When someone says ‘SmackDown Six’, you may wonder what they mean if you are of the younger generation and don’t watch the WWE Network, however, they were a pivotal part of SmackDown history and it’s success and popularity during the early 2000s, laying the framework for the years to come.
The initial idea was that of Paul Heyman, who had just taken control of SmackDown after the first ever Brand Split, with Vince running Raw’s path. When deciding who would get who, Heyman was scoffed at for saying he wanted to send Chris Jericho to Raw in exchange for Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, which surprised those in the meeting who saw Jericho as a much bigger draw and therefore the more worthwhile choice.
Heyman is a builder though, and he was shopping for his materials to make SmackDown the best house he possibly could.
Alongside Eddie and Chris, Heyman had Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Kurt Angle, with Edge being chosen as the final member of the powerhouse team leading the brand to rating victories. Edge being famous in his own right off of the TLC matches he had taken part in, Heyman could see a star in there ready to burn bright. Eddie along with Chavo and Rey would be used to appeal to the ever-growing Latino audience at the time, they also needed people to believably face Lesnar and others.
This core six feuded with each other, tagged and won gold with each other, cried and hugged each other and you can thank them for SmackDown being what it is today, I honestly believe they are an integral part of its success.
Now, while the management isn’t quite the ingenious brain of Paul Heyman, and the ratings are a thing of contention on a regular basis with fans, I think SmackDown needs to build its brand around a certain set of superstars. I’m going to suggest my main Six plus an additional four whom I’m undecided on due to them maybe being great in one way but not as good as the other choices in another area of expertise.
My first choice is none other than the WWE Champion himself, The Phenomenal AJ Styles. He is a master in the ring and has years of experience to offer, plus a similar hungry attitude to the original six, he can be vicious when he needs to but is a great babyface for the most part. There are so many things still to be done with AJ in WWE, with SmackDown being claimed as the ‘House that AJ Styles built’ he is the perfect first choice for my base team. We have seen his skills and veteran reflexes and selling in the ring and he is easily able to carry the brand as the face that runs the place. I want to see him have long feuds with all of the other core members with him playing both face and heel.
Shinsuke might have forgotten all of his English lately, but since coming over to SmackDown we have got to see a more brutal side of him, turning heel after his loss to AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34. The Artist Formerly Known As The King Of StrongStyle is no stranger to the main event scene, having been in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom multiple times, even defeating Kirt Angle for his IGF version of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to unify it with his own New Japan Pro Wrestling version. He’s won a Royal Rumble and also been in the main event of ‘Mania, I can’t think of a better person to help build a foundation around, his ruthless style when he’s heel, how likable he is as a face, he’s a good investment for a brand.
Rusev Day is hugely over right now, meaning we all want to see more Rusev, however, WWE realizing this has led to us getting deprived of one of our favorite parts of the Blue Brand each week. He is more than capable in the ring and has a great amount of charisma and character that could really be drawn upon and utilized when building a strong team. I would pair him with Almas eventually but his talent as a singles star would put him in a good starting position against any of the other people listed here. If we weren’t dealing with current bookings I would give him good odds at beating this list hands down, we just need to have him used to the fullest, I think he is the dark horse in this whole face of the company conversation…
One man who is possibly the most dangerous of my choices is the Samoan Submission Machine Samoa Joe. We have seen him face many of the other choices before, having excellent matches with all. Joe is another contender for the dark horse face of the company, with him showing the skills to be at the top of his whole time wrestling, his ‘Destroyer’ persona and no-nonsense approach to ending matches, not to mention his sneaky attacks before matches, he is a true threat just like Rusev, there just needs to be a major storyline for him to be a part of, best would be if it is based simply off of trying to outdo his opponent and vice versa, which shouldn’t be an issue with the roster we have.
Daniel Bryan hasn’t been up to too much since returning at WrestleMania this year following his concussion-related retirement and subsequent role as SmackDown General Manager. He’s had odd encounters with Samoa Joe, AJ and Shinsuke but not quite the match we want or need to see, imagine Bryan and Styles tagging up or him and Joe. Imagine a submission based feud with these men, reminiscent of the early 2000s matches. There are the United States and WWE Championships plus SmackDown Tag Tiles to play around with, yet I would go as far as to say that none of my choices need gold to have a main event match up.
The Miz has been on fire this past year and longer, with his recent Intercontinental Championship, run being a highlight of proceedings lately, many fans seeing the hard work being put in and appreciating it. For years now he has constantly grinder to stay in a relevant position and be successful, growing immensely since his debut. Now the Miz will seek the WWE Championship and have Daniel Bryan to deal with on his way, I think his SmackDown Six journey has already begun.
I honestly believe that these choices will be the proverbial cornerstones for SmackDown moving forward, and with all of them intertwined in each others business, we can expect great matches from any of them any time of the week.
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Andrade has not long been on the main roster but already we are anticipating how big he can be, he ticks all of the boxes in what a star should be and I think is easily one of the best drafts they obtained during the shake-up. His attitude and in-ring skills will carry him with anyone he faces, I wasn’t as keen when he first joined NXT but I like how cutthroat he is, reminding me of some of the characters we would have got back in the days of the SD6. I could see him having epic feuds with all of these other men and would make a mean partner for Rusev, they would be ruthless and would really impress against Sheamus and Cesaro for instance.
Sheamus & Cesaro
Apart from the fact that we have a grizzled and well-oiled partnership here that would be a threat to any other pairing on this list, these two have been known to have epic battles with one another. A great addition to the roster after the recent Superstar Shake Up, The Bar would be valuable assets in a rating war if things were being run in a more character progress based system, both men are sure to be eventual Hall of Famers and Cesar a future World Champion, Sheamus hopefully a World Champion once more.
Jeff is a veteran of the game and would be a great addition to the team, with his high flying style and fast-paced action allowing him to keep up with everyone else despite the amount of years experience he has over some of them. Jeff can tag up with people, he can go it alone, he can hold the top of the card or just be involved in the night and still manages to always put on a great show every time, when his music hits there is a spike in the crowd reaction and he is anticipated, it’s a rare thing nowadays, so I would be privileged to have him as a core member of the roster, week in, week out for the foreseeable future.
No matter which way you slice it, the end result is the same, SmackDown Live is in safe hands when it comes to the talent, now we just need to work on the creative side of things, anyone got Paul Heyman’s number?