Since the WWE first split its roster in half in 2002 between Raw and SmackDown, drafts and Superstar Shakeups have served to redistribute talent between the two shows, set up fresh stories and offer new opportunities to underutilized performers.
That process has taken several different forms over the years, but since the brands were split for the second time in 2016, the post-WrestleMania Superstar Shakeup has served as a fresh starting point for a new year of WWE.
Over the course of two days, WWE stars will move between Raw and SmackDown (and in some cases, from NXT and other WWE brands) to a new home. The first night saw some heavy hitters shift to Raw throughout the night ̵
So who will move on Night 2? Follow along throughout the night as we break down what each change means to superstar and show alike.
To read up on how Night 1 played out, click here
Night 2 (SmackDown)
Well then. Who saw that one coming? Finn Balor was the first star to switch to SmackDown Live on Tuesday, which means, for now anyway, three of the four primary men's singles championships now live on the blue brand. Will that last? Is this a way to give SmackDown more juice moving forward?
Balor, who took on Ali in his first match on SmackDown, can finally move away from his long feud with Bobby Lashley and move on to new stories. A renewed showdown with NXT rival (and fellow inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic) – current United States champ Samoa Joe – or another NXT rival in Shinsuke Nakamura could suit Balor well. Whatever the plan is, this is a move Finn needed, and a terrific start to replenishing SmackDown with some star power after the loss of AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio, Andrade and others on Monday.
Night 1 (Raw)
WWE did not take long to get the night's action underway, as The Miz moved from SmackDown Live to Raw. It's a move that makes sense, and should not be that surprising. As The Miz himself noted, he has moved shows in every single Superstar Shakeup to date, and this gives him a clean break from Shane McMahon and the story that culminated at WrestleMania 35. Miz got a few shots in on McMahon for good measure in the moments after he ran to the ring, and being on Raw should not be much of an adjustment.
As far as whom he could face, the options are plentiful. As the newly reimagined babyface Miz, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley would seem to fit the bill, but a freshly returned Sami Zayn might be the most compelling opponent out of the gate. Something just feels right about Miz, one of the WWE's most visible presences in mainstream media and a reality star on the USA Network (via "Miz & Mrs."), returning to the WWE's flagship program.
The Viking Experience
After taking a breath to fully process the absurdity of the name change to the NXT tag team champions formerly known as War Raiders and coming down, Ivar (previously Hanson) and Erik (previously Rowe) joining the Raw roster is still likely a net positive. Raw remembering it has a tag team division is good news, and as they showed in their debut match, Ivar and Erik are incredibly versatile big men. They got the win, alongside The Revival, over Aleister Black, Ricochet and tag team champions Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.
If we can get away from the silliness of the tag team name (perhaps a tweak along the way, please? ), Ivar and Erik are actually pretty strongly tied into the history of Vikings and are not nearly as problematic. There are a lot of horror stories of NXT call-ups going sideways, but if they're given as strong and as powerful a platform as it seems, they can be anchors of a revitalized tag team division in a hurry.
The former cruiserweight champion hopes to follow in the footsteps of Ali by making a big splash after leaving 205 Live. He had taken a backseat of late to rising cruiserweights like Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese, so now is as good a time as any for a change of scenery. A matchup with the likes of a Chad Gable could showcase the best of what both guys have to offer, while a bigger opponent like Baron Corbin might be a good jumping off point.
– WWE (@WWE) April 16, 2019 [Andrade
After putting together some of the best matches of the last year on SmackDown opposite Rey Mysterio and a variety of other opponents, Andrade makes a move to Monday nights. A debut win against Finn Balor is a big deal in and of itself, and it's the perfect way to show fans everything he's capable of. His mix of Lucha Free high-flying and vicious strikes with immense swagger in the ring makes him a future world title contender, and in the interim, an Intercontinental championship rivalry with Balor is a great place to start. Zelina Vega is also a valuable piece of the puzzle as a mouthpiece, heat magnet and valuable distraction in key matches.
WrestleMania 35 was a rough night for Mysterio, who lost in abrupt fashion to Samoa Joe. For at least an hour Monday, Mysterio also lost his former top rival on SmackDown, Andrade, until he, too, moved to Raw. A change of pace was well in order, although his time in the ring with Lars Sullivan on Monday night was not quite the warm welcome he might have hoped for. Rey's got only a couple of years left in wrestling, by his estimation, and whether it's mixing it up with some of the smaller stars on the Raw roster like the newly acquired Cedric Alexander or bigger guys like Baron Corbin, Mysterio still have something to give WWE and its fans.
– The One And Only! (@KingRicochet) April 16, 2019
Ricochet & Aleister Black
Though it was not made abundantly clear on commentary, Ricochet and Aleister Black have officially joined the Raw roster, as long as Ricochet's tweet is as clear as it sounds. When Black and Ricochet were first paired up, the two diametrically opposed characters seemed like a strange fit, to say the least. Whether it's their combined charisma or complementary in-ring styles, the pairing has meshed in a hurry and has not looked even slightly out of place in challenging for the Raw, SmackDown or NXT tag team championships in recent weeks. Alongside the newly rebranded "Viking Experience," this could be a sign that Raw's tag team division is back on the rise.