The WWE could have a NBA-styled trade deadline if it wanted to. The company does have a habit of making up random rules as it goes. Having this as an annual part of its roster overhaul wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
Also, you know, it could help explain why each brand needs commissioners and general managers.
This “what-if” type of situation is fascinating. So interesting, in fact, we are going to see how it could theoretically play out, while hoping it can help put both the wrestlers and each brand in a better position to succeed moving forward.
There’s no salary-cap to worry about or even other things that hamper traditional sports’ trade mechanics. Knowing that, we are going to approach this from a brand-to-brand perspective — trying like all hell to rationalize the move for both sides in the process.
Monday Night Raw Trade Ideas
Raw sends Apollo Crews to NXT for Adam Cole
MNR Perspective: Adam Cole (baybay!) is a star. Already properly groomed for the main stage, he’s outgrown the confines of NXT. He can be brought in to help the middle-card to start, especially in what could be a tremendous feud with The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, with a slower build in place for him to become one of the faces of the entire WWE.
NXT Perspective: Losing Adam Cole obviously hurts. And, if we are being honest, in this theoretical WWE trade deadline, the developmental brand is likely to lose more trades than it wins. That being said, Apollo Crews is a gifted in-ring performer who got called up to the main roster far too early. Send him back down, find him a character, and let him shine in the longer matches NXT allots its talents.
Raw sends Finn Balor to Smackdown for Kevin Owens
MNR Perspective: The WWE clearly has no idea what to do with Finn Balor, especially with the main event-heavy roster already in place. On the other hand, we already know Kevin Owens can flourish in a variety of roles on Monday Night Raw. This one seems simple when looking at it as if we are running Monday Night Raw. Get rid of the “burden” of having no idea what to do with Balor, then add a known elite-heel in Owens.
Smackdown Perspective: Historically the more wrestling-heavy product, the blue-brand could use a few new good guys on its heel-heavy show. Furthermore, the change of scenery could serve Balor well. There’s a potential feud with AJ Styles just waiting to be had or even something as simple as Balor saving the US Title picture. While most would argue Balor is a world championship caliber talent, he can be to the US strap what The Miz has been for the IC title.
Smackdown Live Trade Ideas
Smackdown sends Tye Dillinger and rights to Chris Jericho to Raw for Elias
Smackdown Perspective: Chris Jericho is only an off-and-on performer at this point, but you had to offer more than just Tye Dillinger to land Elias. As for why the blue-brand so desperately should want our guitar signing hero, he’s a budding superstar. This current gimmick is only the floor for a guy oozing with championship potential. Over time, Elias will be a world champion and the sort of guy capable of playing both a heel or face. We should all walk with Elias.
MNR Perspective: Raw takes a HUGE hit by losing Elias, but Dillinger could help bolster the struggling cruiserweight division (also, lord knows that he needs to be doing something on TV). Getting the rights to Jericho will help bolster the product whenever Y2J decides to do a few random appearances. Not to mention, we all avoid Elias getting buried by John Cena.
Smackdown sends Shane McMahon to NXT for Velveteen Dream
Smackdown Perspective: I love Shane McMahon, but can I be brutally honest about something? He’s run his course on Smackdown. On the flip side, Velveteen Dream has everything the WWE would ever want in a potential breakout star.
NXT Perspective: William Regal is the GOAT. Bringing in Shane isn’t to replace Regal, but for a longer play, storytelling dynamic. With Stephanie and Hunter running Raw, Shane is “stuck” in a power struggle with Regal to run NXT. Bluh, bluh, bluh. Time goes on, people get sick of that story, but the big reveal is Shane taking NXT to regular television for a live weekly broadcast! Hooray… or something. (Side-theory: This can be Hunter being traded, since NXT is “his,” instead of Shane, but don’t worry about the semantics of realism)
NXT Trade Ideas
NXT trades Kairi Sane to Monday Night Raw for Bayley
NXT Perspective: Kairi Sane is great, but Bayley is adored in the world of NXT and those who are members of the Internet Wrestling Community. Having Bayley as a fixture of the NXT’s women’s division can help add some stability for the long haul and she can be a mentor to plenty of the newcomers (men and women alike). Also, let’s be honest, the WWE’s usage of Bayley on the main stage hasn’t been great, nor has she. NXT, as a building brand, would be well served having an “NXT lifer” on its roster.
MNR Perspective: The WWE doesn’t love Bayley as much as die-hard fans do. Hot-take: That’s OK, as she doesn’t exactly have an explosive move-set and her character on the main roster has mostly been to be sad. This is as much about adding Sane to the roster as it is getting rid of another talent who can headline NXT — and be a huge draw for it — for the next decade. The usage of Sane can and will add depth to an already strong women’s division.
NXT trades the rights of Pete Dunne to Smackdown for Dolph Ziggler
NXT Perspective: Pete Dunne, only a semi-regular, is great and should be a star. That being said, he’s not on NXT all the time and the longplay sees him on the main roster. Getting Dolph Ziggler here is the same reason the brand should go after Bayley. Like Bayley, Ziggler is lost adrift on the main roster. Let him go to an in-ring heavy brand like NXT, be the face of the men’s side, and be someone who can help mentor the younger wrestlers. Honestly, Ziggler is too good to not be used, but the 1,000 different overhauls of him on the main roster has helped no one.
Smackdown Perspective: Pete Dunne, like a Finn Balor, can be used to help Smackdown’s mid-card scene. He’d eventually be a main event talent, but having guys like Dunne and Balor fight over the US Championship would be all that and more. Moreover, with guys like Styles, Balor, and others on Smackdown, four/five-star quality matches would be the regular. Also, Smackdown gets rid of Ziggler, a talented performer it knows not what to do with.