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The Week That Was in Pro Wrestling: the winners and losers of the WWE superstar shakeup

By JP Abcede

Pro wrestling has no offseason. This is why the closest that wrestling fans have for a silly season is the WWE superstar shakeup. January might be the month when most NJPW contracts expire, and WWE does its occasional roster cleanup now and then, but nothing creates more drama than the annual shuffling of the WWE personnel after WrestleMania.

Here are the winners, losers, and those who I feel made lateral moves between WWE's red and blue brands.


SmackDown Live - Feeling left out after Raw got most of the NXT call ups on the episode after WrestleMania, SD Live made its biggest acquisitions this week. From scoring the likes of former champions The Miz and Andrade "Cien" Almas (with Zelina Vega); to receiving Samoa Joe from Raw and the male members of SAnitY from NXT; as well as nabbing current WWE US belt owner Jeff Hardy, the blue brand feels refreshed and refurbished.

SmackDown tag team division - More good news for team blue as the tag team division just got deeper. Holdovers Usos, The New Day, and current titleholders Bludgeon Brothers will be joined by the The Bar, SAnitY, and the Good Brothers of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Can we get a "Yes" chant going?

Daniel Bryan - Speaking of the "Yes Movement", if we are going to base it on how things transpired this week, it appears that almost everyone who transferred to SmackDown are gunning for Bryan. There is The Miz, who was specifically requested by Daniel himself, then there was Big Cass' attack on the former GM to end the show, and finally, Samoa Joe called him out in his first promo as a SD Live member. Three years out of the rotation, the queue filled up quick for the "American Dragon".

Riott Squad - Ruby Riot and her gang looked strong - something they were not back on SmackDown - after they unceremoniously broke up the Bayley versus Sasha Banks match, easily slotting into the position vacated by Absolution. The difference is that they would be able to spread their wings as they are no longer under the imposing shadow of Charlotte Flair.

Yep Movement - It is only logical that the heel authority figure (Stephanie McMahon) signed the two Canadian rebels after the pair were fired from SmackDown Live and neither of the two were able to secure a Raw contract after they fought to a double countout last week. The duo's flexibility on their able to work as a pair or as individual competitors means they can slot into any angle (pardon the pun) thrown their way.

Natalya - She gets the rub in the immediate future as she partners with "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey. Right now, Natty would be acting as the old hand for the newcomer, while the former UFC champion will be able to play the role of knight in shining armor as the muscle of the two. But knowing how the Hart-Neidhart progeny rolls, expect a heel turn after a few months when she betrays Rousey for some reason.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre - The odd pairing of a former Spirit Squad cheerleader and a then 3MB member is sure an intriguing sight. Although the initial prognosis is bullish, I am apprehensive on how they will work around Ziggler's relaxed workload. Or maybe I am just looking into that too much. Speaking of 3MB, McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, and Heath Slater are all on the same show right now. How they have gone full circle.

Bobby Roode - A change in scenery would do Roode good as his act was getting stale back in the blue show. Unlike Mahal, the "Glorious" one has more upside and would be a ready contender as a top midcarder.


NXT - As always the case at this time of the year, the biggest loser is always the developmental brand, as NXT had to give up its top talents to the main shows. However, the cupboard is not left empty as Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, The Undisputed Era, Shayna Baszler, and the others are left to carry the banner for the yellow brand.

Mahal and Sunil Singh - The "modern day Maharaja" did not just lose the US title after winning it at WrestleMania, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory on Raw. The midcard scene on the red brand is already stacked as it is, and he needs to make a big impression to maintain the standing he enjoyed back in the Tuesday show. For storyline purposes, I am guessing that Samir would rejoin them once he is reactivated.

The Miztourage - It begs the question on what The Miztourage would do after they abandoned Mizanin in his final appearance on Raw. For now, I see Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas going down the pecking order as they have no standing feud to work with.

Lateral Movers

Asuka - Challenging Flair for the SD Live women's championship practically makes her a blue brand talent. This just makes things official then.

Breezango and R-Truth - The comedy acts changed positions. Which means they would remain as the comic relief of their respective programs. 

Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley - Neglected on the shallower SmackDown roster, what more can they do now that they are on the supposed bigger show? How lower can one go when they are already on rock bottom?

Up in the Air

Absolution - Admittedly, the luster was gone after Paige had to hang her boots as Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are left to fend for themselves. A logical move, one can easily speculate if they can curry some favor now that their former stable leader is the new general manager of the brand where they transferred.

Chad Gable - He had a thing going with Shelton Benjamin, but after losing momentum the past few months, the former Olympian might be more comfortable in a locker room full of Olympic medalists (and in the case of half of Authors of Pain, a former Olympic pool member). A reunion with Jason Jordan perhaps once Kurt Angle's son is cleared?

Baron Corbin - The one-time André the Giant Battle Royale winner and Money in the Bank contract holder was relegated to a mere mention on Raw. That is not a good first impression. But he is a Vince McMahon prototype, so we will see.

Mike Kanellis - What is worse than being part of a montage? Having your transfer announced via social media. Kanellis has not been on TV for a long time that I forgot he was part of Team SmackDown. And to think he was a main eventer back on the then TNA, now IMPACT Wrestling. With the ceiling of The Miz and the floor of Curt Hawkins, the "Greatest Love" can be placed anywhere on this list.