The 2019 WWE Superstar Shake-Up didn’t have as big a pay-off as many would have liked. While the outcome certainly led to some interesting new faces on Raw and SmackDown Live and many new potential storylines that can be told with the roster shuffling, the general feel of the shows didn’t carry the same weight that past Drafts and Shake-Ups have had.
Whether it was the introduction of “The Viking Experience” with Ivar and Erik as opposed to “War Raiders” consisting of Hanson and Rowe, or the splitting up of teams like SAnitY, Gable and Roode, Sasha and Bayley and the Riott Squad, the burying of EC3 or the dismantling of the Raw Women’s Division, WWE failed to keep their finger on the pulse in many ways.
Still, AJ Styles, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Andrade and Cedric Alexander on Raw could lead to some very interesting matches. SmackDown Live exclusively getting Finn Balor, Heavy Machinery, Kairi Sane and Buddy Murphy could lead to the same on SmackDown Live.
Up until Vince McMahon entered the ring in Montreal on Tuesday to reveal the “biggest acquisition in SmackDown’s history,” though, it felt like WWE really didn’t drop a huge bombshell on the world. Styles moving to Raw and Balor moving to SmackDown certainly made for entertaining moves, but neither was terribly shocking.
This is what made the final segment on SmackDown Live in Montreal so entertaining.
WWE Nailed Reigns Move to SmackDown Live
When McMahon came out, many were waiting with bated breath as the announcement was set to be made to the tune of a drum-roll. With many expecting Braun Strowman to make the jump and others thinking Brock Lesnar could be the big fish that SmackDown Live landed, the latter being far more shocking than the former, McMahon would pull the rug out from everybody and reveal that Elias was the big acquisition he was bringing to the Blue Brand.
Naturally, many were disappointed while others had to simply tip their caps and acknowledge that they had been hoodwinked. At this point, there was the expectation that Elias could be interrupted once again given that he had been interrupted in each of his last three appearances at WrestleMania 35 and on the previous two Monday Night Raws.
What followed was a huge shock for everybody in attendance and all of the fans around the world, however, as WWE pulled a double-fake and would reveal the actual biggest move of the Superstar Shake-Up to be Roman Reigns.
While Reigns has had a tumultuous run in WWE that’s gone from loud cheers as a member of the Shield to ground-trembling boos as the big dog to a successful bout with cancer, Reigns is now one of the top baby face wrestlers on the planet. It’s been quite the journey for Reigns who is now exactly what WWE wanted him to be all along.
Moving him to SmackDown Live was as big a shock as WWE could have pulled outside of moving Seth Rollins and the Universal Championship to the Blue Brand. This now fills the hole left by Styles on the show as Reigns looks primed to take his place atop the WWE mountain in the not-so-distant future. WWE is riding with Kofi Kingston on top for the time being but Reigns will likely get his shot at holding gold once again when the time is right.
The Superstar Shake-Up may have been a dud as far as decision-making goes, but there is a bevy of new options for both brands to work with that could redeem things in the end. One thing is certain though; the execution of the Reigns move to SmackDown Live was done to perfection.