10 WWE Superstars That Need to Switch Brands in Rumored Upcoming Draft
Coming out of Sunday's solid-yet-uneventful WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, it couldn't be more apparent that both Raw and SmackDown are in desperate need of roster shake-ups at the moment.
WWE's last draft took place in early October 2020, but according to Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc), another installment is expected soon after SummerSlam. NXT could be involved as well, with several stars from that brand being main roster-ready.
Superstars switching shows may not make of a difference in the long term as a quality creative direction will always be the company's biggest issue. However, it would give both brands a necessary reshuffle and provide several names with an opportunity to start anew.
The draft can make or break a career, with Big E being a prime example of that last year. Being broken apart from Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods led to The New Day man becoming a bona fide singles star on SmackDown, although others weren't as fortunate to experience that same success wherever they ended up.
Anything can change in the coming months, but based on the current landscapes of Raw, SmackDown and NXT, these are the 10 names who would benefit the most from moving in the next draft.
Following his latest loss to Bobby Lashley at Hell in a Cell and now no longer able to challenge for the WWE Championship for as long as The All Mighty is carrying it, there's nothing more for Drew McIntyre to do other than shifting over to SmackDown.
For the last year and a half, the Scot has carried the Raw brand on his back. Although his ascent to superstardom unfortunately coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, he still made the most of the circumstances and had an entertaining run as WWE champion.
McIntyre beat every opponent put in front of him and even lost the title for a time only to regain it weeks later. His second stint as champ ended in March and he's fought to get the belt back ever since, but he needs an extended break from the title picture for the foreseeable future to avoid getting stale.
Remaining on the red brand and occupying the top babyface spot is an obvious possibility for The Scottish Warrior, but getting him away from Lashley and the rest of the Raw roster—most of whom he's already feuded with—would arguably be the better call.
After all, he hasn't been a part of the blue brand in over a decade. It was where he debuted in 2009 and heading back to the blue brand would be exactly what he needs, not to mention that an eventual feud with Roman Reigns could be a killer.
Despite recently gaining possession of King Corbin's crown, Shinsuke Nakamura has clearly hit a wall on SmackDown.
The King of Strong Style has been a part of the blue brand for over four years and has never switched shows since being called up from NXT. He immediately made waves upon his arrival but fizzled out within a year due to WWE never pulling the trigger on a main event-level push for him.
The company hasn't completely bungled him, though. He has enjoyed multiple reigns as United States champion, intercontinental champion and SmackDown tag team champion, but through it all, he's largely remained at the same level on the card.
The days of Nakamura being a viable threat to a top title may be long gone, but much like Cesaro, he deserves another shot. Regardless of whether he gets his desired match against Roman Reigns in the coming months, a move to Raw should be in order for him.
Regardless of whether he flourishes or fails, a run on the red brand would at least be something different for him. There are plenty of opponents he has yet to mix it up with on Monday nights, and he could help fill the babyface void that Drew McIntyre would leave behind if he departed for Fridays.
When Finn Balor initially returned to NXT in October 2019, fans believed it would be a short stay for the former intercontinental champion. Almost two years later and he's still with the black-and-gold brand—for now, anyway.
The Irishman has experienced a career resurgence since resurfacing in NXT. He's been booked better than he has at any other point in his WWE career and has been having fantastic matches with a variety of opponents.
His lengthy second reign as NXT champion came to an end at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver in April when he lost the title to Karrion Kross. He later failed in his quest to get the belt back and hasn't been seen since.
Unless he returns to NXT to put someone else over on his way out, then the next appearance he makes should be on Raw or SmackDown. Those shows could use him and his star power way more than the black-and-gold brand does at this point.
As for what brand he'd be best on, it truly doesn't matter. Roman Reigns needs some fresh faces to feud with and Balor would be an ideal opponent for him, while The Prince also has history with WWE champion Bobby Lashley and that could be interesting as well.
Either way, the time has come for Balor to be brought back to the bright lights of the main roster.
In almost six years with WWE, Asuka has virtually done it all. She's held every active women's title at least once (with the exception of the NXT UK Women's Championship), has won both the women's Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank matches, and she is the only person to submit every one of the Four Horsewomen.
With arguably nothing and no one left to conquer, The Empress of Tomorrow is dealing with a serious case of "what's next?" at the moment.
Her most recent Raw Women's Championship reign lasted nearly a year, and now having feuded with a majority of the brand's women's division, she needs to be drafted elsewhere. A return to NXT shouldn't be considered out of the realm of possibility, but SmackDown's women's scene is so thin that it's almost imperative she goes there.
Asuka is no stranger to the blue brand, having held the SmackDown women's title before and even headlining pay-per-views while on the brand. However, she was largely an afterthought in her last run there and should redeem herself with an even better run.
Besides, Bianca Belair may be the biggest female star on WWE's main roster she has yet to face and that could be quite the clash.
SmackDown has been "The Bayley Show" for the better part of the past two years, but the last few months have signaled the start of a new era that has left the longest-reigning SmackDown women's champion behind.
After joining the blue brand for the first time in April 2019, she carried gold for almost the entire 18 months that followed. She broke records with her two title reigns and was responsible for many memorable moments on the show.
