It’s been three plus days since it happened but the internet has been abuzz since the infamous belt swap of 2021 happened. What started out as a dopey idea turned into an IWC phenomenon that has everyone reaching into their preconceived notions arsenal and firing off every bullet in the chamber while very few have looked at this in the most simple way, that two people who don’t like each other anymore in real life had an awkward moment on television and maybe shouldn’t have been put in that situation to start with. But the internet being what it is has turned this into a nuclear war, which given the history of this business is more than a little bit silly. I’m not one for real beef between coworkers but compared to some of the things that have gone down in wrestling history this is not even a drop in the bucket for crying out loud.
What the hell happened?
Ok so what we saw on camera was the following. Sonya asked for Becky to hand over her belt and she refused, motioning for Charlotte to do it first. Charlotte took her belt off, started to hand it over then pulled it back a few times while Becky reached for it, then Charlotte dropped it. Sonya told her to pick it up and she did, then Sonya handed it to Becky while Becky held on to the Smackdown belt before chucking it at Charlotte and walked off once Sasha Banks came down to go at it with Charlotte and set up the next feud. I’ve watched it several times on the original recording and that’s what happened, period. Anything else you’re hearing or saying is pure embellishment.
As for what’s been reported we have this. There were disagreements over how to do the segment. Becky wanted to grab the RAW title and hold up both belts for a few seconds, which tracks with the teasing of becoming Becky two belts again that she’s done the past few weeks. Charlotte reportedly disagreed with that and didn’t want to look weak in the segment. Now to be honest if Roman Reigns did the same to Big E we would say that he punked him and made him look like a bitch. Hell we joked for weeks about Roman telling Drew McIntyre ‘you’re the guy they send when I’m not available’ last year. Wrestlers not wanting to look like a chump isn’t anything new.
And then there’s the juicy stuff. Becky reportedly gave hell to Charlotte backstage afterwards, Charlotte was asked to leave and did not talk to Vince McMahon. Charlotte also reportedly insisted that she dropped the belt accidentally but very few people believed her. There was also a report that Sonya Deville was mad enough to fight Charlotte backstage which is….ummm ok, sounds provocative but could mean anything. Now until we hear from any of the people who were involved or were there to see it and will attach their name to it we actually don’t know what the hell went on and probably never will. (Update: Becky did ‘confirm’ that Charlotte went off script in an interview, but it was to hype up the match they’re having at Survivor Series so buyer beware in taking that as gospel truth.) How you take all this is almost entirely dependent on who you like or don’t like between the two women. There are still loud disagreements over whether the Montreal Screwjob was justified or even real and everyone involved has spoken up on that.
Now while I’m here let me add this. The segment, as dumb an idea as it was, played out in a way that fit both of their characters entirely. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are delusional, egotistical, self centered, petulant, pushy, entitled brats who also happen to not like each other. One has red hair and an Irish accent and the other is a blonde pageant queen, but they are very much the same person and have been for years. I’ll even go as far as to say that if there hadn’t been any reports about backstage beef afterwards then no one watching would have thought anything went awry. The segment as dumb an idea as it was actually played out great if you’re not an internet news busybody. The crowd dug it, for sure. When Becky reached for the RAW belt a Becky 2 Belts chant went up and some people even whooed when Charlotte dropped the RAW belt. The people who just watch the show were here for all of it.
Now as to who was right or wrong, let me just say that while technically Charlotte shouldn’t have dropped the belt, since that wasn’t in the script, I have no problem with her having done it. And do I think Becky have gotten that pissed off about it? No. They recovered immediately and finished everything. If you want to say ‘what the hell was that?’ backstage, sure, but what happened on camera played great to the audience that only watches the show and at the end of the day there’s a long history in that business of going off script and everyone being fine so long as it worked, which in this case it did. If we’re gonna go by the rule that as long as the crowd dug it, it’s fine then well………both things can be true here. Seriously folks, guys (key word guys) have walked out in the middle of matches on pay per views and have told their opponents in the ring that they weren’t doing the planned finish to the match. We laugh about those stories now. We laugh about New Jack zapping a guy with a taser during a scaffold match, unplanned to everyone but him, and tossing him. Dropping a belt on the mat is gonna bring on the end of days now? Is holding up two belts for a few seconds to relive a moment from 2019 that damn important? If it is then well……I think the crybaby in that segment had orange hair, not blonde.
But the reports that came afterwards sealed the deal from a perception standpoint. Charlotte has been branded the malcontent here and that was followed with reports that everyone there hates her and that everyone loves Becky who was seen as a hero for standing up to her…..which sounds like some real fan fiction written by someone with a grudge of some kind. I’ve been in the workforce long to smell the malarkey (thank you, President Biden) in that kind of account a mile away. Are there people who don’t like her there, absolutely but saying everyone hates her and no one wants to work with her is something you’d mark false on a true/false test minus actual statements on the record from people.
And the there’s the absolute ridiculousness of people on Twitter posting book excerpts from years ago as evidence of some grand reign of terror backstage or that Ashley Fleihr is Cruella Devil or the devil incarnate with blonde hair. I’m not going to delve into that any more than to call you stupid or having already made your mind up years ago to head down that rabbit hole. But while I have your attention let’s explore the other part of this whole thing.
Ashley Fleihr, evil or misunderstood? Or both?
