickie James!
So look at that; Raw gave us plenty to talk about for a change. And most of it is good! The only part that wasn’t was the match between Charlotte and Nia. Heel vs heel matches rarely work unless one of the two participants is turning face – and I think everyone has learned their lesson about trying to make Charlotte a goodie two shoes. As such, the offence between both was rather slow and sluggish. Nia gave Charlotte an awkward shoulder breaker that led to her landing badly on her head. Charlotte clearly tucked her head to protect herself, but it looked bad. The moonsault off the top rope was another bad moment where Charlotte landed knees first and barely caught Nia to begin with. There were a couple of good moments that were genuinely well-thought up. Charlotte going for her slingshot pin and Nia blocking it was a creative touch, and I liked the moment of Charlotte tossing Nia to the outside. But I didn’t sense much chemistry between the two. You can tell from her matches against Dana and Brie that Charlotte isn’t particularly skilled at working with girls who are less solid in the ring. She herself needs a Sasha or Bayley type in there with her to help her out. I don’t mind Nia but I’ll happily admit that she’s not at a skill level where she can lead a match by herself. Charlotte however leaves Raw having put over almost everyone. She put Bayley over at WrestleMania, Sasha last week and Nia this week. Admirable work by a woman who dominated the division for nearly two years.
It looks as if my assumptions of Emma and Dana feuding were right after all. I’m all for it! Emma needs a good feud to set herself up as a heel to the WWE Universe, while Dana needs to establish herself as a face. She did that here by refusing to be Emma’s lackey. Dana has been looking rather weak since she was easily defeated by Charlotte, so this act of standing up for herself should get her back on track. I am intrigued to see how she’ll do as a face, since she has been a heel the entire time. Her promo was actually quite good, and she’s never been celebrated for her efforts on the microphone. I’d like to see Dana competing in singles matches, with Emma causing distractions to antagonise her. Dana can respond by doing the same thing. It’s a feud we haven’t seen before so I’m excited to see what unfolds.
And talk about excitement; Alexa Bliss is on Raw! It’s not exactly been a secret how quickly she has risen through the ranks on the blue brand. Many considered her the breakout star of the Smackdown Six, and the thunderous reaction she got for debuting on Raw shows that she’s quite over with the live crowds too. While Raw and Smackdown may be considered equals now, Raw is still the flagship show with three hours, and it’s usually where the star power goes. It shows that WWE clearly have faith in Alexa to become a star here on Raw. She worked very respectable matches with the likes of Bayley and Sasha on NXT, so it’ll be good to see how they work now that Alexa has improved over the last year. Mickie James is another good move. She appears to have turned face, so she’ll make up the numbers on Raw. Sasha is clearly going to be turning heel on Bayley – judging from her promo – so Mickie’s presence counteracts that face void. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Mickie get the first shot at Bayley. Back when the Women’s Champion was rising through the ranks on NXT, Mickie was who I compared her to. If she could have a nice match with Bayley, I’ll be very happy. Raw has definitely benefited from this shake-up – and the fact that Charlotte is on a different brand signals that Monday nights are going to be a little different from now on. Also, Maryse ended up on Raw along with The Miz. But since she did next to nothing in her match at WrestleMania, I doubt she’ll affect the division in any meaningful way.
Two new women join the Smackdown brand: Tamina Snuka and Charlotte!
Lana gets a vignette hyping up her debut on Smackdown.
Smackdown didn’t really deliver as much as Raw, but in some ways I’m okay with that. Smackdown has had such a rock solid division since it was started up that I honestly didn’t want to see too many changes. Alexa had run her course as the top heel champion on Smackdown, and Mickie hadn’t had time to affect the division too much – so their moves to Raw were fine. Charlotte’s move was something we all saw coming. Foreshadowed by a Twitter conversation she had with Naomi, as well as the fact that she was putting over everyone on Raw (except poor Dana, sad face) – it was obvious the Nature Girl was moving to bluer pastures. Charlotte has worked non-stop with Sasha and Bayley over the last few months, so it’s time to see her mixing it up with some new women. She did call out Naomi on Twitter but I would rather she stay away from the title picture, and have other feuds. Perhaps she could pick up her old beef with Becky Lynch?
Tamina Snuka returning…well it’s not a return most of us were anticipating. She has never been particularly good in the ring, and her work has rarely gone above passable or average. And with her dangerously approaching her forties, I had a feeling she wouldn’t be long for retirement. But Smackdown is definitely the land of opportunity, and maybe Tamina can benefit from the good booking and writing that the previous six had too.
We also got Lana being hyped up to us. The Ravishing Russian was notably not mentioned alongside Rusev; her being drafted was announced separately, and the vignette we saw had no reference to him at all. Lana has been competing on NXT live events, so I think it’s safe to assume that she’ll be making her debut on Smackdown as a wrestler rather than a manager. The vignette also seems to correspond with the fact that she’s been doing a dancing gimmick at live events – so it’s possible we’ll see that incorporated. I know virtually nothing about Lana’s in-ring ability, apart from her brief couple of spots at WrestleMania 32 but she didn’t embarrass herself – so she could be a valuable asset to the Smackdown division.
There is one notable issue regarding the new Smackdown roster. Do you notice a little imbalance here? Our heels include Carmella, Natalya, Tamina Snuka, Charlotte and possibly Lana too. Our only faces are the Women’s Champion and Becky Lynch. The division has also lost a very strong face in Nikki Bella, and the newly turned Mickie James is off to Raw. So one of our baddies is going to have to turn. My vote is split between Tamina and Carmella. While I’ve never been a big Tamina supporter, I have noticed that she seems way more suited to playing a face in the ring. The year 2012 where she got a face push against Beth Phoenix, and mixed it up with the likes of Kaitlyn, Natalya and Maxine saw some of her best work in my opinion. She’s not believable as a monster heel against Charlotte or Natalya, so why not give her a try as a face? Carmella…well I’ve been rewatching a lot of her NXT stuff and I’m starting to miss her as a babyface. She’s got a wonderfully endearing scrappy quality that makes her insanely easy to root for. While she’s been killing it as a heel, I wouldn’t mind her seeing the light.
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