WWE Raw Superstar Shakeup: 14 Rankings, From Worst To Best

Brace yourselves, because it’s only a matter of time before WWE present Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz over on SmackDown. In storyline, it was Bryan who requested that Kurt Angle agree to banish Miz from Raw and send him over, and it makes sense. As an antagonistic heel, Miz is peerless in the company, and he’ll do everything in his power on the mic to build tension towards a match many thought they’d never see the last time he was on Tuesday nights.

Miz is gone from Raw, but WWE busily went about shifting some other top stars to take his place. A total of 19 names were drafted to the flagship on Monday, including the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin and a host of other, lower-tier talent.

Notably, Drew McIntyre added to the trio of NXT acts (Authors Of Pain, No Way Jose and Ember Moon) who were called up to the main roster last week. The question is though: which moves were the best, and what does this do for the careers of all the movees?

  1. The Ascension

At this point, it’s actually a surprise that The Ascension weren’t demoted to NXT rather than being drafted to Raw. It’s also a slight shock WWE’s creative team took the time to think about them in this Superstar Shakeup at all. They didn’t before now.

Konnor and Viktor have done next-to-nothing since being picked by SmackDown in the 2016 WWE Draft, aside from mess around in backstage vignettes with Breezango. Honestly, they’d be better off scrapping their Illuminati-style gimmick and starting again in NXT.

On Raw, The Ascension can be expected to do the job for everyone they meet. There’s a slim (oh so slim) chance they’ll be given a brief push just because they’re on a new show, but even that looks unlikely. It wouldn’t last anyway, because their name is mud at this stage.

  1. Mike Kanellis

If WWE play their cards right, they could still turn Mike Kanellis into a meaningful member of the roster. All it would take is a quick repackage job and some spotlight on his prior candid interview with WWE’s YouTube channel. There’s a sign, given his heartfelt comments about fighting for his family, that that may have already started.

Realistically though, Kanellis has been brought over to Raw simply because WWE didn’t have a clue what else to do with him. He was lost on SmackDown long before his hiatus from television, and the blue team’s writers outright failed to make the most of his sickening lovey-dovey behaviour with wife Maria as a heel.

A babyface turn may be for the best then. The least WWE can do is try to turn Mike into something more than an auxiliary figure who is cannon fodder for the workers they care about. If not, then there’s little point in him being on the roster full stop.

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Brace yourselves, because it’s only a matter of time before WWE present Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz over on SmackDown.

In storyline, it was Bryan who requested that Kurt Angle agree to banish Miz from Raw and send him over, and it makes sense. As an antagonistic heel, Miz is peerless in the company, and he’ll do everything in his power on the mic to build tension towards a match many thought they’d never see the last time he was on Tuesday nights.

Miz is gone from Raw, but WWE busily went about shifting some other top stars to take his place. A total of 19 names were drafted to the flagship on Monday, including the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin and a host of other, lower-tier talent.

Notably, Drew McIntyre added to the trio of NXT acts (Authors Of Pain, No Way Jose and Ember Moon) who were called up to the main roster last week. The question is though: which moves were the best, and what does this do for the careers of all the movees?

  1. The Ascension

At this point, it’s actually a surprise that The Ascension weren’t demoted to NXT rather than being drafted to Raw. It’s also a slight shock WWE’s creative team took the time to think about them in this Superstar Shakeup at all. They didn’t before now.

Konnor and Viktor have done next-to-nothing since being picked by SmackDown in the 2016 WWE Draft, aside from mess around in backstage vignettes with Breezango. Honestly, they’d be better off scrapping their Illuminati-style gimmick and starting again in NXT.

On Raw, The Ascension can be expected to do the job for everyone they meet. There’s a slim (oh so slim) chance they’ll be given a brief push just because they’re on a new show, but even that looks unlikely. It wouldn’t last anyway, because their name is mud at this stage.

  1. Mike Kanellis

If WWE play their cards right, they could still turn Mike Kanellis into a meaningful member of the roster. All it would take is a quick repackage job and some spotlight on his prior candid interview with WWE’s YouTube channel. There’s a sign, given his heartfelt comments about fighting for his family, that that may have already started.

Realistically though, Kanellis has been brought over to Raw simply because WWE didn’t have a clue what else to do with him. He was lost on SmackDown long before his hiatus from television, and the blue team’s writers outright failed to make the most of his sickening lovey-dovey behaviour with wife Maria as a heel.

