WWE Draft, Brilliant Roster moves: R-Truth to SmackDown Live (2018)
This may be a little controversial and far from the obvious statement but I am honestly convinced, that R-Truth’s roster transition during the Superstar Shake-up 2018 is, still to this day, one of the most underrated in WWE’s recent history.
When it comes to discussing the most successful performers’ brand switches fans usually only talk about main-eventers or mid-carders moving to different stages and opening themselves up there in various new ways.
Considering how many low-card habitues’ roster moves were uninspired, random, or meaningless lately, this is understandable. However, nonetheless, to give an underappreciated Superstar in position of jobber a chance to finally seize his niche and to let an honoured veteran get his deserved place under the spotlight one more time - weren’t those some of Superstar Shake-ups’ purposes at first place?
Fortunately, such occasions did take place in WWE’s recent past. It is quite important to remember about them and I will gladly use this part of my "WWE Draft, Brilliant Roster moves" series of articles to show you, that R-Truth’s move to SmackDown Live in April 2018 was one of this company’s most effective, despite being so overlooked.
What preceded R-Truth’s roster transition
Not everyone remembers it but R-Truth was a part of RAW for almost two years before joining the Blue Brand. His tag team with Goldust formed way back in May 2016 met its end when the latter turned on Truth one year later.
The feud of former ‘Golden Truth’ teammates have produced some great backstage promo-videos on part of both of them, which sadly led to a quite weak conclusion of it with one disappointing match at the July 10 2017 episode of RAW that was won by Goldust. While having a surprising amount of promo potential for a low-card storyline at the beginning of it and even giving some temporary tweaks to the characters of former partners, their rivalry has become very forgettable because of its later undermined development.
Since that time, R-Truth had nothing significant programmed for him before he reportedly suffered an injury in October 2017, which led to surgery and his followed absence on TV for the next several months.
Being a single competitor or in a team, before the 2016 Draft or after it, Ron “R-Truth” Killings has since stayed in WWE in a jobber or a comedy relief positions at best for many years despite having considerable in-ring skills and exceptional charisma, which is unfortunate.
Move to SmackDown Live, aligning with Carmella
R-Truth returned to the ring at WrestleMania 34 as an 'Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal' participant. Ironically enough, he was eliminated then by Goldust and in less than two weeks was drafted to SmackDown. At first glance, this roster move seemed aimless. For the first couple of months, Truth was barely present on the television and pictured as nothing more than an just an unclever friend for Tye Dillinger. It was only the summer of 2018 when Truth’s brilliant comedy sense has started to show up again. The joke of him originally pursuing Carmella to earn himself a Championship opportunity, as surprising as it was, has revealed the great chemistry between those two. Their eventual alliance served great as a way to find former SmackDown Women’s Champion a suitable position on the card after losing her title and an interesting babyface turn to work with, as well as giving R-Truth his new, arguably most prominent role in his past several years.
Together they continued to be a decent comic relief for blue brand’s show for months and even went on to win the second Mixed Match Challenge tournament in December 2018 securing themselves No. 30 spots in this year’s respective Royal Rumble matches.
United States and 24/7 Championships programs
After R-Truth was deprived of his position in the 2019 Royal Rumble match due to Nia Jax’s attack on him, he was granted a Unites States Championship title-shot against Shinsuke Nakamura at the following episode of SmackDown Live, on which he capitalized to win this title for the second time in his career with a surprising roll-up victory. Starting from that same night, newly crowned U. S. Champion has been regularly putting up open challenges for his title a-la John Cena in 2015 before Truth lost it to Samoa Joe in a fatal 4-way match against Joe himself, Andrade and Rey Mysterio on the 5th of March edition of SmackDown Live. R-Truth failed to regain his championship at the Fastlane 2019 pay-per-view and stepped back to the sidelines of WWE roster for a couple of months.
When Mick Foley first introduced the newly devised 24/7 Championship on May 20, 2019’s edition of RAW, R-Truth joined the chaos surrounding the title since day one closing that show as its third holder.
He has since become the company’s most decorated 24/7 Champion sitting on 20 reigns and holding it for more than 71 days combined for the time of me writing this article. Truth was featured in 24/7 Title picture almost non-stop feuding over it with the likes of Drake Maverick and Elias. While some may say, that his presence in this ‘division’ was a bit excessive and redundant for the last couple of months, it is hard to argue, that his comedy and creative work in this role has demonstrated some of the funniest moments and some of the most inventive writing we saw in 2019.
What was so brilliant about it
As rarely as such things occur these days, R-Truth’s roster switch showed us almost a perfect example of an underutilized Superstar finding his role and place on the card after slightly reinventing his character and even collecting some championship gold along the way. Month after month, he became a much more important figure in WWE programming - the most prominent he was since the times of team ‘Awesome Truth’.
His tremendous work as the on-screen character even stimulated the company to provide such talents as Carmella and Drake Maverick with new appearances material to work with as well as TV appearances. Now it is essential for WWE not to oversaturate the 24/7 Championship picture with R-Truth's presence and maybe even to think about moving him further up the card eventually.