All the buzz regarding NXT call-ups surrounds Lars Sullivan, but while video packages about his arrival to the main roster are airing, the idea of Aleister Black joining Raw or SmackDown soon is gaining more and more steam.
It isn't official until it happens, but the Royal Rumble is coming up in January, and there is a strong chance TakeOver: Phoenix is the final time we will see Black in NXT before he makes a surprise appearance in the 30-man match, much like Tye Dillinger, Rusev and others have done in the past.
If so, and Black is scheduled to graduate to the main roster in early 2019, SmackDown is easily the best place for him. Sending him to Raw would be a worse move than keeping him in NXT.
The Lars Sullivan Problem
Knowing how WWE works, a big guy like Sullivan will assuredly go to Monday Night Raw rather than SmackDown.
No matter how much the company tries to deny it, every fan can see Raw will always be the A-show. WWE was transparent about that at Survivor Series.
Because that's the program chairman Vince McMahon demonstrably values more, that's where his pet projects go, which explains why The Shield, Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey and the other bigger stars are on that brand.
Raw is the land of the giants, and McMahon will likely consider Sullivan too big of a deal to go to the B-show, which means if Black shows up there as well, he would be fighting for the spotlight with another NXT star.
Given their size difference and McMahon's likely favoritism toward Sullivan, Black would be lost in the shuffle before long as another guy who went nowhere fast because there are still lots of other people fighting for that spot outside of those two.
Raw's Roster Is Overloaded
Even if Black were to balance out Sullivan in terms of being a babyface to his heel addition to the roster, WWE has proved recently there isn't room for another hero in the ranks without some being overlooked.
Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins are the top two main event babyfaces, Dolph Ziggler just turned face, Elias and Finn Balor are struggling to get their proper dues, and Apollo Crews was only able to get a brief moment in the spotlight on the most recent edition of Raw.
With the potential of Bray Wyatt's return at any moment as a babyface as well, judging by his appearance against Baron Corbin at Starrcade, there isn't anyone left for Black to fight.
A heel turn wouldn't help, either, because there's Corbin, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, Jinder Mahal and Sullivan taking up those spots.
Meanwhile, SmackDown has a disproportionate number of heels to babyfaces. The brand is starving for someone like Black to come in to help boost the midcard scene, which is where he would flourish best as new audiences adjust to him.
The lack of another babyface on SmackDown is why someone like Andrade "Cien" Almas has had nothing to do for weeks. With injuries and Daniel Bryan's heel turn, the brand is too heel-heavy.
Being on the A-show means nothing to a wrestler if the show doesn't need that performer. Otherwise, they quickly fall victim to the lack of direction Bobby Roode did when switching over to Monday nights.
Raw's Status Is Dwindling
While Raw may always be the priority to WWE in a creative sense, viewers aren't so fond of the product.
This past episode drew the all-time lowest rating and fans are tuning out, meaning it's a sinking ship in terms of high-profile status until something changes. Since we don't know when that will happen, it's safe to say Raw could get worse before it gets better, so why would Black want to be associated with that?
Over the course of 2019, WWE will be putting more effort into building SmackDown so it looks as enticing as possible for the move to Fox, making that a much more profitable show for Black to be on.
It's better to be the second-tier guy on a show people want to watch rather than a top-tier guy on a program everyone hates, and Black wouldn't even get to be at the top of Raw anyway because of one big roadblock named Brock Lesnar.
The Beast Incarnate Blockade
On Raw, there's a ceiling that means no matter how good or popular you are, you're still not able to reach the top as long as Lesnar is around.
All of the goodwill and momentum Braun Strowman has built up over nearly two years has been perpetually tossed aside while The Beast Incarnate has held the Universal Championship hostage pretty much since WrestleMania 33.
If Black did go to Raw, he would realistically only start to get a shot at the world title after WrestleMania 35, but there's no indication Lesnar is dropping the title then, either.
We could well be in for a repeat of 2018, with The Beast holding the championship until SummerSlam or later. In that scenario, Black's options are the intercontinental belt, a non-title main event or jobbing to Lesnar.
Not one of those scenarios utilizes his potential, but on SmackDown, he would be a much bigger fish in a smaller pond and instantly be a credible United States title contender, as well as fighting for the WWE Championship not long into 2019.
With no chance of reaching the top on Raw anytime soon, Black will only stick around the midcard and develop a perception that he's not worthy of the main event. Then, because of that perception, he won't be able to break out of it until he goes to SmackDown anyway.
His Career Beyond Wins and Losses
All of those points deal with just his record, but there is one other element equally as important to why Raw would be a mistake for him that has nothing to do with championships.
Black and Zelina Vega recently became husband and wife, so for the sake of his marriage, it would be more beneficial for the two of them to be on the same brand rather than having different traveling schedules.
Since Vega is on SmackDown, shipping Black to Raw would put unnecessary strain on their relationship that would yield no positives in exchange for all the hassle and stress.
WWE characters are larger than life, but the performers are still human. And the happier they are, the more successful they can be because their attention isn't focused on personal issues.
This is a no-brainer, and if WWE makes the wrong call and puts Black on Raw instead of SmackDown, he would be the one who suffers the most from that mistake.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.