Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair: An act of Redemption
One of the great aspects of life is making mistakes and learning from them. Hopefully, this is an example of that.
So I'm sure most of us have seen the Evolution PPV. If you haven't, you probably should check it out. It took me two viewings to be able to develop a proper opinion on it (due to me thinking that taking a shot every time they said "history" during the PPV was a good idea and then I ended up passing out right before the Charlotte vs Becky match), and I found myself actually enjoying the PPV even more the second time even if it has its glaring problems. The talking point of the show is without question the Last Woman Standing match between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, and as much as it pains me to say it because of how horrendous of a start this thing was on, I have to give a lot of credit to the WWE and the Smackdown writing staff for the bounce back performance they put on with the way they wrote this thing out. What do I mean by this? Well, that's what I'm going to talk about here today. So lets get this thing started.
We all know how this thing started so I'll cover what actually happened briefly. Becky Lynch was set in line for a WWE Smackdown Women's Championship match at Summerslam. Carmella had been champion since the first Smackdown after Wrestlemania, so for a pretty decent amount of time. Fans grew tired of her and wanted something different. Becky Lynch was someone fans had wanted to be given a proper title run (because apparently the first one does not count and to be honest I can see where they are coming from on that one) and many felt that not only was she the perfect person to be the new champion, but they felt Summerslam was the perfect place to do it. Becky at this point was gaining loads of momentum and a ton of fan support. Many felt this was it and her time was coming.
And then she came along.
Charlotte Flair saved Becky Lynch, her best friend, from a beat down at the hands of Carmella. This, for some reason, makes Paige think it's a good idea to have Charlotte and Carmella compete in a one on one non title match. If Charlotte Flair wins, the match at Summerslam becomes a triple threat. Well, as you might expect, Charlotte wins, the match becomes a triple threat, and fan support for Becky grows even more. See, the thing is that they don't want it to be Charlotte who takes down Carmella, they want it to be Becky. Think of it as the Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns situation.
The truth is, the plan was never to have Becky win. Their plan was to throw away Carmella as their top heel, and give that spot to Becky. And WWE felt that having her throw away her friendship with Charlotte Flair simply because she won the title was the best way to do this. So Charlotte won the match, became the new champion, Becky turned heel, and fan support suddenly grew at an exponential rate the likes of which we haven't seen with any woman's wrestler in the history of the WWE.
So, what the hell happened? Everything went according to plan. Becky turned heel, the beatdown was beautifully executed, it was highly emotional, and the announcers played on it perfectly. But for some reason, fans cheered even more for Becky rather than boo her. How could such a perfectly well placed plan backfire?
Well, before I go on, I need to explain something first. WWE pushes this notion that they listen to their audience. And as much as we want to laugh at that idea, it is true. At least, to an extent.
When the audience is behind a person the WWE is behind, they will take advantage of that and push them to the moon. When it's someone they don't particularly see anything special in, and/or they simply don't want to see in the top spot, they'll try their best to persuade the audience to shift their attention and fandom towards someone they want to be in that top spot. Of course WWE hears what the audience is saying. There's a reason why they've spent four years doing all kinds of different shit with Roman Reigns rather than just have him be a pure top guy. It's why a guy like AJ Styles, someone the fans like and that Vince likes, is in the midst of the longest world title reign in the history of Smackdown. But it's also the reason why a guy like Dean Ambrose, someone a lot of fans like but Vince doesn't necessarily see top guy material in, doesn't share the same amount of success. There's a reason why Jinder Mahal is about as irrelevant as quiet hours in College. Because the fans made it perfectly clear that they don't want to see him in any form or fashion. And they have shown little to no interest in him. And that, in of itself, is a death sentence.
Right now, Becky Lynch, in terms of how much fan support she is getting, is what WWE wanted Charlotte Flair to be. They wanted her name chanted through out the arena every time a mention of her is even made. But it just wasn't the right time for Charlotte to be that. Maybe she could have been, someday. Maybe she could have been that type of face that could represent the brand. But it was clear as day that Becky was the fans choice on the matter.
