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WWE Stock Report: Finn Bálor is the sacrificial lamb to put over Dolph Ziggler

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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 Toni Storm pinning Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch injuring Liv Morgan, and Maryse slapping The Miz, a lot of fortunes were changed.

With that in mind, let’s see whose stock has increased the most this week:

Stock Up #3: New Day

Kofi Kingston and King Xavier Woods are scheduled to challenge The Usos for the SmackDown tag team titles at Day 1, and WWE is giving the New Day about as much positive momentum as possible heading into the bout. New Day beat the Usos last night (Dec. 17) in a non-title match, they defeated the Usos and RK-Bro in a triple threat last week to become the best tag team in WWE, and Woods beat Jey Uso by disqualification the week before that. Going back a bit further, even Roman Reigns couldn’t beat King Woods when they wrestled in the main event on the Nov. 12 episode of SmackDown.

Sometimes kayfabe momentum means very little, so this doesn’t mean New Day are favorites to win the tag titles at Day 1. But it’s become very clear that once Brock Lesnar disappears again, the New Day are right alongside Drew McIntyre as the top babyfaces on the blue brand.

Stock Up #2: Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns

Heyman, Lesnar, and Reigns are carrying SmackDown right now through a rough stretch. This week’s segment where Reigns fired Heyman only for Lesnar to save the day and annihilate the Bloodline was an amazing piece of business. This storyline and the performances of these men and Shanky are the best thing going in WWE today, and it’s not particularly close.

Stock Up #1: Bobby Lashley

The WWE championship match at Day 1 was set to be a triple threat between Big E, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens. Bobby Lashley wanted in on the title match too, but the authority figures said the only way that would happen is if he defeats all three of those men in one night in singles competition. Lashley immediately accepted and embraced the challenge like only the most courageous babyfaces would, and he went on to conquer all three men on Raw. It’s hard to ask for stronger booking than that, aside from needing MVP’s help to beat Big E in the final match. The WWE championship match at Day 1 is now a four way fight, and Lashley suddenly looks like the favorite.

Now let’s see whose stock has decreased the most this week:

Stock Down #3: Rhea Ripley

Rhea Ripley lost against Queen Zelina Vega in less than one minute on this week’s (Dec. 13) Raw. The loss was there to serve the story of Nikki A.S.H. being a loser, as Ripley was caught distracted after checking on Nikki, who was beaten up by Carmella. Even so, this isn’t how a protected star is booked. Ripley needs to either turn on Nikki or just get away from the tag division ASAP before it drags her down further.

Stock Down #2: Finn Bálor

I don’t think Damian Priest has ever lost a singles match on Raw, and WWE is now having a difficult time finding credible opponents to challenge for his United States championship. Dolph Ziggler has been beaten down into the ground so many times throughout his long career that it’s hard to believe he is a serious threat to Priest, but he’s probably next in line.

In an attempt to elevate Dolph, Finn Balor played the role of the sidekick partner to the champ who is there to take the fall. Balor tagged with Priest against the Dirty Dawgs on Raw, where Finn was pinned by Ziggler’s Zig Zag after foolishly allowing himself to be distracted by Austin Theory. With this booking decision, Priest remains protected in defeat, Ziggler looks like a stronger contender for the United States title, and Balor is the sacrificial lamb who’s there to put over the career mid-carder. None of this is good news for Finn, whose position on the card moves further away from the main event on a weekly basis.

Stock Down #1: Shayna Baszler

It looked like Baszler was actually receiving a singles push as her time on Raw came to an end in October. She put Eva Marie and Nia Jax on the injured list and was presented as a badass who nobody should mess with.

Well, that feels like a very long time ago. Shayna has settled into the role of Sonya Deville’s generic henchwoman on SmackDown, and the failures have been piling up over the last month. She’s been on the losing end of four consecutive TV or PPV matches, including a 30 second loss against Naomi last night on SmackDown. What’s even worse for Shayna is that she ambushed Naomi before the match and had a clear unfair advantage as a result. Shayna Baszler is struggling right now, and nobody on the SmackDown roster should fear her. All you need to do is roll her up and you will likely win, just like earlier in the year when she was constantly losing quick singles matches on Raw.

There you have it, Cagesiders. Whose stock do you think has changed the most this week?