As WrestleMania is inarguably the WWE’s Super Bowl, each WrestleMania is akin to the end of the fiscal year of WWE. In turn, it is interesting to look at where everything was a year ago — some of it is interesting, but not always for the right reasons:
– Triple H was being used as a transitional champion as most people thought Roman Reigns was finally going to be “the guy.” Roman Reigns was able to defeat Triple H and win the WWE Championship, but the fans in attendance were less than thrilled to see him pick up the victory.
– Shane McMahon wrestled The Undertaker with the stipulation being that if Shane would be forever gone from the WWE. He lost. And he’s been the General Manager of Smackdown Live ever since.
– Chris Jericho, who had just turned heel, was up against AJ Styles, then a babyface who didn’t speak much on the mic. The roles have switched up with Styles finding his footing as a top heel, although he is generally cheered while cutting heel promos.
– Dean Ambrose had a program with Brock Lesnar. Shortly after this, Ambrose became the WWE Champion, yet if rumors are true, it was Ambrose’s comments about Lesnar being “lazy” that ended his title reign. Ambrose is undoubtedly one of the most popular people on the WWE roster, yet he has sort of been flopping around the mid-card as of late.
– Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch had a three-way match for the title. While the brand split has changed up who’s battling for the title, everyone seems to be in a similar spot from this match.
– The New Day feuded with the League Of Nations and blew off the feud with a non-title match. The match didn’t really get people excited, but the post-match appearance by a few WWE legends (Mick Foley, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels) got people excited. Comparable to how the prior year’s Wrestlemania was able to incorporate members of DX and the NWO into the Sting/Triple H match.
– The Intercontinental Title ladder match had seven WWE superstars and was put together without heat or proper storylines. Presumably everyone was surprised when Zack Ryder won the match and the IC Title, and I would assume that just as many people were surprised when The Miz won it again the following night on Raw with Maryse returning to weekly programming. The title changed hands a bunch of times over the last 12 months
– The Andre The Giant Battle Royal had three surprise entrants in Diamond Dallas Page, Tatanka and Shaquille O’Neal. But the match also served as the main roster debut of Baron Corbin, who was the winner. Corbin floundered around the main roster until recently when he was pushed near the main event picture.
– Ryback had a pre-show match with Kalisto, which turned out to be one of Ryback’s last memorable WWE appearances. He wore his “Pre-Show Stopper” belt on top of his gear, which had a lot of people laughing. Ryback seems to be doing very well now with indie bookings, his podcast and other businesses.
– The Usos and The Dudley Boyz were also on the kick-off show with a tag match. The Dudleyz stuck around for another few months, getting a great send-off on the Raw after Summerslam. The then overly-smiley Usos have since reinvented themselves as great heels.
– Beyond the aforementioned Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the Intercontinental Ladder match, there was yet another “let’s get as many people as possible into one match” match where Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya and others were haphazardly placed together. This served as Brie Bella’s “retirement” match. Lana made her in-ring debut for a pay-per-view, although she has not wrestled on a pay-per-view since then. Emma got injured shortly after Wrestlemania and is due back in action. Paige is also overdue for a WWE return.
– The Rock had a surprise match — it’s difficult to call it such — against Erick Rowan. The Rock is as big of a movie star as then if not even bigger. We are still waiting for Rowan to return from his recent injury, and it is unclear if he will be positioned as a Wyatt when returning.
It will be interesting to see how everything shakes up tomorrow, surprises and all, but in looking back at everything, it is cool to see how WWE does continually evolve from year to year.