Make no mistake about it: with the sheer reach of Vince McMahon’s empire, he’s wholly accurate in referring to his family business as the WWE Universe. At any given moment, there are well over 100 active wrestlers working for the company, and that’s only the ones who regularly appear on TV. Throw in the touring brands, training center, NXT, and nameless jobbers they bring in for a quick match or two, and McMahon probably employs double that number of grapplers over the course of a year. With this many bodies battling out in the ring, it was basically a necessity that McMahon separate them into more manageable groups, a goal accomplished with the introduction of the brand split.
The current WWE brand split isn’t the first, and last time around there were as many pros as there were cons. Thus far it hasn’t been any different, with some wrestlers benefitting greatly from the schism between Raw and SmackDown, and others still lost in the flood even with the smaller ponds. Either way, true fans of pro wrestling should be able to tell us which wrestler is on which roster, so to test your knowledge of the subject. Take our quiz and try to determine what brand are these WWE superstars drafted to: Raw or SmackDown Live?
Love him or hate him, everyone knows how Vince McMahon feels about Roman Reigns, designating the man as the future of his company by any means necessary. Thus far, that has meant 4 WWE Championships for the Big Dog, one run each as United States and Tag Team Champion, plus a Royal Rumble victory and two WrestleMania headlining bouts. Regardless of how fans reacted to it all, this sort of success would be a major boon for either brand, as Reigns controversial status in the company would guarantee his show plenty of attention.
Heralded as “The Next Big Thing” during his debut, Brock Lesnar has more than lived up to the term, even going so far as to shatter all expectations by dominant both the WWE Universe and the legitimate MMA world of UFC. Now that Lesnar is back in the pro wrestling game for good, he’s easily the highest profile performer under Vince McMahon’s employ, making both Raw and SmackDown GMs beg for his talents—despite the rest of the roster’s fearful objections he may well destroy them all.
For 11 years (that WWE doesn’t like to talk about), the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles was the face of Total Nonstop Action and almost unquestionably the best pure athlete in that company. It took AJ all of one match in WWE before fans started saying the same thing about his talents in respect to his new surroundings, and winning the WWE Championship in under seven months only made those cries louder. On top of his natural skills in the ring, audiences everywhere love AJ in spite of his cocky personality, causing both Raw and SmackDown to value his presence.
Crazy like a fox, “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose has been the most popular member of The Shield since the infamous stable parted ways. Not only that, Ambrose has been one of the most beloved wrestlers in WWE overall, a status rewarded with one reign as WWE Champion thus far. The only thing Ambrose has going against him is his own unpredictable, somewhat self-destructive behavior, but it shouldn’t be enough for either Raw or SmackDown management not to fight for his talents.
As Vince McMahon’s daughter, Chief Brand Officer of WWE, and a minority owner of the company, one might expect “The Billion Dollar Princess” Stephanie McMahon gets to go wherever she damn well pleases. In contrast to that idea, it was Stephanie’s inability to get along with her brother Shane that caused the latest brand split to happen in the first place. Vince decided to give one brand to Daddy’s Little Girl and the other one to his returning prodigal son, letting the two use Raw and SmackDown to battle for brand supremacy.
Little over two years ago, Daniel Bryan was unquestionably the most popular wrestler in the world today. Sadly, his style in the ring contributed to some serious injuries that have since forced him out of active competition. As luck would have it, though, the WWE Universe has plenty of roles for people who can’t get in the ring, and Bryan found himself perfectly suited for one of them. The General Manager of his brand, Bryan knows exactly what it takes to make his viewers happy, but is he working for the fans of Raw or SmackDown?
Mixing the styles of Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson, then throwing in a little bit of WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki to adapt it to a wrestling ring, Shinsuke Nakamura has the unique capacity to entertain fans with his every move. Dancing his way to the ring, one would never expect Nakamura to be a vicious competitor called “The King of Strong Style,” yet that’s exactly the term used to describe the former NXT and IWGP Champion. In the mainstream at last, Nakamura wants to add WWE gold to his resume, be it on Raw or SmackDown.
In no time flat, Braun Strowman has gone from a third-string lackey of Bray Wyatt to one of the most dominant and destructive forces in WWE today. All it took was a few well timed attacks on other top superstars in the company, plus a thrown ambulance here or there to make it clear he was serious. Though Strowman has no gold to his name as of this quiz being written, he’s definitely primed to make his way up the ladder of success of whichever brand will have him.
