Welcome to the WrestleMania stock report, our yearly series where we look back at all the players from last year’s WrestleMania card and see how they fared over the year. You can take a look at where people were at this time last year in last year’s final report here.
WrestleMania is the perfect time to see how the stock of a wrestler has moved over 365 days. It serves as a “season finale” to the year of WWE. This is where they pay off their big storylines and where they want to showcase their best. Where someone lands on the Mania card says a lot about what their stock is currently. Given there are so many people vying for spots on the biggest show of the year, it’s a good look at how WWE views certain talent.
Today we tackle the earlier matches on the card, including one Kickoff match (the cruiserweight title) and the opening bouts.
Cedric Alexander def. Mustafa Ali to win the Cruiserweight title
Cedric Alexander won his first ever cruiserweight championship at WrestleMania and held it all the way until October when he lost it to Buddy Murphy (who is still champion).
He’s still active on 205 Live but likely won’t be at WrestleMania this year.
Best Moment: Winning the first ever cruiserweight championship
Worst Moment: Losing the belt, which is the ticket to some main roster exposure
Stock: Dropped – He’s still pretty significant on 205, but when it comes to the main roster, only the champs get to share the stage with Raw and SmackDown.
Ali worked on 205 but then was moved to SmackDown Live last December where he had a small feud with WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. He even pinned the champ in a tag match.
He was unfortunately injured prior to Elimination Chamber, losing his spot in the Chamber match for the WWE title, which went to Kofi Kingston. (This was the catalyst for Kofi’s WrestleMania journey, as one man’s misfortunes is another’s opportunity.) Even though he missed the Chamber match, Ali was added to the WWE title match at Fastlane. The downside to that is the entire crowd wanted Kofi, who wasn’t in the match, so Ali was booed.
He is in the Andre Battle Royal this year, but the future looks bright for him.
Best Moment: Pinning the WWE champion
Worst Moment: Getting hurt, costing him his spot in the Elimination Chamber
Stock: Increased – Being moved from 205 Live to SmackDown is a big step up
While Drake isn’t an active wrestling talent, I figured I’d touch upon his arc because it’s interesting.
This entire year he has remained the GM of 205 Live. However, he also was on Raw for a bit as the manager for AOP. (For some reason, they felt they were too good for Paul Ellering but Drake Maverick is fine?)
He helped them win the tag team championships, which is pretty impressive. Although when they faced the Bar at Survivor Series, he was so scared of Big Show he straight up pissed himself. That was a thing that actually happened.
Later on, he urinated on Bobby Roode’s robe, helping his boys retain the titles. They eventually lost the titles in a three on two handicap match, and it was Drake who took the pin.
Akam later sustained an injury and Drake hasn’t been on TV outside his normal 205 Live duties.
Best Moment: Leading AOP to the tag championships
Worst Moment: Pissing himself. 100%.
Stock: The same – Given he’s back doing the same thing, though his time on Raw was a bump overall. Outside pissing himself. Let’s not forget that happened.
Seth Rollins def. Miz (c) and Finn Bálor to win the Intercontinental championship
Rollins left WrestleMania with the Intercontinental championship. He soon instituted an IC belt open challenge, and that ruled because he’s an excellent wrestler.
Unfortunately, defending the title all the time against unknown opponents cost him when he lost the title to the Showoff Dolph Ziggler, who had Drew McIntyre as his heavy.
Seth couldn’t beat Dolph with Drew lurking so he recruited his Shield mate Dean Ambrose to have his back. With the numbers equalized, Rollins won his title back.
Dean’s return led to a full Shield reunion that initially served to help then champion Roman Reigns survive a Braun Strowman attempted Money in the Bank cash-in. The reunion wasn’t without issues, however, as Dean Ambrose became more and more erratic.
That came to a head when Roman had to abruptly leave because his leukemia had returned. That same night, moments after defeating Ziggler and McIntyre for the tag team titles, Dean turned on Rollins.
This ignited an underwhelming Intercontinental title feud, where Dean defeated Seth for the title. (They also lost the tag titles to the Authors of Pain. You know, the two big dudes managed by the guy who pees himself?)
Rollins went on to turn things around with a Royal Rumble win, which he used to challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. When Roman returned, he talked Seth into another Shield reunion, but after that, Seth returned his focus to Brock.
Best Moment: Winning the Royal Rumble
Worst Moment: Having to endure Pittsburgh counting down during his main event Intercontinental title Iron Man match
Stock: Increase – It’s a main title match. That’s a big deal.
Miz was the man who lost his title in this match.
At the Shake-Up, he was returned to SmackDown at request of Daniel Bryan, who had wanted a piece of the A-Lister forever. They eventually had their feud, which was OK, but didn’t live up to what it could be.
