The rivalry between SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair and former best friend Becky Lynch might become the best rivalry on WWE’s main roster this year.
The only reason I added in the “main roster” caveat is that nothing is going to touch Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano from NXT this year. The great thing about NXT is they can take their time to build stories whereas on the main roster it’s more of a weekly thing leading to a monthly PPV style event. What appears next on the horizon for Flair and Lynch is a match at Hell in a Cell on September 16 although the match isn’t official as of this writing. After that, the first ever all-women’s PPV called Evolution takes place on October 28 and I think it’s fair to assume there will be another Flair vs. Lynch match at that show too. Before we get to that, though, let’s dive into the backstory between these two talented women.
From Humble Beginnings With Different Backgrounds
Flair and Lynch were both a big part of the current version of NXT. Flair signed with WWE in May 2012 with no wrestling experience. She was considered a blue-chip prospect due to her history as a collegiate volleyball star and athleticism as well as having wrestling in her blood as the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair.
Lynch had the same story that a lot of wrestlers in WWE have where she trained to wrestle as a teenager, didn’t have a lot of money, sometimes wrestled in front of a dozen people and thanks to her determination, earned a contract with WWE in April 2013.
Flair won her first Women’s Championship in NXT in May 2014, in an outstanding match with Natalya, while Lynch failed to win that title. That’s a key part in the story. The two women were unofficially in a group called the “Four Horsewomen” along with Sasha Banks and Bayley. I say unofficially because it’s not like they were a regular tag team together. A lot of the time they wrestled each other.
Fast forward to July 13, 2015 when Flair and Lynch made their main roster debuts (a year prior to the brand extension) along with their NXT ally Sasha Banks. That was the start of the women’s revolution in WWE that has become the evolution, hence the name of the October PPV. Two months after their start on the main roster, Flair beat Nikki Bella to become the Divas Champion. As for Lynch, she was popular and did okay in her first year on the main roster, but she didn’t really stand out. It was Flair who received the bigger push.
In July 2016, the WWE roster became so large and USA Network wanted to make SmackDown a live show that WWE felt they had to do another brand extension. Flair was the first woman drafted to Raw while Lynch was the first woman to be drafted to SmackDown. Flair won the Raw Women’s Championship four times while she was on the red brand while Lynch was the first SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Now that Flair is the SmackDown Women’s Champion for the second time, she is a 7-time Women’s Champion on WWE’s main roster. Eight if you count NXT, but that’s not recognized. The seven titles mean that Flair is tied with Trish Stratus for the most in WWE history. It took Stratus six years to win that many titles while it took Flair about three years.
Before moving on to the current storyline between the women, I need to state that I think Flair and Lynch are both outstanding performers. Flair has improved every year she has been in the business and while I think she’s more comfortable as a heel, her face run has been good with fans supporting her. The match with Asuka at WrestleMania this year may have been the match of the night, which is great considering how much hype there was. As for Lynch, she’s got a lot of energy, she sells everything well and her comebacks are awesome. I think both women have become more comfortable in terms of promos too. Flair is 32 years old, Lynch is 31 and I think both can continue to improve as they get more comfortable.
To summarize all that backstory stuff, the gist of it is that Flair has accomplished a lot more than Lynch in the exact same time they have been on the main roster. Look at the graphic above. Flair has already won more PPV matches than any woman in WWE history and it’s only been three years where she’s been on the main roster. Lynch has had a good career so far, but it’s clear that Flair has been pushed a lot more. Do I think Flair deserves it? Absolutely. Lynch does too, though.
Lynch Turns On Flair, But The WWE Universe Supports Becky
There was a triple threat match at SummerSlam with Carmella as the SmackDown Women’s Champion defending the gold against Lynch and Flair. Lynch earned the title match after beating nearly every woman on SmackDown in singles matches while also beating Carmella in a non-title match. Flair was off TV for nearly two months dealing with a breast implant rupture that forced her to miss time. When Flair came back, she beat Carmella non-title as well and then Flair was also given a Women’s Title opportunity at SummerSlam.
