10 years on, Matthew Roberts takes a look at where the superstars who made up the card at WrestleMania 27 are now. From Retired legends to current WWE Superstars, and a couple of new Hall Of Famers!
Sheamus Vs Daniel Bryan
Both are still in the WWE, although both spent quite a lot of time out of the ring for one reason or another. The main event feud with Drew McIntyre was Sheamus’ high profile start to 2021, whilst Daniel Bryan has muscled his way into the main event of this year’s Mania alongside Edge and Roman Reigns.
I’m not going through all the participants! Winner The Great Khali is one of the announcements for the 2021 Hall of Fame class. Many have been unkind about the fact but by the standards of the WWE/Vince McMahon Hall of Fame there is no reason why former World Champion Khali shouldn’t make the cut. Khali became a naturalised U.S. Citizen in February 2014.
Edge (w/Christian) Vs Alberto Del Rio (w/Brodus Clay and Ricardo Rodruiguez)
This was the last match of Edge’s career until his return at the 2020 Royal Rumble. He’s currently set to headline WrestleMania 37 in the Triple Threat match also including Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
Christian is the latest big-name (i.e. ex-WWE) signing for AEW, which came as a surprise to some given his appearance at the 2021 Royal Rumble match. The claim is that the WWE would only clear him for the occasional in-ring appearance, rather thatn the “full-time” gig he has apparently been offered in AEW. Tony Khan’s open chequebook won’t have harmed either.
The less said about Alberto Del Rio the better perhaps. It’s difficult to imagine that any promotion with any serious footing in the global marketplace would want to go anywhere near him.
Brodus Clay’s association with Del Rio was brief, and he went onto “greater” fame as the Funkasaurus in the WWE. When released in July 2014, Clay went to TNA under the Tyrus gimmick and had a near three year run there. He has recently been announced as signing some sort of deal with the NWA.
Rodriguez has generally kept a low-profile since his WWE run came to an end in somewhat acrimonious circumstances, although he has since admitted that whilst he was very bitter when leaving the WWE it would be wrong to place all the blame on the promotion and that he would jump at the chance to work for them backstage if the opportunity arose again.
Cody Rhodes Vs Rey Mysterio
Rhodes is, of course, one of the driving forces behind AEW and it has recently been announced that he and his wife Brandi are to be the subject of a new reality TV show on TNT. Rhodes is now a much bigger star than he was ten years ago albeit in a much smaller (but growing) pond.
Rey Mysterio left the WWE in 2015 after around 14 years with the company. He made a number of apperancnes for the likes of AAA, Lucha Underground and NJPW before returning “home” to the WWE in 2018. Currently somewhat on the backburner in terms of on-screen profile he is nevertheless still a regular on TV, most recently in storylines with his son Dominik.
Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston & Santino Marella Vs The Corre (Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel & Wade Barrett)
The Big Show shocked the world by signing for AEW recently, initially as a commentator but he is scheduled to wrestle for them.
Kane is currently the Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee (and has been since September 2018) and has also recently been announced for the 2021 Hall of Fame class.
Kofi Kingston is still on the active WWE roster and even rode the wave of “Kofi-Mania” in 2019 to lift the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35. In the past decade he’s been a multi-time champion both as a singles competitor and in tag teams with The New Day.
Santino Marella stayed with the WWE until 2014 before a third neck injury forced him into retirement although he did make sporadic appearances for the company all the way up to an appearance as “Santina Marella” in the 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Ezekiel Jackson will go down in history as the final ever “ECW” Champion, even if it was in the WWE’s much un-loved version. He would eventually fall out with The Corre’s leader Wade Barrett and was kicked out of the group. He got a modicum of revenge when he defeated Barrett for the Intercontinental Title. Jackson left the WWE in 2014 and made some brief appearances for TNA that same year. He was also part of one season of Lucha Underground as Big Ryck. He wrestled his last match in October 2015 and now is the owner of Byrckhouse Pro Wrestling, a promotion and training school in California.
Heath Slater is currently with Impact Wrestling, having left the WWE in July 2020 (so he had quite a run in terms of longevity). In 2012 he spent weeks being beaten up by veterans in the lead in to Raw’s 1000th episode, was part of the 3MB faction with Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, leader of the Social Outcasts faction with Curtis Axel, Adam Rose & Bo Dallas and in 2016 not only got the “I got kids” catchphrase over but alongside Rhyno was one half of the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions. In June 2019 he briefly captured the 24/7 title which marked his first ever singles title win in the WWE.
