It’s been several weeks since the superstar shake-up refreshed the Raw and Smackdown rosters. In this latest Top Five, Craig flies solo and takes a look at some of the superstars who appear to have lost steam after the shake-up.
As consecutive Sunday Sermons at the time showed, I was a) supportive of the superstar shake-up happening and b) also believed that overall it had been a success.
It’s given an air of freshness to both Raw and Smackdown, allowing several superstars a fresh start and has also seen pushes given to new acts and there’s been a need for a while for that. The likes of Breezedango and Jinder Mahal have certainly benefited and will both challenge for titles at Backlash later this month.
However, there has also been a number of acts that have lost ‘the big mo’ since the superstar shake-up and it is those talents that will be the focus of this post.
5. Lana: Although it was her man who dominated things in the ring, you can’t deny the importance of the promo abilities and beauty of Lana in helping to improve the stock of the pair. It wasn’t always great, don’t get me wrong, but Lana was a very important part of the pair’s success. Now, though, they’ve been off screen for a while and whilst a series of vignettes gave us hope that Lana would get something good, a video emerged recently from an NXT house show of Lana’s new dancing gimmick. If she’s not lost in the shuffle now, I certainly hope this new gimmick is…
Now don’t get me wrong, there is every chance that this could work or be short-lived and she’ll be repackaged or reunited with Rusev – if indeed they are broken up as a pairing. I just personally find her to be a very talented act and, despite the odd slip-up, good on the mic, particularly in drawing heat from the live crowds.
4. Heath Slater: Nothing exemplified Smackdown Live being the land of opportunity more than perennial jobber Slater become tag team champion along with Rhyno. A man that lost to countless Raw legends ahead of the 1000th show clearly was a guy that the company trusted in important spots but just not enough to give him something decent: I give you 3MB. However, now Drew Galloway is front and centre of NXT and Jinder Mahal is challenging for the Smackdown title. As for Slater, he lost in under 4 minutes to Apollo Crews this past week on Raw.
if I’m being optimistic, I can argue that we’ve not seen much, if any, of Slater and Rhyno in action since the superstar shake-up so there’s still the chance that the could put the band back together, so to speak, and turn their fortunes around. I think Slater is too engaging and it would be a waste if he was relegated to merely putting guys over every week.
3. Rusev: Perhaps I could have paired him with Lana, but he deserves a standalone part in this Top Five. Rusev could, and should, be a star. Hell, he’s the only one in this list who has had a WrestleMania match that started out with him coming to the ring on a freaking tank! A guy that is perhaps just too small to be a giant in the WWE, he is twice the competitor in-ring than the likes of Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman.
We eagerly await his Smackdown debut but considering it was done in such a: “oh, by the way, Rusev is joining Smackdown” way, I don’t hold out much hope at all for greatness.
2. American Alpha: It didn’t take long for the WWE to seemingly lose interest in the pairing of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. From their rise in NXT to winning the Smackdown titles, it looked for a while like they were the new thing in the tag team division.
Now, though, they are stuck in a programme with the Shining Stars and, even worse, coming out with the losers cut of the purse. There’s an entire piece in the failings of the Smackdown tag team division but I struggle to think of anyone who has suffered quite as much as American Alpha who will have to watch Breezedango facing the Usos for the tag titles at Backlash…
1. Becky Lynch: Ah, Becky Lynch, a favourite of mine and not just because of even more ginger solidarity. There’s a theme emerging… A standout in NXT and I had hugely high hopes for her when she was promoted to the main roster and it certainly looked like the WWE felt the same when she became the first Smackdown women’s champion. Hell, even the trading of titles with Alexa Bliss didn’t worry me. After all, who wouldn’t be excited by a programme involving Lynch and Bliss?
However, things haven’t gone so well for Lynch in recent weeks and now with the likes of Charlotte on Smackdown and the re-emergence of both Natalya and Tamina as well as a focus on now on Naomi and Carmella, what is Lynch’s role going forward? This weekend they teased a heel turn with her joining the ‘Welcoming Committee’ but in the end, and to a good pop from the crowd, Lynch attacked the heel grouping, giving her support to Naomi and Charlotte. It’s safe to assume there’ll be a number of six-woman tag matches in the coming weeks.
The danger, however, for Lynch is that she remains a face at a time where Charlotte is also a face as is the women’s champion Naomi. I think we can safely assume that sooner, rather than later, Charlotte will grab the Smackdown women’s title, presumably after a heel snatches it from Naomi first, and I struggle to envisage too many face vs. face matches on the horizon in the Smackdown women’s division.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.