After a lackluster Raw After Mania, WWE's Monday night programming got back on track with the first night of the Superstar Shakeup. During the two-night event, superstars could be shifted from their shows. What was once a Smackdown superstar could have a new life on Raw, and vice versa.
There were plenty of changes during the evening, including three major tag teams headed to WWE's Monday night programming, and two major NXT additions, but the thing that had everyone talking about wasn't AJ Styles crossing over. It was the dumbest name change in WWE yet. And this just wasn't another case of WWE dropping a first or last name.
The Viking Experience
Before we get into this debacle, that is the first and only time I'll be writing that team name. I feel the same way about it that I do about Sasha Banks and Bayley's tag team name. Yes, I'm being a dumb, stubborn wrestling fan. I'm aware of my own idiocy here. However, there is a lot going on, and we're going to break it down. War Machine became War Raiders when Hanson and Rowe were signed to NXT. When War Raiders was called up for the Superstar Shakeup, not only was their tag team name changed to the aforementioned title which sounds like a ride at Disney World's Epcot, but their individual names were as well. Hanson is now Ivar and Rowe is now Erik.
According to Mick Foley, who doesn't work with WWE currently but has for decades in the past and understands the company's inner-workings, he said in a tweet, "Anything with the word 'war' in it is just not going to fly in WWE in 2019." By that logic, which is fair, why not just go with The Raiders? Yeah, it's not great either, but it still acknowledges the past without completely turning them into a 1993 gimmick. The two built a bigger fanbase and made a name for themselves in NXT under the name War Raiders. If we really want to get to the root of this, WWE may have changed the tag team name and individual names to sever ties with their past in Ring of Honor and New Japan. However, the name change is silly. It's like calling The Bar "The Foreign Villain Experience," The Shield "The Walking Through The Crowd Experience," or Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev "Pot Luck Dinner." I could do this all day.
Sanity Is Dead
Smackdown never gave Sanity a chance, and now, the stable is all but gone after Eric Young was moved to Raw this week. He didn't get a match, though. He was briefly mentioned by the commentary team as part of the Superstar Shakeup. Everything about this points to Sanity being over with, as it was yet another NXT callup that was dead when it hit the water on the main roster.
Former NXT Call-Ups Have A Home
Remember when WWE had a bunch of NXT superstars get called up but they were just jumping between shows randomly? Well, they all seem to have a home now, on Raw. Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, EC3, Aleister Black, and Ricochet were all officially added to the Monday night show on April 15. At least Smackdown will get Johnny Gargano, and hopefully Tommaso Ciampa when he's healed up.
Smackdown's Tag Division Is Gutted
Currently, there are 10 tag teams on Raw. I could actually say 11, but I'm not sure if Fandango is still out because of surgery. Smackdown is left with three very solid teams (New Day, Hardy Boyz, and The Bar), three that never appear on television (The Good Brothers, The Colons, and Sanity), and one comedy act (Nakamura & Rusev). The Usos are the heart and soul of that show–no offense to New Day, whom I love. Smackdown has to start elevating their underutilized teams that already exist rather than overwork whoever they get during the Superstar Shakeup tomorrow, which will more than likely be The Fashion Police (my dream) and The Revival.
Those Weird Puppet Vignettes Are Still Happening
What is going on here? Everything about this screams Bray Wyatt, but a weird, watered-down, almost comedic version of that. It's a vulture puppet in a box. Well, we got a new one this week, and it's a bunch of dolls on a dark soundstage, and one of them is in a rocking chair. Does WWE need another wrestler on the roster? If this is Bray Wyatt, then what point is this trying to get across?
While there are a ton of whiny complaints in here, I am excited to see how all of this plays out. However, the first day of this can be hard to watch, as Smackdown is my preferred WWE show, and having to wait to see what happens while Raw's roster is stuffed to the gills can be tough. Below, you'll find the full list for wrestlers who were moved to Raw. Another surprise we haven't discussed is Cedric Alexander coming over from 205 Live. Does this mean WWE is slowly going to get rid of the show?
Full Superstar Shakeup List
- The Miz
- Jimmy Uso
- Jey Uso
- Eric Young
- Zelina Vega
- Lars Sullivan
- Lacey Evans
- Cedric Alexander
- Aleister Black
- Rey Mysterio
- Erik (Rowe)
- Ivar (Hanson)
- AJ Styles
Come back tomorrow for a full recap of Smackdown's Superstar Shakeup.
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