Five Hot Takes From The Week In Wrestling: What We Wish Had Happened & More (2/29/2024)

Welcome back to another edition of Wrestling Inc.'s weekly hot takes column, home of our strongest and most spiciest opinions from the week that was. Which is to say, these are the takes that have been rattling around our heads as we consumed the last week of pro wrestling content; they could things that should have happened (but didn't), things that should happen (but won't) or things that are simply true (in our individual subjective opinions). Of course, just because we think these takes might be controversial, doesn't mean they actually are. Be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments!


And now, our hottest takes from the week beginning Friday, February 23, and ending Thursday, February 29!

Sami Zayn should dethrone Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER at WrestleMania

While its main roster world champions are already set with WrestleMania challengers, WWE has yet to fill in the blanks surrounding its two mid-card titles — the Intercontinental and United States Championships.


Coming off a successful title defense against Jey Uso, Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER is now looking ahead toward WrestleMania 40. On this week's episode of "WWE Raw," GUNTHER encountered a handful of potential WrestleMania adversaries, such as Alpha Academy's Chad Gable, The Judgment Day's Dominik Mysterio, and former three-time titleholder Sami Zayn. After receiving widespread acclaim for his performances in 2023, many fans, and even GUNTHER, have cast Gable as an ideal candidate to face off against "The Ring General" on WWE's grandest stage. Sami Zayn, however, presents a compelling case in his own right.

Upon his return to WWE television, Zayn lost five matches in a row, four of which were televised. It wasn't until after the 2024 Elimination Chamber event that Zayn finally picked up another win. Zayn, of course, has long been considered an underdog in WWE. With his fighting spirit (and unparalleled charisma), though, Zayn has not only captured the hearts of the WWE Universe, but has also propelled himself into a new tier of talent.


Last year, Zayn's efforts earned him an opportunity to challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Championship. Unfortunately, Zayn found himself on the losing end of the title match. Still, his fan support never wavered. Even after his tag team partner, Kevin Owens, was sent to the opposing brand, the WWE Universe continued to boast strong favor for Zayn.

With that in mind, it's time to not only put Zayn back on a winning track, but to also reward that loyalty with a significant singles championship moment. What better way to achieve that than by dethroning the ever-dominant, history-making GUNTHER at "The Show of Shows"?

Written by Ella Jay

Raquel Rodriguez needs a fresh coat of paint

WWE has pushed Raquel Rodriguez to the top of the women's division over the past few years, and that still rings true following her return a few weeks ago. While she certainly is the powerhouse that WWE intended for her to be and she's solid from an in-ring perspective, she could benefit from a character repackage.


When you think of Rodriguez's character, all that really comes to mind is smiling and showing off her (admittedly) impressive back. It just gets somewhat boring to watch after a while, and in a business built on characters, makes her feel less memorable and more forgettable. Everyone of her matches and promos almost start to blend and become muddled together, which is the exact opposite effect she should be having as a powerhouse.

There are two main avenues that could be taken when thinking about a new character for her. Rodriguez is pretty over with the fans and could be kept as a babyface, but take on a more serious mentality and approach. There feels like there could be more opportunities to explore with her as an intense character rather than a happy-go-lucky one, and she's shown that she can do it through the glimpses we've seen of it in the past. WWE could also do a complete overhaul of Rodriguez's character and turn her heel. Rodriguez has been a career babyface, and it would be interesting to see what she could do as a heel character. There are various classic motivations for her to turn heel, from turning her back on the fans to having her go on a losing streak and being frustrated with losing matches to being frustrated with a lack of title matches. Having her take on a more aggressive approach would be a side of Rodriguez fans haven't seen before, and would be cool to see play out.


Written by Olivia Quinlan

AEW should announce Mercedes Mone

This might sound obvious but Mercedes Mone is not CM Punk. Not in the "everyone is different and we should all celebrate that" kind of way, although that is true, but in the fact that she has not been away from wrestling for nearly a decade. While I understand Tony Khan wants to make 2024 "the new 2021," that is simply not the way time works. 2024 can never be 2021 because 2021 was "then" and 2024 is "now."


