Stock Up, Stock Down on Randy Orton and Big-Name WWE and AEW Stars

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2022

Stock Up, Stock Down on Randy Orton and Big-Name WWE and AEW Stars

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    Randy Orton is in the midst of one of his hottest runs of his entire WWE career.
    Randy Orton is in the midst of one of his hottest runs of his entire WWE career.Credit:

    Some stars in WWE and All Elite Wrestling have never been hotter, while others have fallen far from where they once were.

    Fans should expect to see the popularity level of several people across the companies fluctuate in the coming months with Double or Nothing, Forbidden Door, Money in the Bank and SummerSlam all approaching.

    As certain competitors gain traction and get more over with the audience, there are bound to be those who struggle to maintain their momentum.

    Randy Orton has been an obvious example of this in recent months. For someone who has officially been around for over two decades, it's extra impressive that he's currently more beloved than he's ever been if recent crowd reactions have been any indication.

    Fans being back in the arenas for the last year has made it much easier to determine what's working, what's not, and who has the audience behind them. All of those factors will be crucial to who will be emphasized on a little more and a little less heading into the ever-exciting summer season.

    This stock watch will take a look at who's on the rise in WWE and AEW and who could use a bit of a boost.

Stock Up: Randy Orton

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    Next to Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton is easily one of WWE's lead babyfaces right now. That's mostly due to the remarkable run he's had with Riddle in the tag team ranks over the last year.

    The two compliment each other exceptionally well and have done a commendable job of elevating the depleted Raw tag team division. Riddle has benefited hugely from the alliance, but The Viper has entered a whole other level of superstardom all together.

    He's always been a fan favorite regardless of whether he's been a face or heel, but his recent surge in popularity has been especially noticeable. Of the several names in Sunday's WrestleMania Backlash six-man tag team match main event, he was the most over.

    Orton feels fresher now than he has in many years, and he has never been happier with what he's doing. The end of RK-Bro is inevitable, but WWE should get everything out of this resurgence for as long as it lasts.

    Although he shouldn't be the one to end Roman Reigns' record-setting run as Undisputed WWE Universal champion, nothing is stopping the company from making him the challenger of the month and giving the people what they want to see: Orton back in the main event mix.

Stock Down: Chris Jericho

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    Chris Jericho has had quite the interesting run with AEW over the last three years, to say the least.

    The 51-year-old started out doing some of the best work of his career as the inaugural AEW world champion before becoming one of the worst parts of the show with the rest of Inner Circle. His face turn last year breathed new life into his character for a while, but it wasn't long until he was treading water again.

    There was hope when tension was teased within Inner Circle earlier this year and he started cutting killer promos with Eddie Kingston. It looked like he was about to branch back off on his own as a heel and that would have been the best possible role for him, but AEW threw a curveball by having him form The Jericho Appreciation Society instead.

    It's been just about two months since the group came together, and nothing they've done has stood out as special. Their ongoing rivalry with Kingston, Santana and Ortiz has been beyond bland and the emphasis on "sports entertainment" from Jericho has done more harm than good.

    Jericho deserves credit for trying something new and attempting to make it work, but it's clear his creative juices (wrestling-wise, anyway) aren't what they used to be and that The Jericho Appreciation Society should be disbanded to ensure his worth as a top talent.

Stock Up: Wardlow

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    In addition to its already established stars, AEW is in the process of creating new ones, with Wardlow being chief among them.

    The slow-burn build to his working relationship with MJF coming to an end has been fun to follow and it culminated in a face turn for him in early March. The blueprint for his feud with his former friend has basically been the same as MJF's feud with Chris Jericho last year, but crowds have been into it, nonetheless.

    More specifically, they've been incredibly into Wardlow, who has been perfectly handled since the storyline started. He went from destroying security backstage to then laying out every giant MJF has put in front of him to face.

    The 34-year-old will finally get his hands on MJF at Double or Nothing on May 29, along with his freedom if he wins. Given how popular he's been in this new role, it would be foolish for the outcome to be anything other than him winning clean.

    If AEW can continue to play its cards right, it may have a future AEW world champion on its hands with Wardlow.

Stock Down: Ronda Rousey

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    Ronda Rousey is a rare case of someone who is fresh off winning a title yet doesn't feel remotely as special as she should be.

    Her rookie year in WWE from 2018 to 2019 was so great that some fans looked forward to her return to the ring. Sure enough, she resurfaced at the Royal Rumble in January but has fallen victim to poor booking and questionable creative decisions since then.

    Truth be told, Rousey doesn't come off as likeable on WWE TV, which is why bringing her back as a babyface was the first odd move WWE made with her. Losing at WrestleMania 38 to Charlotte Flair didn't help her cause any, along with the many subpar promos she cut in the buildup to the event.

    Of course, her winning the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania Backlash was the right call, but now it becomes a question of what's next for her. She's over as a face with a good-sized portion of the audience, but the momentum she has following her title win on Sunday night won't last long.

    If she isn't going to turn heel (the role she appears to be most comfortable in) any time soon, then building up credible challengers for her to defend against is a must.

    Rousey's return up to this point has been underwhelming and she's only trended downward since January, but it is possible for it to turn around if she's given a mouthpiece and other things fall into place.

Stock Up: Cody Rhodes

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    A change of scenery can do wonders for a wrestler, and no one has known that to be true in 2022 more than Cody Rhodes.

    Toward the tail end of his stint in AEW, the 36-year-old was having quality matches but lacked direction as a character. His refusal to turn heel also created a confusing dynamic and made it difficult for fans to cheer him.

    Since returning to WWE at WrestleMania 38, though, Rhodes has been one of the most popular babyfaces on the entire roster. He's been booked strong and gone unbeaten in one-on-one action.

    It was made clear on Monday's Raw that his rivalry with Seth Rollins isn't over yet, but thanks to the stellar chemistry the two share in the ring, that should be seen as a positive.

    This string of wins over The Visionary and other members of the red brand should be what ultimately earns him a shot at Roman Reigns' Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

    Not only that, but all signs point to The American Nightmare being the one to dethrone him as champ. He has everything going for him at the moment, and WWE would be smart to strike while the iron is hot with him, ideally by SummerSlam.

    As a recent recurring highlight on Raw, Rhodes' return to WWE has been a resounding success.

Stock Down: Adam Page

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    Even as the reigning AEW world champion, Adam Page still feels much colder as a character now than he has in some time.

    Six months ago, you couldn't find a hotter babyface in wrestling than the 30-year-old. His chase for the title was masterfully executed, and it was a major moment when he unseated the unbeatable Kenny Omega at Full Gear 2021.

    Page has had some strong defenses throughout his reign, but through no fault of his own, he has been booked like an afterthought for the better part of the year. Other stars have been more of a priority for AEW lately, and almost everything he's been involved in has been pretty paint-by-numbers stuff.

    Thankfully, he has remained over with the audience, so it's not as if the fans have turned on him or given up on him entirely. It's important for the promotion not to turn him heel any time soon and instead make him a focal point on the program every week.

    It's not imperative he beat CM Punk to retain his title at Double or Nothing, but the road to the pay-per-view will be telling as far how AEW views him compared to The Best in the World. He must reclaim his spot as AEW's biggest babyface or risk gradually becoming just another guy on the roster.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.