Ever since the Superstar Shakeup, Smackdown has struggled to find its footing. The loss of Dean Ambrose and the Miz was a particularly crippling one. Still, there are new, fresh faces on the roster. With the shift in the landscape, a few superstars will step up to the plate and move up the ladder. Here are four superstars who will become very important to the blue brand in the coming days.
Rusev is one of the most underrated performers on the roster today. His character work is excellent, and he is surprisingly agile. He can cut a mean promo, and English might not even be his first language. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, though, as he sounds so natural when he speaks.
Smackdown’s writing team built up Baron Corbin, who nobody liked at first. They made us care about Dolph Ziggler and the Miz. Luke Harper was almost made into a big deal. They made one of the best stories in 2016 with Heath Slater and Rhyno. There’s no reason they can’t do the same with Rusev.
The fact that he is demanding a title match at Money in the Bank at least shows some effort on WWE’s part. It makes him kind of seem like a big deal. It’s unlikely that we’ll get Rusev v. Mahal, so they’re probably just going to feed him to Orton, but it’s still something. After it all, Smackdown can build Rusev right back up. They can start right before his match with Orton, actually. He returns next week, so have him beat the hell out of Sin Cara. They can turn him into a viable contender in time. They’re doing it right now with Jinder Mahal. Expect big things from Rusev.
3. Baron Corbin
WWE is clearly high on Baron Corbin. He’s been obliterating his competition lately. He steamrolled through Apollo Crews, Kalisto, and Jack Swagger. He was in the Elimination Chamber. Heck, he doesn’t even eat the pin in triple threat matches.
There are big plans for Corbin, methinks. Many expect him to win Money in the Bank this year. It’s going to be a stacked match, with the likes of Sami Zayn and AJ Styles potentially competing in the match as well, but Corbin is still seen as the favorite in the match.
It’s not hard to see why. His mic work isn’t the best, but his moveset is pretty good. The End of Days and the Deep Six bring a nice amount of theatrics, which seems to be more important than it actually looking painful (see: the Spanish Fly). He also has the ability to hit these moves out of nowhere. He’s a surprisingly agile big man who understands who his character is supposed to be.
With Smackdown having the smaller roster, there are more opportunities afforded to everyone. Corbin has made the best of these opportunities. I wholly expect him to be holding gold in a year’s time.