The one time of year for the WWE that can make or break a career is WrestleMania season. The Royal Rumble begins the road to the world of professional wrestling's Super Bowl.
At "The Show of Shows," and the few weeks before and after, we can see how the careers of certain WWE superstars are going to play out. Well, we can at least predict them. Not all of our predictions will come true, but we can judge by the amount of television time and where their segments are throughout the show.
There are only so many matches on the card for WrestleMania, so it takes more than just the show itself to see who will see their career reach new heights after the show and who will fade away by the wayside. A large number of entries on this list will be seen at WrestleMania in one capacity or another.
The WWE's calendar starts at WrestleMania, with the Royal Rumble being it's New Year's Eve. The Royal Rumble sets the stage for, starting this year, two matches for the biggest show of the year and we will see Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka compete in championship matches of their choosing. You will see them both on this list.
In addition to the two Royal Rumble winners, this list will show eight other WWE superstars or stables that will, hopefully, get a push after the April 8th event. There will also be 10 superstars or stables that will see their careers take a slight nose dive when the dust settles after the WWE's landmark pay-per-view event.
20 Thrive: Seth Rollins
Over the last five years, no one has had more high-profiled pay-per-view matches than Seth Rollins. Following the Elimination Chamber, it was known that Rollins would not be facing Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
With the Intercontinental Champion The Miz loving to get his nose in the business of everyone else to try to up-stage them and have all eyes on him, it was only a matter of time before Rollins retaliated. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle announced that the Miz will face not only Rollins, but also Finn Balor in a triple threat match with the championship on the line.
Since reforming the Shield with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, Rollins hadn't had a big singles push, holding the Raw tag team titles with both Dean Ambrose and Jason Jordan. He is due to have his time to shine once again on his own. With Ambrose out with an injury and Reigns facing Lesnar at WrestleMania, that leaves Rollins to forge his own path to returning to the race to the Universal Championship. What better way to do that then having a lengthy reign as Intercontinental Champion?
19 Fade: Bray Wyatt
Since he came over to Raw in the draft last July, Bray Wyatt has seen a decline in his career. His feud with Randy Orton was the last time that eyes really focused on what he was going to do next.
Once he was drafted from Smackdown to Raw, the most we've seen him do is help further the careers of others, but not doing much to his own. His controversial rumored relationship with Raw ring announcer Jojo has put a bitter taste in the mouth of many members of the WWE Universe whenever Wyatt's name is brought up.
Recently, we have seen Wyatt feuding with "Woken" Matt Hardy. In all honesty, the only thing this feud is doing is helping the WWE notice the many elements to Hardy's character, but not really seeing any growth from Wyatt. With Hardy's brother Jeff set to return very soon, it is possible that this feud will end Hardy will continue to elevate his character, leaving Wyatt far behind.
18 Thrive: Sami Zayn
Whether or not he has a match at WrestleMania, we have recently seen a change in Sami Zayn. He came up from NXT with a chip on his shoulder from the betrayal by his best friend, Kevin Owens. At Hell in a Cell, it seemed that Sami Zayn had put that all behind him, saving that same best friend and helping him defeat Smackdown General Manager Shane McMahon.
Since then, Zayn has been by Owens' side and together they formed the "Yep Movement." However, their friendship had been recently strained and it seemed as though Zayn wanted to move out of Owens' shadow. He attacked during a fatal-five-way match on an episode of Smackdown, giving us the impression that Zayn was ready to move on and wanting to be his own man.
This is something that we have been waiting for. As much as we know the in-ring chemistry that Owens and Zayn have, it will be great to see Zayn break out and begin his path to the WWE Championship, or Universal Championship, if he moves to Raw in the next draft.
17 Fade: The Miz
This entry is a little more because of what is happening in his personal life. If you have watched Total Divas, you would have found out that the first child of the Miz and his wife, Maryse, is due two days before WrestleMania.
Spending time away from the squared-circle to tend to his newborn baby girl and his wife it just what the Miz needs after WrestleMania. He has been a workhorse for the last decade and deserves to take a break from everything. When he wasn't on Raw or Smakdown before this time, he was away filming a movie. He never stops working.
Not saying that he will be away for a long time, but he should be away long enough that he avoids being in an major story lines for at least a couple months following the show of shows. I'm sure Maryse would love to have him home for a long period of time, too.
16 Thrive: Elias
It is time to "Walk With Elias." This WWE superstar has sung and strummed his guitar into the bigger story-lines on Raw this past year.
