The Superstar Shakeup offers a new wrinkle to the WWE’s brand extension concept, abandoning the traditional draft process — for 2017 at least. Almost immediately after the brand split was executed last July, WWE officials were looking ahead and determined they wanted to make roster changes right after WrestleMania 33. Rather than book another monotonous draft, the idea of the Superstar Shakeup was born.
Few details about the Superstar Shakeup were made public in the immediate aftermath of Vince McMahon’s announcement last week on RAW, but information slowly made its way to the fanbase as anticipation grew. Fundamentally, representatives from both RAW and SmackDown will be able to make trades, deals and transactions that they see fit to adequately improve their rosters.
That is the kayfabe description of the Superstar Shakeup, but the general idea will be the same as the draft. The company wants to keep the rosters unique but freshen up feuds by moving certain superstars to the other brand. Although it was initially advertised for Monday’s RAW, the Superstar Shakeup will take place over two days, including Tuesday’s SmackDown Live taping. Talent from the red and blue brands were informed last week to show up to both shows this week.
One major original idea, whether the company was going to do a draft or this Superstar Shakeup, was basing it all around Roman Reigns and AJ Styles switching brands. While that still may take place, Vince McMahon and company have gone back and forth several times in regards to moving both guys. RAW needs Reigns to headline Payback against Braun Strowman with the Universal Championship not scheduled to be defended, so that would indicate Reigns is staying put.
AJ Styles, meanwhile, has been rumored to move to the flagship show because Vince wants him to be even more featured than he has been. There has been talk of reuniting him with The Club, but that has also lead to talk of Gallows & Anderson shifting to SmackDown. The major hold-up in both of those ideas is the impending AJ Styles babyface turn. Gallows & Anderson are not viewed as babyfaces and a Superstar Shakeup would likely not change that.
Whether it’s Reigns or Styles, the plan is to have at least one main event talent switch brands from both sides. And according to the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, those main event superstars have been informed of any movement. However, the majority of the talent is being kept in the dark regarding the Superstar Shakeup. It’s possible that superstars who move will find out at the same time that the rest of the WWE Universe does, during the broadcast.
This falls along the same lines as how the company operated during the brand extension draft last summer. Stars like John Cena, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton were told where they were going ahead of time, but a good portion of the rest of the roster did not know until their names were called or right beforehand. It’s not clear how the Superstar Shakeup will be presented, but it appears the talent will find out in similar fashion.
One major change from last year’s draft to this year’s Superstar Shakeup will be who’s running things on RAW. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon conducted the draft and will run things for SmackDown during this week’s Superstar Shakeup. However, Mick Foley has been fired as the GM of RAW, and Stephanie McMahon will be off of television for several weeks. That leaves Kurt Angle in charge of the flagship show, as far as an on-screen authoritative presence.
There has been a ton of talk about who will be moving where, but as of this writing, the only transaction that appears to be locked in is the swap between Charlotte and Alexa Bliss. That’s one of the reasons that neither one recaptured their respective championships at WrestleMania, as the Superstar Shakeup will see them switch brands and most likely challenge for the other title as soon as they arrive.
[Featured Image by WWE]