Five Hot Takes From The Week In Wrestling: What We Wish Had Happened & More (3/14/2024)

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 be 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, March 8, and ending Thursday, March 14!

Drop the 'Wardlow.' Just 'Mr. Mayhem.' It's cleaner.

I might not agree with some of the names "WWE NXT" foists upon wrestlers, but I do understand the idea behind separating the character from the person. It can be a burden to have your stage name and your real name be the same name. These are not the reasons I think Wardlow should change his name.


AEW has been working so hard to work some kind of "war" pun into a nickname for Wardlow, "War Dog," "War Ready," etc. etc., but in recent weeks they've been calling him "Mr. Mayhem," and that feels like a much better wrestling name than "Wardlow." I know it's his real last name, it's a fine last name, but it's a mouthful and comes off jumbled in introductions. Who is Wardlow? It's been very hard to define."Mr. Mayhem," on the other hand, is clear as day. He promises mayhem, and he brings it. End of story.

"Who is that," your non-wrestling friend might ask, shocked at the sight of this mountain of muscle. Saying "That's Wardlow" requires a lot of explanation: "No I promise, he's supposed to be the next big thing, in fact he's kinda wearing out his welcome as the next big thing, etc, etc." With each syllable, your friend's interest grows dimmer. Wardlow needs a name that makes you taste blood, the kind of name that lights a fire in the cockles of your heart and turns it into a combustion engine. War is costly. War requires planning. War can actually be very boring. Mayhem, on the other hand, is free.


"Who is that?"

"That's Mr. Mayhem."

Enough said.

Written by Ross Berman

Bianca Belair should test her WrestleMania streak against a WWE legend

With three consecutive wins, Bianca Belair is currently undefeated on the main stage of WrestleMania. Despite that, Belair's direction heading into this year's big event remains relatively fuzzy. With that in mind, it may be time for "The EST" to test herself, and her streak, against one of WWE's most aggressive, and flawless, characters. Of course, I'm talking about none other than former WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool.


While McCool's status as a full-time performer is far behind her, recent years have proven that she can still lay down some mean strikes in a wrestling ring. McCool's latest in-ring appearance took place when she emerged as a surprise entrant in the 2023 Women's Royal Rumble match.

Following her previous outings in the Royal Rumble match (2018 and 2022, respectively), McCool heaped praise on the current roster of women in WWE, highlighting the likes of Liv Morgan, Zelina Vega, and Becky Lynch. If provided the opportunity to work a one-on-one match, though, McCool pinpointed the "crazy strong" and "crazy talented" Bianca Belair as an ideal opponent.

Given that both women's champions are already paired with WrestleMania challengers, McCool is certainly a compelling potential opponent for Belair. In addition to boosting her resume alongside a WWE legend, a face-off with McCool allows Belair to further her WrestleMania legacy with a notable non-title match as well.


Personal resumes aside, WWE fans also love a good crossover between generations. We've already seen the success of Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair vs. Trish Stratus, and Lita vs. Becky Lynch, so why not continue the trend with Bianca Belair vs. Michelle McCool? Especially since a little birdie (or report, rather) told us that McCool will be in the Philadelphia area next month...

Written by Ella Jay

Cody vs. The Bloodline is making the rest of the WrestleMania card feel insignificant

WrestleMania season is perhaps the most exciting time of year for wrestling fans, with plenty of anticipation generated from the build of the matches. However, this year sort of feels different, almost as though that excitement isn't quite there.


Much of this year's show has revolved around the storyline between Cody Rhodes and The Bloodline. While it should be the central storyline of the Premium Live Event with the build around "finishing the story", it feels as though it's overshadowing everything else on the card and taking away from other big matches. Take Seth "Freakin" Rollins and Drew McIntyre clashing over the World Heavyweight Championship as an example — a match featuring two of WWE's top stars that should tell a simple story about them, but has instead become about Rollins' partnership with Rhodes to take down The Bloodline.

Rhodes and The Bloodline have also been given ample time in their promos over the past few weeks, and while it makes sense for them to be given said time to tell a good story, it takes away time on the show from other storylines that deserve to have that same time. The build for Bayley and IYO SKY's Women's Championship match has been very good thus far, but it feels as though they get a 5-minute max segment every week. That storyline deserves to be given as much time as Rhodes and The Bloodline, especially with how much history there is between them.


Aside from that, certain parts of the show feels a little unimaginative. Rhea Ripley's Women's World Championship challenger in Becky Lynch was decided through an Elimination Chamber, match which is fine, but a little pedestrian. Elsewhere, the inevitable brother vs. brother match between Jimmy and Jey Uso should be more interesting than it is, and feels like it should've been done a few months ago rather than next month.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

WWE cannot find the perfect pace

In a similar vein to my dear colleague's hot take (hi Olivia!) we need to talk about WWE's recent pacing.

I say "recent", but really, their pacing sins date back to as far as two years ago. WWE's storylines have either been painstakingly drawn out and kept on life support for far longer than they should have, or they have been so fast-paced that whole feuds have become "blink and you'll miss it" moments — by the time the match comes, you haven't had any time to soak in the build to it, because there was no build. WWE's storylines are done at either an agonizingly slow pace, or at breakneck, Formula 1-adjacent speeds.


Let's look at Cody Rhodes' infamous, two-year long story as an example of the first one. To be clear, I consider Rhodes' story to the top of WWE, to singles gold, to have started around the same time of his return at WrestleMania 38. Depending on if you want to count his first feud with Seth Rollins as part of that timeline, Rhodes' story has been two years long at most, or a year and some change at least. I don't think I'm alone when I say that this is far too long. Rhodes' popularity as WWE's top babyface is the only thing keeping his story afloat, and even now, there is a vocal part of the WWE Universe who are sick and tired of him because of the lack of closure in his story. There are people who groan when they hear that wrestling has more than one royal family, because even though Rhodes has come out on top against the company's top stars, he is constantly associated with a storyline that is unnecessarily long and far overdue on its finish. WWE has gone overboard with their application of long-term storytelling. Sure, when Rhodes finally wins singles gold (and he has to at WrestleMania 40, otherwise this opinion will become very relevant) it'll feel great, but his reign will forever be plagued by the absolutely insane timeline it took to get there.