Earning himself a spot in the elimination chamber match to fight for the chance to fight Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania proves that Elias is in need of a push to help him continue climbing the ranks in the race for a championship. Feuding with Braun Strowman is one way to help him get noticed at it's working. Their "Symphony of Destruction" match was one that is still being highlighted.
If Elias keeps on the path that he's on, it would not be a stretch to see him in a championship match come SummerSlam. He is on a roll and is quickly climbing the ranks in not only the title race, but in the hearts of the WWE Universe. Hopefully, WWE's creative department will take note and give this songbird the push he deserves.
15 Fade: Randy Orton
Since dropping the WWE championship to Jinder Mahal, Randy Orton has fallen down the ranks and is now in the United States title picture. A superstar of his caliber should easily find his way into the WWE Championship picture.
Being in the WWE as long as John Cena, it is something out of the ordinary to see Orton fall to this level. At the same time, the only championship he had yet to win in the WWE was the United States Championship, which he defeated Bobby Roode for at Fastlane. However, it doesn't seem like it will last long, as the push that Bobby Roode has been receiving is well deserved and we will more than likely see the rematch at WrestleMania. Orton is a main-event superstar and even though he has been working for the company for over 10 years, it still doesn't seem like he is going to find himself in a strong story-line on Smackdown soon after he loses his current championship. There are so many superstars that attract the WWE Universe in bigger and better ways at the moment.
This is not to say that Orton's career won't make a comeback at some point, but he'll have to take a backseat to the younger talent for a little while.
14 Thrive: The New Day
We have seen The New Day have ups and downs throughout their career. Regardless, they always found a way to be in the running for the tag team titles, no matter what brand they were on.
Currently on Smackdown, the New Day have had a lengthy feud with the Usos and have been switching the titles back and forth between the two teams for some time now. Always entertaining and adding new things to their gimmick on a regular basis, the sky is the limit for this trio.
Another thing that keeps this team relevant is the YouTube channel "Up Up Down Down," which Xavier Woods, known on the channel by his real name Austin Creed, is the hist and founder of. The channel shows videos of Creed playing video games with other WWE superstars, as well as having locker room tournaments with popular sports games.
No matter what this trio touches, another tag team title reign is on the horizon. It's only a matter of time.
13 Fade: Rusev
Rusev's day is slowly coming to an end. Though he may have had a short feud with John Cena over the United States Championship recently, it was before that when his career started to take a slight nosedive. His wife and on-screen manager, Lana posted a photo of them announcing their engagement while she was in a romantic story-line with Dolph Ziggler. This resulted in WWE's creative department needing to quickly change the direction of the on-screen characters of both Lana and her husband.
While he may be in a tag team with Aidan English, the whole thing seems like a joke. In fact, English revealed in an interview that it was supposed to be a one-shot thing and viewed as a joke. It has spun into a tag team, which in reality, is only helping English's career, with Rusev carrying it. It's only a matter of time before Rusev is finally over and both superstars need to find new directions for their characters.
12 Thrive: Becky Lynch
The first-ever Smackdown Women's Champion is ready to be the female face of Smackdown again. If Asuka decides to face Alexa Bliss at WrestleMania, Becky Lynch should be a shoe-in to face Charlotte at the biggest event of the year.
After being plagued with an injury and having to watch the women's division on Smackdown shine without her, it is finally time for the lass-kicker to get a shot at the title. Lynch came up through NXT as part of the "four horsewomen" with current Smackdown women's champion Charlotte and Raw's Bayley and Sasha Banks. Lynch began her tenure on the main roster alongside Charlotte, but their friendship slowly started to fall apart, mostly thanks to Charlotte letting being the champion get to her head and acting like she didn't need anyone in her corner, including her father, the legendary Ric Flair.
Lynch is yearning for a win at WrestleMania, as she has failed to obtain that in her last two matches. A match that sees the Figure-8 going up against the Dis-armher would be the best way to skyrocket Lynch's career once again.
11 Fade: Dolph Ziggler
For the last few years, Dolph Ziggler has gone through a roller coaster with his career. With his ominous turn to thinking that he was "too good" to be United States Champion, leaving it in the middle of the ring and seemingly walking away from the WWE for a long time, only to re-appear at the Royal Rumble, left a bitter taste in the mouths of many in the WWE Universe.
