Some folks in the WWE universe had been a bit skeptical when it was announced that Raw and Smackdown would be broken down into two shows. A split would mean tag teams or factions could be split up and potential feuds being put on the back burner. It has been a little over seven months now since the split and this writer couldn’t be more pleased with results of that July draft. The reason for optmisim is the fact that new superstars have emerged or reassirted themselves since the draft. It was always a foregone conclusion that Raw would be stable the more stable show of the two with or without a draft. Smackdown, becuause of being taped and not being as much of a success as Raw would generally in the past get the short end of the stick. The blue brand though has passed most folks expectations since the draft and going live on Tuesdays. The mainstays like AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose have been the staples of the show but Smackdown has been able to keep up with Raw by providing certain superstars with opportunities that they have ultimately ran with. Here are some superstars who have been unexpectedly on the rise.
After winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, Corbin was (if used at all) really nothing more than a time filler. Once the draft had gone down it provided Corbin the opportunity to inherit some television time and he has made the most of it. Corbin has become one of the more tough and aggressive superstars on the Smackdown roster. His ascension towards the top of the ranks began while feuding with Kalisto. They ended up putting on a vicious chairs match at TLC. It seemed that after that point Corbin almost changed spots with Dolph Ziggler. Corbin began bigger and better fueds while Ziggler has been seemingly locked in solitary and fueding with Kalisto and Apollo Crews. In the beginning of 2017, Corbin was able to showcase his skills in matches with AJ Styles and John Cena on Smackdown and also found himself entrenched with some of the top names in the championship match at the Elimination Chamber. Corbin came up short in the chamber but began what appears to be a wild feud with Dean Ambrose. Having a feud with the intercontinental champion with WrestleMania right around the corner is proof of your worth. Corbin still has a few more strides to make when it comes to cutting promos but his build, athleticism, and ferocity are hard to ignore. Look for the Lone Wolf to continue to do big things on the blue brand as he may soon be your intercontinental champion.
2016 will likely be most remembered as the birth of the women’s revolution in wrestling. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch took the wrestling world by storm and put on one of the best matches at last years WrestleMania. Charlotte and Sasha went on to have one of the best feuds (man or woman) of the year. Alexa Bliss showed up on Smackdown after the draft in a promo that was aimed at introducing some of the women wrestlers in quick fashion. Her rise to the top of the Smackdown roster may have gone just as quickly. Becky Lynch being drafted to the blue brand gave most folks the impression that it was her show to run. Alex Bliss was able to rise within the Smackdown women’s roster and found herself in a long feud with the lass kicker. It was in that feud where Bliss really began to hit her stride in regards to cutting promos. She increasingly gained heat from the fans with her eye rolls and quick witty comebacks. Bliss was in a position to cash in on her recent successes at TLC when she was able to defeat Lynch in a tables match. She recently lost and regained her title due to an injury to Naomi but never really skipped a beat as far as being the top female heel on the blue brand. It will be interesting to see how she fits into the WrestleMania picture as she could be on another collision course with fan favorite Becky Lynch.
Obviously the Miz has more experience on the main roster than the two previously mentioned superstars but the brand split has proved to be just a profitable for him. The Miz really hit the height of his career at WrestleMania 27 when he was involved in the WWE Championship program with John Cena. Since that time though he began to slowly fall into a level of superstar obscurity. His time on the microphone continued to shrink as he feuds were far from memorable. The day after WrestleMania 32 really began the Miz revival as he defeated Zack Ryder for the intercontinental championship. His ascension began there but really took off once he went to Smackdown as he was able to secure the role of top heel on the program. Suddenly his promo time was significantly increased and with that came the hatred from the fans that seemed as feverish as it was years ago. With Daniel Bryan as a Smackdown general manager, it allowed the Miz an opportunity to pick on the golden boy and sort of renew their old fued. One of Miz’s most memorable moments on Smackdown likely came on Talking Smack when Bryan had been insulting Miz’s style of wrestling. He and Dolph Ziggler really helped keep the title relevant with their well worked feud and afterwards Miz went on to feud with some of the top superstars on the brand. It is ironic how the peak of his career was a WrestleMania feud with John Cena and now is revival tour has taken him right back to a WrestleMania feud with the same man. One has to hope that he doesn’t have that same downward trend he had following WrestleMania 27 and this writer thinks that the Miz will be just fine and could become the heavyweight champion in the near future.
These three superstars have really grabbed that proverbial brass ring since the draft and they all show no signs of slowing down. It may not be long before The Miz and Baron Corbin can join Alexa Bliss as Smackdown title holders. This writer fully believes that by the time Summer Slam rolls around, all three of these superstars will be holding, or in feuds with, championship gold involved.