The Week In Wrestling (3/14/24): 3 Promos That Rocked & 3 That Fell Flat

It's time once again for Wrestling Inc.'s look at the best and the worst promos from the past seven days in the wrestling industry! This week's column covers the period from Friday, May 8 to Thursday, May 14, moving forward in chronological order.


Surprisingly, "WWE Raw" is not represented in our picks this week, likely for the first time ever. What might be even more surprising is the attention we paid to two shows in particular: "WWE NXT" and "AEW Dynamite" (with a little "SmackDown" thrown in). It's different from our usual collection of promos, but you never know what will grab you (or turn you off) during a talking segment. That's one of the reasons promos are so important in wrestling — a great one can make a superstar in a single night, while a bad one can sink even the most heavily pushed of chosen ones.

With that said, let's take an in-depth look at the week in wrestling promos. Which ones did we like? Which ones did we hate? It's time to find out.


Fell Flat: SubPrime Energy (WWE SmackDown)

Sponsorships make money, but they do not make for compelling television viewing.

The opening segment of Friday's "SmackDown" featured United States Champion Logan Paul revealing that his energy drink company, Prime, had partnered with WWE. He then invited his business partner KSI in the ring before the pair were confronted by Randy Orton and KSI took an RKO from Orton.


This partnership easily feels like something that could've been announced over social media or Paul's "ImPAULsive" podcast rather than on television. Given that Paul doesn't have a challenger announced for his title at WrestleMania and the Premium Live Event is only three weeks away, WWE could've used this time to further build a storyline up between him and Orton or Kevin Owens, or even create a new storyline for him altogether if they pleased. It just wasn't as effective as WWE intended, and certainly did not help that it was positioned as the opening segment of the show meant to set the rest of the tone for everything else to come.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Rocked: New Prodigy just dropped (WWE NXT)

I don't know for sure whether the Roxanne Perez heel turn came about as a result of Cora Jade's injury and the subsequent vacating of a top heel spot in the "NXT" women's division, but if so, it's been one hell of a silver lining, as evidenced by her promo on "NXT" this week.


Perez has never been a phenomenal promo, and her delivery here was still a little stilted, but this was by far the best mic work she's ever done. Her facial expressions and intonations really captured the intensity of emotion she was going for, and going back and forth between angry yelling and giggling laughter was effectively creepy. More than that, though, was the content of the promo itself. I'm a sucker for character motivations that call back to previous events, and Perez basically ran down a full year's worth of previous events, from the fans starting to turn on her during her title run, to her having to vacate the title, to Becky Lynch's arrival in the title scene, to her more recent history with Lyra Valkyria. While it was very much a story told by a heel, it still made sense from start to finish, linking the last 12 months of Perez' career together such that it made perfect sense how the spunky protagonist was transformed into the bitter villain. She presented a compelling and relatable narrative, but she was also just enough of a prick about it that there wasn't much danger of her getting sympathy. In particular, demanding that the women's title not only be vacated but straight-up handed to her was a nice touch that really put over the fact that, while she may have had understandable reasons, she's still gone all the way over the edge.


Granted, it would have been nice if the subsequent interaction with Ava wasn't cut off by a Tatum Paxley attack and an awkwardly sudden ending to the segment, and if we'd gotten some kind of resolution (or at least further advancement) to all the stuff Perez was saying. The segment overall was far from perfect. But if this is what we can expect from a heel Roxanne Perez promo going forward, give her the mic every week.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Fell Flat: The old Thea Hail is back (WWE NXT)

Don't get me wrong — I am all for the idea of Thea Hail returning to her energetic, enthusiastic roots. In fact, I find it empowering that Hail is embracing her original "WWE NXT" character. However, this character arc, specifically the speech attached to it, bordered on the verge of overly dramatic.


Despite their seemingly close friendship, recent weeks have seen a noticeable divide placed between Thea Hail and Jacy Jayne, with the former "NXT" Women's Tag Team Champion labeling Hail's former bubbliness as "loser" behavior. And after weeks of sly remarks and questionable actions from Jayne, Hail finally built up the courage to stand up for herself, particularly her old self.