An Apex Predator to some, bland and boring to others, one thing that everyone can agree on about Randy Orton is that Vince McMahon has always seen something special in the guy from the start. Far surpassing his father or grandfather in the ring so far as gold is concerned, Orton has won 13 World Championships, two Royal Rumbles, and a handful of minor titles along the way. It’s also not that important how anyone feels about Orton when he surprises them with an RKO Outta Nowhere, something no wrestler on Raw nor SmackDown is safe from.
In contrast to his youthful appearance, Finn Bálor is one of the most experienced men on the WWE roster. After dominating his native Ireland and the UK in his youth, Bálor travelled to New Japan where he was known as Prince Devitt. It was there he founded the wildly successful Bullet Club, though he would leave it all behind for a chance in NXT, another promotion where he quickly found himself a champion. All that remained was the WWE Universe, which he almost conquered immediately before injury cut him short.
Earlier in this quiz you should have learned about how Shane and Stephanie McMahon’s never ending sibling rivalry is the whole reason WWE is in a state requiring two rosters. Part of the schism relates to Shane’s desire to always please the fans, while Stephanie is more concerned with doing whatever is best for business. There are pros and cons to both strategies from a corporate perspective, but there are really no surprises most of the fans sided with Shane. That doesn’t necessarily mean his brand is more popular, though.
Surviving life as a caddy and a cheerleader, it seemed like Dolph Ziggler could overcome whatever terrible idea WWE asked of him. In the long run, Ziggler has been rewarded with incredible success under his current name, including two quick runs as World Heavyweight Champion, five longer reigns with the Intercontinental gold, and a few other minor belts on top of that. However, these victories are usually followed by something that shatters his momentum, leaving Ziggler lower on the totem pole than some feel he deserves.
Ostensibly acting as The New Day’s leader, Kofi Kingston is also the longest tenured WWE superstar of the bunch, not to mention the triumvirate’s most accomplished wrestler in the solo division. On top of some record setting runs as Tag Team Champion in and out of his current group, Kingston is a multiple time United States and Intercontinental Champion, who could easily become a top name on either Raw or SmackDown by breaking away from his friends. Alternatively, a brand could go after all of New Day’s contracts and keep their success going.
Working for WWE on and off since his father got him a job way back in 1990, Goldust is actually the longest tenured active wrestler in WWE today. Obviously, the man has had plenty of ups and downs inside the squared circle, and this long employment hasn’t been without a few breaks. Even so, the fact remains Goldust is a highly accomplished wrestler, with three reigns as Intercontinental Champion, a few big runs in the tag division with his brother Cody and friend Booker T. Notwithstanding his favorite color, Goldust is also a brilliantly manipulative mastermind in the ring.
Proving anything can happen in the WWE Universe and no superstar should ever be counted out, Jinder Mahal spent a solid five years as a total nobody before shocking the universe and becoming a World Champion. Granted, he had a little help from his friends in The Singh Brothers at his side, plus a dramatic physical transformation that resulted in a much more menacing appearance than ever before. Mahal’s work definitely paid off with his newfound place in the winner’s circle, but did it happen on Raw or SmackDown?
When Kevin Owens thought there was no one left in NXT to dare challenge him, along came Samoa Joe to make him regret the suggestion. The same thing has since happened in the WWE Universe, albeit in a matter of Seth Rollins thinking no one could question his power, not needing championships to make his point. In both cases, the message was simple: Samoa Joe had arrived, and the ideas of dominance and destruction were about to be rewritten in his name. Wrestlers on Joe’s brand would never rest again.
Mysterious, brooding, and seemingly never losing control, Bray Wyatt is arguably the most terrifying force in WWE today. While he doesn’t possess the sheer animal power of a Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman, Wyatt is more terrifying in his ability to get people to do whatever he tells them. With one of those more powerful wrestlers as his former lackey, it’s clear Wyatt can get just about anyone on his side, something he used to take him all the way to the WWE Championship. Could he do it again? That merely depends on whether he’s on Raw or SmackDown.
Somehow taking a nonsense phrase like “Charismatic Enigma” and appropriately using it to define himself, Jeff Hardy has a very unique place in the WWE Universe. Though never that great on the microphone, Hardy’s death-defying antics in the ring coupled with a bizarrely colorful personality have made him a massive star across several eras. This has remained true whether or not Jeff had brother Matt by his side (and regardless of Matt’s mental status). Now that the brothers are back in WWE, either brand would be weirder than they are to reject the Hardy’s talents.
