This week there was only one thing on the lips, minds and eyeballs of wrestling fans; The Superstar Shakeup! And it's a good thing too because aside from that, this weeks' Raw and Smackdown were kinda terrible.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon promised us Superstar trades! Talent Swaps! Brand Switches! And we got... well, one of those. There weren't any trades or swaps and in fact the whole Superstar Shakeup went off pretty much behind the scenes with Raw and Smackdown's management being minimally involved.
What it shook out to be (heh) was essentially a series of entrances that wrestlers always use, but a few were on different shows. That's if the talent involved were lucky. Some of the wrestler moves were taken care of in WWE.com videos (Apollo Crews) or announce team off-hand mentions (Heath Slater and Rhyno) with the wrestlers in question not even appearing on their new show. Unfortunately, others did appear.
So, this week's Bottom Rope Report will be all about the moves, the wheeling and dealing, the shifting and shaking of the Superstars. I know it may seem strange after all the "What about the wresting?" I've been touting, but let's be honest, with a couple of exceptions, this week no one cared about the matches anyways.
First, let's get this out of the way:
Raw gets Announcer and Criminal Minds star David Otunga, while smackdown gets Announcer and almost human Byron Saxton. I'd call that a wash.
We start where we always do with Raw! Here's who's moving to Monday night:
Apollo Crews - Poor guy was the first superstar moved in the Shake Up and didn't even appear on the show. I dunno how you screw up a sure-thing superstar like Crews, but dammit they are trying!
The Miz and Maryse - So, Miz is having a great year, doing some of the best work of his career feuding with John Cena and Daniel Bryan and making a good case for a WWE title run. So why not move him to Raw where literally NONE OF THAT CAN HAPPEN?
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose - The only interesting thing about this is since Seth Rollins and what's left of Roman Reigns are still on Raw, bringing in Dean could one day, maybe, possibly, perhaps lead to the reformation of The Shield. Otherwise, Yay Dean? You got Tuesdays off now?
Curt Hawkins - I hear Raw had to cough up last week's catering leftovers and two of Big Show's singlets for Hawkins.
Kalisto - Apparently, yes. He still works there. Hopefully they insert him into the Cruiserweight scene right quick.
Rhyno and Heath Slater - Watched the show and didn't know they had moved? Yeah, me too. In going back and re-watching, I discovered it was mentioned off-hand by the announce team. Looks like Beauty and The Man Beast are really making an impression.
Bray Wyatt - So... just to get this straight: Bray is now on Raw, but feuding with Randy Orton who's on Smackdown, over the WWE title, which is Smackdown's title, while Erick Rowan stays on Smackdown (sorry, spoilers). But Bray is now on Raw. Sure.
Alexa Bliss - See now, this makes sense and I for one am super excited to be able to see Little Miss Bliss one day earlier. We never got to see much between Bliss and Bayley or Sasha in NXT because she was cosplaying with Blake and Wesley, so I'm stoked for those matchups.
Mickie James - She's back on Raw! I'm sure someone is totally stoked about that. She does bring some veteran experience to the Raw women's division, but really I expect her to become Nia Jax's punching bag before anything major happens.
As for the matches this week, there were a couple of good notes:
The Revival Vs The New Day
This match was awesome, because everything The Revival does is awesome. With Kofi Kingston injured last week, it was Xavier Woods and Big E representing New Day and I have to say; I couldn't be happier that the New Day are getting back to actually being wrestlers instead of just Pop-Culture-Catchphrase vending machines. The idea of New Day bearing down to get back to their roots in order to handle a team like the Revival is a fresh perspective on a team that was getting really, really old.
In the end, The New Day attempted a Midnight Hour off the top rope which Dash and Dawson converted into a Shatter Machine to get the pin. Awesome. I can't wait for these guys to have a long, storied and brutal feud.. (reads lower in the Report) ... aw, crap.
Finn Bálor Vs Jinder Mahal.
Bálor won after REGAINING CONSCIOUSNESS FROM A VICIOUS ELBOW TO THE HEAD and hitting the Coup de Grace. For the love of Jinder H. Mahal can we please stop trying to kill Finn Bálor? He's made of Lego and we JUST got him back. He's precious cargo, people!!
