One thing that has disappointed some fans already is that with its new roster, Smackdown did not become an indie wonderland, or an NXT 2.0 with the soap opera being more reserved for Raw, with fan favourites such as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Neville and Cesaro going to the red team. This was given a solid confirmation by the announcement that the Cruiserweight Division was on its way to Raw as well.
For this reason, so to prevent Smackdown from becoming what many would find a meagre Raw-lite, the division of certain wrestlers needs to be heavily exploited to emphasise feuds and the value of the draft happening in the first place. If Smackdown functions as a shorter Raw, their separate existence needs to be put to use. A few weeks ago, an article was posted on this blog on the subject of ‘Wrestlemania Moment’ matches, perfectly capable of being treated as a massive deal at massive PPVs were in danger of being thrown away anti-climactically.
Admittedly, this predictions may have been disproven by the division as not only won’t happen, but they can’t. This is brilliant to slow down this process as various wrestlers who fans are desperate to see fight or collaborate, will be gradually and naturally given hype. Here are some examples of such crossings that if treated well, can benefit hugely from this.
Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) vs Seth Rollins (Raw) vs Roman Reigns (Raw)
The feud amongst the ex-Shield members is an unusual scenario. Considering the popularity of Ambrose/Rollins feud, especially during 2014, Rollins and Ambrose being designated to Raw and Smackdown respectively. to some might seem slightly disappointing. However, this could also be exploited brilliantly as they both will be able to go about their own business, with natural excitement as it appears that they are finally approaching each other once again in one of the ‘Big Four’ pay-per-views.
It is the flagship feud of the company, so needs to hold its steam, as it has done for literally years. A Shield Triple Threat match has been predicted by many to happen at the last two Wrestlemanias, only not to materialise. Some might argue that this has already been slightly put to waste as fans already know that a Shield Triple Threat is happening at Summerslam. That doesn’t mean that all is necessary over, as Royal Rumble is masterfully placed in time for all three to cross paths and set up the sequel Triple Threat match. At least this will mean that the entanglement of the ‘Hounds of Justice’ will be Ambrose/Reigns/Rollins II, rather than VIII by Wrestlemania 33.
Finn Balor & The Club (Raw) vs AJ Styles (Smackdown)
Balor vs Styles is an extremely anticipated feud that since the chances of Undertaker/Sting brushed away, has perhaps become the most desired feud possible with the current WWE roster. However, the possible questions surrounding their eventual crossings should not begin straight away.
Before their WWE runs, Styles and Balor (then Prince Devitt) both fronted the Bullet Club group, which also contained Gallows and Anderson (now just ‘The Club’). That leading position is just waiting to be fought over as Styles watches angrily from Smackdown as Balor is automatically given that role over on Raw. The idea that this could lead to feuds or even a collaboration between Styles and Balor would work beautifully for suspense. There is so much that could happen between Balor and Styles before a single punch is thrown between them. How much this will be exploited by WWE is yet to be seen.
The Division of The Wyatt Family
At four members, the decision by WWE to split up The Wyatt Family does not come as much of a surprise. That said, that does not make it any less exciting. The fact that Braun Strowman has been designated to Raw, and Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan to Smackdown, and nothing yet has been heard about the injured Luke Harper, could mean just about anything in the unusual context of The Family.
Is this the end of The Family, or will Wyatt exploit his ability now to dominate the whole of WWE as his followers can be found in both brands? Is Strowman going to be redesigned as a new solo giant, similar to Big Show? Will Harper return and side with Strowman to feud with Wyatt and Rowan? Will Harper return at all?
Being such oddities means that all of these are entirely possible, for better or for worse, and that all four will not have any trouble finding roles.
Sasha Banks (Raw) vs Bayley (TBC)
As yet, this is here as a wild card, primarily on the grounds that many fans watched the draft completely stunned when Bayley made no appearance. However, there is a somewhat infuriating absence waiting to be filled with an NXT talent. For starters is the irritatingly incomplete-looking Women’s Division on Smackdown (at least by comparison to Raw), with only victimised Becky Lynch and Natalya ready to be at the very front, due to the surprising arrival Carmella from NXT, as well as the outrageously unpopular Eva Marie. For anyone especially pessimistic on the matter, this might look quite dark, with Smackdown being designated the place for the secondary women’s feud (presumably Diva-like). After all, there is no title currently on Smackdown for the women.
However, the fact that WWE Battleground has an intriguing ‘mystery guest’ spot on Sasha Banks’ tag team, is an annoying taunt. Was this unannounced to prevent spoilers of the draft (possible debut spots for Raw’s Alexa Bliss or Nia Jax), is it a spot reserved for a legend, or is that a spot ready for Bayley? It might be a great idea for a brief collaboration and subsequent tension by Bayley and Banks before being torn apart by the draft. They are both people for the front of a draft, and especially a Raw vs Smackdown feud at Survivor Series, as Bayley and Co. venture to bring the Women’s Title to their brand, leading to a long awaited singles collision.
Of course, this is just total speculation, but hey, we can dream.
Heath Slater (TBA) and The Social Outcasts (Raw)
This is minor, and will possibly be resolved in one dark match, but bizarrely worth a mention. Never in a million years would anyone have thought that they could ever say (considering the desire for Bray Wyatt to get a powerful solo push) is that the most eagerly anticipated reunion of a team billed as a team are The Social Outcasts. Incredibly, it looks like WWE might actually be recognising this, especially after acknowledging that Heath Slater wasn’t drafted last night, with a tragic epilogue. If treated well, Slater is actually good and ready for the same kind of fandom that Zack Ryder has been – an underdog more than capable of success. Slater could be pushed in a fun plot to find his fellow Outcasts (I suppose technically having been cast out of the Outcasts), or a desire to move on with solo success.
From now until Summerslam is enough time for him to lament his seperation before a collision there.
Enzo/Cass (Raw) and Carmella (Smackdown) reunion
Alright, this is no big deal, but on the basis solely of my irritation, I can’t resist listing this. This is Caaaarmella, and she’s hot as hell… and not with Enzo and Cass. Sure there probably isn’t a whole lot more to get out of this than the chance of a crowd pop if she arrives by their side at a Big Four event, but it is still a fun moment that fans will be happy to see. We can only hope though that Enzo/Cass complaining about missing Carmella isn’t the foundation for their booking.
For the record, her separation at least for the time being is a nice idea if only to prevent her from instantly being designated to being a cheerleader, and as of now, unless booked poorly over the next few weeks, is very much a wrestler.