WWE highlights: Superstar Shake-up brings changes

Sam Henderson

Sports Blogger

@samhenderson44

 

WrestleMania is now in the rearview mirror for the WWE, which means new feuds and storylines have sprung up for the coming months. To contribute to this, Raw and Smackdown swapped several stars in the Superstar Shake-up this past week, pairing different faces for the next year on their shows. It was a hectic week in the WWE, and here are the top-five happenings.

1. Same faces, new places

For those unfamiliar, the Superstar Shake-up is a week after WrestleMania every year. Superstars from Raw, Smackdown, and NXT find their ways onto new shows. The purpose is to mix up the personnel on the shows to provide fresh matchups for the next year. There were several big names on the move this past week. Jinder Mahal, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn moved from Smackdown to Raw. Drew McIntyre switched from NXT to Raw and has formed an alliance with new Raw superstar Dolph Ziggler. The Miz, Samoa Joe, Asuka, Jeff Hardy and the Bar transferred from Raw to Smackdown. SAnitY and Andrade “Cien” Almas will be on the blue brand as well after getting called up from NXT. The moves were abundant, and many were significant. It will be interesting to see how the new scenery works out for those who moved.

2. Hardy has busy week

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After returning last week from an injury holding him out almost seven months, Jeff Hardy answered new Raw superstar Jinder Mahal’s open challenge for his United States championship on Monday. Hardy won the championship after a Swanton Bomb, much to the delight of the crowd in Hartford, Connecticut. The week was not over for him, though. The next night on Smackdown, Hardy showed up to answer Shelton Benjamin’s open challenge, winning with the same move he used to beat Mahal. Not only is the United States championship back on Smackdown, but also there is a resurgent Hardy.

3. NXT reloads after talent call ups

NXT, the WWE’s developmental brand, lost several superstars to call ups the past few weeks. Stars and former champions such as Drew McIntyre, Ember Moon, Andrade “Cien” Almas and the Authors of Pain, among others, have been promoted to the main roster, leaving huge talent holes on the Wednesday night show. NXT took a few steps this week toward replenishing, as Ricochet, Candice LeRae and the War Raiders (aka War Machine) made their NXT television match debuts. On top of that, a new challenger for Aleister Black’s newly won NXT championship came forth in Johnny Gargano. The yellow brand has many gaps to fill, but it took some solid steps toward restocking this week.

4. Wyatt, Hardy get big victory

Jeff Hardy wasn’t the only one in his family having a big week, as his brother Matt and his new tag team partner Bray Wyatt defeated the Revival to win the Raw tag team eliminator. The victory netted the two a spot in Greatest Royal Rumble card next week in Saudi Arabia. They will face the Bar for the vacant Raw Tag Team championships. The new pairing is odd to say the least, but with two victories in the past two weeks, they have a legitimate shot to climb to the top of the tag team ranks in a short span of time.

5. Nakamura, Big Cass make their presence known

On Smackdown Tuesday, A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan faced the team of Rusev and Aiden English in the main event. Shinsuke Nakamura, still sour about his WWE championship match loss to Styles at WrestleMania, interfered and hit him with a low blow, causing a disqualification to end the match. The attacks weren’t over, though, as Big Cass appeared from the crowd and attacked Bryan, cementing his return from a torn ACL and a move from Raw to Smackdown. It was announced that Nakamura will get his rematch against Styles for the WWE championship in Saudi Arabia next week. Big Cass and Bryan will likely settle their differences in a singles match soon.

ozone@ocolly.com

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