WWE SmackDown 3/8/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE SmackDown," the show where the mens' entrances are longer than the women's matches! If you feels like that's sort of setting the tone for this week's column, you would be correct — the WINC crew were very much not in love with this episode, and we have a lot to say about both the women's division and the main event promo segment. We do hit a few other things as well (it would be unfathomable to not have an opinion on the PRIME logo getting slapped on the center of the ring) but if you're after something resembling completion, it's our "SmackDown" results page you're looking for. This is the place to be if you want to know which parts of "SmackDown" garnered the biggest positive and negative reactions from us.


So, was the sight of Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins answering The Rock's WrestleMania challenge worth the wait? Is the Pop-Up RKO the new coolest tag team move in wrestling? And most importantly, was somebody at WWE reading this column last week? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 3/8/24 episode of "WWE SmackDown."

Hated: PRIME in a prime location at WrestleMania & beyond

Well, folks. We knew since the WWE's merger with the UFC to create TKO Group Holdings that this was coming. The center-ring advertisements, like they have in the octagon. I, personally, just didn't think it was going to be for a company that sells energy drinks to children. But hey, maybe I'm just daft because United States Champion Logan Paul's PRIME energy and hydration drink company was right in front of my face the entire time. During tonight's "SmackDown," Paul said he had a historic announcement for the fans in Dallas when he kicked off the show, and this honestly wasn't what I was thinking it would be. I was hoping we'd set up his match against Randy Orton at WrestleMania 40 in an official capacity, but, nope. We just found out that PRIME is now the center-ring sponsor for all WWE premium live events moving forward, starting at Mania.


Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge because I've only ever had one PRIME energy in my life (and will probably be entitled to financial compensation in the coming years for how much caffeine those suckers pack) and never had their hydration drinks, but I still think it's pretty lame. The logo itself at center-ring is just... tacky. Maybe if it wasn't the full bottle and just maybe "PRIME" written in the middle of the ring, I'd be a little more okay with it. Also, we got the involvement of Paul's business partner, or as he called him, his "partner in PRIME" (insert cymbal crash here) KSI. Maybe it's because I'm in my 30s and don't watch the Paul brothers on YouTube, but I didn't know who KSI was when he rocked up at WrestleMania 39, I think even wearing a PRIME bottle costume – or that could have been another one of Paul's friends, I honestly have no idea – and I still don't know anything about him now. He's not a wrestler like Paul, he's not signed to WWE, us older fans have no idea who he is, so just leave him out of it. He was brought in just to take the RKO from Randy Orton, but Orton sneaking in the ring to try and take out Paul, and Paul just simply rolling out of the ring and getting away, would have been just as effective to me. Who cares about this random guy getting hit with the RKO? He went through a table at WrestleMania and his "partner in PRIME" didn't seem to care at all. Call me old, but I just don't get it.


The moral of this story, this hate in the story, is that most fans knew this was probably coming, and while it does make sense at WrestleMania, PRIME has been a pretty controversial topic in the past due to its wild caffeine content and its marketing toward kids. So, WWE is going to let that slide, when it used to be a problem for wrestlers to even stream on Twitch and make their own money? What about OnlyFans? Not that I expect WWE to do the morally right thing, though it has been getting better under the Triple H regime, it just seems a bit tacky to me, and like maybe they shouldn't have chosen a brand owned by one of their performers. Either way, get your Slim Jims and your Cherry Freeze PRIME water ready for WrestleMania, folks, because WWE is about to go heavy on the advertisements on the "Grandest Stage of Them All."

Written by Daisy Ruth


The team of Randy Orton and Kevin Owens is working so well for me right now that I can't imagine how this didn't happen before. Granted, I am a longtime fan of both men so this is a pairing created with me specifically in mind, but even looking at it objectively, they line up so well together as a unit you'd have thought somebody would have stumbled onto this idea in like, 2018 or something.


