Welcome to part 4 of the yearly WWE Stock Report, looking at status of the WWE competitors over the last season. While WWE doesn't have any break, since WrestleMania is the conclusion of many of the major angles during the year, it acts as the season finale. So we'll take a look at everybody who was active this time last year and see how they fared over this last season.
We've finally gotten through the pre-show, which had most of the male roster on it. Today, we get into the early WrestleMania 31 matches. I've decided to evaluate Seth Rollins in the main event and not as part of his match with Randy Orton.
Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Title
Bad News Barrett
This time last year, Barrett was still going by "Bad News" and he was intercontinental champion. Not that he looked strong doing so since his title kept being stolen from him a month coming into this match.
He would lose this match and because of Bryan’s injury, did not get a one on one rematch for his title. (He did get to participated in the Elimination Chamber match for it, but c’mon now.) Barrett won the King of the Ring tournament, but that did not do him any favors. Perhaps it was the rumor of Vince’s dislike of tournaments or perhaps it was going to happen no matter what, but he ended up in a comedy feud with R –Truth (AKA King What’s up?) for the crown. He won the feud, but that didn’t do him any favors either.
He then got involved in the Stardust/Stephen Amell feud and was briefly the Cosmic King. However, he took the pin in their SummerSlam match and was attacked by Stardust the follow Raw, writing him off to tape a movie.
He returned late fall and soon teamed with Sheamus. This team formed into the League of Nations team that he is part of now. This year he is part of the League of Nations vs. New Day Match at Mania. It will probably be is last WrestleMania since word is he has given his noticed for this summer.
Best Moment: Winning the King of the Ring
Worst Moment: The comedy feud that immediately followed
Coming out of the intercontinental ladder match, Truth’s next moment of importance was his feud with Bad News/King Barrett for the King of the Ring crown, which he lost. He then spent the rest of the year thinking he was in matches he was not.
Most recently, he and Goldust have been wooing each other to become a tag team, which hasn’t happened yet. He’ll be back in the Andre this year. Even though he went from a title match to the Andre this year, it isn’t much of a change from him. He was never a real contender to win the IC Title last year and he’s featured on TV just as much now.
Status: About the same
Best Moment: Thinking he was in the WWE Title tournament
Worst Moment: His fear of spiders
Stardust’s big angle this season, and really the only one he had all year, was his summertime feud with celebrity Stephen Amell. A couple of altercations with Amell in the crowd lead to their SummerSlam tag match. Stardust teamed with Wade Barrett as Amell teamed with Neville. While Stardust lost the feud, he was not pinned.
The only other thing of note was the brief run of the Cosmic Wasteland, when Stardust teamed with the Ascension. The group was a promising group giving the cartoonish tag team fit with Stardust well. They had a feud that got 50/50 booked against the team of the Lucha Dragons and Neville before disappearing. Stardust also had a very quick mini-feud with Titus O’Neil based on Titus stumbling upon his cosmic lair.
Stardust is back in the Intercontinental Title ladder match this year, but he doesn’t feel as important as he did this time last year coming off a Rhodes family feud.
Best Moment: Feuding with Stephen Amell
Worst Moment: Not locking the door to his Cosmic Lair
Luke Harper was a single competitor this time last year, and unlike his Wyatt Family brother Erick Rowan, it suited him better.
He and Dean Ambrose had a fun feud that stemmed from the WrestleMania match and lead to a two part street fight at Extreme Rules. After that, he reunited with Erick Rowan as the Reapers tag team, even teasing a feud with the Dudleys who hadn’t returned yet, but Rowan’s injury halted that.
Luke Harper then reunited with Bray Wyatt, and he and Bray lost to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. The following night, they would add Braun Strowman to the team and would go on to win a 3 on 3 tag match at Night of Champions. Unfortunately, at Survivor Series, the Wyatt Family lost to Kane and Undertaker, with Harper taking the pin. The would win a feud with the ECW Originals, but in a Wyatt family low point, they would lose to Ryback, Kane, and Big Show at Fast Lane, with Harper taking the pin again.
Luke Harper did get a little offense in at Road Block against Brock Lesnar, but it was short and he was soon beaten senseless by Brock.
Harper would have likely been in the Andre this year, which seems beneath him as a performer, if he did not get injured a couple weeks ago. His status will go down as injured, but it would have been dropped if he were healthy.
