Ronda Rousey Losing Was the Right Call and More WWE WrestleMania 38 Hot Takes

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2022

Ronda Rousey Losing Was the Right Call and More WWE WrestleMania 38 Hot Takes

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    Credit: WWE

    WWE set the bar incredibly high Saturday night with a blockbuster first night of WrestleMania 38 that saw the return of Cody Rhodes, Stone Cold Steve Austin's last match in front of his home-state fans, and a Match of the Year candidate in which Bianca Belair defeated Becky Lynch to regain the Raw Women's Championship.

    Also on the card, Charlotte Flair defeated Ronda Rousey to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship in a finish that may have surprised fans but proved to be the best thing that could have happened to the Rowdy One.

    Why is that and what other hot takes resulted from the events of WrestleMania Saturday?

    Take a look at this recap from the newsworthy extravaganza.

Ronda Rousey's Defeat Will Benefit Her in the Long Run

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    The best thing that could have happened to Ronda Rousey Saturday night was for her to lose to Charlotte Flair in the SmackDown Women's Championship match.

    The former Raw women's champion and UFC Hall of Famer may have the support of fans now, but as we saw in her previous run with the company, the moment the audience feels like a performer is being shoved down their throats, they will turn on them. They will greet them with choruses of boos in arenas across the country.

    A win by Rousey in just her first real match back would have threatened such backlash.

    WWE needs Rousey to be the hero of the SmackDown women's division. It needs her to be a babyface who can drive eyes to the product and make media rounds. Rather than sacrifice all of that to put her over and risk, it recognized the mistakes it has made in the past and booked a finish that not only protected Rousey from that but also propelled the feud forward.

    The story entering the match was not strong enough for it to serve as the culmination of Rowdy's return back to the squared circle, anyway. Save the title change for a later date, when fans are invested in the feud with Flair and genuinely want to see Rousey win.

    Rarely is a screwjob finish on the WrestleMania stage the right call, but this was one of those times, and one of the biggest stars in the company will be better off for it.

Bianca Belair Officially the Present and Future of Women's Wrestling in WWE

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    Bianca Belair's victory over Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37 was her coronation. Her win Saturday night over Becky Lynch for the Raw title was her confirmation.

    A year after rising to the top of women's wrestling, The EST firmly entrenched herself there with another Match of the Year candidate against a completely different wrestler in Big Time Becks. With the weight of the world on her shoulders following an eight-month rivalry, Belair entered AT&T Stadium to a thunderous ovation from fans who treated the title clash as if it was the main event of the evening.

    They erupted for Belair and were alive and invested for everything she and Lynch did. By the time the former track star delivered the Kiss of Death to her opponent, one thing was abundantly clear: Belair is the present and future of women's wrestling in WWE.

    Two years in a row, she was trusted to perform at a high level against two of the original Four Horsewomen of NXT. In both instances, she not only lived up to the moment but made it hers. She has not missed on the Grandest Stage of Them All, rising to the occasion.

    Belair carries herself like a star, proves no stage is too big for her and now has two victories over two future Hall of Famers on wrestling's most prestigious night. Most importantly, in the year that she has been presented as the next big thing in her field, the fans have not turned against her.

    That is a testament to her hard work and a reflection of the trust they have in her to give them everything she has. She did it again on night one of WrestleMania 38 and is, arguably, a bigger star now than she ever has been.

    That is a very good thing for WWE and the future of women's wrestling.

WWE Return Was a Necessity for the Legacy of Cody Rhodes

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    For Cody Rhodes, WrestleMania 38 was a homecoming.

    After six years away from WWE, The American Nightmare returned a self-made star. This was not Stardust returning to the company after a run of indie shows in which he got over with a niche audience and came running back to WWE at the first sign of interest. 

    No, Rhodes left WWE to go make his own star and he did. He rose to prominence as a member of Bullet Club, earned indie credibility in Ring of Honor, got over with the hardcore fans on The Young Bucks' Being The Elite YouTube show and proceeded to co-create All Elite Wrestling. He accepted reality-show deals and co-hosts The Go Big Show on TNT. 

    Rhodes was not someone lucky to be back in the good graces of Vince McMahon but, rather, someone the Chairman of the Board wanted back. It's good he did, too, because Rhodes' return to the company that introduced him to wrestling fans around the world was a necessity to his legacy.

    After all, WWE was the one mountain he had never climbed.

    He had succeeded at every other venture possible. He helped revolutionize the sports entertainment industry with the creation of AEW and proved he could be a star beyond the company he, the Bucks and Kenny Omega created. But there was still that one, lingering question: Could he have reached the heights that he had in WWE?

    This is the same WWE that had dressed him in a jumpsuit, painted his face and turned him into an extraterrestrial in the last days of his previous run. The same company that cut off his momentum any time he got rolling. Could Rhodes maintain his star power in this company?

    If the reception for his return and his performance on the grand stage was any indication, the answer is a resounding "yes." 

    Rhodes entered Saturday's show a bonafide star and the fans treated him like one, rewarding him with a warm homecoming and one of the loudest ovations in recent memory. It felt like a big deal, a truly monumental moment for both the performer and the company.

    For Rhodes' legacy, it was the first step in proving he can do the one thing missing from his legacy: conquer WWE as a true main event star.

By Staying in WWE, Kevin Owens Is More Elite Than Ever

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    Remember back in December when it was reported by Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select that Kevin Owens had re-signed with WWE, despite heavy interest from All Elite Wrestling, and everyone thought he made a terrible mistake (h/t Sports Illustrated)?

    That that he had settled for more money instead of an opportunity at creative freedom and working with his friends over in AEW?

    It sure looks silly now considering Owens just competed in the main event of WrestleMania 38 against Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Texas Rattlesnake's first match in two decades. The shirt-wearing kid from Marieville, Quebec, achieved the dream of thousands of professional wrestlers who grew up watching the stars of WWE as kids.

    Better yet, he accomplished it by working with his hero in what had to be a surreal, emotional and rewarding moment.

    The amount of trust WWE and Austin had in Owens to pull off the moment and match is incredible. It proves that, despite whatever criticisms one may have about KO's booking over the last eight or so months, the company sees him as a guy it can trust in big-match situations against returning stars.

    Vince McMahon is not just plucking anyone from the roster to square off with Austin in his first match since retiring in 2003. It had to be a star that could talk people into caring, who could take care of Stone Cold physically and sell his ass off for him when it came time to.

    Owens checked all of those boxes because he is a pro's pro, a great wrestler whose connection with the audience makes it easy for him to pick up a mic and dictate the story.

    In opting to stay with WWE, he not only made a childhood dream come true and had the honor of performing alongside the man who is responsible for him loving the industry in the first place but proved himself more elite than he ever would have had he made that jump last December.