7 Trades Raw and SmackDown Must Make 2 Months After WWE Draft
WWE has messed with the rosters of Raw, SmackDown and NXT more this year than ever before, and yet, there are still issues that could use fixing.
At first, several NXT Superstars were brought up to the main roster after Survivor Series 2018. Then, the two-night Superstar Shake-up was dragged out to several weeks and tossed aside with the Wild Card Rule.
Most recently, the WWE Draft was supposed to set everything in stone, but a few weeks later, all the rosters were crossing over in the fight for brand supremacy at Survivor Series.
But even after all that, some Superstars still struggle and the rosters remain unbalanced.
Here are some trades WWE should consider making in order to remedy those problems.
Minor Moves for 205 Live, NXT and NXT UK
Once the Cruiserweight Championship was folded into NXT, there ceased to be a need for 205 Live to be a designated roster. WWE hasn't made any official decision about Superstars like Ariya Daivari and Tony Nese, though.
It can be assumed that they're on NXT, but since NXT UK crosses over, too, there needs to be some housekeeping.
Superstars like Gentleman Jack Gallagher and Danny Burch should move officially to the NXT UK brand and bulk out that roster. The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, and Daivari are better off as NXT talent.
But The Ascension should also move from Raw to NXT. Konnor and Viktor haven't wrestled for WWE since WrestleMania season, so it's not as though the main roster would miss them.
Their peak was in NXT, so they could either try to recapture that magic or be fodder for some of the other teams like The Forgotten Sons to beat up.
Sadly, the same goes for Luke Harper. If he's on his way out of WWE, it's better to use him to elevate other stars, rather than pay him to sit at home.
Killian Dain, Damian Priest and more could look stronger by defeating him, and Dominik Dijakovic could get back a win after losing to Harper at Worlds Collide in April.
Samoa Joe to SmackDown
There are too many heels on Raw for each one of them to get a solid push at the same time.
Brock Lesnar is the top of the food chain, and underneath him, fighting for their spots, are AJ Styles, Andrade, Bobby Lashley, Buddy Murphy, Drew McIntyre, Erick Rowan, Samoa Joe and now Seth Rollins.
That isn't even including the heels lower on the card like Eric Young, Mojo Rawley, The Ascension or the injured Jinder Mahal.
WWE is barely able to manage giving McIntyre and Rowan more than just a few wins over midcarders and jobbers as it is. Imagine how much more cluttered it will be once Joe is back from his injury.
His only options for fresh feuds are Aleister Black, Kevin Owens and Randy Orton, as he's already had enough matches against Rey Mysterio and Ricochet.
Meanwhile, SmackDown is missing a big man in Lars Sullivan and hasn't bothered to use Luke Harper, so Joe could fill that void.
Braun Strowman is sitting around with nothing to do and could be a perfect opponent for Joe, which was teased months back. There are also Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and The Miz—or even King Corbin, The Fiend and Shinsuke Nakamura if he were to turn babyface.
Elias to Raw
While it still pales in comparison to NXT, SmackDown has always given more of a spotlight to the in-ring action than Raw. Fox is definitely not opposed to promos, sketches and the sort, but with only two hours, there isn't as much time available to dedicate to purely character-based segments with no action.
It is entirely the wrong environment for Elias to flourish, as he's much more on the entertainment side of sports entertainment.
The best moments he's had with his songs have been when the segments can breathe. Then, the crowd gets fully into it and he can embrace the boos or cheers without rushing everything.
This week, Elias made his return to SmackDown in a very quick backstage bumper spot. It got the point across, but it was too swift to fully land the jokes about Drake Maverick and have fun with it.
Too little time on a regular basis means Elias takes a long while to get anywhere with a push. Too much time and he's eating up a larger portion of the show than he should and taking opportunities away from others.
On Raw, though, that extra hour allows for more chances to fit in his act and possibly even more opportunities to play to his comedic strengths.
The red brand has the 24/7 Championship, R-Truth and plenty of talented Superstars—both funny and serious—for Elias to rip on.