Ruthlessly mean to even his best friends, Kevin Owens is a big bully in every sense of the expression. Of course, it’s for this reason he has plenty of fans across the globe, who feel he happens to be perfect at playing this role. Part of what makes Owen such a convincing jerk is that he always backs up his verbal punishment in the ring, wrestling incredible and innovative matches displaying an athleticism that one wouldn’t expect from a man his size. Those skills have made Owens a multiple time Intercontinental and United States Champion and the longest reigning Universal Champion.
Since making their debut in the WWE Universe as lackeys of AJ Styles, neither Karl Anderson nor Luke Gallows has done a whole lot to assert themselves in the company. Together or apart, both members of The Club have incredible skills in the ring, and could thus be valuable assets to either Raw or SmackDown if the GMs used their talents properly. Anderson in particular has untapped potential as a solo star, and the brand that figures this out first could be in for a treat.
Always hating on those he finds beneath him, Baron Corbin probably wouldn’t make many friends even if he didn’t call himself The Lone Wolf. Naturally, by doing so, he nonetheless made a statement that no help was necessarily in his climb up the WWE ladder. Proving his point, Corbin debuted in spectacular fashion by winning the WrestleMania 32 André The Giant Memorial Battle Royale. From there, he’s continued destroying anyone who dares stand in his path, posing a big threat for the entire WWE roster.
He’s The Miz, and over the past decade, he’s repeatedly attempted to get WWE audiences to agree with the assertion he’s awesome. Truth be told, if fans aren’t convinced by now, there’s not much left Miz could do to win them over. The man has already won the WWE Championship, seven Intercontinental Championships, plus a few Tag Team and United States belts just for fun. More than that, The Miz always makes himself available for whatever outside media WWE endeavors asks him to get involved in, something both Raw and SmackDown management would greatly appreciate.
More manipulative or conniving than his cohorts in The Shield, it took no time after their breakup for Seth Rollins to admit he architected the group’s destruction all along. As it turned out, Rollins was in it for himself from the very beginning, a strategy that paid off when he became the first former Shield member to win the WWE Championship. Rollins held on to that title for some time and only lost it to injury, and now that he’s healthy, both Raw and SmackDown see him as a major asset to their brand.
Aside from Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte Flair has got to be the highest profile wrestler’s daughter in WWE today. At this point, it isn’t just that her father was the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, as Charlotte has more than proved herself a highly talented athlete in her own right. Before the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships split, Charlotte was the one to bring her gender back to the modern era by getting rid of the Diva’s Championship for more fitting gold, which she has already held no less than four times.
Next to her bright red hair, the most striking thing about Becky Lynch’s career is that it almost never happened. Slightly under a decade before her WWE debut, Lynch suffered what she thought was a career ending injury on the independent scene and took a long sabbatical from the business. Once she spent some time in the WWE Performance Center, it was clear she had what it took to make a comeback, and it’s a good thing for female wrestlers everywhere that she did.
When Kurt Angle left WWE under confusing terms in late 2006, some fans speculated the Olympic Gold Medalist would never again appear in one of Vince McMahon’s wrestling rings. That all changed in 2017 when Angle was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, and mere nights later, he was reintroduced to the WWE Universe proper when named the new General Manager of his brand. Angle doesn’t wrestle anymore, at least not yet, but his influence is highly appreciated by his newfound employees and of course the fans who never gave up on him.
While there’s no question why Alexa Bliss would call herself a “Goddess,” it’s equally simple to understand why her opponents prefer the term “Five Feet of Fury.” Despite a relatively short stature, Bliss is one of the most vicious female competitors in wrestling today. More importantly, she possesses an incredibly expressive face, able to speak volumes with an appropriately aimed angry glare. Her mic skills aren’t that bad, either, making Little Miss Bliss a major player on whichever brand is lucky enough to have her.
Always viewing himself as more than he is, Heath Slater has proudly proclaimed to be a One Man Band for many years now. Sure, the only success he’s ever found in the WWE Universe has required a whole lot of help from his friends, but it’s not like his time in a 3 Man Band went any better. Slater is usually better off with just one person helping him out, and lately, that role has been filled by former ECW Champion Rhyno. Together, Slater and Rhyno became unexpectedly popular, causing both Raw and SmackDown to come calling.
Prior to signing with WWE, Apollo Crews was making waves across the independent wrestling scene under the name Uhaa Nation. What separated Uhaa from the average indy wrestler at this time was his size in comparison to the sort of moves he would do, looking much bigger and buffer than the average cruiserweight whose style he mimicked. Unfortunately, this flashy style hasn’t quite translated to success in the WWE Universe just yet, but both the Raw and SmackDown management surely realize Crews has plenty of untapped potential that could greatly benefit their brand.
