WrestleMania week has come and gone, and with the Superstar Shakeup coming next week the AllWrestling Weekly Power Poll has a lot of new champions and storylines to review.
Starting with the pay-per-view show from MetLife Stadium last weekend, the WWE crowned a new Cruiserweight Champion (Tony Nese), new RAW Tag Team champions (Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins), a new Universal Champion (Seth Rollins), new Women’s Tag Team Champions (The IIconics), a new WWE Champion (Kofi Kingston), a new Intercontinental Champion (Finn Balor) and a new RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion (Becky Lynch).
Though there were no title changes on RAW, SmackDown Live gave us yet another wrinkle with The Hardy Boyz defeating The Usos for the SmackDown Tag titles in a match many had hoped would be a WrestleMania showcase. The Hardys’ celebration was short-lived, however, as Lars Sullivan left both Matt and Jeff prone on the mat in a post-match attack one night after ambushing Hall of Famer Kurt Angle on RAW.
Though it won’t be easy ranking and sorting through all of the feel-good stories WWE provided this week, the AllWrestling Power Poll is here to make the tough calls and give you the best of the week that was WrestleMania 2019.
Top 10 Superstars (Reverse Order)
10. (Tie) SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz – Matt and Jeff surprised many on Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn by hitting their Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb finishing combination to knock off The Usos and start their eighth reign as tag team champions. It’s a shame Jimmy and Jey only got a day to celebrate their first victory on a WrestleMania main card match, but it could foreshadow a change for the record four-time SmackDown Tag champs in the Superstar Shakeup. Meanwhile, The Hardys also didn’t get much of a celebration, as Sullivan dropped them right after the match ended. The Usos have spent much of the past three years as SmackDown Tag Champs so this victory for The Hardys might go a long way in freshening up tag team divisions for both brands.
10. (Tie) Cruiserweight Champion Tony Nese – The Long Island native thrilled fans in his backyard by ending Buddy Murphy’s title reign at 183 days on the WrestleMania 35 preshow before turning in another instant classic against Murphy on 205 Live to successfully defend his title. The former heel tag team partners easily turned in some of the best matches on the main roster for the week. The Premier Athlete’s rise to gold was just shy of 14 years in the making as he debuted with the independent New York Wrestling Connection promotion in September of 2005. This might mean a promotion to RAW or SmackDown for Murphy, the first Australian male to hold a WWE singles title. He ended just 13 days short for the longest reign (196 days, Neville) and 48 days short of Neville’s record of 231 combined days as a two-time Cruiserweight champion.
9. RAW Tag Team Champions Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins – Eleven years after becoming the youngest tag team champions in the history of the WWE, New York natives Ryder and Hawkins knocked off The Revival on their home turf at WrestleMania 35 for their second reign as champs. The duo then successfully retained the belts against The Revival on RAW. In the process, they ended Hawkins’ 269-match losing streak and Ryder’s “WrestleMania Curse” of losing a championship the night after winning it on a pay-per-view. Ryder and Hawkins originally debuted with WWE as The Major Brothers on ECW in May 2007. They were later repackaged as Ryder and Hawkins and nicknamed “The Edgeheads” and “The Rated-R Entourage” as they interfered to help Edge win the World Heavyweight Championship at the 2007 Armageddon show. Their first title reign came with a victory in a Fatal 4-Way at the 2008 Great American Bash, claiming the belts from previous champs The Miz and John Morrison.
8. Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor – The Demon helped Balor claim his third main roster title and second reign as the Intercontinental Champ with a quick victory over Bobby Lashley in the next-to-last-match on the card at WrestleMania 35. This marked the second time in just under two months that Balor defeated Lashley for the IC belt. He also defeated The Almighty and Lio Rush in a handicap match at Elimination Chamber in February to win the title. Balor then successfully defended his title Monday on RAW with a victory over Sami Zayn, who worked his first match since June 2018 after undergoing surgery on both shoulders. Later in the week, rumors circulated that Balor may take part in a Club reunification with AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson as part of the Superstar Shakeup.
7. Women’s Tag Team Champs The IIconics – In perhaps the most shocking title change at WrestleMania 35, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce ended The Boss N Hug Connection’s reign on top of the women’s tag division when Kay pinned Bayley to win the Fatal 4-Way. Little did we know that the resulting fallout would become the most-talked about topic of the week. Depending on what reports you choose to believe, Sasha Banks, Bayley and/or both are reconsidering their future with WWE after being disappointed their title reign lasted just under 2 months. However, the negative rumors surrounding The Boss and The Hugger can’t harsh the feel-good buzz surrounding Kay and Royce, who began their careers with Pro Wrestling Alliance Australia 12 and 10 years ago, respectively. Though Kay and Royce’s first title defense came in a squash variety over independent performers tabbed as The Brooklyn Bellas, they have built some anticipation for their first big feud. Former SmackDown General Manager Paige announced on Tuesday’s show that she would be bringing a tag team title contender to take away the gold from Kay and Royce.
