Every year, The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal that occurs either on the pre-show or main show at WrestleMania is usually a way to get every active talent on the card. While there are some that would prefer having a more marquee spot on the card, the battle royal does create an opportunity for those who are not involved in a major storyline to appear and receive a WrestleMania payday. The WWE talent that benefits from it the most is the one who wins the match at the big stage.
For this year’s winner, it was mainly for the celebrity factor. Since his Hype Bros partner Zack Ryder has been gone, Mojo Rawley has experienced mild success on SmackDown Live as a singles competitor. However, it was a surprise to most that he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Although this was the biggest achievement of Rawley’s career, it was not until the same day that the decision was made to make him the winner. Based on the odds, Sami Zayn was slated to win the day before. This was changed due to clearance of Rob Gronkowski to be involved, as explained in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
“For Mojo Rawley, it really came in from 3 p.m. Sunday until the start of the match. There had been big movement for Sami Zayn the day before. Obviously, Rawley’s win was more because of Rob Gronkowski being there and getting the okay to do the run-in spot.”
As shown by the decision to change the Undertaker vs. John Cena match to the mixed tag of Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse for the purposes of a higher level of media attention, celebrities have a major significance on influencing a match at WrestleMania.
When the battle royal was first introduced by Hulk Hogan in honor of Andre the Giant, it ended up simply being for the sake of an Andre statue trophy. For the first winner, Cesaro, it neither gave him a title opportunity, nor a push. Instead, he started to be managed by Paul Heyman, which led him to nowhere.
For The Big Show, it just made sense because he was a big man in the match, which made him a heavy favorite. Caught right between the war between The Miz and Damien Mizdow, Big Show was able to eliminate Mizdow last for the win. The biggest moment he received from that was a picture next to the trophy.
Baron Corbin winning the battle royal was a good jumpstart to his career, especially coming directly from NXT. Although he did not immediately got pushed after the win, but instead became involved in a long, meaningless feud with Dolph Ziggler. However, he gradually grew as a strong midcard heel, and competed for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 33. Although he was defeated, he competed against Dean Ambrose on the following SmackDown Live, and won. This is a strong indication that the title will change hands soon.
Following the battle royal win, the only thing that Rawley did on SmackDown Live was have an interview explaining how much Andre the Giant means to him. Based on the recurring hot-and-cold main roster career of Sami Zayn, it would be surprising if WWE would have done anything different with him.
Since his debut on the main roster, Zayn has mostly played the role of the fall guy, with only a few key victories against Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Rusev. Unfortunately, for Zayn, his future on the Raw brand looks to remain bleak. Perhaps a move to SmackDown Live would refresh the career path for Zayn but it does not look promising as of now.
[Featured Image By WWE]