Welcome to the final installment in this year’s 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.
We’ll finish with the last matches on the card. I am hesitant to refer to them as the “main events” because they’ll put important matches early on in the card as well. These four matches are not the four most important on the show, but it does contain the two men’s top titles and one of the women’s.
Nia Jax def. Alexa Bliss (c) to win the Raw Women’s championship
Nia won the title last year and defended it successfully against Bliss at Backlash. Her focus then turned to a title match against Ronda Rousey at the Money in the Bank PPV, but that was interrupted by Bliss, who had just won the briefcase. She hit Ronda with it, causing a DQ, attacked Nia, and then cashed in to win the title.
Nia would get her rematch against Bliss (they had three title matches in a pretty short time span) and fail to win.
Jax took some time off before returning. She eventually turned heel and aligned with Tamina. Her most infamous moment was when she legit busted Becky Lynch open and gave her a concussion, depriving us of the Ronda/Becky match for Survivor Series. (We are now getting it at WrestleMania. It’s not one on one, and it was much hotter at the time since they bungled the storytelling for the last three months. But if it weren’t for Nia busting Becky open, Lynch may not be in the main event this year.)
They leaned into this heat for Jax, dubbing her the “Face Breaker.” She’d get another title match against Ronda at TLC but was unsuccessful. (She and Ronda have very good chemistry together.)
Jax attacked R-Truth during his Royal Rumble entrance and took his spot, having a strong showing in the men’s Royal Rumble (after earlier competing in the women’s).
With new Women’s tag titles present, she and Tamina focused on the new belts. They failed to with them in the Elimination Chamber and at Fastlane. They’ll get yet another shot at WrestleMania in a fatal 4-way against the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, the IIconics, and the Divas of Doom.
Best Moment: Her Royal Rumble showing
Worst Moment: When she cut an anti-bullying promo and got booed
Stock: Slightly down - She’s not in a single’s championship match, but she’s still in the second most important women’s match on the card.
Bliss lost her title here, but don’t fret, Blissmarks, as she won a title not too long after.
She won the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed it in the same night during the Nia Jax/Ronda Rousey title match. She pinned Jax (the champion) and won the title.
This set up her SummerSlam match against Ronda Rousey, when Ronda would finally win the Raw Women’s championship. Bliss failed to win in her rematch.
Her year was plagued with injury rumors (and some real injuries).
When she wasn’t wrestling, she hosted the never smooth Moment of Bliss.
She’ll be the host of WrestleMania this year, which is a spot they give to talent too important to leave off the card but who they don’t have a spot for (or are injured).
Best Moment: Winning Money in the Bank and then cashing it in the same night
Worst Moment: Getting tossed around by a fired up Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam
Stock: Mild drop - Using the host position just to get her on the card shows she definitely is important to them. But she’s not in a championship match, which is a dip
AJ Styles def. Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE championship
Styles retained the title in New Orleans and continued feuding with Nakamura for a few months. He defended successfully against Rusev. He then had another extended title feud, this time with Samoa Joe.
In November he was set to face Brock Lesnar in a championship exhibition match at Survivor Series. But much like how he won the title, he lost it in an impromptu match against Daniel Bryan just prior to the pay-per-view (PPV).
He didn’t wrestle at Survivor Series, and it was the first PPV he missed in ages.
His Daniel Bryan feud continued, including a weird moment where Vince McMahon tried to bring out the aggression in AJ, and Styles struck the chairman in the face. The Phenomenal One was unable to win back the gold.
AJ will be working Randy Orton at WrestleMania.
Best Moment: Holding onto his title for a year
Worst Moment: Losing his title, which also ended his PPV appearance streak
Stock: Mild decrease - He’s still a featured superstar no matter what, but going from champ to not champ always comes with a small decline.
Nakamura failed to win the title at WrestleMania, turning heel in the process.
He was much better suited as a heel, but that didn’t help him win the title. (Nak did learn to love the nut shot like no other though.) He feuded with AJ for months but was never able to successfully win the WWE championship.
He had better luck with the United States championship, which he defeated Jeff Hardy for and held it for a good six months (outside of a hiccup against Rusev).
Nakamurica lost his title to R-Truth and then formed a ragtag heel team with Rusev, which is what he’s doing now. He and Rusev are in a fatal 4-way SmackDown tag team title match this year.
Best Moment: Turning heel - It didn’t lead to the best success, but he was so much better at it. Trolling Renee Young was the greatest.