The way it was set up was that Lynch wasn’t thrilled that Flair was added to the match, but Lynch was still confident about it. My prediction was that Carmella would keep the title leading to issues with Flair and Lynch after that. I was wrong, which was okay because I was tired of Carmella’s title reign anyway. The finish saw Flair hit Lynch with the Natural Selection neckbreaker while Lynch had Carmella trapped in the Dis-Arm-Her armbar submission hold. Flair pinned Lynch to win the SmackDown Women’s Title for the second time.
After the match, Flair and Lynch hugged in the ring and then Lynch slapped Flair in the face. When Lynch slapped her, the crowd in Brooklyn cheered! They loved it! What Lynch did was cheap, underhanded and the kind of thing a dirty heel would do, but the fans in Barclays Center wanted Lynch to win that title and when she failed, they were mad about it. Lynch tossed Flair over the announce table, then Lynch left in a rage and Flair was left to think about what happened.
In my SummerSlam takeaways article, this is what I wrote about the story: “I would be interested to see Lynch as a heel because she has only been a face on WWE’s main roster over the last three years. I’m sure it would be fun for her to try it and I think WWE could build the story the right way if Lynch was the heel. I just don’t know if they will go that way based on the crowd reaction, and that’s why this week’s SmackDown will interest me.”
Here’s the update: The crowd did not boo Lynch for the heel turn. Even though Lynch said everything the heel should say, the fans cheered her. The creative team even had Lynch do the classic heel turn speech about how the fans are the reason why she did what she did. It’s typical for the heel to say “it’s not my fault I attacked that person, it is YOUR fault” and that’s supposed to lead to boos. Sorry WWE, but that didn’t happen. The fans cheered Lynch. The more she spoke, the more they cheered. Flair ended up going to the ring for revenge, but when they had their pull apart brawl, the fans cheered when Lynch was on offense and they booed when Flair got the advantage.
It was at that point where I felt like WWE should have changed the plan. Instead of having Lynch as the heel that blames the fans, keep booking her as somebody with an attitude and a chip on her shoulder, but don’t make her the villain in the story. The fans sympathize with Lynch too much to want to boo her.
My concern with WWE continuing to book Flair as a face in this story is that she might become like Roman Reigns. By that I mean, Roman was pushed to beat nearly every guy on the roster except Brock Lesnar (until this year’s SummerSlam) and the fans hated that WWE kept pushing him down our throats. You can even compare Flair to Roman by pointing out that both got in the WWE doors because of their family history in the business and their impressive tryouts, but not because they wrestled in the indies. Neither one did.
Flair has beaten every woman she has faced and while she still gets cheered because fans appreciate her talent, there might come a time when she is booed because fans may believe that she has been given too much. I don’t think it’s been given, though. I think it’s been earned and I credit her for working her ass off to improve in every aspect of the game.
If you think of it from a story perspective, Flair has seven titles and Lynch has one. They have been on the main roster for the exact same amount of time. Who do you think the fans are going to support? The woman with fewer title reigns. It’s common sense especially when Lynch has been booked like a face for the last three years.
This past week on SmackDown in Toronto, Flair beat Carmella in a main event rematch for the SmackDown Women’s Title. It was obvious Flair was going to win. To Carmella’s credit, she put up a good fight in a competitive match, but what we all wanted to see was what was next in Flair’s story with Lynch. There was an attack from Lynch after the match with the Toronto crowd cheering her actions. Lynch followed up with these words: “When I get my way, come Hell in a Cell, I’m taking my title back…you bitch.”
Lynch held up the title and the fans cheered her. Flair was shown at the end of SmackDown with fans booing the shot of her on the screen, so that tells you all you need to know about what the fans think.
A Change In Plans May Be Coming
Following SmackDown, it was reported by John Pollock of Post Wrestling that some things may change in the feud. Here’s what Pollock said about it:
“So I was told this after [this week’s SmackDown] that last week, based on the reaction Becky got, that they have slightly changed the direction here. Where the idea now is much less of a heel/babyface dynamic and instead it’s two ex-friends that both have valid points and neither is going to back down from the other and still getting Becky to the same place they wanted to but not so much wanting Charlotte to be a heel as a result of this. So it seems like they did learn from last week how everyone was into Becky.”
