The Week In Wrestling (4/4/24): 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 29 to Thursday, April 4, moving forward in chronological order.


You know what's usually a good week for wrestling promos? The week before WrestleMania, where the biggest stars of WWE are trying one last time to sell their matches to the masses — which, after all, is what promos are meant to do, and what the best ones accomplish. This year, however, our attention here at WINC was captured more by Stand & Deliver than WrestlMania, as fully half of our discussion here relates to promos cut on the go-home episode of the Tuesday night brand. Still, "WWE Raw" and "AEW Dynamite" did not go unmentioned, even though AEW isn't building to a PPV this weekend.

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: The Rock and Roman Reigns say nothing new (WWE Raw)

WrestleMania is right around the corner, and the time for the last push in storylines leading into the event and its matches is right now.

Roman Reigns, The Rock, Cody Rhodes, and Seth "Freakin" Rollins are main eventing the show across both nights in their tag team match against one another and both the Undisputed WWE Universal and World Heavyweight Championship matches. The opening segment of Monday's "Raw" was the perfect opportunity for The Rock and Roman Reigns to do something memorable and send a message to Rhodes and Rollins that they haven't before, but unfortunately, that ended up not being the case.


All this promo accomplished was set up the Bloodline Rules main event of the show between Rollins and Solo Sikoa. Yes, both The Rock and Reigns spent several minutes talking, but they basically just used all that time to recap everything they did the week prior. This thirty or so minutes of talking time could've easily been used to put together something that would create one last memory for the fans before the matches take place, but it unfortunately wasn't and was not a great way to open the show.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Rocked: Lyra Valkyria & Roxanne Perez on Supernova Sessions (WWE NXT)

On April 6, Lyra Valkyria will defend her "NXT" Women's Championship against an increasingly aggressive Roxanne Perez.

Before they square off at "NXT" Stand & Deliver, Valkyria and Perez treated fans to a spicy edition of "The Supernova Sessions" (hosted by Noam Dar and his Meta-Four stablemates) on this week's episode of "NXT." Per usual, Perez claimed that she never lost the "NXT" Women's Championship last year. In a heated rebuttal, Valkyria pointed out that Indi Hartwell seized the title at last year's Stand & Deliver by climbing a ladder faster than Perez and the other four challengers.


Aside from that loss, Valkyria reminded Perez that she also lost in their previous encounter at "NXT" Vengeance Day. While Perez may blame that loss on a shocking mid-match cash-in from Lola Vice, Valkyria said Perez's December 2022 "NXT" Women's Championship win was just as shocking. In response, Perez vowed to knock Valkyria "off [her] high horse" and watch as she falls all the way down. Perez also clarified that those previous losses didn't break her; they only made her more dangerous.

Although Perez claims to be more dangerous now, Valkyria believes all she's done is "b****." As such, Valkyria foresees that Perez will continue to b**** after she defeats her at "NXT" Stand & Deliver.

As Perez later attempted to land a punch, Valkyria countered with a kick to Perez's face. Perhaps fueled by the image of Perez previously damaging her arm, Valkyria then sent "The Prodigy" crashing through a table in dramatic fashion.


Written by Ella Jay

Rocked: Lights, camera, Tony D'Angelo! (WWE NXT)

Last week, I gave the "NXT" production team, Trick Williams, and Carmelo Hayes their flowers for their documentary-style Prime Target segment. This week, the brilliant minds behind the camera and in the writing rooms of "NXT" decided to simultaneously take it up a notch, and bring it back to form. What resulted was a beautiful compromise between this era's new wave of cinematic storytelling, and the tried-and-true method of putting two guys in a room and letting them talk.


The segment started off very much aligned with the new trend of film-adjacent segments. There are many things to sing praises about in this segment, but I wanted to specifically talk about the lighting. The lighting in this segment did a significant portion of the mood-setting, which itself did a lot of the heavy lifting for Tony D'Angelo's legitimacy — more on that later. The difference in lighting between NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov and D'Angelo's lackeys is a subtle contribution to their characterization. When D'Angelo's goons are cloaked in darkness, it is a reminder that — however stereotypical they may be — they are intended to be seen as threats. They are draped in darkness because they're supposed to be the demon hiding in your childhood closet, or the monster hiding underneath the bed of your childhood home. Conversely, Dragunov is not exactly bathed in light outside of the scene of him in the back seat of the car. He is well-lit compared to the goons he runs into, but objectively, his face still has parts obscured in shadow, especially as he enters D'Angelo's garage. It makes sense: Dragunov is the face in this feud, but he is not all smiles and sparkles in his goodness — he is a ruthless fighter who is not afraid to hit hard. Since this lighting is building off of character choices that are already pretty apparent, this whole observation may feel like a no-brainer. However, I do think that taking note about these subtle methods of storytelling is part of the fun in watching these new, movie-like segments.


Once D'Angelo and Dragunov actually came face to face, the spotlight shone down upon them in an unnatural way. Where most of the lighting was cool- or neutral-toned, this light was a bright, slightly warmer tone — almost like a stage light. This distinguishes it from the mood-lighting observed up until that point. Once the two start talking, it reads like a classic professional wrestling promo. Both their words and their deliveries of them are different from the way people would talk in movies or in real life; the way they talk is distinctly wrestling-coded. Allowing Dragunov and D'Angelo to speak in the traditional cadence of professional wrestling promos distinguishes this feud from the Hayes and Williams feud that is happening simultaneously — where Hayes and Williams' bad blood is presented as incredibly personal, the tensions between Dragunov and D'Angelo are, as "The Don" said, "nothing personal, just business."

