A new era is upon us in the WWE. Last night on Raw we saw Sasha Banks win the Women's Championship and Finn Balor get pushed to the moon on his main roster debut.
Raw pulled out all the stops and the flagship show had one of its best episodes in years as a result. For the brand split to work however, the writers and the management have to be just as invested in Smackdown as they are in Raw.
The blue brand has been neglected for far too long and its days of being treated like nothing more than a Raw spin-off are over. With Smackdown Live debuting tonight there is no better time than now to look at the roster and see who the WWE should be pushing to carry the show over the next six months to a year.
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When looking at the roster split it is easy to think Smackdown Live was again an afterthought. With Raw being a three hour show the process of the draft was skewed towards loading that roster with talent to carry the extra hour of programming. Smackdown Live though can use this to its advantage, presenting a tighter show with much less filler than Raw.
When looking at Superstars to push the focus is going to be on the underused talent on the roster. It goes without saying that John Cena and Randy Orton are going to be at the top of the card, it is how the WWE uses the rest of the roster and builds their characters that will determine if this brand extension is going to be a success.
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Here are five Superstars that need to be elevated on Smackdown Live.
When Tyler Breeze and Fandango were first paired together it seemed to be nothing more than your standard WWE comedy duo. The pair were supposed to play heels to the face team of the Golden Truth and many expected Breeze and Fandango to go their seperate ways after the fued ended.
As so often happens in the WWE however good things come from thrown together beginnings. Breezango is quietly becoming a solid addition to the tag team division and Breeze and Fandango have surprising chemistry together as a unit.
The duo's win over the Usos on the Battleground Kickoff show would seem to suggest that management likes what they have seen from the team and pushing them would give depth to what looks (on paper) like a weak tag team division.
4) Shinsuke Nakamura
So this might be cheating a little as Nakamura is still an NXT wrestler at this point. When the "King of Strong Style" does make his main roster debut, it must be on Smackdown and he must be pushed straight to the top of the card.
When Raw took Finn Balor in the draft it seem to make sense that Nakamura would go to Smackdown as he is the most over star in NXT. The WWE decided to keep the developmental brand strong by keeping its main players together, and the debut of the Japanese superstar on the main roster will have to wait.
When Nakamura does get the call he should be in the WWE Championship picture immediately. No one exudes charisma, or has more brutal looking matches, than the "King of Strong Style" and the thought of feuds with the likes of Cena, A.J. Styles and Bray Wyatt are mouth watering.
3) American Alpha
American Alpha, the tag team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, was one of the best picks of the entire draft. The duo has been tearing up NXT for the last year or so and their move to Smackdown will give the tag team division there an extra dimension.
Fans who remember the work of Kurt Angle and "The World's Greatest Tag Team" of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin will know what to expect from America Alpha. The two former collegiate wrestlers are smooth in the ring and have technically stunning offense.
With rumors still swirling that Angle will eventually make his WWE return, how cool would it be to see the former Olympic gold medalist working with American Alpha.
2) Dolph Ziggler
What does Dolph Ziggler have to do to prove to WWE management he is worth a big time push with the company?
Ziggler works as hard as anyone in the ring, he sells moves like his life depends on it, yet for whatever reason he has never been trusted at the top of the card for any length of time.
You feel that if it doesn't happen now, then it will never happen for Dolph. The Smackdown brand is thin at the top and Ziggler has the experience and the pedigree to work his way into the title picture. Some are convinced that Ziggler can be the modern day Shawn Michaels with his move set, look and charisma.
It is time for Dolph to flip the switch and become the wrestler he was always supposed to be.
1) Bray Wyatt
One of the more interesting stories coming out of the brand extension was the breaking up of the Wyatt Family. On Raw this week Braun Stroman was fed a jobber to make his repackaged debut as a monster. Now it is time to do the same with the Wyatt's leader.
Bray Wyatt has a look and a skill set that is totally unique on the roster. The Wyatts had a number of main event level feuds, but they always seemed to end up on the losing end of them. Being a cult leader is cool and everything (in wrestling terms), but consistently losing feuds left the group in mid-card limbo.
Now it is time for Bray to strike out and become a dominating heel. With Randy Orton coming back to Smackdown as a weird tweener character the only heel above Bray on the card is A.J. Styles. The WWE needs Bray Wyatt to break out over the next six months and establish himself as a terrifying, dominating heel that no one can beat.