Instead WWE stuck to their guns. They stuck to the story they put together. They once again shafted the obvious choice, and in this case, fans had enough.
You're all probably wondering why I just told you all of this. And trust me when I say that this will all come into play later.
So yeah, Becky Lynch turned heel and it made fans cheer for her more. And it made fans boo Charlotte. The exact opposite of what the WWE had wanted to happen had happened. Becky has more fan support than we have ever seen any women's wrestler receive before. And she's a heel. WWE's master plan to make Becky the heel rival to the top face of the women's division, Charlotte, had failed spectacularly. The whole point of this was to build Charlotte up in anticipation for her eventual match against Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 35. They even threw away Asuka's undefeated streak for this, a decision I defended at the time, thought it was well executed, and felt was a smart move on WWE's part, but because they have done nothing redeemable with Asuka since then, it's caused her more harm than good. All that work WWE put towards Charlotte is now ruined, and Becky Lynch is now in the position Charlotte should have been in (at least in the eyes of the WWE).
You probably noticed that I never once said Becky Lynch got more over with the audience. That's because being over with the audience and being cheered (as well as booed) are two different things. What has happened with Becky Lynch isn't a case of her being more over at all, but rather, it is something far more damaging.
Before, Becky Lynch was the chosen one and fans bought into the storyline of this being her moment of redemption. She would finally reach the top spot and reclaim the Smackdown's Women's Championship. Fans were fully on board with her at this point. They bought into everything they were being sold.
Now the opposite is happening. They are disregarding everything that is happening because regardless of what they see being put in front of them, they want to cheer for Becky. They can have Becky say anything she wants about anyone she sees in the crowd and it wouldn't matter. She could mock someone's career ending injury and that would still get her cheered. Wanna know how I know this? Because she did that already. But we'll get to that later. My point is, fans no longer care about the story or even what Becky has to do to become champion.
You're probably thinking that I'm saying all of this to once again cast more evidence against a point I've argued against numerous times on this site. That actually is not my intention. Rather, I am pointing this out so that there's a clear understanding of how fucked WWE was in this situation. There was nothing they could do. Becky was going to get cheered over Charlotte and there wasn't a thing they could do about it. No matter what they do, Charlotte is going to be damaged by this feud. If Charlotte wins, it hurts her. If she loses, it hurts her. They have shot themselves in the foot and completely ruined everything they had going for them.
So, what now?
And from this point on, we saw WWE do something that we have never seen them do. We saw them listen to the reactions and they responded to it. The first PPV match Charlotte and Becky have against each other after this? Becky Lynch wins the match and takes the title away from Charlotte. Yeah, just like that. This isn't like the Daniel Bryan situation either. We have to remember that CM Punk quitting was the only reason Bryan ever got put in the situation he was in when it all went down. Without Punk quitting, Bryan would have never had his match with Triple H and he never would have main evented Wrestlemania 30, regardless of how badly fans wanted to happen. And you can feed me any sort of information you want, I will still call 100% bullshit on anything or anyone who wants to claim that WWE was planning on making Becky Lynch a champion again from the start of this storyline. I think it's safe to say that her becoming champion was a response to what was happening in terms of the crowd reactions. And that, in of itself, was a step in the right direction. It didn't redeem them, but rather, it was a start.
Of course, this didn't solve anything. Becky Lynch is still being cheered like crazy despite being a heel. And Charlotte continues to be booed, despite being a face. So now that WWE have given Becky Lynch fans what they want, they try desperately to shift the fandom. They try making Becky even more of a bitch than before, and a lot of what they try was actually executed very well. The end of their second PPV bout I felt was a perfect way to generate heat for any heel, let alone Becky. Have her take the easy way out, make the match end via DQ, and when she could just walk away, make her take out any remaining frustration on the face and look like a total asshat in the process. That's exactly what they did.