Quite frankly, it would be pretty easy to write Xavier Woods off as the comic relief in New Day, and the fact he probably wouldn’t mind too much if anyone did is why he may never break out of the role. That said, beneath Woods’s comedian personality and lackey behavior is a supremely talented athlete who could easily take over either Raw or SmackDown if he so pleased. Woods has already dominated the tag team scene with his New Day buddies, setting records all over the place, and he might have what it takes to do the same on his own.
Considering she sees herself as The Boss, it’s likely that Sasha Banks would rather choose her own destination than get told to confine herself to either Raw or SmackDown. For the time being, her standing in wrestling isn’t quite grand enough to give her this freedom, though she has nonetheless become one of the most popular female wrestlers in the game today. Sasha’s flashy persona has been winning her fans since she debuted in NXT, and after backing it up with additional gold on the main roster, it’s impossible for fans to deny she’s a boss inside the ring, as promised.
Like plenty of others before him, Mojo Rawley made his way to a wrestling ring by route of an injury that derailed his previously promising football career. Taking his future theme song’s advice to always “Stay Hype, Bro,” Rawley wouldn’t let this stop him, nor would he get slowed down by four years of obscurity at the bottom of the NXT roster. Only when paired with his bro Zack Ryder could Rawley get much of a reaction, until he jumped to the main roster and surprisingly won the 2017 André The Giant Memorial Battle Royale, significantly upping his stock.
All it took was a never say die attitude in the face of certain doom, and James Ellsworth became the least likely star created by WWE in the year 2016. After getting his butt handed to him by Braun Strowman, Ellsworth persevered and somehow found himself in a series of WWE Championship matches, and although he never came away with the gold, fans heavily supported him in these endeavors. Unfortunately, a cocky attitude soon presented, and Ellsworth seemed a little less worthy of their cheers. Too bad Ellsworth’s brand was already stuck with him.
Ensuring fans always view him as the “realest guy in the room” has Enzo Amore running his mouth something near all the freaking time, but it’s already paid off for him big time. First off, Amore was signed by WWE despite possessing virtually no actual wrestling training, meaning his few years in NXT was all that prepared him for his run on the main roster. For a while, Amore had Big Cass at his side helping with the transition, though the duo has since split. Knowing Enzo, however, this will merely be another obstacle for him to talk about incessantly as he rises up the card.
Speaking of the muscle that backed up the Jersey loudmouth, Big Cass has even more potential than his erstwhile partner as they guy who got it all done in the ring while Enzo Amore went on his never ending spiels. Quite frankly, it’s hard to question why Cass would have eventually had enough, the real question being how he possibly put up with that nonsense for so long. Now that Cass is on his own, it should only be a matter of time before he climbs the ladder of success, and that’s whether he does so on Raw or SmackDown.
At least twice now, Luke Harper has run into a little bit of trouble adapting after breaking apart from the rest of his family. It happens to the best of us, and with a controlling influence like Bray Wyatt pulling all of the strings before his departure, there’s no big surprise Harper has been unsure how to stand on his own. If nothing else, he’s managed to briefly hold the Intercontinental Championship without any help, but any further escalation up the roster has thus far evaded him.
Representing all of 205 Live through his status as WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Neville is an appropriate face of the brand given his natural talents inside the ring. In a manner of speaking, the entire cruiserweight division could be seen as a gift given to Neville by his corporate overlords, finally giving in to the many fans who felt his unique style in the ring was going wasted with unsuitable opponents. Of course, Neville isn’t one to be pigeonholed, and as the best cruiserweight around, he now wants to prove size doesn’t matter by conquering his brand’s main roster.
Initially no more than a backup dancer for a Funkasaurus named Brodus Clay, over the past few years, Naomi has successfully rebranded herself as a bona fide star in her own right. Granted, the fact Clay was pretty much a bust in WWE means she had to or else face the consequences, but it’s nonetheless impressive how Naomi overcame what could have been a career killing gimmick to attain greatness. It was the roster split that helped her do it, with the brand she got drafted to giving Naomi a role she never before had.
Crushing all competition with the force of an army tanker, Rusev isn’t the type to wait around and let success come to him. The Bulgarian Brute sees opportunities and he takes them, no matter how many WWE fans get their feelings hurt in the process. In this regard, Rusev’s greatest accomplishments have been his two reigns as United States Champion, using that status to proclaim his homeland’s superiority to the one where he makes his living. With this sort of attitude, Raw and SmackDown management might hesitate to snatch Rusev up, but his skills in the ring give execs something to think about.