The brass ring always seemed to be close to Ziggler, but he just never reached up to grab it before falling to the wayside. Though he was named a participant in the six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship at Fastlane, his appearance wasn't one that we knew would have him come out on top. Both Ziggler and Baron Corbin were added to the match because of the history they have with each other, but they have never really had a feud with current champ AJ Styles to be considered a true contender for the title.
With no match scheduled for him at WrestleMania, he just doesn't have the fire that he used to.
10 Thrive: Asuka
Even if she hadn't won the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble match in January, it would still be hard to avoid Asuka.
The Empress of Tomorrow has an undefeated streak that is in the history books. Asuka also made history in January, becoming the first woman to be both the sole survivor in the Women's five-on-five Survivor Series match and winning the Royal Rumble. She is automatically given a title match at WrestleMania, and all eyes are on her to see if she can continue her undefeated streak.
Going through the entire Raw women's division, it wasn't too surprising to see her choose Charlotte as her WrestleMania opponent. It would be nice to see how she would do on Smackdown against the likes of Natalya, Naomi, Tamina or Becky Lynch. With a new list of competitors on the blue brand, her undefeated streak, if she does in fact win on April 8, will be one that we will likely never see again.
No matter what brand she is on, if a draft does take place after WrestleMania, there's no doubt that Asuka will always have the WWE Universe wanting to see how far her career will go.
9 Fade: Baron Corbin
With his last major feud being finished months ago after Dolph Ziggler "left" the WWE after the Clash of Champions pay-per-view, Baron Corbin hasn't found himself in the running for any title or in any big story-lines on Smackdown.
Having held the United States Championship and having a great reign, Corbin found himself in the six-pack challenge for AJ Styles' WWE Championshp at the last pay-per-view before WrestleMania, Fastlane. He was not favoured to win, and really didn't have a set story-line that can be carried out after the pay-per-view, at least not one that would take up a large chunk of television time.
His rise from NXT to the main roster came after his achievement at the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, winning the match after eliminating Kane. He has since won the Money in the Bank ladder match last year, but other than adding one United States Championship run to his name, it seems like the hype surrounding Corbin has reached its "End of Days."
8 Thrive: Shinsuke Nakamura
Fans of the two hottest Japanese imports to the WWE, Asuka and the man pictured above, Shinsuke Nakamura, had to finish watching the Royal Rumble with the biggest smiles on their faces.
Nakamura made a huge impact on NXT, and it wasn't long before he made his debut on the main roster. Appearing on Smackdown, and humiliating Dolph Ziggler on more than one occasion was just the beginning of what the WWE Universe could expect from the King of Strong Style.
His character is very vibrant and his theme music is sung along by audiences in nearly every show Nakamura appears at. His win at the Royal Rumble solidified his main event status and becoming the WWE Champion was now within reach.
His choice of choosing AJ Styles as his WrestleMania opponent was something that many members who have followed the careers of both men have been waiting for. It is a dream match for these two superstars who both came to the WWE from New Japan. To see them face each other on the biggest stage in the wrestling world will only push Nakamura to new heights, regardless of whether or not he walks out of WrestleMania with the WWE Championship.
7 Fade: Brock Lesnar
With the rumors circling around him jumping ship to go back to New Japan, Brock Lesnar is due to finally lose the Universal Championship. Doing it at WrestleMania, against Roman Reigns, is just icing on the cake.
It's no secret that it has been the plague of the Raw brand that with the lack of appearances that Brock Lesnar makes on the weekly Monday night show. Fans are noticing it, and have voiced their opinions. It is about time that Raw has a champion that is present at each and every show, fighting to prove that they deserve to be the champion and gain and keep the trust of the WWE Universe.
Brock Lesnar has been keeping the title hostage for too long. While he may successfully defend it at the pay-per-view events he does appear at, proving he is a strong competitor and is worthy of being a champion, it is time to have a champion who can speak for themselves and defend their title at the drop of a hat.
Lesnar is rumored to be leaving the WWE in the near future, and it makes perfect sense for him to fade out of the championship picture after WrestleMania. Raw has no shortage of men worthy to hold the most prestigious title and be the face of the brand.
6 Thrive: Ronda Rousey
We heard the rumors, but it was made official when Ronda Rousey walked down the ramp following the finish of the Women's Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble in January. The baddest woman on the planet has now become a WWE superstar.
It took her an entire month to finally sign her contract, which she did at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event in late February, but the buzz surrounding what impact she would make on the Raw brand was loud and abundant.
