Hello folks! Today, I’m trying something fresh that I may do again if people like it. Yesterday, I asked our social media followers what they believe are the hottest present-day wrestling topics or person(s), and they provided 5 subjects for me to talk about. Unlike my recent work, this is highly opinionated. I have always tried to be unbiased while sharing my thoughts, but being candid means that I need to be brutally honest.
Yes, I know that a “hot take” implies that not much thought went into it, or that I’m quickly reacting to something that just happened. I assure you that there will be extra thought put into this. Also, not all subjects need to be recent, although this will be in quick response to what our users gave me. Let’s begin with an honorable mention that I have talked about on social media, but never in one of my articles.
Honorable Mention: Will WWE Induct The Brooklyn Brawler Into The Hall Of Fame?
At first glance, this looks like a joke post. But when you think about it, especially those who grew up when The Brooklyn Brawler was around, how is he not in the Hall Of Fame? Steve Lombardi is hailed as the greatest enhancement talent (let’s not jobber shame) the WWF ever had. He even holds a victory over Triple H on an episode of SmackDown in 2000!
There are already a few questionable inductees, so why can’t WWE recognize his hard work? I’m sure Triple H would love to be the one who inducts him. Wrestling needs more guys like The Brooklyn Brawler, who dedicate their careers to the cause of making others look prodigious.
#1. Roman Reigns & The Bloodline
The WWE, Universal, and Tag Team Championships have not meant this much for a very long time, and that’s because of the dedication to The Bloodline. Yes, they are heels. We are not supposed to like them. Most wrestling fans should pray for somebody to step up and take them down because that’s how the business works. Ric Flair was the master of it back in the day. The fans did not buy a ticket to see him win, because they wanted to be the lucky ones who saw him lose.
And that’s where we are with The Bloodline. They have become so dominant that many are waiting for the day they are dismantled. Some will label their success “boring”, and that they don’t “deserve” it, but those same fans will keep tuning in because they know it won’t last forever. The Bloodline has its supporters too, and they are happy to acknowledge their Tribal Chief every week. When we think back to how Roman Reigns was, the split reaction was mostly because he was uninteresting. He had no character, and fans wanted him to turn heel. And now he’s a heel with character, it gives us the opposite of what John Cena provided.
The Bloodline has become arguably the strongest stable WWE has ever seen. No other group has held titles hostage as they have over the long term. I love how they are keeping it fresh with the additions of the “Enforcer” Solo Sikoa and the “Honorary Uce” Sami Zayn. The chemistry between Zayn and the rest of The Bloodline is arguably the most intriguing part. Does Roman Reigns seriously like him? Or is he merely using Sami for his own gain? Will Jey Uso ever respect him? And is Sami truly this delusional… or is he playing The Bloodline? Could he be the one who brings about their downfall?
The dynamic is one of the best I have seen for ages, and it was happening long before Triple H took over creatively. It’s a prime example of how to present a heel stable well. Eventually, it will pay off when other superstars step up to take them down a peg. Imagine the stock a team will get by beating The Usos. Provided he stays healthy, if Roman Reigns were to lose his undisputed championship to anybody, it would increase their stock tenfold. Sometimes you have to endure the pain to see results later. I hope WWE rewards the fans for their patience.
#2. “Scissor Me Daddy Ass”
Fans of All Elite Wrestling will know that Max Caster & Anthony Bowens of The Acclaimed won the tag team championship on last week’s episode of Dynamite: Grand Slam. Before that, the pair had gained extraordinary babyface heat for their act. They often get some of the loudest reactions, and their latest merchandise has been flying off the shelves. Accompanied by Billy Gunn, the duo has a tag team veteran to help with their development.
The interesting thing to note is that despite the depth of AEW’s tag team division, the pair with the most entertaining characters have risen to the top. Athleticism & professional wrestling skills have helped many former champions to achieve, but The Acclaimed have got there by developing gimmicks. The first is Max Caster’s raps, which at one point got so controversial that Tony Khan had to apologize and take over the editing of AEW Dark. More recently, Anthony Bowens added the “scissor” gesture, which harkens back to the days of the crotch chop and the “too sweet” hand sign.