Character-wise, it just makes sense that these two guys would get along. They're both unstable antihero babyfaces in the Steve Austin mold, prone to attacking anybody in their immediate vicinity regardless of alignment. You can see them appreciating each other's ruthlessness and capacity for violence, like the idea of teaming up had never occurred to them before, either, but neither knows why. Their characters aren't the only elements that easily fit into place — hell, their initials even go together. And now, they have one of the more legitimately cool tag team finishers I've seen in quite some time: the Pop-Up RKO. It's exactly what it sounds like, and it RULES.

I don't really know where this thing with Logan Paul is going heading toward WrestleMania, and there's definitely part of my brain screaming that they could have just kept Owens and Sami Zayn together if they wanted Kevin in a tag team. But at the immediate moment, I can't hear any of those concerns over the sound of Austin Theory getting absolutely MURDERED TO DEATH.


Written by Miles Schneiderman

Hated: Three minute women's match on International Women's Day

I was beginning to think that WWE gave the women the night off from the ring to celebrate International Women's Day.

Right on time in the 9 o'clock hour came one (1) women's match. Tiffany Stratton took on Michin for a (roughly) three minute match. Stratton got a full entrance, but Michin did not. Having a match that can fit in a video on Twitter is not a good look. It's quite pathetic, actually.


Prior to the lone women's match, there were two backstage segments with women. At least there was character development and storyline movement. I guess having two women's segments leading into a women's match counts as solid television time for the division. There was another women's segment with Damage CTRL later. Women's empowerment, amirite?

The entrance for The Bloodline, Cody Rhodes, and Seth Rollins lasted three times as long as the women's match. Read that again. Most of the main event was entrances. "The Tribal Chief" wanted them to be acknowledged and tell Rhodes he wasn't finishing his story. Just compelling stuff.

The Rock started to rattle off the stipulations that everyone is aware of. The segment boiled down to The Rock invoking Cody's father, the fans chanting "diarrhea", and Cody slapping The Rock in the face before running out of time. Quality television or so I'm told.


I've already pointed it out, but it bears repeating: The WWE Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 40 is not getting the attention it deserves. Bayley has continuously been disrespected since winning the rumble match. When you repeatedly downplay one of your biggest matches and then throw on a women's match to check it off your list feels condescending. The women deserve time to not only tell stories in backstage segments, but also in the ring. Not a "here, damn" match in an attempt to appease women's wrestling fans.

Written by Samantha Schipman

Loved: What does it mean to be good?

Bianca Belair and Naomi had a segment reacting to Bayley's interview on Friday's edition of "WWE SmackDown." While Naomi was particularly sympathetic to Bayley's current plight with Damage CTRL — and her kindness should be celebrated — the "EST of WWE" was not as gracious and giving as her friend.


It seems odd on the surface. Belair is one of the women's division's top babyfaces, and she has been for a majority of her main roster run. At first, I was confused by her grudge-keeping and hostility towards a wounded Bayley; keeping grudges and refusing to be empathetic are antithetical to the babyface character, who is designed to be compassionate and helpful to those who are in need. A part of me was wondering if this was foreshadowing a Belair heel turn — which, for the record, could be a practical way to give Belair's character a refresh.

However, I don't think that a heel turn is on the horizon for Belair. If there was, she would not have eventually extended her however-half hearted support towards Bayley in the tail ends of the segment, and there is little reward in her sights if Belair was to turn heel so close to WrestleMania 40. So, if Belair is (probably) not turning heel, but still self-reportedly "said what she said", then what does this mean for the "EST"?


Simply put, I think that the women's division is redefining what it means to be a face. We have seen the development of face characters and motivations in the women's locker room over on "WWE Raw", where Lynch and Morgan are both being presented as faces, but also as aggressive revengers. Now, Belair is putting in similar character work to complexify what a face is. Sure, she is overall a tenacious fighter with a strong sense of justice, but that moral compass and strong personality that she has built her brand off of also makes her a grudge-holder who does not forget the years of hell Bayley put her through since her return at SummerSlam 2022. She is not a heel — she is not a selfish fighter who uses unjustified, underhanded tactics to secure cheap victories — but she is slowly deviating from the happy-go-lucky, inspiration-overflowing babyface we have become accustomed to her being. She is giving depth with her character.