Sami Zayn vs The Miz
Sami Zayn won a match for the second week in a row! That's, like a streak or something, right? And yes, this is the best picture WWE.com had of his big win.
Braun Strowman vs an Ambulance
Holy Crap. So, after cutting the best promo of his career about how he don't give a f*ck last week, Roman Reigns starts a backstage interview with Michael Cole in which he is kinda like "Aw shucks, I hate having to be the guy to take over Undertaker's yard because he's a legend and whatnot." Fortunately, before he has a chance to do too much damage to himself, Braun Strowman marches in and beats the ever-loving piss out of Roman. Braun smashes him through tables, up against walls, runs a production crate into his face, and pretty much murders him.
Then, Braun comes BACK after they've loaded Roman onto a stretcher and totally flips the bitch off a loading dock.
THEN, Braun comes back AGAIN and punches a helpless Roman in the face inside an ambulance for about 35 minutes. Then he casually strolls around the side of the vehicle and FLIPS IT OVER. Not since Big Show threw a car onto Bob Holly have I been so giddy. It was amazing and I seriously hope that they play it up and a beaten-up Roman shows up next week to issue an Ambulance-On-A-Stretcher-In-a-Cell match challenge or something.
So that was fun! Who's joining the Blue Team?
Kevin Owens - Obviously the biggest get for Smackdown, but also the most obvious one with the Intercontinental Champion showing up on Raw. I'm looking forward to seeing him tear it up with AJ styles, Shinske Nakamura, Randy Orton and... and... well, I guess that's it.
Sami Zayn - Like Batman and the Joker, where goest Owens, goest Zayn. I'm glad Sami is getting a fresh start, but I'm also kind of disappointed that we are going to inevitably be looking at another Owens/Zayn program. Split them up for a while and, in Sami's case anyway, let them develop outside of each other.
Jinder Mahal - Huh. So, I guess they lost the bet.
The Shining Stars - My favourite part of Smackdown this week was the announce team pretending to be excited about the arrival of The Shining Stars.
Tamina - She was on Raw? Awkward family/WWE history aside, Tamina could easily become the Nia Jax of Smackdown. I just wish she'd take her coat off and stay a while.
Charlotte Flair - Another telegraphed move, but a good one. Charlotte will bring some power to the women's division on Smackdown and I'm excited to see her mix it up with a new set of girls. It's now a race between her and Alexa Bliss to see who can be the first to win a title on both shows.
Sin Cara - See, I didn't even know that happened. I wonder if he did.
Rusev - Handsome Rusev is out injured right now, but when he comes back I don't care what show he's on. I just want him to barrel through and destroy everyone on the roster. This could be a good chance to get him into a World Title picture, finally.
Lana - Apparently Lanalina is debuting soon!
The New Day - Why not? With the Hardyz back on Raw and the loss(?) of the Vaudevillians and Slater/Rhyno, the Smackdown Tag scene could use some new blood.
As for the rest of the show, like Raw, it was largely underwhelming as nothing really mattered except (somewhat) surprise entrances. There were a few moments worth talking about though:
I have one major complaint from the opening segment of Smackdown. Newly-shaven Kevin Owens came to the ring and began the "America Bad - Canada Good" portion of his career that every Canadian wrestler has to go through at one point. He talked for a good long while about it, built up some pretty decent heat and then he was interrupted by Baron Corbin. The conversation went like this:
KO: I'm great. Canada is the best and the US sucks. You guys can't even speak French. Also you're local team is bad at ice hockey--
Corbin: YOU CAN'T BEAT ME UP, KEVIN!
No mention of US/Canada at all. It was very strange and made it feel like each man was providing one side of two different conversations.
The only other thing that really stuck in my mind from this week's Smackdown was the pairing of Shinske Nakamura and Dolph Ziggler. This is one move where I want to congratulate the WWE for actually taking some time with Nakamura and not just inserting him into a title or top-level feud right away. Let him take some time and grow into that. WWE does a piss poor job of not blowing their wads on big-names and it's good to see them taking a minute with Nak, who frankly, needs a bit of time for people to really get him.
Also, It was great to see Aiden English singing again. Too bad it was at the cost of a Gotch.
Tune in next week when no one changes shows and we get back to the business of what WWE does best: People standing in the ring talking at each other.