WrestleMania 30: Notable Superstars Who May Miss This Year's Event
WrestleMania is the Showcase of the Immortals and the biggest show of the year, and as such, the top Superstars in the industry meet in highly anticipated bouts.
With legendary competitors returning after a year on the sidelines and the pomp and circumstance of 'Mania becoming as important as the in-ring work, a handful of deserving stars will be left off the card completely or relegated to a spot on the kickoff show.
Some of those men are the brightest, most talented in-ring performers on the roster. Others are former WWE or world heavyweight champions. Still others are young stars who, for one reason or another, saw major pushes disintegrate before their very eyes.
Who are these Superstars, and why could they be on the outside looking in come WrestleMania XXX on April 6?
Without further ado, here are the answers to those two questions.
A year ago, Dolph Ziggler was in possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase and poised to become world heavyweight champion. He would accomplish that goal, capturing the title from Alberto Del Rio just 24 hours after WrestleMania 29 on Raw in front of a hot East Rutherford, N.J. crowd.
It was his crowning achievement and appeared to be the start of a main event push for the self-proclaimed Show Off. Unfortunately, a serious concussion and a series of controversial radio interviews resulted in a rapid fall from grace.
He lost the world heavyweight title back to Del Rio at June's Payback pay-per-view, settled back into the midcard in time for SummerSlam and descended further down the card following a losing streak. What appeared to be a promising 2013 for Ziggler ended with greater disappointment than any other year in his career.
2014 has not been much kinder, at least not so far.
Despite continuing to work hard as one of WWE's finest in-ring workers, Ziggler continues to float aimlessly throughout the abyss that is the middle of the card, winning some and losing more but never being involved in any substantial angles or programs.
One can only imagine his frustration. Despite working hard, continually delivering outstanding performances and being over, he finds himself trapped by the glass ceiling.
While the company has managed to find a spot on the card for him in years past, 2014 may prove to be the exception.
Alberto Del Rio
The Mexican aristocrat's tumble since last fall is something to behold.
The world heavyweight champion for the majority of 2013, Del Rio consistently delivered between the ropes, as evidenced by his matches against Big Show, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Rob Van Dam and John Cena.
The loss of the title and the unification of it and the WWE Championship left him without any real direction.
Since debuting back in 2010, he has constantly been involved in the championship hunt. His entire character was based on chasing after or being champion. It never evolved, so when the titles were unified and there was no longer any room for Del Rio in the picture, he lost his purpose.
Without the crutch of the title to lean on, WWE Creative has no idea what to do with the former champion. He was unceremoniously fed to Batista and has suffered losses to both Sin Cara and Ziggler.
Like Ziggler, Del Rio has not been involved in anything of note since dropping his championship and has no distinct direction as WrestleMania approaches.
Over the last week, a feud between the two Superstars has been teased, but if it does not end in an officially announced match on either the main card or the kickoff show, do not be surprised to find Del Rio watching the show from the sidelines rather than performing inside New Orleans' Superdome.
There was a time when Ryback was the hottest babyface in the industry. He was Goldberg-like character who dominated and tore through competition at an alarming pace.
He got so over by ripping apart enhancement talent and dispatching midcard Superstars that management felt comfortable enough and had enough faith in the "Big Guy" to have him replace an injured John Cena in a WWE title program against CM Punk.
A series of main event losses cooled him down significantly, a loss to Mark Henry at WrestleMania 29 did further damage, and an ill-advised heel turn the following night killed any chance he had of becoming the next top babyface for Vince McMahon's company.
Cena and Punk have decisively defeated him in programs, and he saw what could have been a beneficial alliance with Paul Heyman disintegrate in the 12 months between WrestleManias.
Recently, Ryback has formed a solid team with fellow former "Heyman Guy" Curtis Axel. They have exhibited great tag team chemistry, but an unimpressive win-loss record and zero momentum will likely result in the duo missing out on a spot on the WrestleMania card.
That is unless a multi-team match such as a Fatal 4-Way or Battle Royal for the tag titles is added to the main card or kickoff show.
Last June, Mark Henry was responsible for one of the most memorable moments of 2013 when he cut a retirement promo, only to reveal that it was a ploy to sucker WWE champion John Cena in for the World's Strongest Slam. So believable was he in his delivery, complete with genuine tears, that even the most cynical wrestling fans bought into his act.
Henry would challenge Cena for the title at July's Money in the Bank pay-per-view and, despite a loss in that bout, delivered his best in-ring performance of the year. An unfortunate injury and a questionable babyface turn prevented him from building any momentum.
As has been the case throughout the future Hall of Famer's career, injuries have cost him significant ring time recently, and the creative team has failed him with a lack of meaningful storylines. One of the marquee stars in WWE at one point, Henry's lack of importance to the show is alarming.
