WWE overhauled its rosters this past week as part of the Superstar Shake-up, and though top star Roman Reigns was rumored to move brands per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc), he stayed put on Raw where he'll have a fresh batch of strong heels to work with.
The main takeaway of the Superstar Shake-up is the rich getting richer on Raw while SmackDown Live basically has to start from scratch. Rising WWE Superstars like The Miz, Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss found their niches on SmackDown Live as all became champions during their tenure.
It felt like each "graduated" to Raw, while SmackDown Live will have to make do with newly debuting veterans in Shinsuke Nakamura (37) and Tye Dillinger (36) with AJ Styles (39) soldiering forward as the face who runs the place.
Reigns could have added a real jolt to SmackDown Live by filling the large void left by John Cena's departure. With no Cena and the exodus of a nucleus that made SmackDown Live arguably more entertaining than Raw, the blue brand could be in for a steep viewership drop after the ratings success of the Superstar Shake-up per ShowBuzz Daily (h/t Wrestling Inc). With little to no elite heels to work with, Reigns' momentum as WWE's polarizing, must-see star would have slowly died down.
On the new-look SmackDown roster, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin are the only three major heels on SmackDown Live. As favorites of the Internet Wrestling Community who receive cheers, Owens and Ziggler are heels in the same way Shane McMahon is a wrestler. Reigns and Owens feuded as recently as last month, and any novelty of seeing these two work together again has faded.
Reigns is much better off on Raw, where he can continue to feud with Braun Strowman—easily the hottest WWE Superstar in the promotion at the moment—while potentially juicy matchups with Bray Wyatt and The Miz remain on the horizon.
Reigns is rumored to face Brock Lesnar, currently the universal champion on Raw, at WrestleMania 34. WWE will have a tall task of resisting the temptation of pulling the trigger on this blockbuster matchup, which could allow Reigns to join Hulk Hogan as the only two men to headline four straight WrestleManias.
But with Reigns a part of a deeper roster on Monday nights, WWE will have more options to keep him busy over the course of a year.