Superstars with Most Momentum After WWE WrestleMania Week 2019
Everybody wants their WrestleMania moment, but once that's over and done with, a whole new season starts in WWE.
Following the onslaught of NXT TakeOver: New York, Worlds Collide at Axxess, WrestleMania 35 and both Raw and SmackDown, some major shifts in momentum have reshaped the WWE landscape heading into next week's Superstar Shake-up and beyond.
While the Road to WrestleMania was dominated by the likes of Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan and Ronda Rousey, new champions have been crowned and these Superstars will strike while the iron is hot.
Now that everyone can take a breath and reflect on what WrestleMania week brought, let's put the roster under a microscope and point out which wrestlers have the most momentum coming out of these shows.
Plenty of Superstars had big wins recently, but some matches were simply bigger than others and will mean more in the grand scheme of things.
For instance, Tony Nese captured the Cruiserweight Championship—the first title in his WWE career. He's at the top of the food chain on 205 Live, but that's the brand with some of the lowest viewership and his win was the opening match on the Kickoff show before WrestleMania 35..
Carmella's victory in the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal won't likely amount to much, as the winners here rarely get much of a push, but it's still another accolade on her list of accomplishments.
Finn Balor squashed Bobby Lashley to win the Intercontinental Championship. That's great, but he's simply back to where he was before he lost the title to The All Mighty at the beginning of March. There wasn't a huge dynamic shift.
Had Sami Zayn captured the title by defeating Balor, that would have propelled him to the main part of this list, but he failed to do so. Still, it's great to see him back.
Baron Corbin would have been on this list for beating Kurt Angle in his retirement match had he not been humiliated the following night on Raw and having the moment usurped further by Lars Sullivan's debut.
The IIconics shocked the world by winning the Women's Tag Team Championships—a major victory for them, but they did so in a way that made sure they didn't look particularly strong. It's doubtful anyone considers them to be on the path to a year-long title reign, though.
Whether by design or out of necessity from Rey Mysterio's injury preventing him from putting on a longer match, Samoa Joe was dominant at WrestleMania, retaining the United States Championship in next to no time.
Finally, there is Walter, who has had a rocket strapped to him since his debut in NXT UK. He was poised to win the United Kingdom Championship in no time and did just that, dethroning Pete Dunne at TakeOver: New York.
As such, Walter is now the figurehead of the NXT UK division and will be a gargantuan mountain for any challengers to climb.
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
It's not every day a wrestler ends a 269-match losing streak by winning a championship for the first time in 11 years alongside their best friend at WrestleMania and close to where they grew up, but that's exactly what Curt Hawkins did.
He and Zack Ryder had zero momentum heading into The Show of Shows, as their match wasn't even promoted on the go-home shows of Raw and SmackDown. Their rushed tease of a build was relegated to YouTube instead.
Perhaps even more shocking than the title win was how they managed to avoid the trap of losing the belts the next night on Raw, which has plagued plenty of Superstars in the past, including Ryder three years ago with the Intercontinental Championship.
Last year, the Raw tag team titles were a joke post-WrestleMania as they were held by Braun Strowman and a 10-year-old named Nicholas. That gag continued with the lackluster reign of The Deleters of Worlds, who dropped them to The B-Team and kept the bad luck flowing.
This year, despite being losers, Ryder and Hawkins have a chance to avoid that stigma if they are able to hold on to the belts and establish themselves as legitimate champions.
Thirty men were involved in this year's Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal but only one of them truly mattered: Braun Strowman.
This was, as expected, just a means to get a bunch of people on the card surrounded by the real crux of the segment that revolved around The Monster Among Men's interactions with Colin Jost and Michael Che.
While notable names such as The Hardy Boyz, Andrade and Luke Harper had their moments, it was Strowman who stole the spotlight, eliminating most people and winning out in the end.
As mentioned before, WWE has proved in six years that no actual value is attributed to the battle royals at WrestleMania, since nobody really seems to get a decent push out of winning them, but this may actually be the exception just because of Che and Jost.