Miz won with brass knuckles (supplied to him by Maryse) at SummerSlam. Then Brie Bella teamed with Bryan to face Miz and Maryse, a match the heels would also win. He eventually lost to Bryan at the Super Show-Down in very quick fashion. It was quite humiliating.
Next for the A-Lister was competing in the Best in the World tournament at Crown Jewel. He made it to the finals but then tweaked his knee. Shane McMahon took his place and won it.
This was the catalyst for a six month arch where Miz convinced Shane to team with him. They won the tag team titles, lost them, and then Shane turned on Miz.
Throughout that time, Miz transitioned from a heel to a babyface, and he’ll face Shane one on one at WrestleMania.
Best Moment: Getting his dad to finally love him
Worst Moment: Losing to Daniel Bryan in under three minutes
Stock: Increased – A one on one match with Shane McMahon is a better spot than a triple threat Intercontinental title match. Not that the latter was necessarily a bad spot.
Finn is always featured in some way, but much of his year is rather forgettable.
He had a feud with Baron Corbin in the summer that consisted of a couple of victories, including one as the Demon at SummerSlam. There were some forgettable small feuds with Jinder Mahal, Bobby Lashley (not to be confused with his current Lashley feud), and Drew McIntyre.
This big moment was when he earned the chance to face Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble for the Universal Championship match. (This was actually his second Universal title match this year, as Roman Reigns granted him one after the Big Dog won the title.) Finn was unsuccessful but gave Brock a run for his money.
He’s now feuding with Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush over the IC belt. He already defeated them both for the belt once but then lost it back to Lashley. He’ll challenge Lashley at WrestleMania for that title as the Demon.
Best Moment: His match with Brock
Worst Moment: Hanging out in a literal dog house due to Baron Corbin
Stock: Slight dip – He’s in a match for the same belt against a more lackluster opponent
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka to retain the SmackDown Women’s championship
It’s always a banner year for the Queen.
She ended the undefeated streak of Asuka at WrestleMania, but unfortunately would lose her title a couple nights later to Carmella, who cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase (after an IIconics attack). The Queen failed to win the title back in the rematch.
She took some time off to address a busted implant (which became part of the Becky Lynch/Charlotte twitter war later). When Flair came back, she was quickly added into the SummerSlam Women’s title match, which was originally just between Becky and Carmella.
Flair won the title, which precipitated the big Becky Lynch heel turn that upended the division. They entered a big feud where Becky finally won the title. The feud culminated in an epic Last Woman Standing match at Evolution.
Charlotte took Becky’s spot at Survivor Series against Ronda Rousey when Becky was injured and could not compete. This served as her heel turn when she attacked Ronda with a kendo stick.
She failed to win the title at TLC (due to interference from Rousey) and was eliminated last in the Royal Rumble (by Lynch). That all said, she was still added to the WrestleMania main event Raw Women’s title match by Vince McMahon.
Just last week, she won the SmackDown Women’s championship by defeating Asuka in an impromptu title match. She’ll compete in the main event in a Winner Take All triple threat match against Ronda and Lynch.
Best Moment: Her heel turn against Rousey
Worst Moment: Losing the title to Carmella
Stock: Increased – She’s always presented very well, but she’s in the main event this year
This was a high profile match for the Empress, which she lost by submission.
Her next big story was a title challenge against then Women’s champion Carmella. Asuka lost the first match because she had to stare at a person (James Ellsworth) dressed in her garb for an unreasonable amount of time, completely forgetting there was a title match. James Ellsworth cost Asuka her second opportunity for the title, despite being suspended from a shark cage, which is usually a flawless way of neutralizing someone.
The Empress spent some time with Naomi teaming against the IIconics, but her next big moment was finally winning the SmackDown Women’s title in a TLC match against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch (with an assist from Ronda Rousey).
Asuka retained her title at the Royal Rumble by submitting the red hot Becky Lynch in a rather baffling finish. The argument at the time was the finish was supposed to make Asuka look strong. For what? You got me. She was rarely on TV, taking a backseat to the other Women’s title match. She sometimes served as a McGuffin for the Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville story. (She couldn’t even beat either of them clean, needing a screw up from the other to help her win.)
Then out of nowhere, she lost the SmackDown Women’s title to Charlotte Flair just weeks before WrestleMania. Looks like it’s the battle royal for her.
Best Moment: Winning the SmackDown Women’s championship at TLC
Worst Moment: Losing it with no build or reason just weeks prior to WrestleMania
Stock: Down – To be honest, it’d be down even if she had a SmackDown title match at Mania given her match felt marquee last year. But the fact that she’s now in a rando battle royal makes it a steeper drop.
Jinder Mahal def. Bobby Roode, Rusev, & Randy Orton (c) to win the United States Championship
Prior to WrestleMania last year, Jinder Mahal was a WWE champion. It was an experiment that in essence failed, and he was moved down the card to the United States title scene.
