Now WrestleMania is out of the way for another year, it’s time for WWE’s annual moving of pieces on the chessboard.
Raw hosted the Superstar Shakeup on Monday night where all superstars could switch brands to Raw from SmackDown or NXT.
Mirror Sport’s John Isherwood runs down the biggest movers and takes a look at the trades and the action from WWE’s pressing of their reset button for the new year ahead.
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The biggest name making the jump between brands is former WWE Champion, the Phenomenal AJ Styles. Arriving as the final on screen trade the face that runs the place teamed up with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins to take on Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley in the shows main event.
It did seem as if AJ had accomplished as much as he could have done on the blue brand. Reigning as champion for over a year and contesting stellar matches with Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and others, it was time for Styles to make the leap.
His move to Raw opens up a lot of future opportunities including a run with Rollins for the Universal title or the heavily teased Bullet Club reunion. Styles has been a top player in WWE since his arrival, his move to Raw should further cement that position.
So Raw is officially awesome now? WWE’s new reality star The Miz joins up with the red brand and picks up where he left off on SmackDown as he destroys Shane McMahon to open the show.
It does seem like Miz gets drafted every year, but he’s worth so much on the mic and in the ring, he’s a worthy addition to Raw. Even though his feud with Shane may continue, Miz’s path on Raw has many directions to travel.
A run for the Intercontinental title would be true to form, but Miz should have loftier ambitions and aim to truly get in the main event once again.
Andrade and Zelina Vega
Now this should be interesting. The talented Luchador – who debuted in NXT with the most ridiculous outfit – has come on leaps and bounds to become one of SmackDown’s most underrated talents.
Arriving on Raw alongside his manager Zelina Vega, it appears that El Idolo has instantly interjected himself into the Intercontinental title picture as he squared off against Finn Balor. Andrade genuinely has it all and along with his heat magnet manager, could be a huge part of Raw.
The Viking Experience
Where to start. Amazing talent, absolutely terrible rebrand. Hanson and Rowe are War Raiders, they of excelling in NXT and also of incredible entrances, well now they’ve been renamed and repackaged as Ivar and Erik, the Viking Experience which sounds like a team of cosplayers.
Obviously this should not take away from what is an extremely talented tag team and a huge addition to Raw. Ryder and Hawkins’ reign may be short lived here.
The Sassy Southern Belle has finally chosen just one aisle to walk down now and that will be on Raw. After her impressively long lasting main roster debut at the Royal Rumble, Evans has been floating across both Raw and SmackDown mostly walking down to the ring and turning away again.
On the last Smackdown though, Evans did get physical with Becky Lynch, smacking The Man right in the face seeming shouting her intention to face The Man down the line.
Evans is still a bit raw – pardon the pun – but working with experienced talent should flourish on Monday nights.
Other trades include
Rey Mysterio (SmackDown to Raw)
Aleister Black and Ricochet (free agents to Raw)
The Usos (SmackDown to Raw)
Naomi (SmackDown to Raw)
EC3 (free agent to Raw)
Cedric Alexander (205 Live to Raw)
Eric Young (SmackDown to Raw)
(It also appears that Sami Zayn and Lars Sullivan are on Raw, but as yet this is unconfirmed)
In action on the night, The Viking Experience and The Revival scored a win over the tag team champions Hawkins and Ryder and Black and Ricochet getting their stint on the brand off to a flyer.
Andrade beat Finn Balor in what was a tremendous match, which hopefully there will be more of in the future.
Lacey Evans defeated Natalya in order to win a future women’s title match with Becky Lynch after The Man pinned Ruby Riott and in more tag team action the Women’s champs The Iiconics were defeated by Bayley and Naomi and The Uso’s defeated Gable and Roode.
Rounding off the show was a stellar six man that saw new Raw recruit AJ Styles get the pin for his team covering Lashley after Styles, Rollins and Reigns hit their finishers to close out the show.
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