Best Moment: His street fight with Dean Ambrose
Worst Moment: That loss at Fast Lane, in a match where he was the one getting pinned despite the fact Erick Rowan was also in the match
Coming into Mania last year, Ziggler was coming down from a really hot run as Intercontinental Champion around Survivor Series. Early in this season, Dolph Ziggler had a "Kiss Me Arse" feud with Sheamus and he did have his face in Sheamus' arse during it. His next full story was the love square with Lana, Rusev, & Summer Rae, in which he came off as really unlikeable, despite being the face. That ended with him getting a win over Rusev at Night of Champions before the angle was completely dropped due to the leak of the real life engagement of Lana and Rusev.
Since then, Ziggler has had no real direction. He feuded with Tyler Breeze and ended up getting the better of Prince Pretty. He had a crap ton of matches against Kevin Owens which he won some non-title matches but came up short in the actual IC title match. Most recently, he’s briefly reprised the Authority angle he had from 2014 and lost to Triple H on Raw a few weeks back.
Last week, it was announced that Dolph was back in the intercontinental ladder match once again this year. Given the fact he’s always in some storyline and the position on the WrestleMania card has not changed, I would say Dolph’s status is a very subtle dip. It’s more because coming into last year, he was still only months removed from his hot 2014 run and felt hotter because of it.
Stock: Mild dip
Best Moment: Getting a win over Rusev at Night of Champions
Worst Moment: Losing a match to Heath Slater
Unfortunately, this was the last big match of Daniel Bryan’s career. He had a match against Dolph Ziggler for the IC title the following night and had a match with Sheamus on SmackDown. His final match was a tag match in the UK before he had to relinquish the title due to injury.
On February 8, 2016 he announced his retirement from in ring competition due to long term effects of concussions.
Stock: Retired due to injury
Best Moment: Winning the Intercontinental Title, making him a modern day Grand Slam winner
Worst Moment: Having to retire
What a year for Dean Ambrose. Despite still never winning a WWE championship, even with five chances to do so this year, the man has had some year.
He ended last season in the multi-man Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania. He followed that up with a short but fun feud with Luke Harper, then was part of a four way title match at Payback. (the one that saw that awesome Shield Triple Powerbomb). He looked to actually win the title against Seth Rollins at Elimination Chamber, but he ended up getting dusty finished so stole the title instead. He lost the rematch to Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank, and then delivered a superb promo after the match.
The next we saw of him, he was playing the role of Roman’s buddy in Roman’s feud with Bray Wyatt. However, when Seth Rollins had to vacate his title, he ended up having to face his brother Roman for the WWE title in the finals of the tournament at Survivor Series. He lost.
At TLC he defeated Kevin Owens to become Intercontinental champion, something the eluded him this time last year. He held it for over a month until he lost it on a fatal 5-way on Raw back to KO. Last month at Fast Lane, the Lunatic Fringe was pinned by Roman Reigns in a triple treat #1 contenders match, which also contained Brock Lesnar. During the build of that match and even after, you could argue that he was getting more time and more attention than the man who won that match and will headline WrestleMania this year. A few weeks ago he lost a one on one title match to Triple H at Road Block. Now he will face Brock Lesnar one on one in a street fight at WrestleMania
Going from the "get a bunch of people on the card" match last year to a match with Brock Lesnar is a huge increase in WWE status. Outside house shows, Lesnar doesn’t feud with just anyone. In his time since he returned, he’s only feuded with John Cena, CM Punk, Big Show, Undertaker, and Seth Rollins (while he was WWE champion). Putting Dean on that list says a lot about where he is in the company.
Stock: Major increase
Best Moment: Being in five main event PPV matches for the WWE title.
Worst Moment: Failing to win the title in each one
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Randy beat Seth Rollins at WrestleMania last year so when the Rollins ended the night as WWE Champion, it would make sense that Orton would get first dibs. He failed to capture the title at Extreme Rules and Payback. Then he would feud with Sheamus through the summer in a series of matches where he went 49-42-1.
He became involved in Dean Ambrose and Roman Reign’s feud with the Wyatt Family in September but a shoulder injury kept him out of action for the rest of the season.
Even without his injury, there were hints that Orton was phasing into a more part time status. He was not as prominent this season even when he was healthy than he was the year prior.
Best Moment: His rKo on Rollins at WrestleMania 31
Worst Moment: His feud with Sheamus (I am most definitely stretching the use of the word "moment" here.)
Alright, folks, that's it for today. Tomorrow we will look at the entire Divas division before coming back for the marquee/main event WrestleMania matches. Sound off below.
Look back at the Stock Report thus far: