Breaking down the best options for the WWE's Superstar Shakeup

Daniel Bryan made a triumphant return to the ring at WrestleMania, but now it's time for him to be folded into what's going on on either Raw or SmackDown. Courtesy WWE

The WWE's Superstar Shakeup is set for Monday and Tuesday night, and with so many title changes coming out of WrestleMania weekend and unknowns like Brock Lesnar's future in play, it's hard to say how things will all, well, shake out.

The Superstar Shakeup is not a traditional draft or trading system by any means, but it serves as a valuable tool to offer new matchups, new stories and new starts for those who need them.

With an eye toward making Raw and SmackDown the best they can be, Tim Fiorvanti (representing Raw) and Matt Wilansky (representing SmackDown) combined forces to make two lists -- the superstars they want drafted to their respective shows, and who they'd like to protect from moving, given the choice.

The possibilities are endless, and no two people can agree -- just look at the crossover between the draft and protect lists below for a few examples. The rest of the year on Raw and SmackDown is in play, and the results by the end of Tuesday night's shifts could leave aftershocks with effects that carry far into the future.

Should be drafted from SmackDown to Raw

Daniel Bryan

I would not be upset if Daniel Bryan stayed on SmackDown and got himself more deeply involved with AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and the WWE championship. The tease of 12-minutes worth of Styles vs. Bryan alone was tantalizing enough. The writing seems to be on the wall, though, as outside of a handful of top stars, the biggest attractions typically find their way to Monday Night Raw. Normally I'd be pretty upset about removing Bryan from these potential dream matches, but moving him to Raw puts him squarely in line to pay off what could be the most personal rivalry in WWE today.

The Miz vaulted himself back into relevance with a series of promos and confrontations on SmackDown and the since-canceled Talking Smack by taking verbal cheap shots at the then-not physically cleared Bryan. Their history dates all the way back to 2010 and Bryan's entrance into the WWE, and they have tremendous chemistry. It's the perfect rivalry to officially bridge Bryan back from the world of on-screen authority figure to top performer in the thick of the ongoing storylines of WWE.

The Usos

The Usos have had a renaissance period on SmackDown, and the now-five-time tag team champions have done it all on Tuesday nights. Their matches with The New Day will go down as a rivalry that defines their careers, but you can only do it so many times before the shine starts to fade -- and there's nothing wrong with letting things cool off for a while before renewing tensions. The Usos are just what the doctor ordered for the makeover the Raw tag team division so desperately needs at the moment, and they could easily be the shock to the system a team like The Revival needs to reinvigorate their careers.

There's also a little bit of built-in history with The Bar, and that's a rivalry worth properly revisiting for an extended period of time. Send a team like Gallows & Anderson back to SmackDown in order to have a team that can match up a little better to The Bludgeon Brothers size-wise that also needs a fresh start on a new show.

Becky Lynch

Speaking of superstars who need a fresh start, Becky Lynch may be in the running for the "most criminally underutilized" performer on either Raw or SmackDown at the moment, along with Rusev. At some point, you have to bring all of the Four Horsewomen together on one show, which they haven't been for as many as three years, and set the stage for a major pay-per-view main event between Lynch, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair. Additionally, there are only so many matches we can see with Lynch taking on Natalya or members of the Riott Squad before we have to question why she's on the outside of the title picture looking in.

Though she could be an interesting enough first contender to Carmella's SmackDown women's championship, should Flair depart and Lynch stay after the Superstar Shakeup, but sooner or later something's gotta give. Two years ago, Lynch had a prominent spot in a transformative match at WrestleMania 32, and by the end of that year she was the first SmackDown women's champion. It's time for her to return to form and step up into a bigger role going forward.

Should be drafted from Raw to SmackDown

Alexa Bliss

You can make the argument Bliss has been the biggest overachiever in the WWE since the reintroduction of the brand split in mid-2016. She had two stints as SmackDown women's champ before she was shipped off to Raw a year ago. Once she arrived, Bliss then spent a remarkable 335 days as Monday's titleholder. Pretty amazing stuff, especially when you consider her diminutive size. But Bliss has a bigger problem than trying to figure out how to get the belt she lost at WrestleMania back. With the still-unclear status of Asuka and the looming specter of Ronda Rousey, Bliss is suddenly far from the most sought-after women on Raw.