The celebrity involvement means Strowman will inevitably receive far more attention in the media than any winner in the past, save for Mojo Rawley due to Rob Gronkowski's help.
In fact, footage of this could be worked into a future episode of Saturday Night Live, possibly even with The Monster Among Men hosting the show.
He also followed this up on Tuesday's SmackDown Live by upsetting Samoa Joe's attempt to make a statement about dominance. Whether this leads to a United States title feud between the two in the future remains to be seen after the Superstar Shake-up.
We won't know just how much weight has been given to Strowman's win until at least next week. However, this was the strongest he's looked in the past few months.
Clearly, WWE intended to have Johnny Gargano defeat Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: New York, but the latter's neck injury meant Adam Cole stepped in as a replacement.
Thankfully, instead of that feeling like a consolation prize, fans were treated to an amazing match that showcased how both Gargano and Cole are two of the best talents in the company and deserve the praise they continually receive.
Johnny Wrestling emerged victorious Friday, capturing the NXT Championship and ending TakeOver not just with the belt in his hands, but also with his wife by his side. Then he reunited with Ciampa, restoring their friendship and the DIY team for one of the biggest feel-good moments of the weekend.
Gargano is now the first-ever Triple Crown champion in NXT, having previously won the tag team and North American titles.
He has ascended to the top of NXT and firmly planted his feet as a contender for the best talent to go through WWE's developmental system. He may now need to change his nickname from Johnny Wrestling to Johnny NXT.
He took a beating and won by dubious methods, but Seth Rollins managed to take down Brock Lesnar to win the Universal Championship in the opening match at WrestleMania 35.
That is huge. Nobody beats Lesnar. That's kind of the point, as his entire character in the past three years has been stripped down to "the guy who wins four quick matches per year and is the unstoppable champion."
Their feud was as phoned-in as it could have been, with WWE putting the minimum effort into it and only recycling things that have been done better in the past. But with that behind us, WWE wants us to focus on the future.
Basically, let's move on and be excited for The Beast Slayer, who will give the Universal Championship its first true title reign since Kevin Owens.
Also, while fans hated the booking idea of The Bar interrupting Rollins vs. Kofi Kingston on Monday's Raw, at least The Architect got the win by pinning Cesaro to stand tall, even if the WWE Universe was less than willing to make it a celebratory moment.
To be The Man, you have to beat the man, and Becky Lynch managed to take out both the Raw and SmackDown women's champions by defeating Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair.
That didn't just happen at a random house show or B-level pay-per-view, either. It was the main event of WrestleMania—something that is one of the most historic things to happen ever in WWE.
There will never be another first-time women's main event of WrestleMania. This was it, and it was The Irish Lass Kicker who walked in with all the momentum on her side and walked out with two titles in her possession.
It's hard to think of another time when WWE put so much stock into one female Superstar by crowning her as the absolute focal point of the company, as has been done in the past with Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena and Roman Reigns.
This one act has sealed Lynch as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and she's only just getting started. There's no telling how long her reign will last or what amazing promos and matches she has ahead of her in this run.
There are plenty of happy moments when someone wins a championship, but few are so important that they make people burst into tears as many did when Kofi Kingston won the WWE Championship.
This was beyond a huge deal in so many ways, but even ignoring any historical aspects, Kingston checked off a bunch of boxes with his feat.
Not only is this his first world championship, but it is also the first piece of the puzzle to make him the next Triple Crown and Grand Slam champion in WWE.
Those two aspects are being lost in the magic of the New Day member's win because there are so many other things to focus on, but they are huge deals.
Kingston is now part of a club that consists of only 19 other men. He's in the same echelon as legends such as Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Booker T, Kane, Kurt Angle, Edge, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho.
Putting the belt on The Dreadlocked Dynamo was never the plan at the beginning of this year, but everything fell into place and it happened. Now, there is more vitality and positivity in the SmackDown title scene than there has been since AJ Styles dethroned Jinder Mahal in November 2017.
KofiMania was possibly the biggest highlight of WrestleMania season and may be the top thing fans are invested in going forward.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.