Justin Gabriel is now wrestling for Ring Of Honor, under the name of PJ Black, but has made appearances for TNA, Global Force Wrestling, Chikara, Lucha Underground and the NWA since leaving the WWE in 2015, quitting a day before a scheduled appearance in the Royal Rumble match. In the months after departing, Gabriel revealed that the Adam Rose character was originally intended for him and that Triple H shot down his ideas for a wolf-themed “daredevil” character he had pitched.
Wade Barrett is currently a play-by-play commentator on NXT, his return to WWE surprising some after some of his comments about the company. He became a naturalised American citizen in early 2021. After spells as “Bad News Barrett” and “King Barrett” Barrett left the WWE in 2016 to focus on his acting career. Neither WWE Studios’ effort Eliminators or 2018’s I Am Vengeance or the the 2020 Vinnie Jones sequel I Am Vengeance: Retaliation made a dint at the box office, though Barrett did get some praise from critics. Wrestling wise, Barrett remained out of the ring but did make appearances for WCPW/Defiant as commentator and on-screen authority figure, roles he reprised with the ill-fated reboot of World Of Sport in the UK. He was scheduled to appear in Lucha Underground Season 5 (having debuted in the season 4 finale) but the company folded before that could happen.
Randy Orton Vs CM Punk
Randy Orton, having teased/used the AEW’s apparent interest in him to boost his contract at renewal time, is still with WWE and still one of their most pushed superstars. 2020/21 has seen some of his best work in years, but we do hope that Alexa Bliss’ proclamation that the legend killer will die at WrestleMania 37 prove to be unfounded.
CM Punk famously walked out of the WWE in January 2014, totally fed up with wrestling and the WWE machine. After the WWE sent him termination papers on his wedding day, Punk vowed never to return to the company. Of a fashion he never has as his appearances on the Fox Sports series WWE Backstage were contracted to the TV station, NOT the WWE itself.
Punk’s UFC record is perhaps best left unsaid.
Michael Cole (w/Jack Swagger) Vs Jerry Lawler
Michael is still “THE” voice of WWE commentary for all intents and purposes. After spending over a decade on Raw, Cole is currently on the mic on Smackdown. Despite the Wrestling Observer readers nominating him as the “Worst Television Announcer” in 2020 (his sixth “award”) most recognise that to last so long in the tumultuous world of WWE broadcasting is quite an achievement in a position which is not as straightforward a working environment as some would believe.
Jack Swagger currently splits his time between AEW and MMA. And has become more popular than ever, I guess, as being in the background of the Jericho-inspired “Bad creative” meme photo. Make your own mind up about how creative Jack Swagger being in a main event faction was.
Jerry Lawler is currently a semi-regular analysist and commentator for the WWE. Surviving an on-air heart attack in September 2012, Lawler continued to commentate for the WWE and make the occasional in-ring appearance. As recently as 2019/20 he was commentating on Raw but has since been showcased on PPV kickoff shows. In January 2020, Lawler put his in-ring career on the line in Championship Wrestling of Arkansas. To surprise of very few, he won.
Special referee/enforcer Stone Cold Steve Austin is currently the host of the Broken Skull Sessions on the WWE Network/Peacock.
The Undertaker Vs Triple H
After a number of teases (and to be honest, outright examples of it) The Undertaker appears to have finally retired for good, with an in ring goodbye at Survivor Series 2020, thirty years after his WWE debut. After searching for years for the “perfect” send-off, Taker seems happy that his cinematic “Boneyard Match” with AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 was a good enough way to bow out.
Since then The Undertaker has been more open in public forums than ever before (although it’s a mistake to say that Taker had never spoken “out of character” before). Some of this has been fantastic; the Last Ride series on the Network is must see stuff. Some of his other comments have been less well received by fans.
Triple H currently resides as the Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development for WWE, as well as being the man behind NXT. He also still makes sporadic in-ring appearances, his last being an impromptu match with Randy Orton on Raw in January of this year when Drew McIntyre was unable to make the show as scheduled. This was his first match in 18 months. The move of NXT from a Network only show to a national TV weekly broadcast hasn’t all been plain sailing but it is still a thriving brand and if it’s a very public audition for talking over the reigns of the whole company one day I’d argue it’s working out ok.