Dragunov's incredibly red face when D'Angelo crushed his hand was amazing, no notes on that. I would like, instead, to bring attention to just how much of a threat D'Angelo looks right now. D'Angelo has evolved from this cartoonish caricature of an Italian mob boss into a believable challenger for the "NXT" Championship. Whether or not you believe he actually has a chance at dethroning Dragunov, he has taken deliberate measures to sell you that fantasy. This could partially be credited to the increased production he's had in his segments: where he was once meeting in an Olive Garden with The Family, he is now hosting Dragunov for dinner while surrounded with goons proficient in drills, buzzsaws, and veritable mean-mugs. D'Angelo is surrounded by this murky mood that signals to us, whether you recognize it or not, that D'Angelo is being pushed to be not just a mainstay on the "NXT" card, but as a legitimate heel with danger exuding off of him. What is especially interesting about this presentation, however, is that despite increasing in street cred, D'Angelo has not lost that sort of whimsical Italian flair to him. He is still a sort of caricature, but in a way that feels grounded and legitimate, rather than a static stereotype. It is very impressive for D'Angelo to ride that fine line between absolute buffoon and dynamic character with a quirky presentation, in addition to the pressures he must be feeling just days before his performance at Stand and Deliver.


"NXT" programming has some of the finest storytelling segments in mainstream professional wrestling. If they keep hitting home runs with some tastefully placed cinematic segments post-Stand and Deliver, then their product will surely rise to be the must-see show of the week.

Written by Angeline Phu

Fell Flat: Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams just keep talking at each other (WWE NXT)

WWE has drawn out this feud between Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams that all they have left to do is talk and talk and talk and quite frankly, I've become sick of this feud before the match even takes place. The end of this week's "NXT" helped me understand why.


Hayes and Williams have the exact same promo style. They come up with as many one-liners as possible and try to bounce them off each other in a close approximation of a conversation, often ending up like two AI chat bots ping-ponging back and forth about which one is "him." The feud has had some striking visuals, especially with Hayes's recent inclusion of an army of masked guards, but as soon as either man opens their mouth, something rings hollow. I simply don't believe these two guys hate each other. I believe they are playing roles in a show and doing their best to come off as "the better talker" and while that competition might create some tension, it doesn't feel like they have the bitter, personal animosity that the script calls for.


Whatever issues either man has on the microphone is not going to be solved by having promo battles with a facsimile of himself, instead of sharpening each other, the two men are sanding down any interesting edges this feud could have, making what should be a segment full of fire and fury coming off dull and lifeless.

Written by Ross Berman

Fell Flat: Adam Copeland or Tony Khan? (AEW Dynamite)

Well, this promo certainly was a way to set the tone for a "AEW Dynamite" that was boring, uneventful, and forgettable.

In the opening segment of Wednesday's show, Adam Copeland came down to the ring sans TNT Championship to share how much he loved the company he worked for, and boy, did he have a lot of love. He addressed CM Punk's comments about Tony Khan on "The MMA Hour" without actually naming names (but with about as much subtlety as a jackhammer), and revealed some of his dream opponents in AEW.


Copeland's delivery wasn't so much the problem with this segment, so much as the content of the promo itself. It didn't even take twp minutes for it to become clear that these weren't the words of a veteran who's spent about three decades in the wrestling business, but the words of the owner of AEW defending himself through one of his wrestlers. The intention of the promo was indeed for Khan to respond to Punk's comments so he can put the issue to bed, but if anything, he brought even more attention to them than there already was and made himself look bad as well as one of his top stars by association.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Willow Nightingale's love letter to Worcester (AEW Dynamite)

Wednesday's "AEW Dynamite" featured three different, but equally important promos. In the opening segment, Adam Copeland delivered a rah-rah speech, putting over AEW, it's stars, and the big names like Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Mercedes Mone, and himself choosing to sign with the promotion. In the main event, Samoa Joe and Swerve Strickland had a surprisingly captivating contract signing, with the two trading barbs before Joe put a defiant, bloody Strickland through a table. And in between was Willow Nightingale, providing arguably one of most heartwarming moments to take place on wrestling TV in modern memory.


Coming out to speak with Renee Paquette, while flanked by pals Stokely Hathaway and Kris Statlander, Willow was expected to discuss her upcoming TBS Championship match against Julia Hart at AEW Dynasty, a match she earned by winning a four-way bout a week before. Quickly though, it morphed into Willow's love letter towards Worcester, Massachusetts, and for good reason. As Nightingale explained, long before her AEW tenure, she was attempting to make her name over at Worcester's White Eagle venue, a known haunt for New England promotion Beyond Wrestling.

But more than being a city where she honed her craft, Nightingale explained that Worcester was where she discovered herself, and learned an important lesson; that regardless of how she looked or acted, there was a place in wrestling for a "weird, quirky, unconventional, chubby, curly haired freak" like herself. The best things in wrestling are often the most organic and genuine, and it was hard not to be moved by the raw emotion of Nightingale, something that became apparent as one caught Hathaway beaming, while Statlander at one point put a hand on Nightingale's shoulder as she tried to hold back tears.


Eventually, the promo did reach the meat and potatoes portion, where Nightingale vowed to be become "the smiling face of TBS," followed by a fired up Hathaway propping Nightingale up, and an interruption by Mercedes Mone to stake her claim to the winner of Hart vs. Nightingale at Double or Nothing. But in the three minutes leading up to that, Nightingale gave a fresh reminder, one she didn't even need to give, as to why so many wrestling fans have found themselves taken with the AEW star. In one ode to Worcester and the White Eagle, Nightingale was the genuine article; peppy, quirky, conventional, with her heart bare for all to see.

Written by Eric Mutter