Worst Moment: Losing the US title to R-Truth, which led to a random tag with Rusev
Stock: Big drop - He was in a “dream match” WWE title bout last year and is in a multi-team tag match this year.
Braun Strowman and Nicholas def. the Bar to win the Raw tag team championships
Looking at Braun’s trajectory, I’m forced to wonder if this is his role now.
After WrestleMania, a time that he was so against finding a tag partner that he chose a kid, he started teaming with anyone and everyone for random tag matches. He also had a feud with Kevin Owens that consisted of him beating up KO.
The Monster won the Money in the Bank briefcase, but like an idiot, cashed it in by announcing it in advance. He failed to win the title because Brock Lesnar interrupted the Hell in a Cell main event, resulting in a no contest.
The Monster transitioned back into a heel to fight the Shield alongside Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. He turned face again when Roman Reigns left due to his leukemia diagnosis.
With Roman’s Universal title vacated, Strowman faced Brock Lesnar for the belt but lost the match quickly at Crown Jewel. (Baron Corbin hit him with the title prior to the match, which did leave Strowman at a disadvantage.)
Braun finally got his revenge by beating Corbin at TLC, despite the fact he had his arm in a sling. (It was a no DQ match and everyone beat up Corbin for him.) Winning this match earned him a title shot against Lesnar again at the Royal Rumble. But continued issues with Corbin cost him that too.
On one Raw, Baron pissed off Strowman, and Strowman chased him to the back. The Lone Wolf hid in Vince McMahon’s limo, and Braun, not knowing it was Vince’s limo, destroyed it. (Knowing Braun, he may have destroyed it anyway.) Because of that, McMahon stripped the Monster Among Men of his earned title match.
Heading into WrestleMania, he’s feuding with (checks notes) Colin Jost and Michael Che from SNL? OK. He’ll be in the Andre battle royal this year.
Best Moment: Winning Money in the Bank
Worst Moment: It’s a tie between losing his Royal Rumble title match, cashing in his briefcase like a moron, and failing to defeat Brock yet again at Crown Jewel.
Stock: Down - He’s in a similar position this year at ‘Mania - little direction with no marquee match. However this last year of bad booking has weakened him.
Nicholas was a one and done champion, relinquishing his title the next night because of “school.”
Fame went to the young lad’s head and the middle schooler soon embraced the the rockstar lifestyle: parties through all hours of the night, women, drinks, and drugs. He was living fast and living dangerous.
At the peak of super stardom, it looked like he and Vince McMahon had a hand shake deal in place to come back for a marquee SummerSlam match. But at the last minute, Nicholas tried to hold up Vince for more money. They got into a huge blow up and the match never happened.
He started spiraling down and found himself in and out of prisons and rehabs. VH1 did a “Behind the Raw tag team champions” about him that was very powerful. He’s since cleaned up and does speaking engagements to at-risk kids and has a TED talk about the dangers of the rockstar lifestyle. There’s rumor he’s in talks with AEW for a comeback run.
Or none of that is true, and he’s still just doing his middle school thing. Either one.
Best Moment: Being a 10 year old who won the tag team championships at WrestleMania
Worst Moment: Having to relinquish the belt due to school
Stock: Dropped - One and done act right here
The Bar moved from Raw to SmackDown this year, but not before getting one more shot at the tag titles they lost to Braun Strowman and a child at WrestleMania. They were unsuccessful, losing the match to the Deleters of Worlds.
On SmackDown, they eventually won the tag titles from the New Day with the help of the Big Show, who (surprise!) turned heel. They lost them soon after he ended up (surprise!) turning again and punched Cesaro in the face backstage. Without the big man in their corner, they lost the titles.
They’ve been active in the SmackDown tag scene much of the year.
Best Moment: Big Show turning heel on their behalf
Worst Moment: Losing the tag team titles to a child
Stock: Slight dip - I think they’re pretty close to where they were last year, but less featured and let’s be real, losing your tag titles to a child is going to permanently lower your stock to some degree
Brock Lesnar def. Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship
I think most of us would have guessed that Brock wouldn’t even be at WrestleMania this year, but instead back in the UFC. But here we are, with the Beast in yet another Universal championship match.
He defeated Roman Reigns at WrestleMania and then again at the Greatest Royal Rumble. But third time was the charm for the Big Dog as he defeated Lesnar at SummerSlam.
That could have been it for Brock, but he returned at Hell in a Cell to interrupt a Cell match between Roman and Strowman for the title. This may have set up a triple threat or another Brock/Roman match, but then Roman had to vacate the title.
The plan for the vacant title was for Brock to face Braun Strowman at the Crown Jewel event. Brock won pretty handily.
