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.
We’re going to start off with some miscellaneous (who was left off the card, hosts, and dudes named Ellsworth) and the kickoff matches, but not including the Andre.
Not on the Card
Samoa Joe was healthy last year but kept off of the card.
His biggest moments this year were this summer as part of the Universal title picture. He first won a Fatal 5-way at Extreme Rules to earn the right to face Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire (#RIPBalls). In that feud, he looked like a legit threat to Brock, despite eventually losing the match itself.
He impressed enough to stay in the title picture as part of a Fatal 4-way at SummerSlam. He didn’t win the match as Lesnar retained.
He missed some time with an injury before coming back last fall. He had a fun feud with Roman Reigns when Roman was IC champion before getting injured again.
Best Moment: The build to his Lesnar match
Worst Moment: His multiple injuries
I didn’t have a great spot to slot Ellsworth in. I was debating evaluating him when I looked at the women since he spent most of his time feuding with them, but he earned the elusive “Other” spot instead. Feels fitting.
Jimmy Dream was Carmella’s valet/tagalong/slave during his WWE time this year.
He helped her win the Money in the Bank briefcase, actually grabbing the case himself and dropping it to her. People were unhappy.
He tried to get involved in the second MITB match but Becky Lynch neutralized him.
James’ relationship with Carmella got weirder as time went on when she kissed him but then started walking him to the ring on a leash and making him drink out of a dog bowl. There was some kink there, man.
Ellsworth would lose to Becky Lynch in an intergender match. Then after a European tour of getting his ass kicked by the entire women’s division, he was released.
He’s in the indies now with an Intergender title belt, winning tag gold with Gillberg, and overall just making the most of it.
Best Moment: Winning the Money in the Bank briefcase
Worst Moment: Winning the Money in the Bank briefcase
After the Superstar Shake-Up, the New Day were moved to SmackDown. Due to a minor injury to Kofi Kingston, their eventual debut was delayed.
The majority of their year, they were engaged in an epic rivalry with the Usos to see who the best team was. They had superb matches and traded titles over and over until they put their rivalry on hold after a Hell in a Cell bout.
The one bit they did outside the SmackDown title picture was a 3 on 3 match with the Shield at Survivor Series. It was a fun match but the build was more based on the Raw vs. SmackDown story than who’s the best. The Shield was victorious.
Your boys the New Day are headed to WrestleMania for a triple threat match against the Usos and the Bludgeon Brothers, which started when the Bludgeons interrupted another superb Usos/New Day match at Fastlane and left both teams beaten.
Best Moment: Winning a Wale judged rap battle against the Usos (even though they probably shouldn’t have)
Worst Moment: Getting destroyed by the Bludgeon Brothers
Stock: Slight increase - It’s a tough call with the New Day. They are important enough that WWE created a host gig just to get them on the show last year. But I always look at having a match, which isn’t easy to get, as a bit more important than a created spot like the hosting gig. And this year’s match is partially based off the incredible matches they had this year.
Neville def. Austin Aries to retain the cruiserweight championship
Neville had quite the run as cruiserweight champion. He didn’t just defeat Austin Aries at WrestleMania, but was able to fend him off for months. He lost the title to Akira Tozawa but won it back within a week.
However, he lost the belt to Enzo Amore and that was the beginning of the end. After doing the job a couple times and getting himself kicked out of the cruiserweight division for kicking the crap out of Enzo, he was never seen again.
Word is he was angry and left, but WWE hasn’t granted him his release so as of now, he’s just sitting at home.
Best moment: Retaining his title on WrestleMania
Worst moment: Losing multiple times to Enzo Amore
Verdict: Large drop
It’s funny that both members of the first match of last year’s show are no longer wrestling with WWE.
After Aries was unsuccessful in winning the cruiserweight title, he was released from the company. While it was reported that it was because he wasn’t popular with the writers backstage, Aries himself said it was just because they didn’t have anything for him.
Since leaving, he’s collected a handful of championships, including the Impact world championship.
Best moment: Winning a bunch of titles on the indie scene.
Worst moment: Being released
Dean Ambrose def. Baron Corbin to retain the IC championship
Ambrose was IC champion coming out of Mania. He moved from SmackDown to Raw and feuded with old foe the Miz, to whom he eventually lost the IC title after a fairly lengthy feud.
Focus then shifted to issues with Cesaro and Sheamus and, more importantly, to his issues with Seth Rollins. While both men had issues with the Bar, Dean Ambrose had major issues trusting Seth Rollins after he was stabbed in the back years ago. It took a long time and wavering on the part of both men, but they finally brought it back together. It was the closure we needed to really accept Rollins as a babyface.
Now on the same page, they defeated the Bar to win the tag team championships, making Dean Ambrose a Grand Slam winner.
The next step was a full on Shield reunion, prompted by the Miz. This happened prior to TLC, though Roman Reigns couldn’t compete at that show due to illness. Therefore, the Shield officially returned to defeat the New Day at Survivor Series.
Ambrose and Rollins continued their issues with the Bar, eventually losing the titles back to them. At the end of the year, Ambrose tore his triceps and has been out since.
Best Moment: Finally burying the hatchet with Seth Rollins
Worst Moment: His injury costing him WrestleMania
Here’s a man who had a very up and down year.
He didn’t successfully take the IC title from Ambrose before Dean left for Raw. But he did much better! He won the Money in the Bank briefcase! That almost guarantees a WWE title win, right? Right?... Anyone?
OK, so no.
Corbin failed to cash in on Jinder Mahal when he got himself distracted by a John Cena that wasn’t doing much. Then he went ahead and lost a pretty underwhelming match to Cena at SummerSlam. It was bad enough that “Doesn’t win when it counts” became part of his character.
He turned it back around when he won the US title by defeating both Tye Dillinger and champion AJ Styles at Hell in a Cell. He held it a couple months until losing it to Dolph Ziggler in a triple threat match at Clash of Champions. He was knocked out of the first round of the tournament after Ziggler relinquished it.
He was part of a Six Pack Challenge for the WWE title at Fastlane, but once again, he didn’t win when it counted.
It’s the Andre for Corbin this year, which he won two years back.
Best Moment: Winning the Money in the Bank briefcase
Worst Moment: Failing to cash it in because he’s dumb
Stock: Dropped - Going from a title match, even on the pre-show, to the Andre is a bit of a fall.
As we can see, it was not a great year for those on the pre-show. Both members of the cruiserweight title match aren’t on the card. Austin Aries has been released (though doing very well for himself on the indies), Neville is sitting at home. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose is injured, and Baron Corbin is in the Andre battle royal.
We don’t know who’s on the Kickoff this year, but hopefully they’ll fare a bit better than those this year.
We’ll be back tomorrow to tackle the beast that is the Andre the Giant battle royal. We’ll see you then!