He should not be trying to recreate the aura of "The First Dance," CM Punk's surprise return to wrestling which wasn't a surprise. He's already done that. He should do something new. Make March 13th's "AEW Big Business" feel like an event. Big matches can do that, but so can announcing new AEW signee Mercedes Mone ahead of time. Mone doesn't have the surprise factor that Punk did, since she appeared in the stands at AEW All In in August. She has clearly always been the plan and it is deflating the excitement around March 13th just a hair.

While the event is nearly sold out, it isn't fully sold out, and certainly, more tickets are on resale sites as I type this. This should be the kind of event people are paying inflated StubHub prices for because they think "God forbid I miss this moment." People from Boston should be tuning in, frustrated that they are just miles away from a sold-out, packed show, electric with anticipation.


Mercedes Mone isn't some reclusive legend, returning from years in exile, she is a massive, modern star who is coming back from a snake-bitten, injury-laden attempt at stardom outside WWE's walls (pun barely intended). Announce Mercedes, and let her brag about selling out the show before she stepped into the building.

Written by Ross Berman

Tama Tonga shouldn't be part of The Bloodline

Following his victory over Shingo Takagi at Wrestle Kingdom 18, Tama Tonga announced that when his contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling expires, he will be moving on to start a new journey elsewhere. Shortly after his final match with NJPW at The New Beginning in Sapporo, multiple sources reported that Tonga would be on his way to WWE in the near future. While a date for his debut has yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, the news got people thinking about what he should do when he arrives, and a lot of people had one thing in mind; The Bloodline.


While I would never be against an in-ring veteran like Tonga being a part of one of the biggest stories in the history of WWE, not everyone in close proximity to The Bloodline needs to be part of the story. Look at Nia Jax, she's doing perfectly fine for herself and she is literally on the Anoa'i family tree. While Tonga's father Haku (or Meng for you WCW fans out there) is considered family by people like The Rock, just because you come from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, or any of the Polynesian Islands doesn't automatically mean you should throw up the ones.

Besides, Tonga has a much richer history with other people in WWE already. Finn Balor, The Good Brothers, and AJ Styles all have long histories with Tonga, and while the Bullet Club reunion boat might have sailed, pairing Tonga with someone like Balor would not only give him something fresh to do, but will had consistency for people who have followed his career since his beginnings in NJPW. There has been descension in The Judgment Day for months, why not let Tonga be the nail in the coffin of that story?


WWE would be foolish to put someone with the experience of Tonga on NXT, meaning that a story with The Bloodline is a big possibility. But if you asked me if I wanted to see the former seven-time IWGP Tag Team Champion reunite with Finn Balor, or team up with Solo Sikoa and be called "Duo Sikoa," I know what I'd go for.

Written by Sam Palmer

The main event of Stand & Deliver will be better than anything on WrestleMania 40

If you're like me and think you need a great story to have a great match, maybe you're also like me and are currently looking forward to Stand & Deliver more than WrestleMania. And that's mainly because the match that will almost certainly be the main event and involve Ilja Dragunov, Carmelo Hayes, and Trick Williams, has a better story behind it than anything happening at Mania.


Let's consider the options. Reigns/Rhodes 2 hasn't been great; the story is very muddled by the presence/interference of Dwayne Johnson, and while some individual moments have been fun, the Bloodline story in general isn't what it used to be. Seth Rollins vs. CM Punk would probably have had a great story, but Punk is hurt, so now Rollins gets Drew McIntyre, who honestly feels like he should be World Heavyweight Champion already. McIntyre is doing great work, but another singles title match between the two of them is uninspired, especially since Rollins has one foot constantly in the Cody/Bloodline feud. Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch has no story at all so far but has been promoted like all get out, whereas IYO SKY vs. Bayley is bursting at the seams with story but has been largely ignored from a promotional standpoint. Only the story of Trick-Melo Gang, with Dragunov as the third member of the emotion triangle, is both high-quality and the primary angle on a TV show.


If you've been following the "loved/hated" TV review columns since they started last year (back when we still did weekly reviews of "NXT") you know how invested I've been, for a while now, in the characters of Hayes, Williams, and Dragunov. I think they do great work together, they all have fascinating relationships with each other, and it frequently feels like we're half a second away from all three of them suddenly just making out. It's fine if that's not your jam, but I do think it's important people know that these guys are doing some truly monumental stuff on Tuesday nights, and I care how their story plays out more than just about any other wrestling story unfolding on the first weekend of April.

Written by Miles Schneiderman