A babyface turn may be for the best then. The least WWE can do is try to turn Mike into something more than an auxiliary figure who is cannon fodder for the workers they care about. If not, then there’s little point in him being on the roster full stop.

  1. Chad Gable

Stupid.

That’s the ideal word to use when analysing WWE’s decision to take Chad Gable away from Shelton Benjamin and move him to Raw as a singles act. Taken out of the tag-team realm, Gable’s prospects don’t seem abundant, and his future doesn’t look bright without a partner.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel if he’s treated with care, but Chad is a smaller guy who works a fast-paced, athletic style. He’s also not a stand out on the microphone and isn’t likely to get the chance to improve on that side of his game on Raw.

In a team, Gable had merit. On his own, he’s going to struggle. As much as anyone who likes solid wrestling should hope that’s not the case, it doesn’t make sense that WWE would take him away from something that was working.

  1. Mojo Rawley

Mojo Rawley is another who has been treated carelessly by WWE for a good while now. Since winning that Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, Mojo has done nothing. He’s not in a tag-team with Zack Ryder anymore and he’s one of the most bland characters WWE have.

That’s creative’s fault, because fans did show they’d respond to Rawley’s “Hype Bro” gimmick when he was booked credibly.

Mojo needs to distance himself from the goofy ex-football player gimmick and find something less cartoonish if he wants to succeed on Raw. As things stand, he’s only there to make up the numbers, and that’s a shame for someone who could have connected with kids as a lovable babyface or branched out on his own as a vicious heel post-Zack Ryder.

  1. Zack Ryder

Speaking of which, poor Zack Ryder continues to tread water in WWE, and mediocre booking has chipped away at his long-standing popularity too. The best thing for Ryder at the moment would be reuniting with Mojo Rawley and pretending their split never happened.

Seriously, that’s it. Ryder’s on the fringes again, so much so that he’s ripe to be sent down to NXT to find another partner he can bring back to the main roster with him. It’s an idea at least, and that’s one more than WWE creative seem to have for the guy.

Zack is in the exact same position as his old running buddy Mojo. Neither can shed their cartoonish sheen, and nor do they look like they’ll be doing anything more than working filler matches WWE can use to pad out each three-hour Raw.

Woo, woo, would you please do something to vindicate Ryder’s passion and drive, WWE?

  1. Riott Squad

WWE should have learned their lesson with Team B.A.D back in 2015. Both the Riott Squad and Absolution are wishy-washy, run-of-the-mill stable ideas that result in each woman blending into the background rather than being helped by the group dynamic.

There’s potential in Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, but not as a faction. There hasn’t been any explanation as to why they’re together, and the trio generally come across like SmackDown creative lined every woman against a wall, closed their eyes, and picked three at random.

Until they’re broken up and allowed to find individual identities, that’s not going to change just by moving them to Raw. If anything, the Riott Squad are going to be a minor distraction WWE can use to prolong Sasha Banks and Bayley’s fractured friendship angle.

  1. Breezango

OK, starting to move into more positive territory now.

There’s something about the quirky banter between Tyler Breeze and Fandango that makes them endearing. They weren’t handed too much that was worthwhile by creative on SmackDown, and yet Breezango managed to get themselves over with fans via off-the-wall segments and bizarre comedy during matches.

Comedy is rarely done right in WWE, so it’s notable that Breezango managed to make fans laugh with them rather than at them. That’s easier said than done in a company that relies on toilet humour or forced, stilted slapstick to be funny.

On SmackDown, Breezango were only going to be sacrificial lambs for The Bludgeon Brothers. A win over The Bar suggests they may well be onto something by moving to Raw. Fingers crossed.

  1. Natalya

Natalya’s main strength in 2018 is her wealth of experience compared to the horde of fresh faces in WWE’s female ranks. A quick glance at Raw’s women’s division says she’ll be invaluable to the likes of Ember Moon, Ruby Riott and even Nia Jax.

Behind the scenes, Natalya can also be a calming influence to help integrate Ronda Rousey into pro wrestling’s relentless travel schedule; look at Nattie’s social media to see she’s well-liked by many backstage in WWE, and her role as ‘mother hen’ to the newbies is one she’d relish.

Aside from helping the younger talent settle down and find their groove, Natalya could also tangle with Asuka and give the recently-beaten Japanese star a rebound win post-WrestleMania. In terms of female moves in the Shakeup, this was one that had to happen.

  1. Jinder Mahal

What is it with WWE booking secondary title wins at WrestleMania then undermining them on TV shortly afterwards? It happened to Zack Ryder with the Intercontinental Title in 2016, and it’s happened to Jinder Mahal and the United States Title in 2018.