Their presentation has a similarity to how the New Age Outlaws would enter during the Attitude Era. As I’ve mentioned many times over the years, characters have been and always will be the biggest draw in wrestling. Repetition done in the right way can help to get many types of gimmicks over. The difference is that The Acclaimed always has something original with Caster’s raps that can be capped off by what fans are becoming accustomed to. Many wrestlers in the business should pay attention because this is how you get over. Dare to be unique and drill that into the audience, because they are starved of ingenuity.
#3. Playing “The Game”
I’m in two minds about Triple H’s creative direction since taking over from Vince McMahon. On one hand, I am super happy to see the returns of Dexter Lumis, Dakota Kai, Karrion Kross, Scarlett, and others to WWE. They are far too talented to be released. And it helps that Triple H ran NXT for as long as he did, because he knows 99% of the roster’s strengths & weaknesses. He knows how to get the most out of the superstars, and they are no longer walking on eggshells. Triple H encourages them to share ideas and will give them a fair hearing. Storytelling has improved in all areas, along with the quality of in-ring action.
However, something Vince McMahon did better than anybody was reaching the casual audience. We can say that Triple H is doing that with Logan Paul’s push, but more can be done. There needs to be some controversy here and there. McMahon would occasionally go overboard and forget that many tune in to see wrestling. Finding that balance between quality action and crossover appeal is something WWE can do in this era, but Triple H has been leaning more so on the wrestling side since taking over.
I’ve said so many times that by itself, wrestling does not sell. And I say that as someone who loves an exciting wrestling match. They can work to get somebody over, like Gunther vs. Sheamus, for example, but if all you have are hard-hitting matches, it’s not doing enough to grab the attention of those who could be watching for the first time. You need to entice people who may never have seen wrestling before and mix it up enough so you please them and the loyal fans. For so long, WWE has struggled to increase its viewership.
Triple H is heading in the right direction by creating characters. Mix that with solid, logical storytelling and engaging wrestling, and that’s a recipe for success. But if you lean too hard on that and don’t try reaching those who have never had a reason to watch wrestling, then you may lose viewership over the long term. I’m being critical of Triple H, not because I don’t enjoy wrestling or believe he’s not doing his job, but because I want wrestling to get back to being appealing to a wider audience. We’re still a long way off how it was in the 80s and late-90s, but without Vince McMahon stifling everything, the potential is there.
#4. “I’m Sick Of Working With Children”
I’m in two minds about Triple H’s creative direction since taking over from Vince McMahon. On one hand, I am super happy to see the returns of Dexter Lumis, Dakota Kai, Karrion Kross, Scarlett, and others to WWE. They are far too talented to be released. And it helps that Triple H ran NXT for as long as he did because he knows 99% of the roster’s strengths & weaknesses. He knows how to get the most out of the superstars, and they are no longer walking on eggshells. Triple H encourages them to share ideas and will give them a fair hearing. Storytelling has improved in all areas, along with the quality of in-ring action.
Thinking back to the media scrum, CM Punk showed us an ugly side that I have struggled with ever since. Yes, he had a right to be frustrated about aspects of the company and the attitudes of other wrestlers. However, airing his grievances so publicly while sitting next to Tony Khan proved as unprofessional as it was damaging. We do not know the exact details, but I am sure that if Punk had not made those comments, the backstage fight wouldn’t have happened, and they wouldn’t all be suspended. Not only did it make him look bad, but it embarrassed Tony Khan, too. It had an adverse effect on others like Jon Moxley, who was scheduled to take a vacation. The men Punk showed respect to had been hurt as well, and now they are having to damage control.
The rest of the AEW roster has stepped up majorly well, and I applaud them for using the controversy as fuel to motivate them to do better for the fans. Meanwhile, while they bust their asses and carry the weekly programming, CM Punk & The Elite are sitting around having to figure out what to do. The Young Bucks changed their Twitter profile description to “Suspended AF”, showing how serious they are taking this with all their maturity. Kenny Omega seems like the only one actively trying to help the company without making passive-aggressive gestures, so at least it looks like he’s trying to make amends. Punk has been silent and is likely seeking legal help.
