This isn’t one of those ‘I HATE CHARLOTTE FLAIR BECAUSE SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN IN THAT MATCH AT SUMMERSLAM AND I’M STILL MAD ABOUT IT’ #HotTakes. I just find it so weird that when presented with a Becky Lynch-shaped hole on SmackDown Live, WWE are trying to fill it with something that is shaped like Charlotte Flair.
These are two different things – very different things. I really hope that WWE realise that Messrs Lynch and Flair aren’t interchangeable sooner rather than later. I really hope that in the absence of The Man, WWE haven’t bottled the steam generated by her over the past few months and passed it on to the woman they always wanted to be the face of their women’s ranks…
Let Becky be Becky, and let Charlotte be Charlotte.
The opening segment of this week’s WWE SmackDown Live confused me greatly. Basically, Charlotte Flair came out fresh from her mauling of Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey and cut a promo that she would have done a couple of years ago when she was a heel. Before she even started talking, with fans thinking “hey, it wasn’t your fault you were inserted into that SmackDown Live Women’s Championship match for no reason – you were right not turning down the chance to get yourself in that match. You would have been silly to reject it because of morals. It’s the bookers of the show we should be angry at… BOOO THOSE PEOPLE WITH THE PENCILS FOR THEIR NONSENSICAL GARBAGE,” and chanting “thank you Charlotte,” The Queen told them ‘yeah, you should be thanking me’ in the sort of entitled tone of voice that simply doesn’t belong inside the body of a bonafide babyface.
Something different from Flair was expected heading into the show thanks to what transpired on Sunday at Survivor Series. I’m not sure if it was because she thought she couldn’t beat Ronda Rousey or because she was doing it for The Man, or maybe it was a combination of both, but we saw a new side to Flair and it was good to see it continue on for more than one night – something WWE don’t always do these days, I’m sure you will concede.
The ‘yeah you should be thanking me’ bit aside, what The Queen actually said on SmackDown wasn’t all too heelish – it was how she said it that was. There was more bite to her demeanour, less smiles – she looked like she was agitated by merely being forced to stand in the ring to do her job. She looked and sounded like the Becky Lynch we’ve become accustomed to over the past couple of months – let’s be honest here.
And it wasn’t just the way Charlotte spoke that reminded me of Lynch, it was the way WWE played the opening segment of this week’s SmackDown out. Charlotte was confronted by General Manager Paige who slapped a $100,000 fine on the Ronda-conqueror for laying her hands on no less than five officials. To me, WWE are dangerously close to finding themselves in Roman Reigns territory with Charlotte – and not for the first time this year after they almost ruined a lovely character with some horribly slanted booking ahead of SummerSlam.
WWE are almost in ‘Reigns territory’ with Charlotte because they’re trying to have us normal folk relate to someone who simply isn’t on our level. I looked at Roman Reigns during the three-year assent to his Universal Championship win and saw a man that I was envious of in every single way possible. He’s massive, good looking, has lovely hair, lovely skin, lovely tattoos, presumably all the money in the world, a boss that values him dearly, a lovely family back home – Reigns has it all.
I’m an average Joe – much like many who watched Reigns during that period – and simply could not relate to a lot of what he was about. It’s a harsh fact of our really average lives, but it’s something WWE seemingly couldn’t work out.
Despite the averageness in the overwhelming majority of the viewing audience, WWE made him the kind of sympathetic babyface cut from the same cloth as the same Daniel Bryan et al – the everyman. Roman Reigns, as far as his time on WWE’s main roster goes, has never been that.
They’re doing the same with Charlotte now it seems, despite the fact that she – in my eyes at least – has everything that Reigns does, and more because she’s a Flair. What’s more is the fact that the $100,000 fine adds a bit of anti-authoritarian business into the mix, as she’s sure now to go on and do more things like the beatdown she handed out on Sunday.
I must admit, by writing this piece now I’m guilty of not allowing a story to play out. It’s all about the ending and not always the destination in pro wrestling, so I should really be allowing a few more weeks of the new Flair to flourish before casting any judgements.
However, what they did with her on this week’s SmackDown just felt like something written for Becky Lynch. We had defiance, a splash of badassery, and the authority figure coming down on her before a kind of against the odds wins against two bonafide heels in the IIconics. While the segment was great, it just felt like the wrong person was in the role – a viewpoint, admittedly, that might be blinkered slightly because JUSTICE FOR BECKY LYNCH!!!
As I mentioned earlier we can’t be too hasty in coming to any conclusions. We’ve only seen one segment of the new Charlotte Flair. I just hope that WWE don’t make her so much like The Man, that when Becky Lynch does eventually return, they haven’t burned out all of the steam that she created over the past few months on somebody else.