Some places do power rankings. Here at Cageside, we do a stock report.
In this weekly series, we identify three Superstars (or groups of Superstars) who are on their way up, and three that are moving in the opposite direction. After a busy week that included the return of Robert Roode, Andrade taking Rey Mysterio’s mask, and Becky Lynch punching Asuka right in the neck, a lot of fortunes were changed.
With that in mind, let’s see whose stock has increased the most this week:
Stock Up #3: Big Show
After completely missing in-ring action in 2019, Big Show appeared as a mystery partner for Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens on this week’s (Jan. 6) episode of Raw. The fans popped huge for him, and he even got to knock out Seth Rollins with his massive punch. The most likely case here is that Big Show is back to make Rollins and Authors of Pain look even more threatening when they ultimately take him out with a severe beating. But with Vince McMahon booking things you just never know. Maybe the grand plan here is for Big Show to come out of this one in a better spot than Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, who really knows? Regardless, the Big Show is back, and he has been thrust right into a main event level program on Monday nights.
Stock Up #2: The Miz & John Morrison
John Morrison appeared as a guest on MizTv this week to berate the fans as turd cutters and douchebags. Miz and Morrison are back as a team, and WWE is hyping them up as the best tag team of the 21st century. They are on a collision course with New Day, and kicked things off this week with Miz picking up a singles win over Kofi Kingston on SmackDown. Miz was severely damaged coming out of his feud with Shane McMahon last June and has never really recovered from it, so this heel turn and fresh start with Morrison is exactly what he needed.
Stock Up #1: Brock Lesnar
We’ve had roughly two months to figure out who Brock Lesnar would be defending the WWE championship against at Royal Rumble 2020. WWE threw a big curve ball into the picture by announcing that instead of defending the title, Brock Lesnar is actually entering the Royal Rumble match as the first entrant.
With that one booking decision, Lesnar’s role in the Royal Rumble event has suddenly become the most interesting thing about the card. Will Brock Lesnar actually work for the better part of an hour on that night? Will he eliminate Kofi Kingston from the match in less than eight seconds? Who will Lesnar face at WrestleMania 36 if he wins this match? Will a shocking new contender show up and dump Brock’s ass out of the ring very early on? There are lots of questions to be answered here, and it’s added a lot more intrigue to Lesnar’s role on the Royal Rumble card.
Now let’s see whose stock has decreased the most this week:
Stock Down #3: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
Alexa Bliss is used to being in the championship scene, whether it’s singles or tag team gold. Her loss to Mandy Rose this week (Jan. 10) on SmackDown, where the larger story in play involves Mandy’s relationship with Otis, shows that Bliss is currently as far away from championship gold as she’s ever been. Nikki Cross has also fallen down the card from a few months ago, when she was a tag team champion in October and then a top contender for Bayley’s SmackDown women’s championship in November. Things are getting crowded in the women’s division on Friday nights, and Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross are a bit lost in the shuffle at the moment.
Stock Down #2: Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro
I couldn’t help but chuckle when Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance on SmackDown this week and Corey Graves said the following: “You cannot discount the support system that Nakamura has in place in the form of the Swiss Cyborg Cesaro.”
It’s actually quite easy to discount the pairing of Nakamura and Cesaro as representing any kind of threat to Braun Strowman. Cesaro is incredible in the ring, has a good look, and a cool entrance...but he rarely ever wins. I can only find two wins for Cesaro on either Raw, SmackDown, or pay-per-view ever since he picked a fight with Aleister Black at Extreme Rules 2019 last July. The idea that he poses a threat to Braun Strowman is laughable. It’s also impossible to forget that Cesaro was the poor sap who lost to Braun Strowman and Some Kid at WrestleMania 34.
Then there is Nakamura, who is pretty good at holding mid-card titles for long periods of time without actually being elevated up the card. The data on CageMatch.net indicates that the guy hasn’t even defended his title on television or pay-per-view since October 18, when he lost by disqualification against Roman Reigns. Nakamura has held the title since July but has never had a standout performance as champ, and he loses his matches more often than not.
On paper the heel tandem of Nakamura and Cesaro should be fantastic, but in kayfabe they aren’t remotely threatening to Braun Strowman, who has naturally beaten both of them in singles matches over the last two episodes of SmackDown. It’s very difficult to believe that they are a big obstacle for Braun Strowman to overcome or that the Intercontinental championship has much value at the moment.
Stock Down #1: Elias
I’m not sure what the point of Elias is anymore. He seems to be a babyface these days, as his songs mostly disparage the heels. But his songs also sometimes include an instance of misogyny, which is an instant turn-off, though perhaps par for the course as far as WWE babyfaces are concerned. This week his song about the Royal Rumble match didn’t click at all, and the crowd even booed during it. To my ears it sounded like they were booing an awful song that was a waste of everybody’s time, but it’s possible that they were also booing the concept of Brock Lesnar as a part-time champion.
These recent Elias segments on SmackDown are pure filler. They are not nearly as entertaining as the backstage segments that the Street Profits were doing on Raw prior to their in-ring debut in mid 2019. Elias seems to be in a similar role, as the guy who talks about other people’s stories because he has no story of his own. He doesn’t wrestle anymore on television; his last televised match was in September as part of the King of the Ring tournament. SmackDown doesn’t even really need these filler segments the same way that Raw does, because Raw is three hours long. The whole character just feels like it reached its expiration date a while ago and desperately needs something new.
The main problem with that is Elias’ work in the ring is his weakness, especially compared to the abilities of most stars on WWE’s current roster. It makes sense to focus more on his talking, where he has received enough mic time over the last two years to form a connection with the crowd. But if this is all his talking is going to be, pointless segments that don’t lead to anything interesting, then the whole concept feels like it should be cut from the show.
There you have it, Cagesiders. Whose stock do you think has changed the most this week?