This past week, the WWE conducted its first Superstar Shake-up since the return of the Brand Extension last summer, conducting talent trades between Raw and SmackDown Live.
Although the exact details of how certain Superstars were acquired is unknown, Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan hinted at possible negotiations taking place behind the scenes. Either way, both brands made out pretty well in the exchange all things considered.
However, a program is only as strong as its authority figure. If the last nine months have been any indication, Bryan and Angle will be pivotal to the success of Raw and SmackDown Live going forward.
Mick Foley was originally appointed the title of general manager of Raw in July but struggled to find his footing in the role. This was largely to due to him being humiliated by Stephanie McMahon on almost every episode, and thus it was evident he was not long for the job.
Once he was unceremoniously fired from being the GM of Raw two weeks ahead of WrestleMania 33, all signs pointed to Kurt Angle serving as his replacement. Sure enough, two days removed from his anticipated and well-deserved Hall of Fame induction, Angle returned to Raw on the post-WrestleMania edition of Raw and was announced as the new head honcho for the show.
Of course, it's too early to evaluate his performance as Raw GM so far, but Angle has quickly and comfortably settled into the role. Throughout his illustrious career, he has shown he can do comedy and still be taken seriously by the fans.
Moreover, he was responsible for picking up several notable names from SmackDown including Dean Ambrose, The Miz and Bray Wyatt in the Superstar Shake-up. He was also able to keep Seth Rollins, who has been a major cornerstone of the flagship show, on Team Red.
As the sole authority figure on Raw at the moment, he has thrived as GM, but time will tell whether he will be overshadowed by Stephanie once she resurfaces on Raw. That was a major criticism of Foley during his GM run, in addition to being a victim of overexposure.
If anyone can stand up to Stephanie and not be overruled by her assertiveness, however, it's Angle, especially given their history from years ago. It will be interesting to see what their dynamic will be when they are running Raw together eventually.
Angle's immense popularity alone has made him a fun fixture on Monday nights, but the same can be said for SmackDown Live general manager Daniel Bryan and his undeniable connection with crowds.
Bryan was an easy choice for the vacant slot of SmackDown GM at the dawn of the Brand Extension following his abrupt retirement from the ring in February 2016. Although fans would love nothing more than to see him step back inside the squared circle, he has done an exceptional job of bringing the blue brand to new heights in his time as GM.
Along with Shane McMahon, he is rarely featured on the show and only appears on-screen when needed. Instead, he is largely relegated to Talking Smack, where he never ceases to entertain the audience.
Additionally, Bryan should be credited for signing the illustrious likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger to the Tuesday night program recently. Both former NXT standouts should be valuable assets to SmackDown, and in the storyline, it was the WWE's resident "Yes!" man who brought them in.
It's difficult to debate who of the two has amounted to more success as GM up to this point with Angle in the early stages of his reign, but long-term, Bryan has a brighter outlook as an authority figure. Angle is the perfect fit for GM right now, but he has a much better chance of lacing up his boots again than Bryan.
That said, Angle's stint as GM could be short-lived, so fans should enjoy it while it lasts. Meanwhile, Bryan will continue to elevate SmackDown and make it the must-see show in the WWE.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a Digital Journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.