If you think I'm overthinking this small change in character work, you might honestly be right. I would implore you, however, to take a look at Kevin Owens, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Usually referred to as "tweeners," these men are tough as nails, and do not forget the woes that were imposed onto them — Owens had a whole feud with Ezekiel/Elias, and once rightfully called Seth Rollins out for trying to be friendly weeks after a heated feud between the two. However, they are paraded as the "good guys" in the company; they are the people who fight on the right side of feuds, despite their rough edges and non-babyface-aligned behavior. These men have established diverse babyfaces with motivations and quirks that go outside the traditional merciful, bubbly face. Why is it different when the in-ring performer is a woman?


Truly, the women's division is evolving at a rapid pace. Their characters are diverse, their storylines are rich and have multiple viewpoints, and their actions inspire words upon words of analyzing. If you want to see people who can portray dynamic characters and look good while doing it, then all you need to do is look at WWE's top women. They remind us that wrestling is storytelling.

Written by Angeline Phu

Loved: We hear from Damage CTRL, and not just Dakota Kai

Last week in this very column, I lamented that not letting the Japanese members of Damage CTRL speak while letting Shinsuke Nakamura speak is both racist and misogynistic. Throughout the faction's history, Bayley was the mouthpiece. We occasionally heard from the other women, but it was generally just a few words.


On last week's "SmackDown," it was Dakota Kai's turn to be the mouthpiece. IYO SKY and the Kabuki Warriors flanked her, but said nothing. Nakamura got to speak, this time without subtitles.

We need to hear from SKY leading up to her match at WrestleMania 40. Not via Kai, but directly from the champion. I suggested that they give her subtitles in a pre-recorded segment. Lo and behold, that's exactly what they did for SKY, Asuka, and Kairi Sane. The women were able to clearly get their message across. It was simple, but effective.

This should be how they continue to build their matches. Kai can be an enhancement for their promos, but doesn't need to be the de facto mouthpiece simply because she's a native English speaker. There are ways to build this match on the Road to WrestleMania that allows SKY to be effective in her communication.


Written by Samantha Schipman

Hated: The acceptance speech

I don't even really know where to start with this one.

I can usually find at least one nice thing to say about a segment, whether that's something big or small, but there is nothing nice I can think of to say about the closing segment between The Rock, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, and Seth Rollins. The first 10-15 minutes of the segment were literally taken up by three entrances back to back to back, which normally would be fine, except they were for the three stars who have the longest entrances in WWE in Rhodes, The Rock, and Reigns. While it's fun for the crowd to cheer them all, it made for dead air on television which is never good for a two hour show. None of this was helped by the fact that Corey Graves felt the need to voice his amazement at Rollins and Rhodes entered through the crowd, as if Rollins hadn't done that in the past on a weekly basis as a member of The Shield.


When the entrances were finally done, Rhodes decided it was the perfect time to take a minute to soak things in which would otherwise be fine if the ten minutes prior hadn't been spent on entrances. The dialogue that followed throughout the rest of the segment was mediocre at best (and certainly not aided by the "diarrhea" chants raining down from the crowd), but Reigns' line about Rollins being a cross-dresser was especially a turnoff for the rest of the segment. Something like that is just absolutely unacceptable in the year 2024 and made for an awkward and uncomfortable moment of viewing.

I didn't mind Rollins' part of the segment, but with that said, he felt a little bit lost throughout the whole thing. He just felt like he was taking a back seat to Rhodes and The Bloodline, which is bad given that he's the World Heavyweight Champion and defending his title against Drew McIntyre at the Premium Live Event.


If all that wasn't enough, the segment just kind of ended awkwardly, with Rhodes slapping The Rock. It was apparent that they ran out of time, and did nothing to help an already trainwreck of the match. Knowing that they ran out of time is made all the more frustrating when you know they could've easily saved time by cutting down on entrances.

The build for the match between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes at Night Two of WrestleMania has already been messy enough as is, but this segment did nothing to help change that and just made it less enjoyable. I may be alone in this, but I am looking less and less forward to the match as the days go on, which is not the feeling that I should be having as the PLE inches closer and closer.

Written by Olivia Quinlan