He won the title, but wouldn’t hold it long. He lost it to Jeffrey Nero Hardy a week later during the Shake-Up.
His big feud was with Roman Reigns, which he lost. (Obvs.)
Outside that, his Mixed Match Challenging pairing with Alicia Fox was the most notable thing he’s done this year. He has no direction going into this Sunday so he’ll be in the battle royal. Hopefully he won’t be eliminated by Michael Che, but he’s been eliminated due to celebs before.
Best Moment: Winning the United States title
Worst Moment: Not knowing when not to interrupt a celebration.
A quick reminder about this United States title feud – it was based on that awful top ten list. That’s just to illustrate how unimportant this match really was.
But Randy Orton is immune to that type of thing and most of his feuds are featured.
He underwent a needed heel turn this year (Orton is always better as a heel) and feuded with Jeff Hardy for a few months. (If you forgot, I’m going to remind you that this was when Orton continually ripped at Jeff’s piercing hole in his ear.)
The Viper then fought another fan favorite in Rey Mysterio, a feud which he lost.
He’s had a slew of very good RKOs, such as this one.
He’ll be going on one on with AJ Styles at WrestleMania.
Best Moment: Turning heel
Worst Moment: Taking the final loss to Kofi in the gauntlet match
Stock: Up – Randy always had a good stock, but his match this year is far more important than his one last year.
Bobby Roode moved to Raw this year and spent most of the time teaming with Chad Gable.
It always felt like he’d turn on Chad and they’d feud, but that never happened. (And somehow Bobby Roode is STILL not a heel! I mean, c’mon!)
They defeated AOP to win the Raw tag titles and eventually lost them to everyone’s favorite lovable losers, the Revival. They’re still in the Raw tag team scene, but in the battle royal this year.
Best Moment: Winning the Raw tag team championships
Worst Moment: Drake Maverick pissing on his robe
Stock: Down – Not that it was super high last year, but he has no ‘Mania program this year
Rusev was pinned during this match at WrestleMania, which he was only added to last minute.
He was booked in a casket match against Undertaker at the Greatest Royal Rumble, then removed from it, and then put back in. He lost that match, but at least he got to go one on one with da Undertaker.
The Bulgarian Brute earned the right to face AJ Styles for the WWE championship at Extreme Rules. It was never a match he was going to win (and didn’t even go on last) but it was a good showing nonetheless.
Aiden English’s attempts to help in that bout actually cost Rusev, who was pretty much working babyface by this point. This started the very slow Rusev Day break up. So slow that they earned a tag title shot against the New Day at Hell in a Cell months later, a match that they’d lose.
Eventually, English attacked Rusev, and we’d get that full, very bad break up. This included Aiden’s video from Milwaukee that implied that he and Lana slept together even though that wasn’t the case at all.
Rusev won the US title from Nakamura in December but soon lost it back. When Nak lost it to Truth and then Rusev failed to win it from Truth, Rusev turned heel again for some reason and teamed up with Nakamura. That means Rusev is once again a heel, despite doing very well as a babyface, and now part of a tag team that’s way less popular than the last one.
Basically they broke up Rusev Day with no plan for either man. Sounds very WWE.
Rusev and Nakamura were added to a tag team title match for the SmackDown titles last minute for this year’s show.
Best Moment: Getting a one on one WWE championship match
Worst Moment: Losing to R-Truth after R-Truth just defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
Stock: Down – Rusev seemed to be in a good place last year with the very popular Rusev Day act. Now he’s in a thrown together tag team.
We’ll leave it there for today and pick up tomorrow, which will cover one of the biggest jumps of the year. (You can probably guess who that is.)
There are two things that stuck out to me from this batch that I’ll touch on.
One is how Asuka didn’t fare well on the main roster, while at the same time, did better than most. She was in a great position coming into last year’s WrestleMania (she was undefeated at the time). She had a title feud in late spring. She won the title in December and held it until just a couple weeks ago. That’s actually a pretty good year! But losing that title so suddenly and getting dropped into that battle royal is akin to running slightly downhill and then suddenly falling off a cliff.
The other part that stuck out is how baffling the Rusev Day breakup was. Both men are doing far worse this year after the break up. Aiden is a commentator on 205 Live. At least he was important enough for them to find something for him, which is more than some can say, but it’s surely a step down. Meanwhile, Rusev was so popular last year that the rumor was he was added to the US title match because he was moving so much merch. Why end that?
I can understand if their plan was to drop Aiden for a big Rusev babyface push. But despite crowds loving him, they inexplicably turned Rusev heel and teamed him with Nakamura, a tag team much less popular than Rusev Day.
Basically, they broke up a super hot act in Rusev Day with no plans for either man afterward. It’s so frustrating.
You can catch up on the rest of this series below:
Part I: The Andre (part 1)
Part II: The Andre (part 2)
Part III: The Women’s Battle Royal