During the Road To Wrestlemania, I always find myself back in the swing of things as a major WWE fan. After watching Wrestlemania and the Raw the following night, having seen how storylines resolve and which new surprises have been unveiled, I am always optimistic that the WWE is going to be great again for the long haul. Yet a few weeks after Wrestlemania, I often find myself underwhelmed with how everything has wound up. Here is a look at where some of the key characters in WWE are now versus 12 months ago:
– On the May 9, 2016 edition of Raw, Big Cass faced Chris Jericho in the main event. Enzo was out of action due to a legitimate in-ring injury. This was arguably Big Cass’ biggest match yet as a WWE superstar. One year later, Big Cass is as popular as ever, but without a significant storyline in the tag team division. Dean Ambrose was then in the midst of a feud with Jericho, in which “Mitch” was destroyed.
– The Club — Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and A.J. Styles — was together facing The Usos and Roman Reigns, who were playing up their family closeness. Nowadays, Gallows and Anderson are floundering around the tag team division, while The Usos significantly rebounded as top heels. A.J. Styles is an accidental babyface while Roman Reigns remains an accidental heel. All sorts of confusion within this match when you look back in retrospect.
– Baron Corbin, a new call-up to the main roster, was in the midst of a feud with Dolph Ziggler. Corbin looks like he’s being pushed to the top, while Dolph is back in heel mode as he works a storyline with Shinsuke Nakamura, a new call-up. Clearly Dolph would have a great post-in-ring career as a trainer for WWE, given how well he does with making talent shine.
– Shane and Stephanie McMahon were feuding prior to Wrestlemania. When Shane lost his match to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, he was supposed to be gone from WWE forever. That obviously didn’t happen since he’s still “running” Raw. Stephanie has been off-camera since this year’s Wrestlemania, having sustained a storyline injury. But it doesn’t look like the two brands are really competing anymore, or at least they don’t have Vince McMahon claiming to take action if one show underperforms.
– R-Truth and Fandango had a strange feud going on. Their tag teams were Goldango and the Gorgeous Truth. The teams thankfully changed up, and now Breezango are the #1 contenders for the Smackdown Live tag belts.
– Paige had a rare on-camera appearance, wrestling against Charlotte. Total Divas aside, we have not seen much of Paige on weekly WWE programming over the past 12 months, so this was indeed a rarity.
– Dana Brooke debuted on the main roster about a year ago. Now she is unexplainably a babyface.
– The Shining Stars were still waiting to debut about a year ago. This is a very underutilized tag team, given how great Primo and Epico are known to be in-ring.
– The New Day and the Dudley Boyz worked a program, while The New Day was still in the midst of their record-breaking championship run. The Vaudevillains were instrumental within this match in providing interference, which shows how long ago this was. The Dudley Boyz were gone a few months later, although D-Von is now working behind the scenes for WWE. The New Day has been laying low as of late, but that ought to change soon.
– Rusev and Lana had just been put back together after an awkward on-camera split. Rusev is said to be due back soon, which makes me happy.
– John Cena…wasn’t around.
– Brock Lesnar…wasn’t around.
Then again, the brand split had not yet happened 12 months ago, giving the company a very different landscape where Smackdown Live was clearly WWE’s “B” show. Now with the recent “Superstar Shake-Up” also added into the mix, the landscape is different from how it was just two months back. So it will be interesting to see if shake-ups and drafts will be an annual twist for WWE creative.