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WWE Fantasy: Raw and Smackdown Preview 4/17-4/18
- Updated: April 17, 2017
A surprising post-Wrestlemania twist, the first ever Superstar Shake-Up altered what many assumed to be a clearly defined path to Summerslam. The roster moves not only shook up the WWE landscape, but also the world of fantasy WWE. Major names like Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, Bray Wyatt, and the Miz all found new homes earlier this week. While the fantasy outlooks of some stars skyrocketed, other plummeted as quickly as United Airlines’ stock. Here are four superstars whose stock you should believe in, and four others you should disregard like a clingy ex.
Buy Buy Buy!
Rusev: Once one of the most feared competitors and consistent fantasy-contributors in all of WWE, the Bulgarian Brute has fallen on hard times. He was saddled with a mediocre tag-team partner in Jinder Mahal for months, and then went down with an ill-timed nose injury. The rug seems to be pulled out from under Rusev every time he starts to gain momentum. A change of scenery and fresh competition will motivate Rusev, whose brutality and aggression spike dramatically when he has something to prove. Expect the former U.S. Champion to be an intriguing fantasy option moving forward with tremendous upside.
Sami Zayn: A man who has become synonymous with losing, Zayn’s long list of defeats made it impossible to take him seriously as a threat. He’d always put up a good fight, but would always fall short. But now, he is the definition of buy low and sell high. There is nowhere else for Zayn to go but up. The move to Smackdown has been teased for months, so there has to be a payoff. New surroundings, opponents, and opportunities will help breath life into Zayn’s career after a stagnant start to 2017.
Charlotte Flair: Charlotte went from being the best competitor in a strong division to being the best competitor in an infinitely weaker division. This creates a New England Patriots scenario, with Charlotte playing the role of the Super Bowl champs and the Smackdown women’s roster representing the rest of the AFC East. Most of her new competition cannot be seen as legitimate threats, with the exception of Becky Lynch; it’s hard to seriously consider current champion Naomi as a bona fide challenge to Charlotte. Expect the Queen to run rampant on Tuesday nights, destroying and embarrassing weaker competition as they attempt to get in her way.
Kalisto: A move to the cruiserweight division—if that is the move WWE makes—would be a game-changer for Kalisto. After a forgettable run as the United States Champion and a series of lackluster and forced bouts with Baron Corbin, the luchador was on the fast track to irrelevancy. Luckily for him, WWE executives decided not to reunite the lame-duck pairing with Sin Cara. Since Kalisto was injured, the cruiserweight division has been on the rise thanks to compelling characters and grapplers such as the revitalized Neville, Akira Tazowa, and now Austin Aries. The division is getting more and more air-time on Raw, so it is the perfect time for Kalisto to reintroduce himself to WWE audiences. The move would not only boost him, but also the entire cruiserweight division.
Honorable Mention: Tamina, Alexa Bliss, AJ Styles
Sell! For the love of God, sell!
Bray Wyatt: WWE has teased and positioned Wyatt as someone on the cusp of top-player status for years. But, everytime he is just about to reach the summit, someone like Rany Orton pushes him right back down the mountain. After winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, the Eater of Worlds saw his reign short-lived after losing his title to the Viper at Wrestlemania. Things aren’t going to get better for Wyatt on Raw. He will undoubtly be positioned as a main event player once again, but fantasy powerhouses Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, as well as the recently-returned Finn Balor, will keep Wyatt in the same position he’s been in for years: good, but not good enough.
Gallows & Anderson: Where to begin? Arguably the top tag-team in the world upon signing with WWE in 2016, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were ready to take the tag-team division by storm. Gallows had the size and muscle, while Anderson was one of the most well-rounded wrestlers in the world. They had all of the tools to grab the title and never look back. The problem is, they just never put it all together when it mattered most. Every time they took two steps forward, they took five backwards. After months and months of futility, they finally captured the Raw Tag-team Champnionships at this year’s Royal Rumble. But just like always, someone emerged to pull the rug out from them; this time, it was the returning Hardy Boyz at Wrestlemania. Gallows & Anderson had enough trouble staying relevant with mediocre competition. Now, with both the new champs and some former champs (Heath Slater and Rhyno) joinging Raw, it’s difficult to picture the “good brothers” with gold around their wastes again any time soon.
Emma: Like Gallows & Anderson, lack of movement will hinder Emma’s fantasy potential. Fresh off her return to the Raw roster, Emma made an immediate impact by embarrassing Raw Women’s Champion Bayley. It appeared that her mean streak could quickly catapult her into title contention. So, why is she labeled a loser? The Smackdown women’s division is visibly weaker than Raw’s, and a switch to the blue brand would have resulted in a quick and sustained rise to the top. Despite Charlotte’s departure, the Raw women’s division is still top-heavy and deeper than ever with the additions of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Emma’s road to the title is filled with too many pot holes and red lights to take her seriously as a top fantasy-option.
Dana Brooke: Read everything about Emma, subtract the part about having made an impact, and you have Dana Brooke. She was already near the bottom of the totem pole to begin with, so expect her to sink even lower with increased competition.
Honorable Mention: Apollo Crews
Although the main event scenes of Raw and Smackdown remain clean-cut, the mid-card division of each show is suddenly a lot more intriguing and competitive. New faces in new places always lead some superstars to greener pastures, and others to the bottom of the trash can. Luckily, you have some studly stock tips to help you navigate the rocky waters and continue your fantasy dominance as Raw and Smackdown hit the reset button.