Even after dropping the belt to Sasha Banks at Hell in a Cell in 2020, she remained a focal point of the brand's women's division. She soon transitioned into a program with Bianca Belair that helped elevate her to championship contention, and they have just finished feuding over the title with The EST of WWE coming out on top.
That doesn't leave Bayley with much to do on Friday nights. She's already exhausted her storyline options with Banks, and even if Asuka switched shows, The Role Model has already feuded with her as well.
Next to Charlotte Flair, Raw could use another important heel in its women's division right now and Bayley fills that role perfectly. Bayley vs. Rhea Ripley is a must, along with the many other matches to be had with her on the red brand.
Many fans thought Io Shirai was on her way to Raw or SmackDown coming off her loss of the NXT Women's Championship over WrestleMania weekend in April. She ultimately returned to NXT on June 8, but that doesn't mean she won't wind up on the main roster before long.
Shirai has been the crown jewel of the NXT women's division since signing with the promotion in 2018. Her career took off after turning heel, and her near-yearlong reign as champion featured several standout matches against the likes of Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae and Toni Storm.
With the belt now firmly around the waist of Raquel Gonzalez, there's no reason for The Genius of the Sky to regain the gold any time soon, if at all. She seems to have her sights set on the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship for the time being, but once that runs its course, she should be headed to the grand stage of WWE.
Of the two main brands, SmackDown would be a better fit for her. Raw already has a deep female talent pool (despite WWE not knowing what to do with many of them) and it's too soon for her to be rekindling her rivalry with Raw women's champion Ripley.
Through her immense amount of talent and charisma, Shirai should have no problem becoming just as big of a star on Friday nights.
Jeff Hardy's fall from grace inside the squared circle over the last eight months has been downright disappointing.
The Charismatic Enigma returned from a yearlong injury in the spring of 2020 and had a fun feud with Sheamus that culminated with him overcoming his demons. He went on to win his fifth Intercontinental Championship and partake in one of the wildest ladder matches in many years at Clash of Champions.
It was all downhill for him once he transferred over to Raw in the 2020 WWE draft, though.
Neither he nor Elias benefited from their feud and then that was it for him. He's endured losses to everyone from The Miz and John Morrison to Jinder Mahal and Jaxson Ryker.
At a time when Raw could use some elite-level babyfaces, it's bizarre that WWE hasn't done more to protect and build up Hardy. He's a three-time WWE world champion and could be a top talent if treated as such, but he needs to be as far away from Raw as possible at this point.
SmackDown has always been where he's had his best success as a singles star and, unless he already has one foot out the door, that's where he should see out his career.
Sami Zayn has been firing on all cylinders since returning from his hiatus late last summer, and he has managed to remain relevant this entire time.
Within weeks of resurfacing on SmackDown, he recaptured the Intercontinental Championship and held it until December when he lost it to Big E. He was a big part of the title picture in the many months that followed and has since rekindled his rivalry with Kevin Owens, who he beat at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
More matches between the two wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing given how strong their chemistry is, but unless the idea is for them to team eventually, it's high time for them to move on to bigger and better things.
Zayn shouldn't regain the intercontinental title any time soon, and with his current character, a run at the top of the card just doesn't seem likely or plausible. Thus, a return to Raw might be his best bet where he can start fresh and possibly chase the United States Championship.
There, he'll have a whole new batch of opponents to work with and move on from the narrative that there's a conspiracy against him.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa would be considered as candidates to move in the upcoming draft had they actually expressed a desire to eventually wrestle on Raw or SmackDown.
Adam Cole, on the other hand, has always been open to the idea of making it on the main roster and shouldn't be tied to the black-and-gold brand forever, anyway.
His smaller stature will be a concern for fans worried that he won't do well on the bigger stage of WWE, and justifiably so. That said, he's achieved all he can in NXT and has more to offer on a different show such as Raw or SmackDown.
Between the two brands, Cole's chances of being used properly on his own might be better on the blue brand considering how superior it's been to Raw recently. He won't occupy the top heel spot as long as Roman Reigns is around, but he could be a fun foil for the likes of Big E, Kevin Owens and Cesaro.
On the Raw side, there's Keith Lee (who he has unfinished business with), Riddle (who he has history with), Damian Priest, Ricochet and others. He'd have a better chance at scoring television time on Monday nights with it being a three-hour show and could work well at the United States Championship level.
Cole is a world-class competitor and deserves an opportunity to shine on the main roster. Whether he succeeds or fails is almost entirely up to WWE, but he has nothing left to prove in NXT and needs a fresh start elsewhere.
No one needs a change of scenery more than Shayna Baszler does right now.
In the span of one year, she has gone from being a one-woman wrecking crew to a laughing stock on the Raw roster—and her abysmal booking is 100 percent to blame for that.
Baszler started off well enough at the onset of 2020 when she arrived on Raw and instantly targeted then-Raw women's champion Becky Lynch. She landed a prominent spot on the WrestleMania 36 card against The Man but fell short and never recovered.
It's been a slow and steady decline for The Queen of Spades ever since. Despite spending over eight months as one-half of the WWE women's tag team champions, she has never been booked as more of a loser than she has lately.
A move to SmackDown may not solve all of her problems, but it would at least be a step in the right direction. She most definitely isn't entering the Raw Women's Championship any time soon and she's lost to almost everyone on the red brand, so hopefully a stint on Friday nights can turn her career around.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.