Report Card: Night 2 of WWE Superstar Shakeup
Joe had just returned from injury after getting a big push on the Raw brand last summer, and he had been advertised on the post-WrestleMania Raw house tour opposite Roman Reigns in main events, implying that perhaps he would be contending for the Universal Championship, assuming Reigns finally wrests the belt from Brock Lesnar.
Cutting a promo last night on Smackdown, Joe implied that he still considers himself a contender for the Universal and Intercontinental titles, which are both still attached to the Raw brand, and I’m not sure what that forebodes for the role he will be playing.
Could WWE be setting Joe up to be a free agent along the lines of what we’ve seen from John Cena in recent months, going back-and-forth from Raw to Smackdown?
It will be interesting to see where that goes.
We already knew The Miz was moving over to Smackdown, at the storyline request of former general manager Daniel Bryan, to rekindle the feud that began brewing last year when Miz and Bryan engaged in a verbal battle on a Talking Smack postgame show.
We also know that The Miztourage won’t be making the move with Miz. I assume that we can expect yet another new gimmick to be in the works for Miz, who has already scored with The Miztourage and further back the Mizdow act featuring Damien Sandow.
One other big name switched sides: Asuka. Whose stock is diminished in the wake of her tapout loss to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, and will need to be rebuilt going forward.
These were the three highest-profile moves. OK, so Jeff Hardy brought the U.S. title back from Raw after defeating Jinder Mahal on Monday. I’m not sure I count Jeff Hardy as a big move, though it is interesting that he will be on Smackdown as Matt Hardy remains on Raw developing his “Woken” storyline.
Could it be that we get Brother Nero on Monday nights and then Jeff on Tuesdays? Hmm …
Big Cass returned from injury, but … yawn. Yeah, he’s seven feet tall, and you can’t teach that, but to this point, you’ve also not been able to teach Cass workrate or what to do with a mic. He seems destined to be another Matt Morgan: a big guy with a good look who goes nowhere and ends up doing something else with his life other than wrestling.
SAnitY – Eric Young, Killian Dane, Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross – got the call-up from NXT. Nikki Cross should make an immediate impact on the women’s division. I’m not sure about the guys being much more than a novelty act.
One other NXT call-up: former champ Andrade “Cien” Almas. Almas’ NXT career was revived by his pairing with mouthpiece Zelina Vega, who joins him on Smackdown. It’s easy to see him buried again deep down the mid-card on the main roster.
The final move involved Absolution members Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, who will join Paige, the new Smackdown commissioner, on the blue brand, in a shakeup that was foreshadowed by the appearance of the Riott Squad on Raw on Monday.
Just a reshuffling of the deck of cards there.
Grade for Night 2: B.
Chris Graham is the author of The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, an account of the behind-the-scenes of the 2011 Awesome Wrestling Entertainment Night of Legends show.