Following a tag team loss on this week's episode of "NXT," Hail confronted her so-called "best friend" in an emotional promo. Unfortunately, the delivery of this promo — compromised of several awkward voice cracks and a near-tearful Thea Hail — felt too emotional.

"What's wrong with you? What did I do to you? What happened with us?" Hail asked an unamused Jayne. "You found me when I was in the most vulnerable position, and I thought you were everything. I thought you were the coolest girl in the locker room. More than that, I thought you were my best friend. I finally thought I had somebody that saw what I saw in myself and what I wanted to become, or what I thought I wanted to become, and I changed myself, for you."


Wrestling, of course, thrives on drama and dramatic characters, but the scene of seeing a dejected Hail huffing out her words, turned me off (and at times, cringe) in the first half of this segment. The second half, though, provided some sharp points, as Hail notably made a reference to Jayne's previous stint in the Toxic Attraction stable before announcing the return of the "old" Thea Hail.

Written by Ella Jay

Fell Flat: From dropping men to dropping smooches (WWE NXT)

There was plenty of heat behind Trick Williams' promo on the most recent episode of "NXT." Williams' promo presented him as a hardworking and generous babyface who was betrayed by somebody who he considered family — all of the ingredients to craft a legendary babyface run were wrapped up in his effortlessly cool speech, and delivered neatly to the "NXT" audience with a bow on top. He issued a challenge to Carmelo Hayes for a match at Stand and Deliver, which has been a highly anticipated match-up in the "NXT" fanbase for a long while now, and he promised to pay back Hayes for all the betrayal and the backstabbing, plus a little more. The segment went well, and with his bold energy and confident storytelling, Williams set the tone for the next three weeks of intense feuding before Stand and Deliver.


If Williams had ended the segment there, it would have been perfect. If it was perfect, though, then we wouldn't be here.

What was arguably the hottest portion of the segment, both in its content and its subsequent virality, was the culmination of an encounter with Meta Four. Noam Dar confronted Williams alongside Oro Mensah, Jakara Jackson, and Lash Legend, and to say that things escalated quickly afterwards is an understatement. By the time the segment ended, Williams had dropped Dar and Mensah, and was face to face with Legend. One suave motion later, and Williams and Legend were in the middle of the ring, swapping spit in front of God and everyone.

Legend went from dead-lifting Otis in front of an absolutely electric crowd in 2023, to being a liplocking partner to the man that just dropped two of her stablemates in 2024. Isn't that just a bit odd?


This is not an attack on public displays of affection, or women showing romantic aspects of themselves in public. This is an attack on the gratuitous (and frankly, useless) use of romance in WWE storylines, and how it translates to poor and inconsistent booking in the women's division specifically. We've seen it with Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman during their run in the WWE Mixed Match Challenge (which should be brought back, but that is a Hot Take ramble for another day), we've seen it with Bobby Lashley and Lana and Liv Morgan (that aged poorly), and we've seen it countless times in the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras. Whenever a man and a woman co-occupy a ring, there is bound to be some sort of angle where one of them has a crush on the other. More often than not, it spirals into a whole storyline that is, honestly, more trouble than what it is worth.

Love can be a powerful motivator in a narrative, absolutely. Even outside the world of romantic fiction, there are several romance angles in fiction that heighten the stakes of a character's development, and a narrative's general arc. However, that is when they are done well — when romantic storylines are done poorly, they are embarrassing to read at best, and objectifying at worst. Unfortunately, WWE has a bad habit of writing the latter: poorly done romance angles that have no real payoff for the characters involved with them. The female participants in these storylines are often the worst affected: Lashley and Strowman were alright, booking-wise, after the storylines, and their romantic escapades just became a blip in their career. However, Lana, Morgan, and even Lita had to put their careers and momentum on pause to try this sexual experiment, that was catered towards the male narrative in one way or another. While their careers may not have been ended by it, that was all still wasted time that had absolutely no professional payoff.


To take someone with as much potential as Lash Legend — solid branding, incredible athleticism, previous WNBA talent — and so haphazardly stick her in a dead-end romance angle is crazy. Williams doesn't benefit from this either: in fact, this muddies his storyline with Hayes, which should be crystal clear less than a month away from Stand and Deliver. There is literally nobody who benefits from this romantic storyline, so who was this made for? What purpose does their careless make-out session serve?