Sticking to what can be proven with what anecdotal evidence we have, the part about Charlotte being more isolated backstage seems not entirely false. For years she was in all the backstage photos hanging out with all the other women, but in 2021 that hasn’t been the case other than a time or two. Now what we don’t know what else there is with that. Is she acting out towards her coworkers or is she just not hanging out with them like she used to? And since we don’t know, jumping to a conclusion of any kind is a bit irresponsible.
If it’s100 percent true, I’m of two minds on this. On the hand that’s not a requirement and shouldn’t be used to judge anyone. Plenty of people prep and do their jobs solo until it’s time to actually work with other people. That alone doesn’t make you a jerk. It can however make you look like one, though, and if you’re in an environment where everyone is doing that then yeah you should probably bite the bullet and do it a little, or in her case go back and start doing it again if she is indeed not doing it now. Although if it is true, then somebody has to explain this….
As to the other things, like be mostly concerned with how she looks well……she’s a woman on television which means that yeah she’s very concerned with how she looks because like every other woman on TV she gets judged entirely too harshly on that very thing. There isn’t a woman in that locker room who doesn’t stress out over how she looks because we as a society have forced them to. And she in particular has been the target of a neverending wave of online abuse about how she looks from the moment she arrived there. If she still has some type of complex about that then is it really a surprise?
The rest of the reported stuff reads like a grocery list of internet complaints and is dressed up in the usual press speak to appear as damning a possible. ‘I spoke to several people’, ‘a wrestler said’, ‘increasingly difficult to work with’, etc. Difficult to work with could mean screaming at people backstage or it could mean being more demanding or active in how things are laid out for you than you used to be. And of course we have no idea who said these things, either. Now if she’s doing the former then she’s in the wrong but if it leans more towards the latter then that is more than her right and in fact it’s a responsibility given her position. She should be more hands on in what she’s given to do after six years there and being in a high position the whole time.
And that’s as far as I’m willing to go on that because it all reads like copy-pasta of IWC complaints, speculation, preconceived notions, etc about the woman. I have no doubt that someone told all this stuff to Wade Keller and that he didn’t make it up or do Dave Meltzer-esque speculation as reporting, but how things are worded should always be taken into account when reading this stuff. Years of reading reports about politics have been a good teacher in the art of choosing what to believe from reports in soap opera type situations, even ones with quotes from people.
Long story short if she’s harassing people, yelling at them, etc backstage then yes that’s a problem. If she’s keeping to herself and being more vocal and assertive in addressing what she’s given to do then that isn’t a problem and it’s what anyone in the business in her position does. This is a business where people have literally gone home for months at a time rather than lose one match and flat out refused to work with other people. From what we know she’s a long way from any of that and as far as we know has never had to have a match completely thrown out because she didn’t want to play ball. To my knowledge that Friday was the first time news of a detailed backstage disagreement she was in beforehand followed a snafu on camera.
On this issue there are some things that seem plausible, that she’s more isolated than she used to be and is being more vocal in what goes on with her on camera, and then there’s a bunch of stuff that’s just weasel worded talk until we hear real details. ‘Not happy with the finish or content of a match’ doesn’t mean much to be honest. So are a lot of people at different points but as long as the match itself goes on fine then it’s not a problem really unless you just don’t like who’s doing it. The idea that she should never complain or disagree about anything ever because of who she is and how she’s been booked previously is nonsense. It’s 2021, not 2016 or even 2020. If she takes her ball and goes home then we can talk about her having an attitude problem. And even then it depends on the circumstances.
As to viewing things at work critically only through a self centered lens well……that’s par for the course in the business she’s in. Everyone who’s gotten to her level in the business views things through the prism of ‘how does this help or hurt me?’ You guys are just gonna have to get over that because she’s as entitled to that as anyone else who’s come through no matter who her dad is or how favorably she’s been booked in the past. ‘Not gonna work for me brother’ is a way of life if you want to reach any heights in that business, or any profession for that matter. Your favorite, no matter how pure you think they are, has done it too don’t so get it twisted. No matter what kind of facade they put on they’re still playing the inside game there.
So what’s next?
Some people want Ashley Fleihr to be burned at the stake for all of this like the witch they believe she is. Uhhh yeah……ok. In the sports and entertainment world coworker beefs are not news at all, and we honestly don’t know just how much of this was a work to start with. And as I said before we pick and choose every day who we celebrate and who we demonize, usually based on which involved party we like more. As for the backstage reports, in a world where Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Randy Orton and even John Cena have carried on in much worse fashion I’m going to go ahead and say that keeping to yourself and being vocal in your creative and match layouts aren’t anything that you should be demonized for. Nor should being mainly concerned with how things do or not help your career. That’s called having a job and giving a damn. Grow up, people.
Well it turned that any concerns about the match going awry were overblown, as everything went fine and they had a great match. After all we had a match that some parts of the internet didn’t care for a month ago but was fired up to see again when it happened. The belief that there is some real beef, whether it exists or not, always adds something to it in this day and age. And after all is said and done I’m going to go as far as to say that for Charlotte it was worth dropping the belt, whether on purpose or not. Protecting the integrity of your character for the future is worth getting in trouble for a bit, even if she’d gotten punished in the short term.
As for what we should do as fans, I’ll close with the same advice I always do: just watch the show, and save the gossip column stuff. If you find yourself concocting these broad conclusions about people based on what happens on camera and what people say on the internet, or if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like her and has been hoping that she would step on some land mine that would finally get her what you think she deserves……
At the end of the day we don’t know any of these people. None of them are as good or bad as the picture you’ve painted in your heads or whatever evidence you’ve used for that picture, either. To tie so much of yourself into these folks just flat out isn’t healthy.