And that's before we mention Nia Jax, who beat Bliss in New Orleans to become Raw women's champion. The SmackDown women's landscape is far different. Outside of Charlotte Flair, the drawing power is just not there. Sure, Becky Lynch has a solid pedigree and Carmella is the new champ, but neither are needle-movers in the way Bliss has been. SmackDown needs a leading women's heel, and Bliss would fill that role.


A lot of anecdotal evidence would suggest Cesaro is the most underutilized star today. True, he's had stellar runs as a tag-team champ with multiple partners, most recently with partner Sheamus, but their success was often overshadowed by the irreverent nature of the two. Cesaro is a freakish athlete, who could wow the audience if given a chance. He was once a long-reigning United States champion, but that was six years ago. Cesaro is in his prime now, but given the depth of the Raw roster, it's hard to imagine him breaking through anytime soon.

A move to SmackDown could mean an automatic feud with current United States champ Jinder Mahal or whoever holds that belt in the coming months. And there's no reason Cesaro couldn't make the leap to a main-event staple and duke it out with AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura. There aren't enough high-end stars on Tuesday nights right now, and the time feels right for Cesaro to take another shot at stepping into the main event as a singles star.

Dean Ambrose

Splitting up The Shield again? Scoff if you want, but Version II has hardly made an impact. Roman Reigns is entrenched in the Universal title hunt, while Seth Rollins is the newly minted Intercontinental champion -- and Rollins seems destined for so much more. So where does that leave Ambrose, who's been out of action since December with a triceps injury and will likely remain sidelined for the next few months -- outside a heel turn, which isn't out of the question?

If the creative team doesn't want to go in that direction, why not bring him back to SmackDown, where, as WWE champion at the time, he was the brand's first pick in 2016? The deal with Ambrose isn't unlike that of Cesaro. Ambrose is a legit star, but not quite magnetic or on a big enough wave of momentum to compete with the likes of Brock, Braun and Reigns right now. Ambrose would benefit in a big way from separating himself from The Shield and creating a new, better path of his own. Imagine the pop he'd get Tuesday if his name were called, even if he has to wait before stepping into the ring again.

Should stay on Raw

The Miz

The counterbalance to Bryan coming to Raw would be Miz staying. As someone who complained (loudly) about Miz getting lost in the shuffle this time last year when he moved to Raw, I am happy to say I was wrong. Miz has been the anchor that kept Raw from floating too far astray while Brock Lesnar was thousands of miles away and far from anyone's minds. He made the Intercontinental championship meaningful again, and provided Finn Balor and Seth Rollins the perfect sounding board to start to lift their careers back toward where they should be. Now it's time for him to bring the best out of Bryan.

The Revival

In the year since they've been on Raw, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have had some of the worst injury luck imaginable. They knocked the New Day down on their first night on the main roster, and showed some flashes along the way, but alongside everyone not named Cesaro and Sheamus, The Revival has largely fallen by the wayside as Raw's tag team division floundered. Bring in a team like The Usos, make it personal and let those four guys go. They will make magic.


Elias is just starting to hit his stride on Monday nights, and his act is somehow so much more identifiable with what Raw is trying to do than what SmackDown does best. Leave him to serenade us with musical interludes to break up the lulls on Monday's three-hour broadcasts -- and let him keep playing the fool.

Should stay on SmackDown


You cannot -- we repeat cannot -- ditch the single biggest phenom to come out of the blue brand in a long time. Even though his booking has been questionable at best, everyone in the arena and at home and throughout the planet wants a piece of this guy. Keep him on the show where he can shine. If he's not going over the likes of Mahal, Bobby Roode and Randy Orton, then Rusev isn't going to see a shred of title hope on Raw. He needs to stay. And he needs a belt.

Charlotte Flair

Look, she's the best woman on either roster. Heck, Flair might be the best woman to ever compete in a WWE ring, which suggests she deserves the A-show. But Raw really needs to give Asuka and Rousey an opportunity to own the spotlight, should Asuka stay on Raw. And if Bliss comes over to SmackDown, Flair would finally have a bona fide rival.

The Usos

The Usos have a similar issue to Flair's. They were long-running champs who just recently lost their titles and, like Flair, they're the best in their respective division. But Raw has already done enough elsewhere to rejuvenate its tag-team division by promoting the Authors of Pain and pairing up Matt Hardy with Bray Wyatt. Yes, there are no current tag-team champion on Raw, and ostensibly, that looks like a great opportunity for The Usos, but Jimmy and Jey have a much better chance of shining on a brand that needs their name recognition.