There are other ways to go viral in the wrestling sphere, and this is not it. It has been established that romance angles are a waste of time for both male and female talent, so there is little reason for this segment to even exist — especially so close to Stand and Deliver, where the storylines should be singularly focused and heightened in its stakes. Williams and Legend's segment might have been hot in passion, but frankly, it is lukewarm in every other sense.

Written by Angeline Phu

Rocked: Mercedes makes magic (AEW Dynamite)

When CM Punk unforgettably returned to wrestling at "AEW Rampage: The First Dance" back in August 2021, it felt like a moment that could never be duplicated. Then again, that's the case with most moments; as Tobey Macguire said in Baz Luhrmann's silly adaptation of "The Great Gatsby," "you can't repeat the past." As it turns out, you can repeat the past, something I learned last night at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts when Mercedes Mone had a very CM Punk-esque debut in AEW.


It's almost eerie how similar both moments were there in some regards; Mercedes returned in her hometown, much like Punk returned in his. Both Punk and Mercedes' arrivals in AEW were played up for weeks, in a "they're coming, you know they're coming, but we're not going to say it out loud" strategy AEW has now deployed successfully twice. Most significant, perhaps, is that both arrived in AEW after walking out of their previous high-level positions in WWE; the only difference there being that it took Punk 7 years to resurface, whereas it took Mercedes less than two.

For all the similarities though, they pretty much began and ended once Mercedes got in the ring and cut her promo. Sure, there was an element of both being home again (Punk being back in wrestling, Mercedes being in her hometown), but the tone couldn't have been any different. Punk's promo was one about finding himself again; Mercedes never lost herself, and as such, her promo took on a happier, thankful tone. There was the Eddie Guerrero reference, the list of accomplishments, the back story about her brother and Chaotic Wrestling, the desire to face everyone on the AEW women's roster, and a reminder to Willow Nightingale that Mercedes hadn't forgotten a certain loss back in May. In short, it was a mission statement, one that may not have had the power of Punk's, but set the table just as well as he did, and one that came off a lot better, and a lot less WWE 2015, than Saraya's first AEW promo in 2022.


But the true power of the promo wasn't anything Mercedes said, but what it represented. As far as women's wrestling has come over the last decade, wrestling is still a male dominated sport, where they get most of the main events, the promos, and the spotlight. Last night on "AEW Dynamite," a woman, a black woman no less, not only was presented as a giant star, but got the same treatment one of the biggest wrestling stars ever did after returning from a near decade absence. There's still so much more that needs to be done. But last night on "Dynamite," Mercedes Mone, in presentation and performance, showed again why she's capable of bringing us one step closer to a better wrestling world.

Written by Eric Mutter

Rocked: New top babyface? (AEW Dynamite)

It's been less than two weeks since Will Ospreay made his debut as an official member of the AEW roster, but the 30-year-old U.K. native is already making waves in the company. In addition to two highly impressive matches, Ospreay has been shining on the mic as well, including in his fiery babyface promo from Wednesday's "AEW Dynamite."


With a huge match against Bryan Danielson looming ahead next month, Ospreay was joined in the ring by Tony Schiavone. Following up from their face-to-face on Saturday's "AEW Collision," Ospreay put over Danielson by highlighting his accolades and labeling him as someone that Ospreay has emulated throughout his career before moving on to their match.

Getting increasingly fired up, Ospreay started putting himself over before letting Danielson and the audience know that he has no regrets about his bloody matches against the likes of Kenny Omega. The former NJPW then invoked a phrase that has become increasingly common in AEW: "Restore the feeling." Ospreay's pronouncement that he is the feeling might as well be a mission statement for his coming AEW run.


This is just the beginning of Ospreay and Danielson's feud, with the two performers still laying the groundwork. What last night's promo set up is the fact that Ospreay is ready to do anything to prove that he's the best wrestler in the world. The wrestler currently has the AEW crowd in the palm of his hand, and there's still more than a month of build left before Ospreay and Danielson lock up.

Written by Nick Miller