One of the biggest moves of last week’s WWE Superstar Shakeup saw Samoa Joe moving to SmackDown Live from Monday Night Raw, despite the fact he has a match against Raw standout Roman Reigns on next month’s Backlash pay-per-view. According to the latest WWE rumors, this could mean WWE has big plans for Joe, now that he’s spent over a year on the main roster after dominant runs in the independent wrestling scene, Impact Wrestling, and NXT.
Citing a tweet from PWStream, Bodyslam.net wrote that the main reason why Samoa Joe is now on SmackDown Live is because he might not get much of an opportunity to shine on Monday Night Raw, with the red brand’s programming expected to focus on Reigns going forward. With WWE reportedly very high on Joe as a potential main event talent, his move to SmackDown Live is expected to have him playing a “big role” as one of the blue brand’s top acquisitions via the recent Superstar Shakeup, where several wrestlers from Raw and SmackDown switched from one brand to another.
Though he’s been part of the brand for just one episode, Samoa Joe’s run on SmackDown Live has gotten off to a promising start thus far, as noted by PopCulture. Last Tuesday, Joe easily defeated seldom-used, lower-carder Sin Cara before cutting a promo where he called out some of SmackDown’s top-tier competitors, including WWE Champion AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Randy Orton, and referred to the blue brand as “the land of handouts.” It isn’t clear what SmackDown’s creative team has in store for Joe after his upcoming match against Roman Reigns, but PopCulture speculated that the 39-year-old wrestling veteran could one day be involved in a WWE Championship feud against Styles, where both men could revive their old Impact Wrestling rivalry.
— ProWrestling.com (@pw_dotcom) April 23, 2018
Despite all the hype behind Samoa Joe’s arrival on SmackDown Live, WWE’s storylines for the next few weeks are likely to focus on Joe vs. Reigns at Backlash, which takes place on May 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Most predictions suggest that Reigns will defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27, though Give Me Sport cited Figure Four Weekly’s Bryan Alvarez, who believes there’s a possibility WWE might pull off a “swerve” and allow Lesnar to retain his title, leaving the Reigns vs. Joe matchup without any championship belt up for grabs.