The big feud between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair began in earnest this week, and not without some speed bumps. After a prelude and first shot (Becky attacking Charlotte after their match at Summerslam with Carmella) that went about as well as you could hope, the next page wasn’t received as well. It appears that Charlotte is supposed to be the heroine here and Becky the villain (we really don’t know yet because it did just start), and that’s not going over well right now. But instead of going all caps in disgust I tried to ask and answer some questions that surround the whole thing. Here goes:
Whose story are you telling?
Is it Charlotte or Becky’s? Charlotte’s story is one where her best friend was willing to attack her because winning the Women’s Championship had become more important than their friendship, and because she couldn’t handle coming up short in a match where they both had the same chance of winning. On the other hand Becky’s story is of fighting her way up to earn a chance to win a championship she hadn’t held in over a year, only to have her best friend jump the line and move in on her opportunity. A best friend who couldn’t just leave well enough alone and let her have her moment. Which way you’re going to go determines how you tell the story, who will play the role of hero and villain, and how you resolve it.
I think the intention here is to make it Charlotte’s story and not Becky’s. Why? Because usually whoever is the ace or the top dog gets the story told from their vantage point. That’s true whether we’re talking about Jerry Lawler in Memphis, Hulk Hogan in the 80s, Antonio Inoki in Japan, or today. And here Charlotte is the ace of the Women’s Division. You can disagree with the decision to put her there, but that’s a different subject for a different time. And as of 2018 Charlotte is rumored to be heading to a WrestleMania 35 match with Ronda Rousey so what happens between now and then is all about how she gets there. So however this thing plays out and ends, it’s more about moving her along than Becky or anyone else who gets involved. That doesn’t mean she’s going to win everything but she’ll be the one who gets the most attention when it’s over.
Who should be the villain?
This part has already sowed a lot of talk on social media. It appears that at least after one week that Becky is the intended villain, which has not gone over very well. She gave what was supposed to be a heel promo on Smackdown Live and the crowd cheered, after cheering her postmatch attack on Charlotte at Summerslam. For the time being the crowd did not buy Charlotte as the wronged party and seemed to believe she wrongly jumped the line because of a sense of entitlement. That’s gonna be a tough hill to climb reversing that thought if the response we’ve seen so far sets in. But who’s right here? Road Dogg (head booker on Smackdown) said himself on Twitter that both ladies had only one hill to climb and that was beating Carmella at Summerslam. And while that didn’t go over so well, he’s not wrong depending on how you look at it. Yes, Becky did win several matches to earn her title shot while Charlotte only had to win one. But just like when you have a Wildcard team in the Super Bowl against a team that got a first round bye once you get to the final game it is indeed just one game to win.
Looking at it that way Becky had one job, she didn’t do it, and she has no grounds to complain. And it being Charlotte that got that third spot in the match shouldn’t change that. Would she have attacked Naomi or Asuka had it been them instead? Was the issue that she didn’t get a one on one match, or was it that the third person was who it was? And what exactly would she have had Charlotte do, stand down? That’s the kind of thing that guys want their boys to do once they state their intentions to approach a woman. And while my boys and I did honor that particular gentlemen’s agreement, in a purely competitive situation like presented in the world of pro wrestling to expect that kind of deference is pure folly. Michael Jordan played against a lot of his friends in the NBA Finals and he didn’t start sitting them out so his friends could get one once he had enough trophies to secure his place in history. Why should Charlotte do that? And if Becky had beaten Carmella one on one was she supposed to never challenge for the title so long as her friend held it? That brings us to the fly in the ointment.
The Entitled Queen
Charlotte being who she is makes this whole thing more difficult. Had Naomi or Asuka been in this spot it would be easier to accept Becky as the villain. But since WrestleMania the wonderful world of Wrestling Twitter has shown signs of turning on her. Whether it’s Charlotte Flair or the woman behind the character Ashley Fliehr, there is a growing sentiment that being the daughter of the Nature Boy Ric Flair is paying way too many dividends in her career, and that really kicked up once she beat Asuka at WrestleMania. Ending an undefeated streak that had gone on for well over a year starting in NXT and continuing to the main roster was a bridge too far in a lot of eyes, especially after winning six championships on the main roster, ending the longest Diva’s Title reign on record and winning the first ever Women’s Hell in a Cell match. And while some of those things had enough space in between them to keep from making too much noise (she was without a title of any kind for most of 2017), being the one to benefit from what was going to be a bitter pill no matter how it happened on top of everything else makes her anything but sympathetic be it in character or real life.
And that’s the big problem here. I think that in an effort to make the most easily accessible name to the mainstream the big cornerstone of this new chapter or history in Women’s wrestling, they have created a monster that some people are only going to see one way. I do find that a bit unfair. Yes they could have consolidated some of those title exchanges with Sasha Banks so that she might have three or four title wins instead of eight counting NXT. But it’s not her fault who her Dad is, and she’s not one of the terrible cases of nepotism in wrestling like Erik Watts or Greg Gagne. For all her wins she has done her share of jobs to a variety of opponents. And there was no way to end the streak with Asuka that would have made anyone happy (if she’d beaten Charlotte and gotten cashed in on by Carmella, a lot of the same people would have been just as upset). But I don’t see anything outside of going on a long stretch of adversity that’s going to turn that sentiment around. It is what it is.
As for Becky, just how do people really feel about her? The part of her promo that got the most grief was where she questioned the support she’d been receiving from the fans, essentially saying that it hadn’t been there until recently and how that didn’t make up for two years prior. Here’s the thing: she wasn’t entirely wrong. When she got called up with Charlotte and Sasha Banks, there weren’t a whole lot of people checking for her. That continued on through 2016 until she won the Smackdown Women’s title, but even her victory in that match was overshadowed by people seeing that Naomi was better than they’d thought and the awakening that happened in a lot of horny fanboys when Alexa Bliss came out with a Harley Quinn-inspired ring outfit and hairstyle. Looked past again, she spent 2017 and a lot of 2018 in that place of being liked by most of us, loved by some of us, but with a real question mark as to where exactly she should lie on the totem pole. If that led the writers to misinterpret how people would respond to her here, they don’t get a pass but it I can see why they did it.
So what to do?
How do you resolve it all? Do you plow ahead with what appears the assigned roles are going to be? Do you make some adjustments to the storyline (assuming they don’t already have them baked in) to bring both characters closer to a place that the crowd (assuming they’re all going to act like the one in Brooklyn) will accept for both? Or do you do what the loudest voices on the internet are demanding and flip the roles a la Steve Austin and Bret Hart (even though that was more planned out than we think). Or does it even matter? We’re in a world now where a guy like Marty Scurrl can literally call himself The Villain, cheat through his whole match against an established babyface, and get cheered while the face gets booed for winning the match. Are people just going to say “I like Becky, Charlotte’s gotten too much, so I’m cheering her and booing Charlotte no matter how they try to portray them”?
If you can finish this whole angle with both women in a good place to go forward from and deliver some kick ass matches along the way then I think any stumbles in the setup, be they real or perceived, can be forgiven. I have my ideas on what I would do but I’m not one to share or hold on to my own fantasy booking as the thing somebody should do. They’re the storytellers and they’re not always going to tell them the way we want them to. When they don’t it’s time to be an adult, accept that, and keep it moving. We don’t want to be told what to do……..except for when we do. We get mad when we think they’re trying to force something on us but we don’t want to be left to figure it all out on our own from the beginning, either. Like children we don’t want to be told what to do, but we do want guidance and boundaries and all that other good parenting stuff. We’ll see what choices they make, and how those choices are executed. Until then, be a little patient and give it time to unfold.