But fans still cheered.
And through it all, I noticed something that not many people were pointing out, but I'm sure they still at least noticed. Becky continued to gain the upper hand on Charlotte, week in and week out, except for a few occasions. Normally, this means Charlotte is winning. And yet, Becky still left with the title in their second PPV bout, as well as the third PPV bout they had. Charlotte spearing Becky through the stage was the only moment Charlotte really had where she one uped Becky. Look at some of the shit they had Becky do to Charlotte.
Yes, even in a moment where Charlotte is giving advice to aspiring Women's Wrestlers, Becky just walks right in and starts attacking her.
Hey, here's that injury thing I was talking about.
There's nothing awesome about what Becky said to Edge. Every definition of the phrase "fucked up" points towards this moment. Did fans boo Becky? Is John Cena a better Pro Wrestler than Steve Austin?
And in that very moment, I think WWE realized that, no matter what they do, they can't win. That was the moment they decided that they have to concede and go all the way with Becky. If Vince can't get Charlotte Flair over with the audience, then he'll make Becky Lynch the mother fucking boss of the Smackdown Women's Division (sorry but not sorry Sasha Banks). Whatever plans they had with their Evolution match, they most likely threw out the window and said "fuck it, let Becky Lynch win the damn match". And that's exactly what they did.
The Last Woman Standing Match
After everything Becky Lynch had went through in her WWE career, after coming up short time and time again, she did what we all thought to be unthinkable. She won the feud against Charlotte Flair. At least, that's what we are assuming. For all we know, this feud could be continuing. I don't see what leg Charlotte has to stand on at this point. She gave everything she had to offer to Becky in this match, and she still lost.
There are so many things I can point out in this match, both good and bad. I am not going to necessarily focus on the quality of the match, but instead I will point out two things.
First, if you go back and rewatch the match, you are going to notice that Becky Lynch had a LOT of offense in this match, much more than Charlotte in fact. This is almost never the case in any match. Usually the person who wins the match has less offense, so that the person who loses doesn't look as bad in defeat. Instead, Charlotte was getting the shit kicked out of her for the majority of the match.
Why is that important? Because it put the feud in a new perspective. Before all of this, Becky was perceived as the bitter and inspired wrestler who wanted to prove she was the best at any means necessary. Charlotte, on the other hand, was the once in a generation talent. She was the absolute best of the division. She lost the title to Becky because she was overcome by her emotions and lost focus. But here? That didn't feel like the case at all. To me, this felt like Becky digging deep inside to truly bring out her greatness. She held nothing back, she disregarded everything she had and focused on just winning. She didn't want personal feelings to hold her back. To me, there's nothing really wrong with that. And in this situation, rather than her just using short cuts to get the advantage, she got the advantage just by doing her thing. She was portrayed as being better than Charlotte.
But Charlotte on the other hand? Despite everything Becky was giving her, despite all the shit she was putting her through, Charlotte still had an answer for everything. She still kept getting back up. She still kept coming back for more. They didn't have Charlotte dominate the match. Instead, they had her showcase heart and determination. Rather than have her look like someone who is simply having opportunity after opportunity handed to her, being in the right place and right time, and just being lucky, she is being showcased as a god damn warrior. Someone who won't give up, will take any ass kicking given to her, and truly won't stop until she can't go anymore. She had someone jump on her from a fucking ladder through the announcers table, and she STILL got back up.
These differences made me want to respect their characters even more. This made me buy into the story being told. It was never going to make me boo Becky Lynch. But at the same time, I don't think that was their intention at this point. I think they abandoned all hope of ever getting Becky booed, and instead made this a story of two people simply fighting it out with everything they had to offer, and in the end, Becky was the better woman. Rather than portray Becky as the monster that she has become, she was portrayed as the absolute best the division had to offer, something WWE desperately wanted Charlotte to be.
