Five Hot Takes From The Week In Wrestling: What We Wish Had Happened & More (3/21/2024)

Welcome back to another edition of Rllegends'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 15, and ending Thursday, March 21!

WWE should've swapped Randy Orton & LA Knight's positions on the WrestleMania card

With the Road to WrestleMania approaching the finish line, several new matches have recently materialized. Two of them, though, have left me aggressively scratching my head.

Last week on "WWE SmackDown," WWE confirmed a pair of additional matches for the WrestleMania 40 card — a triple-threat for the United States Championship and a singles affair between AJ Styles and LA Knight. As Styles and Knight look to settle their heated rivalry with one another, "The Maverick" Logan Paul will defend the United States Championship against veteran performers Kevin Owens and Randy Orton. While the matches themselves will undoubtedly deliver some enthralling action, their dynamics may have been better served with a swap in talents.

Like many WWE fans, I entered this WrestleMania season with an image of LA Knight walking out of the big event with his very first main roster singles title. Considering that Knight is allocated to the "SmackDown" brand, it would make the most sense for him to chase after the United States Championship, which is currently held by Logan Paul. The WWE Universe previously got a little taste of a Paul-Knight feud in the lead-up to last year's Money in the Bank event, and their banter was actually quite entertaining, so why not revisit it?

In addition to capitalizing on the potential carried by Paul and Knight, a United States Title pursuit would also actively move Knight closer to the aforementioned goal that several fans have passionately laid out. By setting him up for a non-title WrestleMania match with AJ Styles, though, WWE has presented the risk of hindering Knight's momentum and overall growth. Or, as former WCW President Eric Bischoff recently said, "He's got too much momentum [to not win a title soon]. There's no reason to stall it if there's an opportunity to keep it going."

With all this in mind, I believe LA Knight should have been placed in the position currently occupied by 14-time world champion Randy Orton. And don't get me wrong — seeing Orton RKO Logan Paul will be incredibly satisfying. However, given the trajectory of the Orton-Paul-Owens triple-treat, it seems most likely that Paul will retain the United States Championship and hand Orton his third consecutive premium live event loss. And in this case, Orton doesn't even have to be pinned to lose.

By swapping spots with Knight, Orton would not only have a greater chance of rectifying his recent PLE losses, but he could also correct his past WrestleMania loss to AJ Styles. Orton and Styles, of course, previously faced off in a match at WrestleMania 35, in which Orton portrayed the heel, while Styles played the part of the babyface. In this new scenario, the roles would be reversed, allowing Styles and Orton to also approach this WrestleMania clash from a fresh angle.

Written by Ella Jay

It's time to retire the 'female wrestler obsessing over her idol' storyline

Female wrestlers taking it a little too far when it comes to meeting their idols is a tale as old as time, with perhaps the most notable example being Mickie James stalking Trish Stratus in the mid 2000s. However, with it now being 2024, it feels as though it's about time to retire the angle and put it to rest.

As of right now, there are two ongoing storylines featuring the angle from two separate promotions (which is already one too many) with one of them being much more simpler and toned down than the other. The whole alliance between AEW Women's World Champion Toni Storm and Mariah May is based on May being obsessed with Storm while Tatum Paxley has been keeping a very close eye on Lyra Valkyria and gets extremely "passionate" anytime someone tries to hurt or attack Valkyria.

Female wrestlers are capable of so much more than being obsessive stalkers, and they have proven that time and time again with their toughness, resilience, grit, and trailblazing in and of matches. Having storylines like this continue to be present on programming just makes it feel like the wrestling business is moving back in time rather than forward, not only failing to translate very well in the modern, but feeling played out.

Written by Olivia Quinlan

Kazuchika Okada should hold the Continental title for a long, long time

There is probably a logical argument for the idea that Kazuchika Okada should be champion more often than he isn't, something about presenting a blue-chip free agent in the best possible light and maximizing his strengths, but I am simply going to go with the vibe-based argument that I know and love: Okada just doesn't look right without a title belt, and the AEW Continental Championship division is a young, formless thing with no actual direction. It should be the Okada division.

The side-effect of NJPW treating Okada like a constant champion for the last decade is that it means any feud where Okada isn't fighting for or defending a title belt just feels "less than." He's good at two things: winning/defending championships and competing in tournaments. That is literally what the Continental Championship division is about; it's perfect for him.

AEW president Tony Khan recently announced that the Continental Champion will have to win the Continental Classic tournament to retain his title, meaning Okada can spend the year entertaining challengers, beating them, and then being the focal point of the Continental Classic, much like former champion Eddie Kingston was throughout the inaugural tournament. For once, AEW having too many title belts might be a solid way for them to establish Okada as a dominant champion without blowing up their often painstakingly plotted main event scene.

