AJ Styles to WWE Raw and the Most Intriguing Potential Brand Changes for 2017
AJ Styles delivering barnburners every Monday night on WWE Raw may not be limited to the realm of daydreams for long.
Ahead of WrestleMania 33 on April 2, rumors are rumbling about the former WWE champ switching brands later in the year. The thought of Styles thriving on WWE's marquee show is an enticing one, as is the possibility of SmackDown welcoming Roman Reigns or The New Day performing on the blue brand.
These major moves would provide new stories, fresh opponents and in some cases a welcome change in environment.
WWE seems to think so, too. The company has reportedly been mulling over mixing things up for Styles and Reigns. According to PWInsider Elite (h/t Chris Featherstone of Wrestling Inc), WWE is discussing the possibility of Reigns moving to SmackDown. PWInsider also noted (h/t Featherstone) that Styles could join the Raw roster during the next draft.
What effect would The Phenomenal One trading homes have on the product? What potential paths would pop up for him or other Superstars sent to a rival brand?
The following is a look at those questions, diving into the most alluring show-switching scenarios.
Roman Reigns to SmackDown
Reigns leaving for SmackDown would alter the brand dynamic in a big way.
For one, his absence on Monday nights would leave open a key spot on the card for another Superstar to claim. That's good news for the likes of Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Cesaro and others.
On SmackDown, The Big Dog would have a potential classic rivalry in front of him should he clash with The Miz (assuming he stays put). The Miz tearing into Reigns with a mic in hand would be fantastic TV.
Reigns could bang heads with the likes of Corbin and Luke Harper, as well.
The move would allow WWE to reunite him and Dean Ambrose if it wanted to. It would end the focus on Reigns' issues with Stephanie McMahon and The Authority, a stayed-way-past-its-welcome narrative. The Juggernaut would make a great fit as intercontinental champ, too.
The Miz to Raw
WWE has been planting the seeds for The Miz to exit SmackDown for months. The self-proclaimed A-lister's ongoing issues with Bryan make for an obvious catalyst for a brand switch.
After feeling disrespected and pushed around by SmackDown's brass, The Miz could charge into Raw, enraged and driven.
He could bring his grade-A mic work to a new home, giving Monday nights the kind of magnetic verbal exchanges that have been the hallmark of SmackDown this past year. And he would do so opposite a fresh group of rivals.
The Miz vs. Zayn or Balor are two intriguing options to explore off the bat.
In addition, he could enter the United States Championship picture and help invigorate that title as he did for the IC belt. The Miz has proven himself to be a reliable and flexible puzzle piece, one the red brand would be glad to have.
Sami Zayn to SmackDown
SmackDown's "land of opportunity" atmosphere makes it the ideal home for Sami Zayn.
While Raw so often focuses on marquee stars and part-timers, SmackDown has seen the unlikeliest of wrestlers rise, from James Ellsworth to Heath Slater. Zayn has an underdog appeal like those men, but miles more talented. He'd be a stirring central figure on the blue brand.
Zayn feuding with Baron Corbin over the Intercontinental Championship would be plenty fun. The former NXT champ could also battle his way to a date with WWE titleholder Bray Wyatt to set up a rivalry with great potential.
The Underdog from the Underground heading to SmackDown would also keep him away from Kevin Owens.
WWE hasn't let that rivalry breathe. Zayn keeps crossing paths with his archenemy, not allowing to gain momentum outside of that narrative for long. If the two men are on opposite shows, the babyface can better establish his own identity and let fans anticipate the next Owens-Zayn chapter.
The New Day to SmackDown
More than anyone else, The New Day needs a fresh start.
The trio has been spinning its wheels since breaking the record for longest tag team title reign in WWE history. When WWE trots you out there with Titus O'Neil and The Shining Stars, you know things need to change.
The New Day, though, has already faced much of the Raw roster countless times. Big E and his crew have taken on The Club and Cesaro and Sheamus over and over again.
A move to SmackDown would open the door for The New Day to collide with a new set of rivals. American Alpha, The Usos or Breezango taking on the former champs are all fun options. The SmackDown tag team division, which has sputtered of late, could use The New Day as well.
And on the blue brand, The New Day could hunt for the SmackDown tag titles, a prize the group has never won. The squad would benefit from having a new goal, just as they would benefit from moving to the better-written show.
AJ Styles to Raw
Styles is fresh off hurling the SmackDown commissioner through a car window. It's not hard to imagine a storyline that ends up with him moving to Raw.
After Styles and Shane McMahon battle at WrestleMania, perhaps the relationship between employee and employee is too strained to repair. McMahon could send The Phenomenal One to the rival show to avoid further altercations.
Plus, SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan technically already fired Styles.
Styles on Raw would be huge for the red brand. WWE would have a plethora of electric rivalries to explore as a result. Monday nights could feature the former TNA cornerstone locking horns with Balor, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens or Brock Lesnar.
And after Styles spent much of 2016 producing a string of stellar bouts, there's little doubt how great he would be against a new crop of foils.
The quality of Raw's in-ring action would shoot up upon his arrival. He would add an exciting energy as he'd only ever been on the show for six months. WWE would also have the option of reforming The Club, either with only Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson or adding Balor to the mix, too.