6. Lars Sullivan – Nearly six months after the first vignettes announcing his main roster arrival aired during the Survivor Series kickoff show, the hulking behemoth debuted on RAW with an attack of Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. He followed that up the next night on SmackDown by taking out the brand-new tag team champs The Hardy Boyz after their championship-clinching victory over The Usos. He’s already earned a derisive nickname from members of the WWE Universe – Snitsky 2.0 – so it will be interesting to see where he lands and what WWE does with him after the Superstar Shakeup. Given that problems with anxiety attacks kept him from debuting as intended on the January 14th episode of RAW, Sullivan may not get inserted into something huge right away as WWE may remain cautious with how it handles him going forward.
5. Lacey Evans – “The Lady of the WWE” certainly knows how to get members of the WWE Universe talking. For months, fans pitched a fit that Evans would interrupt matches or interview segments on RAW, SmackDown and pay-per-view shows to take a stroll down the entrance ramp in her fancy dresses and hats before waving and turning right back around without ever wrestling in the ring. This week, fans pitched a fit because she interrupted celebrations for the new RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch by nailing The Man with a Woman’s Right on both shows. On RAW, Evans socked Lynch after a face-to-face confrontation, sparking a brawl between the two that tested The Lady’s ability to stay on her feet in her high heels. However, Evans pulled a sneak attack from behind on SmackDown that left Lynch reeling on the ramp. The Lady continued to ramp up the heat on social media with continuous tweets railing against the new champion, whom Lynch has dubbed “the new Charlotte.” The fact that Evans is generating this amount of heat with the fan base and is getting involved with Lynch in a feud after not being involved in a ring on TV since The Royal Rumble is pretty impressive.
4. Elias – In an era of WWE oft criticized for being too reliant on titles for storylines, it’s noteworthy The Drifter appeared in two of the most noteworthy segments of the week without a belt or even an official match being involved. First, Elias received an interruption from none other than “Dr. of Thuganomics” John Cena, who rapped that The Drifter was “like his nuts with more bush” at WrestleMania. Then, Elias fell victim to a Last Ride and a Tombstone Pile Driver from The Undertaker in a stunning appearance no one saw coming on RAW. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, Elias claimed he needed to work with legends because none of the rest of the current main roster is doing the character work he is. It appears WWE bought in to that line of thinking. Admittedly, I had begun to lose interest in Elias because of the frequent character dynamic changes he’s undergone and the 50-50 or worse booking when he does actually wrestle. However, I will be staying tuned to see if we get any more blasts from the past to interrupt future Elias concerts.
3. Universal Champion Seth Rollins – Most years, a WrestleMania victory for a full-time Superstar over Brock Lesnar for the red belt would not only top power polls like this one, but the match would certainly be the main event of the show. However, it’s not most years. In another shocking twist at MetLife Stadium, WWE pulled a last-minute switcharoo with the card and led the show off with Rollins-Lesnar. The change was so last minute that Hulk Hogan, who appeared with host Alexa Bliss, to warm up the crowd with some opening hype, stated afterward he had no idea why Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman was storming to the ring as Hogan was finishing up his promo. Though it’s his first Universal Championship reign, Rollins has now claimed six singles titles and a total of 10 championships. He is the 29th Triple Crown Champion in WWE history and 18th Grand Slam Champion. Later in the week, fan videos posted to Instagram all but confirmed lingering dating rumors with new RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch. It seems it’s a good time to be Seth Rollins.
2. WWE Champion Kofi Kingston – The ultimate babyface story came full circle at WrestleMania 35 as the 11-year WWE veteran, who has spent most of his career toiling in the mid card and the past five years as a member of The New Day in the tag team division, claimed the WWE Championship with a win over “The New” Daniel Bryan. With the victory, Kingston became the first African-born WWE Champion in history and is the 30th Triple Crown Champion and 20th Grand Slam Champion in the promotion’s history. It’s also the first singles championship for Kingston since his third reign as United States Champion was ended by Dean Ambrose at the May 2014 Extreme Rules pay-per-view show. He is also a four-time Intercontinental Champion and holds the singular record for the most days spent as a tag team champion. Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods then invaded RAW to challenge Rollins for a winner-take-all champions match that was interrupted by The Bar and changed to a tag match with Rollins and Kingston teaming against Sheamus and Cesaro. The New Day then had their triumphant celebration interrupted on SmackDown with a challenge from The Bar and Drew McIntyre. It looks like Kingston may enter a feud with The Scottish Psychopath soon.
1. RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch – Not too long ago, The Man said in a promo that she makes history every time she steps in the ring. She certainly accomplished that over the past week. Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey became the first women to work a main event match at WrestleMania. Though many fans wondered loudly on social media whether the pin Lynch got on Rousey was a legit botch by the referee, it nonetheless made Lynch the first woman to hold both the RAW and SmackDown women’s championships at the same time and an overall 4-time women’s champion. Like the other champs this week, Lynch didn’t get much time to celebrate as she fell victim to a pair of ambushes from Lacey Evans on RAW and SmackDown. The Man also issued a challenge on Friday to Sasha Banks, who reportedly tried to quit WWE over the weekend in anger over her booking and has allegedly been given some time by the company to consider her future. As if that’s not a big enough week, fan video posted to Instagram on Friday seemed to confirm rumors that Lynch and Rollins are dating as they were seen hugging at a music concert. If it’s one thing Lynch knows, it’s how to get people talking.