Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy Headline SmackDown Trades in 2018 WWE Superstar Shake-Up

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2018

Roman and Samoa Joe (R) battle during the WWE show at Zenith Arena on may 09, 2017 in Lille, France. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/Getty Images

Jeff Hardy moved to SmackDown Live and brought the United States Championship with him as part of WWE's Superstar Shake-up.

Hardy wasn't the biggest name to shift brands, though, as Samoa Joe arrived and dispatched Sin Cara in short order.

Joe wasted little time challenging SmackDown Live's top stars:

Hardy's return to the blue brand was widely expected. When Jinder Mahal moved to Raw, SmackDown Live was without a secondary singles title, so the show was either going to get Hardy or intercontinental champion Seth Rollins.

Joe, on the other hand, is much more of a surprise. He had been feuding with Roman Reigns ahead of their match at Backlash, which seemingly indicated he would be a part of Raw for the foreseeable future. WWE may have counted on that when it included him in the Superstar Shake-up.

Joe should have an opportunity to truly shine on SmackDown Live. The blue brand is somewhat devoid of heels, especially with Rusev becoming a crowd favorite.

Samoa Joe should immediately enter the WWE Championship picture when Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles are done feuding.

In the meantime, a match between Joe and any one of The Miz, Rusev or Daniel Bryan would be worthy of pay-per-view placement.

For the most part, the Superstar Shake-up did little to help Raw all that much. After adding The Miz and Joe, SmackDown Live is coming out as the big winner so far.

Asuka added to a big night for the blue brand, as she arrived to save Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair from a beatdown by Carmella and The Iiconics.

Asuka challenged Flair for the SmackDown Live Women's Championship at WrestleMania 34, but she remained a member of the Raw roster until the Superstar Shake-up. The Empress of Tomorrow joins what had become a somewhat stale women's division.

The same could be said of the SmackDown tag team division, as The New Day and Usos could only wrestle one another so many times. The blue brand added former Raw tag team champions The Bar, who will help give The Bludgeon Brothers a formidable challenge for the SmackDown tag titles.

Here are the wrestlers who have switched brands in the Superstar Shake-up:

     

Raw

  • Jinder Mahal
  • Sami Zayn
  • Kevin Owens
  • Riott Squad
  • Natalya
  • Breezango
  • Dolph Ziggler
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Baron Corbin
  • Mojo Rawley
  • Zack Ryder
  • Mike Kanellis
  • Bobby Roode
  • Chad Gable
  • The Ascension

     

SmackDown Live

  • The Miz
  • Jeff Hardy
  • Absolution
  • Samoa Joe
  • Big Cass
  • Asuka
  • Gallows and Anderson
  • The Bar
  • R-Truth
  • Andrade "Cien" Almas
  • Sanity

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