In other words, Lynch is going to continue to have an attitude in everything that she does while Flair will continue to say it’s not her fault that Lynch was unable to beat her at SummerSlam. The heel/face lines may not matter as much as they did in the past in wrestling and as much as it matters in some other rivalries in wrestling.
All of that sounds okay to me and I think the fans will be interested in it that way, but it’s not what I do.
What Should Happen
I think WWE should change the plans to make Flair the heel. She’s great at being the heel. Yes, she did it before in 2016 and early 2017 before her turn last year. I think she’s more comfortable in that role as well. This is the promo I would have Flair do at the start of SmackDown next week:
“I want to begin by addressing Becky Lynch’s actions against me last week after I retained MY SmackDown Women’s Championship. Simply put, Becky Lynch is a coward that is not as good as me and it’s not MY fault that I am a 7-time Women’s Champion while she has only won this title once. That’s why she attacked me from behind last week because she knows she can’t beat me. And you know why you won this title ONLY once, Becky? It’s because I was on Raw at that time winning that title four times. The fact is whether it was in NXT, or when we were first called up to the main roster to where we are now, I have always been better than you and this title right here proves it. Woo!” (Drops the microphone.)
Notice I capitalized “MY” a few times there. That’s done to have Flair emphasize it and makes her come off as more of an egotistical heel.
The fans would hate Flair for that even though everything she said would be honest for her character as a heel because everything she said is true. If Lynch ran down to the ring for a fight, then I think the arena would explode in cheers for her. They could have a pull apart brawl, then SmackDown GM Paige can say the match is on at Hell in a Cell.
At Hell in a Cell, I would have Flair retain the title by cheating. Do a finish where she puts her feet on the rope for a pinfall or holds the tights. Make it cheap. Lynch can get her rematch at Evolution and Lynch can win the title there in front of a vocal crowd that will be so happy to see Lynch hold the title two years after she last won it.
The reason why I think WWE may be reluctant to turn Flair heel like her 2016 character is because she might be on a collision course with Ronda Rousey at next year’s WrestleMania and WWE may want them both to be faces. I would prefer that Flair goes into that as a heel too, but it’s not up to me.
I think WWE is going to stay on the path they are on with Lynch continuing to attack Flair when she can and try to prove she is the better of the two women. Meanwhile, Flair will fire back as the noble champion. Like I said above, it’s not what I would do, but I feel like WWE cares less about face/heel these days. It’s more about Becky vs. Charlotte having a personal issue leading to some great matches. That’s what this is all about, after all. It’s about the matches.
What I love about the story is that it’s easy to see where both characters stand. The best stories in wrestling (or any type of storytelling) are the ones where fans can sympathize with them. Lynch as a right to be mad that Flair is the champion instead of her because Lynch was originally scheduled for the title shot against Carmella. As for Flair, she was given an opportunity, beat Carmella and then won gold again. She did nothing wrong.
When you have women (or men) as talented as Becky and Charlotte competing for a title in a feud that the fans care about then you have something special that we don’t see that often in wrestling. This is not Wrestler A vs. Wrestler B wrestling for a title because WWE needs to have a match on the show. These are former best friends fighting to see who the better woman is with Lynch being envious of Flair’s position. It has the potential to be a great story.
My advice for my fellow WWE fans is to stop worrying about who is the face and who is heel all the time. We don’t always need those labels on wrestlers. The same can be said about Reigns and Strowman on Raw, which I wrote about in an article earlier in the week. It’s not about good or bad the way it used to be. What matters is if the crowd reacts to what the performers are doing in the ring and if Lynch and Flair get the fans into what they do then that shows what they’re doing is clearly working.
It’s better to just enjoy the performance of the superstars and look forward to their matches. The crowd can decide who they want to cheer or boo while WWE can react any way they want.
Charlotte and Becky certainly have our attention. Now it’s up to them to deliver more memorable moments as well as classic matches. I have all the confidence in them to do just that.