Although seeing Jeff Hardy raise singles gold produced a fuzzy nostalgia pop, the match on Raw made Mahal look like a chump. The ex-WWE Champion has been on quite the decline since dropping that belt to AJ Styles last year, and that doesn’t look like stopping unless Raw’s writing team come to the rescue.

Jinder is far from the best worker in WWE, but he is consistent and entirely dependable. His xenophobic characterisation, if toned down, is also tolerable. There’s potential here if WWE can find the right opponent to bring the best out in Mahal.

  1. Bobby Roode

Bringing out the best in Bobby Roode is also a pressing concern.

WWE dropped the ball by giving in to Roode’s emerging popularity and booking him as a babyface on SmackDown. At times, it felt awkward, and it didn’t quite have the aura his heelish arrogance did over on NXT programming. It’s time to set things right.

By turning heel on Raw, Roode would open himself up to matches against Seth Rollins (provided he’s not heading to SmackDown in the Shakeup), Bobby Lashley, Jeff Hardy (similar to Rollins) and even Elias should WWE concede to his own popularity and pen a babyface run.

Roode works best in the ring as a heel too, and his “Glorious” character is tailor-made to play the cowardly villain WWE adore. If Raw’s writers get it right, Bobby Roode will be one of the best trades in quite some time.

  1. Dolph Ziggler

Remember the sweet emotion that accompanied Dolph Ziggler beating The Miz at No Mercy 2016 to save his career and become Intercontinental Champion? That feels like a lifetime ago for Dolph, and he must be hoping this move to Raw bears fruit.

That said, there wasn’t any point to Ziggler staying on SmackDown regardless of WWE’s plans for him on Raw. Dolph had to move and get as far away as possible from the most dreadful period of his company career. Now he has Drew McIntyre in his corner, and there’s a budding Shawn Michaels/Diesel dynamic on the horizon. Well, to a degree.

It’s the best case scenario, and if something even minutely similar transpires, it’ll be a saving grace for Ziggler. His big-bumping style and occasional cowardice when the chips are down suits the idea of a bigger man in his corner. An eventual (and natural) feud with McIntyre is also enticing.

  1. Baron Corbin

If Dolph Ziggler had a wretched 2017, then Baron Corbin had one stacked with ups and downs.

After becoming a Money in the Bank winner last Summer, Corbin was made to look like he was punching well above his weight by losing the briefcase and jobbing to John Cena in a lop-sided match at SummerSlam. Since then, he’s drifted around making vague threats without coming through on any of them.

Sound familiar? It’s like WWE were trying to turn Baron into SmackDown’s version of Bray Wyatt without even knowing it, and that big talk, little action approach has to change if he’s to turn mid-card mediocrity into upper-card promise.

There’s a worker in there, and a good promo man, but it’s all hidden behind a lack of polish. That’s Vince McMahon’s responsibility, to build on the base skills Corbin has. Consider him a dark horse in the Superstar Shakeup.

  1. Drew McIntyre

Any wrestling fan who admires the hard graft it takes to be a success post-WWE should be in awe of what Drew McIntyre achieved outside the promotion between 2014-17. Touring across the world and promising to elevate every organisation he worked for, McIntyre did exactly that, and it was hard not to cheer when he landed back in NXT.

Although his new pairing with Dolph Ziggler is a bit left-field, the aforementioned Shawn Michaels/Diesel dynamic to the duo could work if WWE let Dolph act like an untouchable dirtbag and allow McIntyre the chance to display his natural charisma.

Once the bond between he and Ziggler breaks, expect Drew to become one of Raw’s breakout stars. He’s due the opportunity after working tirelessly to improve himself.

  1. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn

The Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan anti-authority gig Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were peddling on SmackDown had run its course, and it was high-time they made the jump. Well, they didn’t really have an option to be honest, after being fired from the blue brand at WrestleMania.

Using Stephanie McMahon as an explanation for why KO/Sami showed up on Raw was genius too. At once, WWE furthered Steph’s need to snipe at Kurt Angle as payback for WrestleMania and secured the flagship two major stars.

That’s how to write closure on one chapter and open another in the same breath.

Owens and Zayn can work as a tag-team, as individuals and even as opponents again further on down the line when it suits. They’re some of the most flexible names on the WWE roster right now, and that makes them the biggest (not to mention best) move in the Superstar Shakeup thus far.