His next match was against Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series in a championship exhibition. Brock won, but Bryan made it a close one. Finn Bálor did the same at the Royal Rumble.
Brock will go for the WrestleMania Shield trifecta this time when he faces Seth Rollins one on one for the title.
Best Moment: Winning the title back at Crown Jewel in pretty much a squash
Worst Moment: The one time he lost
Stock: Just a mild decrease - Only because his match with Roman last year felt like the top match but this year against Seth doesn’t have that feel. (And it’s definitely not the main event.)
It’s going to be tough to look at Roman’s year given the real life circumstances surrounding it.
He lost his bout at WrestleMania and then failed to claim the Universal title in a cage match at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Leaving the title scene (because Lesnar left for a while), he had feuds with Samoa Joe and Jinder Mahal, which he won. He lost a match to Bobby Lashley but then got that win back on his way to earning another Universal title match against Brock at SummerSlam.
Finally (finally) he won the Universal title.
To protect him from a Braun Strowman Money in the Bank cash-in, the Shield reformed. They went on a bit of a reunion tour, though it looked like Dean Ambrose was starting to splinter from the group.
Unfortunately, real life happened and Roman had to suddenly leave because his leukemia, which had been in remission, had returned.
Roman returned in February with the great news that he was back in remission. Free to wrestle again, he implored Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to reform the Shield for one last match, which they won.
A few weeks back, he was attacked by Drew McIntyre, who he will face one on one at WrestleMania.
I’ll be using more in-ring/story events for Best/Worst, though obviously both would be cancer related if we’re talking real life.
Best Moment: Finally vanquishing Lesnar to win the title
Worst Moment: Losing to Lesnar twice in a row at Mania and Greatest Royal Rumble, while crying conspiracy
Stock: Slightly down - Only because he returned when WrestleMania plans were fully in motion already. He’s still Roman and their centerpiece. We should fully expect him to be back up next year.
Alright let’s break this bad boy down.
Not including any NXT talent in the women’s battle royal and not including Nicholas, we looked at 84 people this year.
- 23 of those 84 (27%) had increased stocks. I had the number last year at 39%.
- The sharpest increase has to go to Becky Lynch and after her, Kofi Kingston. The Miz’s spot is rather improved as his Baron Corbin.
- 35 of those 84 (42%) had decreased stocks. Last year, I had 21%.
- Both Royal Rumble winners from 2018 did not fare well last year. Asuka’s drop was sudden at the end due to last minute changes, but there’s no debating that Shinsuke Nakamura just fell down the card throughout last year. Jinder Mahal has come back down to Earth from his rise last year (though he was already starting to come down at this time). Both Rusev Day members are rather worse off than they were last year.
- 21 of the 84 (25%) were unchanged. This is pretty close to the 18% from last year.
- Only four people are out injured, which is pretty good.
- More surprisingly, only one person is no longer with the company from last year’s WrestleMania card, and that’s Tye Dillinger, who asked for his release. (Big Cass has been released as well, but he was not brought back from injury until right after WrestleMania.)
So what does this mean?
Well, obviously, most of the stocks are subjective, especially those who only moved off course a little bit. No one is going to argue the Becky and Kofi’s stock is high or Nakamura’s is down. But you certainly can debate the small movements. I thought Finn Bálor dropped just a bit because of the caliber of the feud, but you could just as well argue that it should be slightly up because it’s a one on one match. So keep that in mind.
I found it surprising that the percentage of perceived drops, even subtle ones, was much higher than last year. You’d think with a similar card, they’d even out. But I think two things account for that.
The first thing that stands out is the large number of one on one matches this year, meaning it’s not exactly a similar card. I’m counting ten one on one matches this year. There were only six last year and one of those was the Undertaker/John Cena squash. So that’s fewer available spots outside the battle royals.
The other thing is there are thirteen people on this year’s card, not in a battle royal, who weren’t on the show at all last year. Lashley is in the Intercontinental title match. Rey Mysterio and Samoa Joe, who make up this year’s one on one US title match, weren’t on the show last year. Batista is getting a spot.
Putting those two things together, there are fewer spots available outside the battle royals and more people to fill them.
Looking back, I also find it interesting how many people don’t have any significant movement. It’s not easy to move out of the spot that wrestlers find themselves in, but it can be done.
Well, there you have it, folks. That’s our look back at the trajectory of everyone on last year’s WrestleMania card. Let us know who you think did the best and worst this year and who may move the most coming out of this year. And you can catch up on the rest of the series below.