There are a few ideas that come to mind when we want to talk about storytelling that is done so quickly or hastily, you can hardly relish it. For me, the Becky Lynch/Rhea Ripley feud ahead of WrestleMania 40 has felt messy and rushed, like they're on some timer to do this feud as fast as they can, to use Lynch and Ripley before they spoil. As someone who is such a fan of Lynch and Ripley's work separately, it feels disrespectful to have Lynch appear at the WrestleMania 40 press conference, basically confirming that she would win the Elimination Chamber and challenge Ripley. Now both women feel like they're traveling at racecar-level speeds to WrestleMania, and after their match, we all will look at each other and wonder just how we got here. Giving wrestlers such limited time to both make good weekly TV and prepare for WrestleMania feels like the greatest disrespect combined with a request for the biggest favor. Do Ripley and Lynch need a year or two to complete their feud? No, of course not. Should they be given a bit more time if they are expected to put on a good feud and carry weekly television segments? Absolutely.

If you want a story, you actually have to tell a story. This whole game of dragging out storylines and wasting talents' time under the guise of "long term storytelling," or the polar opposite where things are booked so quickly you can feel the messiness and hastiness — it hurts everybody. The payoff is not nearly as great because of the train wreck that came before it. Superstars have their time wasted, the audience is no longer invested in the faces they see on the television, and everybody loses. WWE has been in the game for forty years, and they can't find the perfect pacing to give their feuds a proper build-up and send-off? That is unacceptable, and it is a huge reason why the "biggest WrestleMania of all time" feels like an utter flop.


Written by Angeline Phu

The Continental Crown is a dumber idea than the 24/7 title

I have so much love for Eddie Kingston as a performer, and I know he loves Japanese wrestling, and I know the whole "American Triple Crown" thing probably means a lot to him. But it hasn't even been three months and the Continental Crown is officially the stupidest thing in AEW — a wrestling promotion so dumb that still inexplicably employs Chris Jericho.


Unifying the ROH World Championship with one of NJPW's less prestigious belts and another AEW title that Tony Khan just made up out of thin air always seemed like a dubious idea, especially considering, you know, the fact that Khan owns ROH and is currently running an ROH TV show. There were questions from the start, including "are the titles actually unified" and "if not, what are they?" Khan has deftly avoided these questions through the clever means of putting his fingers in his ears and yelling that he's not listening, so we've basically been left to figure out what the rules of the title are by guesswork — sifting through AEW's chaotic booking to try and figure out what everything means. 


It certainly felt initially like the three titles were now one. As far back as the media scrum following AEW Full Gear 2023 in November, Khan indicated that it would be a single championship that would be defended in AEW, NJPW, and ROH, as well as in 2024's Continental Classic tournament.

"Whoever wins this tournament is gonna come away with a very, very prestigious title," Khan said. "And it's actually not just creating more championships in wrestling — it's actually consolidation, but more importantly, it's cooperation. What this triple crown means is that the winner of this tournament is going to be creating a championship that's very prestigious, and a champion that represents three different companies."

And indeed, while official details have remained hard to come by, since Kingston won the Continental Classic at Worlds End the Continental Crown has been defended on two episodes of AEW TV, one AEW PPV, and one NJPW PPV (It has not been defended on ROH programming) with all three belts on the line each time. But suddenly, this past week, that changed. On "Dynamite," after beating Kingston in trios action, Kazuchika Okada held up just one of Kingston's three title belts, for literally no reason. Now Okada is wrestling Kingston for solely the AEW Continental Championship on next week's "Dynamite," while it was announced on Thursday that Kingston would defend the ROH World Championship, on its own, against Mark Briscoe at Supercard of Honor.


This is just flatly ridiculous. If the titles can be defended separately, they are not unified. If they're not unified, what was the point in any of this? Why not just have the winner of the Continental Classic win the Continental title, and have that coincidentally be Kingston, who already held the other two? Why make a big fuss about the Triple Crown? And why did the title's booking suddenly change? Did NJPW get cold feet? (next time maybe don't unify titles you own with a title you don't.) Did Tony suddenly realize that the ROH world title hadn't been defended in ROH in four months and that he should probably book a title match for Supercard of Honor? (next time maybe don't make the top men's singles title on one of your wrestling shows part of a Triple Crown deal.) Or was simply none of this planned out in any coherent way, with no details ever provided for how this supposed championship was supposed to work? (next time maybe just don't do any of this.)

The 24/7 Championship is possibly the dumbest title in WWE history, an ill-conceived attempt at bringing back the Hardcore Championship in the PG era. You know what it had, though? Rules that make sense. You might have been confused as to who the 24/7 Champion was at any given moment, but you were never confused about how the title changed hands — about the fundamental rules that governed the championship. If Okada beats Kingston on Wednesday (and do you really think Okada is losing his first official AEW singles match?) the Continental Crown will effectively cease to exist, since two different people will be holding pieces of it. What does that mean for the future of the American Triple Crown and the 2024 Continental Classic? Nobody knows, because nobody knows how any of this works. Nobody knows what the rules are — probably not even Khan. What we do know is that, while Triple Crowns historically do not last long, even the J-Crown lasted more than three months. If the Continental Crown was established on New Year's Eve and gets blown up before Easter, this was all a profound waste of time.


Written by Miles Schneiderman