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  1. Chad Gable

Stupid.

That’s the ideal word to use when analysing WWE’s decision to take Chad Gable away from Shelton Benjamin and move him to Raw as a singles act. Taken out of the tag-team realm, Gable’s prospects don’t seem abundant, and his future doesn’t look bright without a partner.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel if he’s treated with care, but Chad is a smaller guy who works a fast-paced, athletic style. He’s also not a stand out on the microphone and isn’t likely to get the chance to improve on that side of his game on Raw.

In a team, Gable had merit. On his own, he’s going to struggle. As much as anyone who likes solid wrestling should hope that’s not the case, it doesn’t make sense that WWE would take him away from something that was working.

  1. Mojo Rawley

Mojo Rawley is another who has been treated carelessly by WWE for a good while now. Since winning that Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, Mojo has done nothing. He’s not in a tag-team with Zack Ryder anymore and he’s one of the most bland characters WWE have.

That’s creative’s fault, because fans did show they’d respond to Rawley’s “Hype Bro” gimmick when he was booked credibly.

Mojo needs to distance himself from the goofy ex-football player gimmick and find something less cartoonish if he wants to succeed on Raw. As things stand, he’s only there to make up the numbers, and that’s a shame for someone who could have connected with kids as a lovable babyface or branched out on his own as a vicious heel post-Zack Ryder.

  1. Zack Ryder

Speaking of which, poor Zack Ryder continues to tread water in WWE, and mediocre booking has chipped away at his long-standing popularity too. The best thing for Ryder at the moment would be reuniting with Mojo Rawley and pretending their split never happened.

Seriously, that’s it. Ryder’s on the fringes again, so much so that he’s ripe to be sent down to NXT to find another partner he can bring back to the main roster with him. It’s an idea at least, and that’s one more than WWE creative seem to have for the guy.

Zack is in the exact same position as his old running buddy Mojo. Neither can shed their cartoonish sheen, and nor do they look like they’ll be doing anything more than working filler matches WWE can use to pad out each three-hour Raw.

Woo, woo, would you please do something to vindicate Ryder’s passion and drive, WWE?

  1. Riott Squad

WWE should have learned their lesson with Team B.A.D back in 2015. Both the Riott Squad and Absolution are wishy-washy, run-of-the-mill stable ideas that result in each woman blending into the background rather than being helped by the group dynamic.

There’s potential in Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, but not as a faction. There hasn’t been any explanation as to why they’re together, and the trio generally come across like SmackDown creative lined every woman against a wall, closed their eyes, and picked three at random.

Until they’re broken up and allowed to find individual identities, that’s not going to change just by moving them to Raw. If anything, the Riott Squad are going to be a minor distraction WWE can use to prolong Sasha Banks and Bayley’s fractured friendship angle.

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  1. Breezango

OK, starting to move into more positive territory now.

There’s something about the quirky banter between Tyler Breeze and Fandango that makes them endearing. They weren’t handed too much that was worthwhile by creative on SmackDown, and yet Breezango managed to get themselves over with fans via off-the-wall segments and bizarre comedy during matches.

Comedy is rarely done right in WWE, so it’s notable that Breezango managed to make fans laugh with them rather than at them. That’s easier said than done in a company that relies on toilet humour or forced, stilted slapstick to be funny.

On SmackDown, Breezango were only going to be sacrificial lambs for The Bludgeon Brothers. A win over The Bar suggests they may well be onto something by moving to Raw. Fingers crossed.

  1. Natalya

Natalya’s main strength in 2018 is her wealth of experience compared to the horde of fresh faces in WWE’s female ranks. A quick glance at Raw’s women’s division says she’ll be invaluable to the likes of Ember Moon, Ruby Riott and even Nia Jax.

Behind the scenes, Natalya can also be a calming influence to help integrate Ronda Rousey into pro wrestling’s relentless travel schedule; look at Nattie’s social media to see she’s well-liked by many backstage in WWE, and her role as ‘mother hen’ to the newbies is one she’d relish.

Aside from helping the younger talent settle down and find their groove, Natalya could also tangle with Asuka and give the recently-beaten Japanese star a rebound win post-WrestleMania. In terms of female moves in the Shakeup, this was one that had to happen.

  1. Jinder Mahal

What is it with WWE booking secondary title wins at WrestleMania then undermining them on TV shortly afterwards? It happened to Zack Ryder with the Intercontinental Title in 2016, and it’s happened to Jinder Mahal and the United States Title in 2018.

