Reacting to B/R Community's Takes on WWE Releases, AEW Double or Nothing, More
Welcome to the Bleacher Report WWE and All Elite Wrestling mailbag.
The B/R community has always been outspoken, especially when it comes to opinions on pro wrestling and its biggest stars.
We will answer your questions and react to your hot takes about WWE, AEW and the world of pro wrestling.
A wide variety of questions about everything from specific Superstars to broader topics have been submitted. Check out what was on the minds of the B/R community this week.
If you'd like to have your question or hot take included in a future article, be on the lookout each Tuesday afternoon for the crowdsourcing thread on the WWE and AEW streams in the B/R app.
Are Any of the WWE Releases Heading to AEW?
"So who does AEW sign? Personally, I think Santana Garrett and Aleister Black. I'm not sure Braun Strowman or Buddy Murphy would fit there." (@Mflothe)
For anyone who might have been out of the loop on Wednesday, WWE made sweeping cuts that saw Black, Murphy, Strowman, Garrett, Lana and Ruby Riott released from their contracts.
This was a sad day for these six people and their fans. Thankfully, the WWE Universe came out in huge numbers to show support for those who lost their jobs.
As far as AEW is concerned, president Tony Khan might not be in a huge hurry to sign anyone. The company is about to get back on the road in a full-time capacity and already has a stacked roster with plenty of people on the sidelines who deserve a shot.
That said, there are some names who would fit well there. I agree with the assessment that Garrett and Black would both do well in AEW, and I would also add Riott and Murphy to that list.
Strowman, surprisingly, might want to look into what Japan has to offer. A lot of powerhouse performers have gone there and come away much better at their craft.
One thing is certain, this is not the end for most of these talents. I could see Lana testing the waters with things like acting or content creation. She has a large social media following and could live handsomely on endorsement deals alone.
Cody Rhodes Should Turn Heel
"Cody Rhodes needs to turn heel. He's turning into the babyface that everyone hates. Why not just turn him?" (@kuzmakoz)
I am in complete agreement with Kuz that Rhodes would be better suited for a heel role at this point, but there are a few factors that might get in the way.
Being a judge on a reality program and having his own upcoming reality show with Brandi could be what is keeping him from joining the other executive vice presidents as villains. Network chiefs might feel he is more valuable as a good guy.
Rhodes has had fantastic babyface runs before, but having the position he has at the company makes him a target for every critic out there. Embracing that hate to become an evil overload would allow him to cut loose and have some fun. It certainly worked for Vince McMahon.
One thing I will say is he got a lot of unfair flack for his recent promo. It might have been a little cringy, but his heart was in the right place. He genuinely wants to put on a product that fans can enjoy and he is also proud of his heritage. There is nothing wrong with either of those sentiments.
The American Nightmare is also a much better nickname for a heel, so his branding needs to change if he is going to remain a babyface. Using the "Dream" name at Double or Nothing was a one-time deal.
AEW's Referee Problem
"AEW needs to have the refs actually count when it is a double-team. That is my biggest gripe with the AEW refs." (@BarryHorowitz)
Barry Horowitz, the greatest jobber in WWE history, echoes the thoughts of many AEW critics. The reffing in the company needs work.
In fairness to AEW, it has always said it had looser rules for tag matches than WWE and gave the referees more leeway with certain things, but that creates a problem for casual fans.
Let's say you are someone who has only ever watched WWE and you tune into AEW Dynamite to see what all the fuss is about. You would probably be baffled at how many rules are flagrantly broken right in front of the officials.
I don't know if AEW needs to change its style as much as it needs to convey its system of rules better. ECW had the most relaxed rules in wrestling, but nobody cared then because we all understood what the product was about.
AEW can either be similar to WWE or completely different. Trying to live in the middle ground is just going to keep confusing people. The refs have gotten markedly better over the past year, but there is still work to be done.
Was the Outcome of Stadium Stampede a Mistake?
"Why did Stadium Stampede need to happen? The Pinnacle, the newly formed hot heel group, gets a huge win at Blood and Guts just to hand it back a few weeks later? Worst booking decision in AEW history." (@robertrobert)
"What direction are The Pinnacle and MJF going after the feud with The Inner Circle?" (@jimmyvish1125)
This is one of those rare cases where I both agree and disagree with something, and that's partly why I think this feud needs to take a new direction.