John Morrison, Snooki & Trish Stratus Vs Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool & Layla (w/ Vickie Guerrero)
John Morrison was gone from the WWE by the end of 2011 but nearly a decade later returned and is currently part of The Miz/Bad Bunny storyline leading up to this year’s Mania. Morrison wrestled for the likes of Lucha Underground and AAA as well as becoming Impact World Champion in 2018. Away from wrestling he appeared in the film 20 Feet Below: The Darkness Descending as well as starring, writing and producing the film Boone: The Bounty Hunter (selling his house to finance the film). He also appeared in the 37th season of US TV Show Survivor and performed stunt work in the movie Birds of Prey.
Snooki was a cast member on the MTV reality show Jersey Shore (and some of it’s off-shoots) and appeared in WWE after some of her fellow performers had appeared in TNA. She has racked up numerous reality TV show credits in the year since, the highlight probably being an 8th place position in the 2013 series of Dancing With The Stars.
Trish Stratus was already “retired” before WrestleMania 27 but her appearance here was partly due to her role as a trainer on the revival of WWE Tough Enough. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 and returned to in-ring action at the 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble and teamed with Lita to defeat Mickie James & Alicia Fox at the women-only Evolution event. Trish was recently placed at #1 in the WWE’s “Top Women Superstars (of the modern era)” countdown on the Network.
Dolph Ziggler still remains under contract to the WWE and is I think currently (at time of writing anyway) one half of the Smackdown Tag Team Champions with Robert Roode. Some feel that his talents have been wasted by the WWE over the years. Jim Cornette even called him the “second coming of Curt Hennig”. Others think that a résumé that includes two World Heavyweight title reigns amongst numerous runs with the US, Intercontinental and various tag team titles is a fair reflection of his talents.
Michelle McCool is a two time Diva’s champion and a two time Women’s champion. She was gone from the company within months of WrestleMania 27, citing injuries mainly but also (later) acknowledging the stress that the situation of being The Undertaker’s girlfriend at the time (they would later marry) was causing frustrations from others that she had no wish to be a part of. She would return in the 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble and was also a part of the battle royale at that year’s Evolution ppv.
Her last match as a full-time WWE performer was with her partner here, Layla. They had disbanded after unsuccessful couples therapy and met at Extreme Rules 2011 in a Loser Leaves the WWE, no CO/no DQ match. Layla won. Layla had won the 2006 Diva Search competition and had been a part of Extreme Expose on ECW and managed William Regal on Raw before transitioning to the ring full time. She was a one-time Divas Champion and also was the last WWE Women’s Champion in 2010 before that belt was deactivated. (Look, the WWE women’s title lineage is complicated, alright!). She retired in 2015 and currently works as a real estate agent. She is married to former WWE wrestler Ricky Ortiz.
Vickie Guerrero is currently under contract to AEW, where she manages Nyla Rose. She had made sporadic appearances, usually to screech her “excuse me” catchphrase for the WWE over the years before that.
The Miz (w/ Alex Riley) Vs John Cena
Well, you certainly can’t deny that The Miz toughed it out and made something of his WWE career that almost everyone would have thought beyond him. And there’s not many who walk into the WrestleMania main event as world champion and also walk out as champion. Ten years later he would be World Champion again, but this time around the reign couldn’t last and instead, he will take on Bad Bunny at this year’s event. Away from the ring he starred in two of the Marine movies, was part of the reality series Miz & Mrs (with wife Maryse) and also hosted the Gameshow Cannonball on USA Network.
Alex Riley’s role as The MIz’s lackey is probably the highlight of his WWE run. In years to come after failing to shine in a wrestling role he was moved to colour commentary, generally on Superstars, NXT and Main Event. With the advent of the WWE Network he was portrayed at “The Analyst” and could usually be found on the pre-show panels.
He started a twitter campaign to return to the ring and whilst that worked, he had no more success the second time around. He was released from his contract in May 2016. He would go on to claim that by “standing up” to John Cena backstage he had made an enemy that used his power to negatively influence his career.
And what else can be said about John Cena. Currently in a sort of retirement without actually announcing it as such, even when he’s away from the ring people eagerly speculate about what he may or may not do every time Mania rolls around. Movie commitments seem to exclude his appearance this year, but we’re sure he’ll be back for one more run around the sun before he calls it quits for good.
Oh, and a somewhat unknown guy by the name of The Rock took it upon himself to make his presence known during the main event. I’ve no idea what happened to that fella…
Photos courtesy of WWE.com