Written by Ross Berman

The Rock's brand of nostalgia isn't working

In the climax of the 2007 film "Ratatouille," a food critic takes a bite of a meal he is ready to despise. The meal — ratatouille, a dish deeply associated with French homestyle cooking — is visually stunning, and it's clear that it was made using modern techniques. As the meal touches his lips, he is instantly teleported back to his childhood. The memories are warm and safe, and it is that powerful feeling of nostalgia that impresses the food critic, and leads to the resolution of the movie. Nostalgia is a powerful ingredient, and in that dish, it was used correctly — nostalgia was done right.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's most recent WWE run is nostalgia done wrong.

I'll be the first to say that Johnson's multiple appearances — even if they are scattered and irregular — are astounding to witness. Johnson's contributions to not just WWE, but the entire professional wrestling business, are innumerable. Whole households know Johnson's name; he has become synonymous with pumped muscles, cocked eyebrows, and electrifying elbow drops. When you are prompted to smell just what he is cooking, Johnson floods your senses with the most incredible scent of nostalgia. Then, he adds more nostalgia. More, more, and more nostalgia gets added to whatever he's cooking. Soon, nostalgia is all you can see. "The Rock" has replaced all of the abilities you knew and adored him for with the memory of them.

Johnson's most recent WWE run relies solely on your memory of who "The Rock" is. He slathers nostalgia on top of everything he does — and he slathers it on thick — in order to prevent you from seeing the flaws of his performance.

I can't blame him for relying on the warm, evocative memories of the past. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right? However, as safe as doing the same thing feels, Johnson has unfortunately fallen behind WWE programming. His performance has felt more like the revival of a relic instead of a new addition to the complex ecosystem of WWE storylines. He may be "The Final Boss", he may invoke the beloved Attitude Era for his heel work, but between giving out impromptu concerts and open-handed slaps like they're candy, he has not done anything interesting or ground-breaking with his most recent run. Johnson's work over this past month has existed somewhere in between run of the mill and downright cringey, to the point where his presence is not exciting unless you are watching him live. Take off the rose-tinted lenses and think: is there anything actually entertaining about him taking up thirty minutes of a two-hour show to call Seth Rollins a clown and talk in the third person? Is "The Rock" enjoyable to watch every Friday night, or is it the memory of him that is?

Johnson reeks of nostalgia, and it comes off of him in dizzying waves to tempt you with its scent. It is not wrong to reference romantic ideas of the past — just look at LA Knight and other boisterous wrestlers in the locker room — but you have to change it up, at least a little, lest you fall victim to the rushing rivers of this industry. "The Rock"'s current WWE run should be like that iconic dish in "Ratatouille": made with all of the ingredients we grew up loving, but done in a way that uses contemporary methods to enhance the entire experience.

Written by Angeline Phu

Seth Rollins should join The Bloodline at WrestleMania

I haven't been super into the whole Rock/Reigns/Cody/Seth feud, partially because I'm pretty sure I already know how it ends. It's not the most controversial guess: I'd put money on Rock turning on Reigns to give Cody and Rollins the victory on Night 1, setting up Cody beating Reigns on Night 2 (with no interference, which is the only way Roman should lose) as well as Rock vs. Reigns down the line. That, to me, is the most likely scenario. But what I want to happen is very different.

The other reason I haven't really been interested in this feud is that it's basically turned into a Cody vs. Rock feud, and I'm pretty sure nobody asked for that, least of all me. But there is a way to redeem the feud's other two participants, both of whom have been painfully marginalized. Sure, I'm down with Rock turning on Reigns. Let him. But if I'm booking the match, at the moment of victory, Rollins turns on Rhodes, allowing Reigns to pick up the win. This makes their Night 2 match "Bloodline rules," and Cody once again comes up short due to interference, from Rollins and possibly others. This is after The Bloodline helps Rollins retain the World Heavyweight Championship against Drew McIntyre, which would just be a delightfully brutal twist for the McIntyre character, who once again finds himself thwarted by the same stable.

My rationale: Seth is better as a heel, and he has every reason to hate Rhodes. He's the one who dropped Shield references in his promo a few weeks ago, reminding us that he and Reigns used to call each other "brother" — as we saw with Jey Uso and Sami Zayn, that's enough to give someone Bloodline membership. The current incarnation of The Bloodline may have run its course, but this version would be even more dangerous, extending across all brands, holding firm to both the WWE title and the new title that was created because Reigns stopped coming to work as often. It could potentially breathe new life into one of the most popular angles WWE has ever seen — or, you know, Cody could just end that angle and hope and pray he's popular enough to pick up the slack.

Make the right choice, Paul. You know as well as I do that no Rhodes will ever hold the WWE Championship.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

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