WWE gets a ton of hate for 50-50 booking, and the outcome of the Stadium Stampede could be viewed in a similar way. But there are also plenty of reasons why it had to end with The Inner Circle winning.
When they lost Blood and Guts, it was because Sammy Guevara surrendered in an attempt to save Chris Jericho from being thrown off the cage. Having him score the win for his team in the Stadium Stampede match was his redemption arc.
What needs to happen now is AEW should split this into several separate feuds. MJF vs. Jericho, Guevara vs. Shawn Spears, FTR vs. Santana and Ortiz, and Jake Hager vs. Wardlow. Maybe Tully Blanchard can be hung in a shark cage above the ring for one of them, though I'm just spitballing here.
AEW can build an entire episode of Dynamite around five grudge matches to end the feud with a decisive winner. That way, 50-50 booking wouldn't be possible and AEW could push people from both groups at the same time.
Praise for Double or Nothing
"Double or Nothing was one of the better PPVs of the year. Everyone had a good-to-great-to-iconic match." (@n8r84)
"Overall, great show with a hot crowd." (@jimbostraws510)
While it wasn't perfect, I do agree with this take. Double or Nothing was a lot of fun. The biggest thing that helped was the energy of the live crowd.
The pandemic changed so much about pro wrestling just with the elimination of live audiences. Wrestlers feed off those reactions and make changes on the fly when the crowd is into something. That's not as easy when the only voices you hear are the announcers and a handful of wrestlers around the ring.
Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston's entrance was one of the loudest pops I can remember from a crowd of fewer than 10,000 people. Those in attendance said it was deafening at times, which isn't something you often hear about open-air venues like Daily's Place. Sound escapes instead of echoing around the building.
Some of the results were questionable, but AEW did a great job as a whole from both a production and entertainment perspective.
Britt Baker vs. Sasha Banks
"Who is the true star of women's wrestling right now: Britt Baker or Sasha Banks?" (@fcourtney27)
Banks has been off television since WrestleMania 37, while Baker just won the AEW women's title, so between them, the latter has the upper hand. In the grand scheme of things, though, The Boss has had more time to establish herself in front of a TV audience.
However, female wrestling is not a one-woman show. Ever since Hulkamania died out, we haven't seen companies rely solely on one person's drawing power. Even John Cena had guys like Batista, The Undertaker, Triple H and CM Punk to help carry the load at different points.
Women's wrestling is even less reliant on one major star to bring in viewers because there are so many great names making an impact.
Hikaru Shida is a great worker, Bianca Belair is a star in the making, Bayley is the most consistent performer on the WWE roster, Charlotte Flair is always a top star, and Jade Cargill is making a lot of waves for someone so new to the industry.
Everyone will have their favorites for different reasons. We should all just take a moment to appreciate that we live in a time with so many gifted pro wrestlers making names for themselves in and out of AEW and WWE.
"WWE fans will complain as usual." (@AcesAnd8s)
Every single fanbase has its moaners. People like to root for their favorites and trash the other side. It makes sense in pro sports, but in pro wrestling, there are more people who like both WWE and AEW than there are those who vehemently hate one or the other.
"Serena Deeb needs to be thrown into the title race. She is too good." (@Revan471996)
As a fellow Serena fan, I agree she is awesome. She holds the NWA women's title so before AEW tries to use her on a full-time basis, she should probably drop that belt to someone else unless AEW and NWA decide to make her a champion in multiple companies like Kenny Omega.
"Orange Cassidy should have won." (@TDLakerFan)
I think it's too early for him to be the world champion. A run with the TNT title first would set him up. I don't see Omega dropping the AEW title to anyone but "Hangman" Adam Page.
"Anthony Ogogo never should have lost to Rhodes. It makes zero sense." (@NotTuaTagovailoa)
Rhodes was playing the patriotic babyface on Memorial Day weekend. He was never going to lose this match. I just hope there is a rematch where he puts Ogogo over.
"Mox and Kingston need to win the tag titles. Cage match at the next PPV." (@ZodsBFF)
I fully support this idea. The Bucks are great, but they don't need a long reign as champ. The tag titles can change hands a bit more frequently than a singles belt without any danger to their prestige.