EC3 to SmackDown
Since coming to Raw, EC3 has been mostly relegated to Main Event appearances, at best. The best thing he's done has been winning the 24/7 Championship twice on house shows just to lose it right back to R-Truth.
While some of his recent absences can be chalked up to a concussion, that only accounts for September onward, not the months of doldrums before that.
Clearly, WWE has no intention of pushing him any time soon as anything but a filler guy, and he could be so much more than a bottom-of-the-barrel backup player on Raw.
He and Drake Maverick are good friends who go back to their days in Impact. It's a no-brainer to pair them up and see what they can do as a tag team on SmackDown.
Even if they end up being jokes like The B-Team, that's more of a job to be proud of than not being used at all. Plus, that didn't stop Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas from winning the tag titles once they won over the crowd.
If it doesn't work, EC3 is no worse off than he is now. He could go back to being WWE's resident house-show jobber as if nothing happened, but it's better to take a chance and fail than to succeed at not even trying.
Lana to Raw
By all accounts, Lana is a member of the Raw roster. She's been appearing on that show since September 30 and is involved in a heavily featured storyline with Rusev and Bobby Lashley.
However, no official announcement of her being on that brand has ever been made. Funnily enough, she's still listed as a member of the SmackDown roster on her WWE profile page.
Admittedly, this is more a case of nitpicking a technicality than fixing some major flaw in the rosters. But it just goes to show how many oversights can happen, even if a five-second switch of logos could clear up any confusion.
Should Lana return to in-ring action, it should obviously be on Raw. Soon, someone will realize the mistake and make it an official trade.
The Usos and Naomi to NXT
If Matt Hardy's return to Raw is any indication, The Hardy Boyz are part of the red brand now. With them, The Street Profits, The Viking Raiders, and Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, the maximum number of babyface tag teams is tapped out.
As The O.C. and AOP will dominate the heel market for the time being, there isn't any room left for The Usos to be big deals.
They'd run into the same problem on SmackDown by contending with The New Day, Heavy Machinery, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, The Revival, and others.
NXT doesn't have a lot of tag teams, though. Also, Jimmy and Jey's star power could help the show's viewership and allow the rookies to work with seasoned, established Superstars.
This could work out well for Naomi, too. She could succeed in NXT in the same aspects, if not better than The Usos. As a bonus, it would keep her and her husband Jimmy on the same traveling schedule.
Realistically, Naomi won't overtake Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Natalya as a top babyface on Raw, or steal the focus away from the SmackDown women's division, either.
The NXT women's division could use a veteran like the former two-time champion to show younger talent the ropes and feature her as a perpetual top Superstar.
That would allow room for someone like Rhea Ripley to go to Raw and SmackDown for fresh matches without creating a power vacuum in NXT.
Cesaro to NXT UK
Cesaro is one of WWE's most overlooked and underutilized Superstars. It seems everyone from the fans in attendance to Corey Graves and Steve Austin all agree he's incredibly reliable in the ring and can put on amazing matches, yet nothing ever comes out of it.
He struggled on Raw, and he's doing the same thing on SmackDown.
There's something to the faction of Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura, but WWE seems hesitant to fully form that group, having backpedaled on Cesaro's inclusion a few times.
If that's just the next team for him to flounder in, too, just like The Real Americans and countless others, it's not the best use of his talent, and Zayn and Nakamura can do fine as a twosome.
Perhaps it's time to pull a Finn Balor and put him back on the NXT spectrum where he can be a big fish in a small pond. In particular, NXT UK could desperately use his skills.
Like with Naomi and The Usos, he would be a great asset for teaching the younger talent and upping the star power of the brand as a whole. Just like his match with Ilja Dragunov at TakeOver: Cardiff, he can elevate whomever he works with.
There aren't many options for viable contenders to Walter's United Kingdom Championship, but Cesaro could step in and take the title any day, and it wouldn't seem like a downgrade.
He has so much more to offer than just being a midcarder on Raw or SmackDown. Unless WWE's point of view changes, the only way he'll achieve greater feats is with a change of scenery to a new brand.
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.