Ravishing in ways Rick Rude could only dream of, Lana has been turning heads since long before she entered the WWE Universe. By standing at her real life husband Rusev’s side, though, Lana wasn’t always attracting the sort of attention women with her looks are used to getting. Not that it has done anything to stand in the way of her love for Rusev, though an injury would eventually cause the two to get separated on screen. Now that she’s somewhat alone, Lana needs whatever help she can find, be it on Raw or SmackDown.
Woo woo, you know it. WWE may never recognize it, but there have long been countless fans in their audience dying for a little extra dose of Long Island Iced Z, a beverage only Zack Ryder can provide. While major success has thus far eluded him, Ryder has nonetheless had his day in the sun once or twice, reigning as United States Champion and Intercontinental Champion at various points. Even as he always slides down the card after losing his gold, Ryder remains optimistic and energetic, which is what fans like about him in the first place.
Based on his look and style, it might be fair to say Kalisto looks more like something out of the WCW cruiserweight division than what WWE is known for today. Of course, it would be more accurate to say he looks like a Mexican luchadore, which makes plenty of sense since that’s exactly what he was prior to signing with the McMahon family. For whatever reason, Kalisto hasn’t been doing much lately, but his past success in the Lucha Dragons plus a few runs as United States Champion make him a name both Raw and SmackDown should be interested in signing.
While it took about a decade to get things off the ground, once Mark Henry opened the Hall of Pain, he became an unstoppable force in the world of sports entertainment. Having made his reputation as the World’s Strongest Man known from day one, Henry was always a considerable threat, though it wasn’t until 2011 he broke through to the main event and won his first World Championship. Henry has remained high atop the card since then, and his advanced age is hardly enough to prevent Raw or SmackDown from wanting him around.
Huggers around the world have united behind the one wrestler who speaks for them in Bayley, and she’s responded by giving it their best effort to give it her all in the ring. Given Bayley’s tenacious spirit, this might be all it takes for her to become a true legend in the business, a status she’s already well on her way to as one of the grapplers to redefine what women could accomplish inside a wrestling ring while working for NXT.
Reigning as WWE Champion for more than five years cemented Bob Backlund as one of the all time greatest performers in company history. That said, his actions later in life have left plenty to desire to the old school fans Backlund developed across his career. Now a manager and “coach” to younger talent, Backlund still seems a little bit off his rocker mentally, yet that unpredictable mental status might prove integral to how his clients get their opportunities. Of course, for that same reason, neither the Raw nor SmackDown GMs probably want much to do with him.
One half of the most exciting team to come out of NXT thus far in American Alpha, Chad Gable is perhaps the highest potential WWE superstar on the roster today. Hearkening back to the beginnings of Kurt Angle’s legendary career, Gable is a former Olympic competitor who albeit not a medalist has used his amateur training to great success inside a WWE ring. With or without Jason Jordan at his side, Gable could easily make a huge impact on the Raw or SmackDown roster, so long as management gives him the chance to do so.
Far from generic, Sami Zayn is charismatic and exciting each time he enters the squared circle, ready to overcome whatever obstacle the WWE executives throw his way. Zayn wasted no time in asserting himself working for NXT, but since moving up to the main roster, he’s run into a bit of trouble keeping that momentum going. Repeat run ins with Braun Strowman and his old foe Kevin Owens have been preventing Zayn from reaching his full potential, yet with the brand split in action, there’s more than one way for him to get around this troubles and try again.
As the highest profile female member in one of wrestling’s most famous dynasties, Natalya Neidhart had a lot to live up to when she decided to become a pro wrestler. In addition to her father Jim Neidhart, she would also get compared to the entire extended Hart family, including her legendary uncle Bret and grandfather Stu. It might be borderline impossible for Natalya to meet the fame and success experienced by her predecessors, but that has hardly stopped her from trying. Nattie has one reign as Divas Champion to her name already, and is looking to add more gold to the resume wherever she can.
One look at Nia Jax is all it takes for a person to understand her unique place in the WWE Universe. Compared to the other females working for the company, Jax is a monster in every sense of the word, though not without losing certain feminine charms that make her plenty popular with portions of the male audiences. To the women inside the ring, however, Jax is a pure beast through and through, ready to destroy any gal unlucky enough to face her as an opponent.
The Big Show
Accurately heralded as the largest athlete in wrestling from the moment he arrived, The Big Show has used this status to easily become one of the most dominant performers in the business, as well. Show won the WCW Championship in his first ever match, and has since followed it up with another of the same, then another four World Champions after jumping to WWE. On top of that, Show has won absolutely every title the company has to offer, an envious status on either Raw or SmackDown.