There is no love lost between Rousey and Stephanie McMahon, which was proven when Raw General Manager Kurt Angle let a few things that McMahon had said slip that she most likely wanted kept in secrecy. A match was announced for WrestleMania having Rousey team with Angle, to go toe-to-toe with McMahon and her husband, WWE's Cheif Operating Officer, Triple H.
We've seen Rousey put Triple H through a table, so she it was clear that she was not only sending a message to the women, but every WWE superstar on Raw's roster. After seeing what was capable in the octagon, it will be amazing to see what she can accomplish when she makes her debut in the squared-circle on April 8th in New Orleans.
5 Fade: Jinder Mahal
He may have been the first-ever Indian born WWE Champion, but Jinder Mahal has had his time in the sun and is slowly fading into the shadows.
Recently, we saw Mahal vying for the United States Championship in the tournament that was set up after Dolph Ziggler relinquished the title, leaving it vacant. He was not successful in that, making it to the final match against Bobby Roode.
Mahal had a great run as WWE Champion, giving the WWE Universe the return of the Punjabi Prison Match, but his run did not last as long as many would've thought it should've. It seemed as though WWE Creative gave up him being the face of the blue brand before we did.
More than that, it doesn't seem as though Mahal fits into any story-line that is currently presented on Smackdown. It could always change, but with one of the Singh brothers out with an injury, the appeal of Mahal having two "helpers" backing him up is cut in half.
4 Thrive: Jeff Hardy
Quite possibly the biggest return in recent years happened when the Hardy Boyz entered themselves into the Raw Tag Team Championship match at last year's WrestleMania, which they ended up winning in the surprise of the year.
During their first run in the WWE during the tail end of the Attitude Era, Jeff was always considered the more popular of the two brothers. This was partially due to his elevated risks he would take in his matches.
After suffering a shoulder injury last September, he was recently cleared to return to action by the surgeon who performed the surgery to repair his torn rotation cuff. This could possibly mean yet another WrestleMania return for the younger Hardy brother. With his brother Matt's "Woken" gimmick, it will interesting to see if Jeff will rejoin his brother, or venture on a solo run. Either way, there's nowhere that Jeff Hardy goes where all eyes are not looking in his direction, waiting for his next "X-treme" high-risk move.
3 Fade: Bayley
Ever since she lost her Raw Women's Championship to Alexa Bliss, Bayley has never really found herself in the forefront of the title picture, at least not as the number one contender.
Unless she makes a heel turn and begins a long feud with her "best friend" Sasha Banks, it's hard to see Bayley staying in the discussion of someone who deserves one of the first shots at the title again. Her "I'm a Hugger" gimmick may resonate with the younger audience and they can easily get behind her, there comes a time where even the nicest people have had enough.
There has been numerous occasions where Bayley could lash out and take out her frustrations, but she continues to take the higher road and stay the "nice girl." Without a slight change in her characteristics, especially if the Raw Women's Champion after WrestleMania ends up being Asuka, Bayley won't be able to keep up with the other women on Raw's roster.
2 Thrive: Roman Reigns
With one of his latest promos against his opponent on April 8th, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns is seemingly on his way to a huge push. The difference between this one and the one he was given before is the WWE Universe finally seems to realize he deserves it.
Reigns has never really left the conversation for top contenders for the Universal Championship. He has faced off against Brock Lesnar on more than on occasion and has yet to come out on top.
It is no secret that Reigns is one hell of a strong man, but the love-hate relationship that the WWE Universe has had with him seemed to have out his next major push on hold until now. The world is within grasp for Reigns as he walks into New Orleans on April 8th, feeling more confident than ever that he can finally tame the Beast, and the fans are finally ready for him to take hold of it and leave WrestleMania as the Universal Champion.
1 Fade: Absolution
Once it was announced the Paige can no longer compete in the ring due to a neck injury, it seemed that Absolution was going to fold, leaving Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in the dust. That was not the case, as Paige continues to accompany the two other members of the stable to the ring whenever the compete on Raw.
Without Paige being able to compete, it almost seems pointless for Absolution to remain a group. If the gimmick now is to make it seem that Paige is giving them pointers, it's not working. Though it is nice to hear Paige's theme every time either Deville or Rose are scheduled for a match, that scream we all cheer for, is just a reminder that we will never see Paige wrestle again.
There are so many women on Raw's roster, it almost seemed like Rose and Deville were brought in, much like the Riott Squad, as filler for the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble. For the Raw side of this deal, the red team got the short end of the stick and it will hopefully end soon.
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