Everything about this stinks, and my respect for CM Punk and The Young Bucks is at an all-time low. These guys should have been setting an example for the rest of the roster. If they can’t conduct themselves professionally, what else could happen backstage? I’m not saying that AEW can’t find a way back. If everyone involved wants it hard enough, they can fix the bridges between them. But doing the same with the fans is another story because they cannot delete the media scrum from history. It will always be there, and this is a rough situation with little hope of reconciliation. I’m interested to know which way it will go, but to be frank, I wouldn’t lose any sleep if CM Punk and/or The Elite left AEW. The company can still grow nicely without them because it has professionals who aren’t placing their egos over its success.
#5. The White Rabbit
During Bray Wyatt’s time as The Fiend, I got into the lore of the character in a big way. I remember writing a step-by-step analysis of the cinematic Firefly Fun House encounter between Wyatt & John Cena at WrestleMania 36. You can check that out at the link if you haven’t already.
If “The White Rabbit” is what many are assuming, it will be Bray Wyatt’s third and possibly last incarnation. Let’s assume that this is exactly what many fans are hoping for. How would it be appropriate for his return? To understand, we need to look at what the white rabbit represents.
The way the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick, performs this song is both haunting and beautiful. Her icy stare pierces the soul as White Rabbit ranges from a quiet introduction up to its alluring crescendo. The lyrics are as follows:
“One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small. And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all. Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall. And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall. Tell ‘em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call. Call Alice when she was just small. When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go. And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know. When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, and the White Knight is talking backwards. And the Red Queen’s off with her head. Remember what the dormouse said. Feed your head! Feed your head!”
Fun game time!
Bet you didn’t know that in 2015 I did 8 consecutive (backstage) promos where one sentence didn’t belong in each of them. But together they make up a secret message, no one ever found it. 😞
You guys never look hard enough.
First one to get it wins a prize!
— WYATT 6 (@Windham6) May 4, 2019
While Grace Slick conceived the song while listening to Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain over 50 times on LSD, the origin of the White Rabbit comes from the Victorian tales of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. Published in 1865, it is known worldwide and has been translated into 174 languages.
Had they not read the original novel, many older people will at least have seen Disney’s 1951 movie adaptation. Reviews of it were initially negative, citing that it did not hold as true to Carrol’s imagination as many had hoped for. However, it grew to have better reviews in the decades to follow. In modern times, some may have seen Tim Burton’s 2010 movie. I have not seen it, but as Burton movies go, they often look fantastic while cohesively struggling to piece the narrative of the original story together.
If you are completely unaware of what the White Rabbit is, allow me to explain. It’s a talking rabbit who initially appears to be running late for something. He mutters to himself about how late he is and Alice overhears this before the rabbit disappears into a hole. Alice’s curiosity gets the better of her. She follows the rabbit and falls down the hole into Wonderland. She begins an adventure fraught with mystifying moments. There are characters who may initially seem like they want to help her but later reveal their sinister intentions. Despite not seeing the 1951 movie for almost three decades, I remember how creepy the world is.
If Bray Wyatt is behind the White Rabbit, it doesn’t mean that he has to reappear in that form. The main antagonist is the Queen of Hearts (not to be confused with the Red Queen), who many believe to be a representation of Queen Victoria. She was exceptionally brutal and trigger-happy with executions. Now, I’m not saying Wyatt will return as a Queen, but as a representation of her fury. Also, the rabbit could be a nod to Rambling Rabbit, who was often mistreated in the Firefly Fun House. Many of Wyatt’s former characters could return in new and more mischievous ways. And what about Alexa Bliss? Could she be linked to this? Well, she could easily end up being the Red Queen and Wyatt as the Mad Hatter; a character similar to the one he introduced in the Firefly Fun House.
The following Twitter link shares Ryan Satin showing us what happened after scanning a QR code WWE put in several locations, including on some cars. The words “Who Killed The World? You Did”, is a quote from a 2015 Bray Wyatt interview with Michael Cole. If the game is finished correctly the player is told to “Come With Me”.
When Vince McMahon was in charge, this level of creativity was often stifled and manipulated to fit whatever he needed. But with Triple H, since Bray Wyatt first appeared in NXT, Hunter allowed him to come up with his own ideas and trusted him to deliver. If Triple H is looking to do the same, we could see a new character heavily influenced by Alice in Wonderland, and if you thought The Fiend was freaky… we’ve seen nothing yet. And with that said, this concludes my extended hot takes on the 5 topics given by our social media followers. Have a pleasant week! And be sure to chase some rabbits. Thank you for reading.