As WrestleMania approaches, he is seemingly lost in the abyss known as the WWE midcard, doing nothing warranting any attention.
Unless one counts serving as Brock Lesnar's personal tackling dummy.
Having just eaten his second F5 in as many months, Henry's WrestleMania prospects do not look promising.
Last fall, Big Show became the talk of the wrestling world when he engaged in a main event program involving The Authority and WWE champion Randy Orton.
Forced to do the bidding of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the World's Largest Athlete became a blubbering crybaby who drew the scorn of passionate wrestling fans who could not fathom someone such as him reducing himself to a sobbing mess rather than taking advantage of his iron-clad contract and knocking The Game out.
A poor performance in a WWE Championship match against Orton at Survivor Series effectively ended his run at the top of the card and sent him tumbling back down to a more suitable spot.
Then came a rather high-profile feud with Brock Lesnar, which culminated in him being brutally attacked by Lesnar with a steel chair.
Since then, Show has appeared on WWE programming as the handler of special guest host Betty White, as a member of the pre-show panels and this past Friday night on SmackDown as tag team partner to Daniel Bryan.
The reintroduction to programming comes just in time for the biggest show of the year, which gives hope that he may still play a major role on the April 6 broadcast. With so many other top stars headed for marquee matches on the show, however, one has to wonder exactly what is left for Big Show.
Will he partake in a meaningless undercard match? Perhaps he can compete in a tag team clash of some sort. Does WWE dare bring Money in the Bank back to the Showcase of the Immortals?
Whatever the case may be, it appears as though Big Show has a much better shot at receiving a WrestleMania payday than some of the other competitors on this list.
WrestleMania 27 feels like a lifetime ago.
At that 2011 show, The Miz entered Atlanta's Georgia Dome as the reigning and defending WWE champion. His opponent was John Cena, and to the dismay of those men and WWE management, the Superstars delivered a true clunker of a main event.
The Miz recovered, remaining one of the more visible stars on the roster and even feuded with Triple H, CM Punk, The Rock and Cena throughout the rest of the year.
Sometime in 2012, however, he fell out of favor with the powers-that-be and began a rapid descent down the card.
A babyface turn in December was meant to try to refresh the character, but the scripted nature of his promos and an unwillingness by fans to accept him as one of their heroes doomed the renewed push. He settled into the midcard and had a decent run as intercontinental champion, but by the end of 2013, he was just another guy on a roster full of them.
One of the company's go-to guys when it comes to media relations, Miz will always have a spot on the roster, but in regard to WrestleMania XXX and a spot on the card, that will not be the case for the former WWE champion.
One of the most intriguing matches on the WrestleMania 29 card featured all-time great and future Hall of Famer Chris Jericho taking on charismatic newcomer and ballroom dancer Fandango.
Many questions surrounded the new incarnation of former NXT star Johnny Curtis—the most prevalent being whether or not he could hang with someone of Jericho's stature on the biggest stage in the industry.
A dazzling entrance gave way to a very good match—one of the better ones of the evening.
A strong showing the following month in a loss to Jericho continued the impressive start to Fandango's main roster career. Then, a concussion sidelined him, and his push evaporated before his eyes.
Fandango has managed to rebound from a disappointing fall to remain a consistent part of WWE programming. Recently, a rivalry with Santino Marella and new Diva Emma has kept the consummate showman and valet Summer Rae in the spotlight.
While the program between him and Santino has been fairly entertaining midcard fodder, it is not by any means worthy of WrestleMania.
A very solid in-ring worker who is better than his gimmick suggests, Fandango will be another talented individual who will watch WrestleMania XXX from the backstage area.
Rey Mysterio is not only one of the most popular Superstars in WWE history, he is one of the best in-ring workers of his generation. The way he fuses his high-flying style with ring psychology is something that few luchadores who have come to the United States have been able to master.
He conquered the "land of the giants" that is WWE and became a bigger star in the promotion than anyone could have ever imagined. A first ballot Hall of Famer, Mysterio is the sport's biggest little man.
Unfortunately, his best days are behind him.
Injuries from years of impact and punishment have sidelined him multiple times over the last five years, and heated contract negotiations with the company have left him looking to be more on his way out than on his way to WrestleMania.
When in a tag team environment, Mysterio has thrived. His partners carry the majority of the workload in an attempt to protect the former world champion's health and allow him to hit his crowd-pleasing offense.
He has also held up surprisingly well in multiple-man matches, where he is not expected to take the brunt of the punishment.
Unfortunately, a recent injury suffered at a SmackDown taping appears to have sidelined him for an unknown period of time. If that is the case, Mysterio would miss what could be his last shot for a WrestleMania match.