For better or worse, this week’s Monday Night Raw was an eventful one. We had Braun Strowman single-handedly burying the entire tag division, Dean Ambrose symbolically burning his Shield vest, and Drew McIntyre continuing to stake his claim as next Universal Champion.
But there’s only one segment that anybody’s really talking about, and if you’ve seen the show, you’ll know immediately which.
Last year’s build to Survivor Series saw Raw come #UnderSiege, courtesy of the SmackDown roster. It was intense, exciting, and fresh – although you could argue that the hype fizzled out by the time the pay-per-view rolled around.
This time we had a reduced version, this time exclusively focused on the women’s division. But despite being smaller in scale – and despite coming in the aftermath of Evolution and Crown Jewel – you’d put serious money on this year’s build living far longer in the memory than 2017’s.
The reason for that is simple: Becky Lynch.
Raw seemed to be ending with Raw Team Captain Alexa Bliss standing tall with her assorted band of heels, until a smash cut backstage revealed Becky clamping her finisher on Ronda Rousey. Things only escalated from there, as Becky strode to ringside, her swagger approaching Vince McMahon levels. The rest of the SmackDown women’s roster came in the back door and kicked off an all-out brawl, one only ended when Becky battered Ronda with a steel chair, before taking off into the crowd.
Immediately, people have christened this a Steve Austin 3:16 moment for Becky – the tipping point of her rapidly-growing support. But how much is that true?
The blood helped, of course. This could actually be considered a mash-up of Austin’s two most iconic flashpoints – the watershed moment of “3:16” combined with his WrestleMania 13 crimson mask.
Somewhere in the brawl (nobody seems sure how) Becky caught a stray limb and had her nose busted open. Just in case you’ve not been on your phone at all today, because there’s no way you could have been online without catching a glimpse of her blood-smeared visage. Those in WWE who want to keep her heel may have initially rejoiced, as her bludgeoning of Ronda was given a unique, savage visual.
In hindsight, though, it’s been received less as a moment of savagery, more one of intense heroism. As Becky stood in the stands, looking out at the carnage she’d just caused, she looked more like a death-defying war hero than an opportunistic villain. Judging by 99% of the response on social media, the majority of fans agree.
I have no doubt that WWE recognises the groundswell of support backing Becky at the moment, but if they refused to embrace that in her feud with Charlotte Flair, there’s no chance of it happening against Rousey.
The very concept of Survivor Series temporarily blurs those face/heel dynamics anyway, which does buy WWE time with regard to Becky’s alignment – but I’m not entirely convinced that they’ll do the right thing. Why? Mainly due to Ronda’s backstage promo earlier in the show.
I’m honestly not sure what the aim was here, but if Raw was the scene of Becky’s next great stride, it could also have been the first major wobble for Rousey. Hopefully, the concise nature of this segment will render it forgettable – letting Ronda off the hook – but most who saw it will surely agree that it was very ill-advised.
On the ‘tron, Ronda bafflingly painted Becky as an entitled millennial, complete with the line “just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right” – which is verging on non-sequitur in relation to the SmackDown champ’s personality. Becky has been incredibly forthright in her tirades against Rousey, emphasising her work ethic and drive en route to the top, while pointing out Rousey’s elite athletic background by way of contrast. Entitled? Hardly.
It was a promo that could have been (and maybe was) written by somebody 30 years Rousey’s elder, and the fact that the pair almost share a birthday makes it seem all the more ridiculous.
It would be a real shame if this feud turned the fans against Ronda, as it did for Charlotte around Evolution time. She has demonstrated an incredible natural flair for pro wrestling, and seems to improve on the mic on a weekly basis. Hopefully her clear passion and love for the business resonates with the fans, just as it has for her Survivor Series opponent.
It was especially fitting that Becky ended Raw in the crowd, surrounded by her passionate supporters. There’s every chance that this could indeed be remembered as her 3:16 moment, but equally, there are plenty others to look at. Her SummerSlam beatdown of Charlotte may be a more accurate place to look, or perhaps the Last Woman Standing match at Evolution – although that feels more like a moment for women’s wrestling as a whole.
Like all WWE Superstars who capture the support of the fans en masse, this moment was really the culmination of years of hard work. Daniel Bryan would never have reached the level he did were it not for those years in ROH and PWG, proving himself to be one of the very best in the world. Similarly, Becky wouldn’t be enjoying her current boom were it not for years of grinding on the indies, then in NXT, and then in the shadow of her fellow horsewomen.
Whether we’ll look back on this specific moment as a catalyst remains to be seen, but regardless, WWE’s biggest babyface remains a heel for now. Austin’s rise was timed perfectly; will Becky’s be treated the same?