Although seeing Jeff Hardy raise singles gold produced a fuzzy nostalgia pop, the match on Raw made Mahal look like a chump. The ex-WWE Champion has been on quite the decline since dropping that belt to AJ Styles last year, and that doesn’t look like stopping unless Raw’s writing team come to the rescue.

Jinder is far from the best worker in WWE, but he is consistent and entirely dependable. His xenophobic characterisation, if toned down, is also tolerable. There’s potential here if WWE can find the right opponent to bring the best out in Mahal.

  1. Bobby Roode

Bringing out the best in Bobby Roode is also a pressing concern.

WWE dropped the ball by giving in to Roode’s emerging popularity and booking him as a babyface on SmackDown. At times, it felt awkward, and it didn’t quite have the aura his heelish arrogance did over on NXT programming. It’s time to set things right.

By turning heel on Raw, Roode would open himself up to matches against Seth Rollins (provided he’s not heading to SmackDown in the Shakeup), Bobby Lashley, Jeff Hardy (similar to Rollins) and even Elias should WWE concede to his own popularity and pen a babyface run.

Roode works best in the ring as a heel too, and his “Glorious” character is tailor-made to play the cowardly villain WWE adore. If Raw’s writers get it right, Bobby Roode will be one of the best trades in quite some time.

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  1. Dolph Ziggler

Remember the sweet emotion that accompanied Dolph Ziggler beating The Miz at No Mercy 2016 to save his career and become Intercontinental Champion? That feels like a lifetime ago for Dolph, and he must be hoping this move to Raw bears fruit.

That said, there wasn’t any point to Ziggler staying on SmackDown regardless of WWE’s plans for him on Raw. Dolph had to move and get as far away as possible from the most dreadful period of his company career. Now he has Drew McIntyre in his corner, and there’s a budding Shawn Michaels/Diesel dynamic on the horizon. Well, to a degree.

It’s the best case scenario, and if something even minutely similar transpires, it’ll be a saving grace for Ziggler. His big-bumping style and occasional cowardice when the chips are down suits the idea of a bigger man in his corner. An eventual (and natural) feud with McIntyre is also enticing.

  1. Baron Corbin

If Dolph Ziggler had a wretched 2017, then Baron Corbin had one stacked with ups and downs.

After becoming a Money in the Bank winner last Summer, Corbin was made to look like he was punching well above his weight by losing the briefcase and jobbing to John Cena in a lop-sided match at SummerSlam. Since then, he’s drifted around making vague threats without coming through on any of them.

Sound familiar? It’s like WWE were trying to turn Baron into SmackDown’s version of Bray Wyatt without even knowing it, and that big talk, little action approach has to change if he’s to turn mid-card mediocrity into upper-card promise.

There’s a worker in there, and a good promo man, but it’s all hidden behind a lack of polish. That’s Vince McMahon’s responsibility, to build on the base skills Corbin has. Consider him a dark horse in the Superstar Shakeup.

  1. Drew McIntyre

Any wrestling fan who admires the hard graft it takes to be a success post-WWE should be in awe of what Drew McIntyre achieved outside the promotion between 2014-17. Touring across the world and promising to elevate every organisation he worked for, McIntyre did exactly that, and it was hard not to cheer when he landed back in NXT.

Although his new pairing with Dolph Ziggler is a bit left-field, the aforementioned Shawn Michaels/Diesel dynamic to the duo could work if WWE let Dolph act like an untouchable dirtbag and allow McIntyre the chance to display his natural charisma.

Once the bond between he and Ziggler breaks, expect Drew to become one of Raw’s breakout stars. He’s due the opportunity after working tirelessly to improve himself.

  1. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn

The Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan anti-authority gig Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were peddling on SmackDown had run its course, and it was high-time they made the jump. Well, they didn’t really have an option to be honest, after being fired from the blue brand at WrestleMania.

Using Stephanie McMahon as an explanation for why KO/Sami showed up on Raw was genius too. At once, WWE furthered Steph’s need to snipe at Kurt Angle as payback for WrestleMania and secured the flagship two major stars.

That’s how to write closure on one chapter and open another in the same breath.

Owens and Zayn can work as a tag-team, as individuals and even as opponents again further on down the line when it suits. They’re some of the most flexible names on the WWE roster right now, and that makes them the biggest (not to mention best) move in the Superstar Shakeup thus far.

Published by: What Culture (WWE).

Do you agree with these rankings? Let us know your thoughts about the Superstar Shakeup down in the comments section below!

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