The second thing I want to focus on is a feeling that I had while watching that match, and I'm just wondering at this point if anyone else had the same feeling.
See, I can remember the first time this "Women's Revolution" was announced. And I can remember clear as day what the problems where with this, and it falls into the complaints that fans had. It felt forced, none of it felt like a true revolution because nothing ground breaking was happening. And this even showed with matches that were happening for the first time with women. The first Royal Rumble match, the first Money in the Bank match, the first Elimination Chamber match, I never once felt like any of these matches were taking Women's Wrestling to another level within WWE. I still felt like they were being held back.
Hell, the first Hell in a Cell match they fucking went all out with. And I still had that same feeling even with that match. They gave Sasha Banks her Mick Foley moment by having her be powerbombed through the announcers table. Yeah, that was it. Nothing happening beforehand to weaken her back or anything of the sort. She just gets a powerbomb through the table and that apparently warrants her being taken out on a stretcher. What is so revolutionary about that? All I'm getting from this is that the women are being given this opportunity, but they clearly can't take the same amount of physicality that men can. CM Punk took a god damn swanton bomb by Jeff Hardy from a twenty foot ladder through the announcers table, and went on to win the damn match less than five minutes later.
In this match, we saw both Becky and Charlotte repeatedly slammed on chairs. We saw Becky get a figure eight with her leg wrapped through a fucking ladder. We saw Charlotte do a moonsault onto Becky through a table (well, they tried and failed, but in this instance it's the thought that counts). We saw Becky Lynch do a leg drop from the top of a god damn ladder onto Charlotte through the announcers table. And not only did Charlotte not get stretchered out, she fucking got up from that shit before the count of ten. And it was only after all of that, after all the punishment and torment Charlotte went through, did the match finally end via her receiving a powerbomb through a table from the top turnbuckle to the outside floor.
THIS is what the Women's Revolution should have felt like. THIS is what makes me feel like I was in the midst of something different. THIS was nothing like anything I had ever seen before in the WWE when it pertains to Women. Not them being in a gimmick match for the first time. Not them getting their own PPV. But them dishing out the same punishment and being able to withstand it the way that men always did. Being able to dish out more and more despite everything they had been through. This is the kind of match that two men could have had and it wouldn't feel like a downgrade. THAT is a Women's Revolution, showcasing that they can do anything the men can do, maybe even better.
It was at this point that I felt WWE finally redeemed themselves with this storyline. After fucking up horrendously by failing to understand the needs and wants of their audience, and turning Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair into the very things they had wanted only with the roles reversed, they understood that they had no choice but to go a different direction with this feud. Now Becky Lynch has unbelievable amounts of fan support, the likes of which we haven't seen since Daniel Bryan. We have witnessed a truly revolutionary moment for women with their Last Women Standing match. They have truly made history. And WWE deserves credit for realizing they fucked up and knowing they have to cave in and have to not only make Becky Lynch the champion, make her the undisputed best of the women's division on Smackdown, if not all of WWE, something they were dead set on making Charlotte.
What happens going forward remains to be seen. Tonight we will see Becky for the first time since the LWS match, and lord only knows what WWE has planned for her. Maybe, for whatever reason, the feud continues and Charlotte comes out on top (and hell, that wouldn't surprise me with Survivor Series being the next PPV in line that women can compete in). Maybe she will be Ronda Rousey's opponent at Wrestlemania 35 as the top woman of Smackdown (again, I seriously doubt it but who knows). Either way, regardless of what happens going forward, I think WWE has done more than enough with Becky to the point where they have at least done right with the feud after the horrible start. No, they couldn't get Becky over as a heel. And sure, Charlotte has lost a lot of fan support. But the way this feud has ended allows WWE a new chance at a fresh start for both women. And maybe they'll fuck it up. Who knows. But if Evolution really is where the feud ends, then they ended it on the right note, and that is something they deserve credit for.