AJ Styles: Can WWE SmackDown Receive Equal Compensation in Trade?


If we’re about to see AJ Styles swapped for another WWE Superstar in the “Superstar Shake-Up,” then good luck finding another talent that can do what he did for SmackDown.

Lately, you’ll find AJ Styles’ name brought up in rumors about the impending “Superstar Shake-Up” Vince McMahon announced on Raw. This will see WWE talents signed and traded from both the Flagship Show and SmackDown Live, freshening things up with new feuds and matches for the weekly shows and pay-per-views.

Styles moving on from the Blue Brand would be a blow to the two-hour show. He’s been a quintessential figure of their weekly programs and feuds, including taking over the main event spot when John Cena isn’t around. This saw him hold the WWE Championship for the majority of the time Cena spent away from the company in the fall of 2016.

Despite being a heel, the Phenomenal One is arguably the show’s biggest babyface. He’s beloved in just about any city that hosts SmackDown, and actually just teased a turn during an in-ring segment with Shane McMahon. He proclaimed how much he wants to be on the Commissioner’s show and even shaking hands to put their feud behind them.

Well, this may change by next Tuesday when Styles is potentially moved away from SmackDown. If so, then good luck trying to find fair compensation for him.

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As noted in the rumor link above, Roman Reigns no longer an option to be moved from Raw, so that takes away a fair one-for-one swap. We’re then left with the likes of Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens as the show’s other top names.

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If this took place in June 2016, Rollins for Styles wouldn’t seem like a terrible idea. The Architect had plenty of momentum after his return from injury, but had his face turn botched last fall with confusing segments and promos that questioned why you should be rooting for him.

If anything, Rollins for Styles makes the most sense for a one-for-one swap. Raw may want the former NXT Champion as far away as possible after his defeat of Triple H at WrestleMania 33, which makes sense from the storyline perspective, as his rivals are the authority figures. That means the Game and maybe Stephanie McMahon (if they bring her back from injury) appear during the “Superstar Shake-Up” to make the final call. Kurt Angle may be the only one around on Raw‘s side, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get overrode by the King and Queen.

After that, it’s risky or impossible to match Styles compensation.

We know Kevin Owens is going to be at WWE Payback — a Raw-branded show. He’ll defend the United States Championship against Chris Jericho. That should give away where KO will be, barring something unforeseen, like WWE allowing him to wrestle at the show, but then return to SmackDown.

Samoa Joe has been intertwined with Owens and Triple H on Raw, so it put his ability to move brands in doubt. That’s unless WWE decides to scrap his alliance, much like what was done with the Club after just two months in 2016.

Finn Balor is an interesting case, but may be needed as the No. 2 or 3 face on Raw. His spot would be more solidified if Rollins got moved for Styles.

Could the former TNA star be traded for a tag team, though? The New Day are the other top act potentially on the move, going from Raw to SmackDown to spice up a tag team division in flux.

If we’re looking at this from a fan perspective, trading Styles for New Day is illogical.

The former is arguably the hottest name in WWE and may be the most over talent of anyone in the company. His wrestling skills are off the chart, and he can main event any PPV.

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New Day had a terrific run as WWE’s top tag team from SummerSlam 2015 to Roadblock 2016. They had arguably been the most over act, and made the tag team division exciting. Stables tend to lose their luster, however, which is what gradually happened after their babyface turn.

Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have also taken steps down the tag team division, falling behind Cesaro and Sheamus, the Club, the Revival, the Hardy Boyz and Enzo Amore and Big Cass. That actually justifies a move to SmackDown Live for the Unicorn-Horned Trio, especially since that show’s tag team crop is as thin as the ropes, but as a straight-up move for Styles? They just don’t have the impact they once did.

The wild card of a potential Styles for New Day deal is Shinsuke Nakamura, who debuted on the post-WrestleMania episode of McMahon and Daniel Bryan’s show. Nakamura proved to be a top act in NXT and helped sell out buildings across the country and overseas, but will WWE feel he can take the spot of the former WWE Champion? It’s a risky and bold move to make, similar to the monumental push Balor received in his first 30 days on Raw. This would be done with Cena leaving for an indefinite amount of time, too, putting even more pressure on Nakamura’s back.

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If WWE is going to move Styles to SmackDown, it will be tough to find fair compensation in a one-for-one deal. The only person that can replace him is Reigns, who is likely staying put. That may mean doom and gloom for SmackDown, unless someone rises to the challenge to snatch up his spot.