Last year’s return to the WWE brand extension was a massive, undeniable success. If you’re talking about Smackdown, anyway. A lot of stars have been elevated and/or given more screen time and character development, and there aren’t really any glaring roster issues outside of the Raw women’s division. (Which, in fairness, is glaring so f*cking hard.) Oh, and the Raw tag team division. Look; maybe things haven’t been super fantastic for Raw, okay?
Anyway, fans have sort of been assuming that a return to the brand extension also means the return of the annual WWE Draft, which was always fun, if you can’t remember back that far. According to a report, there are indeed plans to bring back the draft this year, and there is an idea being batted around that would involve one massive star getting a change of scenery on a different show.
But before we get to that, word is going around that a non-draft move could take place before the draft — as soon as the Raw after WrestleMania 33, in fact — and would give Raw a brand-new main event star.
Mike Johnson at PWInsider.com connected the dots regarding AJ Styles’ storyline of being fired from Smackdown (and having his profile moved to the “Alumni” section of WWE.com, in a great touch). Although Shane McMahon challenged Styles to a match at WrestleMania, he made no indication that Styles wasn’t fired, and Daniel Bryan backed that up on Talking Smack.
That “fired” storyline would certainly open the door for Raw to snap up Styles for their roster, because if he’s fired, that ostensibly makes him a free agent. And what better way for a (supposedly) new Raw general manager to make a splash than to sign a legitimate main event player and one of the best wrestlers in the world? (And that move would also reunite The Club and put all three on the same roster as Finn Bálor, but that’s none of my business.)
But the other name being bandied about as the focal point of the next draft seems to have a bit more smoke to a potential fire, as it’s more than common-sense speculation. PWInsider Elite (via Wrestling Inc.) claims that WWE has been discussing moving Roman Reigns over to Smackdown to potentially be a top star on that brand — and yes, as a babyface.
Johnson says there have been “discussions to solidify the move” and seem to be fully in line with WWE’s long-term plans for Reigns. They want him to be the new face of the company, and what better way for that to happen than for him to literally supplant John Cena on the blue brand while Cena takes more months off this year to film movies and pursue other ventures? It would also give him a whole new set of fresh heels to work with, including Bray Wyatt and Baron Corbin. Or, if they want to go a different way, he can take on Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose for a while. Fresh matchups! Wonderful!
This could all be much ado about nothing, but on paper both moves make a ton of sense and feel new and exciting. And please, for the love of god, give us AJ Styles on Raw. The people demand it. And hey, if Roman isn’t around, that means there’s more room on Raw for new babyface main eventers like Cesaro and Sami Zayn, right?
[laughter that quickly turns into sobbing]