WWE is set to host another draft later this year, one that will give the company a much-needed opportunity to reinvigorate its rosters.
It was reported earlier this month that WWE was constantly changing its plans for its annual draft and had yet to settle on a firm date for its episodes of Raw and SmackDown that would serve as a means to freshen up both brands. While there is still no firm date for the 2020 draft, the event is currently set to take place at some point in October, which is when it took place last year.
In previous years, the WWE Superstar Shakeup—essentially a lesser version of the draft—had been a big ratings hit for the company, but that didn’t hold true last year when viewership dropped significantly for both Raw and SmackDown. Although the draft is a short-term way to drive up viewership for both brands, it is more so a long-term way to improve the rosters and give certain superstars a fresh start on their new home.
Which superstars would benefit from a change in scenery this year? Let’s take a look at five major superstars who need to move from Raw to SmackDown.
Brock Lesnar made a brief move to SmackDown last fall for the blue brand’s debut on FOX in what was a clear attempt to ensure a strong rating for the FOX premiere, but within a blink of an eye, “The Beast” was back on Raw permanently.
Of course, Lesnar remains an infrequently seen part-time star, but as perhaps the biggest name and top special attraction in the entire company, he’s badly needed on SmackDown, which has woefully under-performed in the ratings department on FOX. Perhaps just as important, Lesnar—even as a part-timer—has been a staple of Raw since returning to WWE in 2012, with very few appearances on SmackDown, and is due not only for a change in scenery but for a slate of new potential feuds and storylines.
With Lesnar’s on-screen advocate Paul Heyman no longer serving as Raw Executive Director, Lesnar is now more likely to switch brands and give SmackDown the extra boost that it needs to rejuvenate its programming. On SmackDown, Lesnar could potentially feud with the likes of Bray Wyatt, Matt Riddle and other talented, rising stars who he’d be unable to work with if he stays on Raw, where he’s gotten stale as the show’s resident top part-timer for nearly a decade.
WWE has seemingly gone back and forth on Aleister Black, who may have been written off TV altogether amid reports that he was one of the “Paul Heyman guys” who would be hurt by Heyman’s departure from Raw.
Black has been put in this weird position on the red brand in which he’s largely protected by the booking (he has just two singles losses since debuting in early 2019) but somehow simultaneously overlooked, with very little true character development or involvement in major storylines. Despite once actually being considered to face Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36, Black’s peak on the main roster came when he served as a bit player during the marquee feud between The Undertaker and AJ Styles in route to that pay-per-view.
Vince McMahon is reportedly a fan of Black but believes Black’s gimmick limits him, which explains why we’ve recently seen some teases of a major character change for the former NXT Champion. That gimmick change, combined with a move to SmackDown, could be precisely what Black needs after he seemingly fell out of favor on Raw, where he’s been unable to rise above a midcard scene that is packed with numerous other stars who’ve faced a similar fate.
Nia Jax has developed a reputation as an unsafe in-ring worker, so much so that WWE’s own stars have reportedly advocated for her firing.
Despite being widely viewed as a reckless superstar, Jax has, when healthy, always been featured heavily on programming and is currently in the midst of a storyline in which she has been indefinitely suspended for her recent actions on Raw. When booked effectively, the controversial Jax certainly serves as an important role in the women’s division, which lacks very many true “powerhouse”-type wrestlers. But, aside from her standing as an average to below average in-ring performer and mic worker, one thing that is surely preventing Jax from improving and excelling is the staleness of her positioning on Raw.
Jax has been stuck on the red brand since being drafted there in 2016, and virtually every WWE star who has remained on one brand for that long has often dealt with the issue of becoming a stale performer. Jax is the definition of stale, and even though she isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and needs to develop into a safer in-ring performer, her 2018 push as Raw Women’s Champion and feud with Ronda Rousey demonstrated that she can definitely be effective when utilized in a way that accentuates her strengths and highlights her weaknesses.
Raw has really exposed her limitations, so perhaps a move to SmackDown could do her some good.
Once hanging by a thread on Raw, Bobby Lashley’s WWE career has new life thanks to his recent push and alignment with MVP and The Hurt Business, but the former Bellator star clearly hit a wall on the red brand.
WWE elevated Lashley to a WWE title feud with Drew McIntyre earlier this year but prematurely plugged the plug on that rivalry, which only got one pay-per-view match when it should have been an extended feud. With Lashley having failed in his quest to become WWE Champion on Raw, he has essentially already topped out on Monday nights, where he’s been since returning to the company in April 2018—that’s the bad news. The good news is that WWE has done a great job of rebuilding Lashley’s credibility and establishing him as one of the company’s most dominant and intimidating superstars.
The real question is: Will things truly change on Raw? For now, Lashley appears to have taken over the Raw Underground fight club, which could serve as a way to even further cement Lashley as an unstoppable and nearly unbeatable superstar. Then again, Raw’s constantly-changing creative plans typically don’t bode well for anyone, much less any star who isn’t firmly entrenched as a top star and main event performer.
Lashley’s talents suggest he should be there, but with limited room for growth on Raw, a move to SmackDown could be just what he needs to be legitimately established as a top heel—not just one who was built up to lose to a top babyface.
Seth Rollins has essentially been one of the most important centerpieces of Raw for eight years, but more specifically, he’s functioned as a top singles star since 2014.
Think about the issues that have plagued virtually every star who’s been pushed so strongly for so long on the same show (Lesnar, John Cena, Roman Reigns, etc.), and you’ll realize that virtually every single one of them found themselves as both a stale character and one who is widely criticized by fans due to their constant position in the spotlight. Rollins is no different, arguably having served as the face of Raw even more so than Reigns did prior to Reigns’ move to SmackDown last year. With Reigns now on the blue brand, Rollins is the unquestioned most heavily-featured performer on the show, which has resulted in the creation of a rocky relationship with the WWE Universe.
Rollins hasn’t exactly endeared himself to WWE fans with many of his comments about them, but he remains one of the company’s best overall performers and a critical component to its upper midcard and main event picture. Having done so almost exclusively on Raw for the past six years since his singles push began in 2014, though, Rollins could benefit from a move to SmackDown more so than any other star currently on Raw.
Not only would it free up some space in Raw’s main event, but it would also give Rollins the chance to do something new without the repeated backdrop of being on “Monday Night Rollins.”