Becky Lynch is going to defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship against both Charlotte Flair and Asuka in a triple threat match at the upcoming TLC event on Sun., Dec. 16, 2018, from the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this match is that it’s extremely difficult to confidently predict the winner. A lot of that uncertainty stems from the puzzle of trying to figure out which woman will win the 2019 Royal Rumble match and face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35.
It is necessary to follow a set of assumptions when trying to make sense of this uncertainty. So here are some reasonable assumptions that will guide my logic in trying to figure out which SmackDown superstar will walk out of TLC as the women’s champion.
Assumption 1: Ronda Rousey’s story with Nia Jax will wrap up at TLC, and Rousey will retain the Raw women’s championship.
I think this is a safe assumption because Ronda Rousey’s first loss should come on a major show against a top star. TLC is not a major show, and Nia Jax is not a top star.
This assumption could go awry if their match ends in a disqualification or count out, which could mean Rousey faces Jax once more at Royal Rumble 2019.
Assumption 2: Ronda Rousey will wrestle in a match at Royal Rumble 2019.
It doesn’t make sense for the top champions to wrestle in a 30-person Royal Rumble match, because the reward for winning that match is a shot at a top title. Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss were the women’s champions at Royal Rumble 2018, and so they did not wrestle in a match on that night. But Ronda Rousey is the arguably the biggest star in the company, so even if she is the Raw Women’s Champion heading into Royal Rumble 2019, I can’t see WWE just leaving her on the sidelines.
Royal Rumble is one of the biggest events of the year; that’s why WWE calls in Brock Lesnar every year to wrestle on that night. WWE isn’t going to have Rousey skip this event or simply watch from ringside. She is going to be competing in the ring.
Assumption 3: There will be fewer than two women’s singles matches on the main card of Royal Rumble 2019.
WWE will need as many women on the roster as possible available to fill out the upcoming 30-woman Royal Rumble match with adequate star power. Therefore I think it’s likely that whichever prominent stars don’t possess a championship (among Rousey, Lynch, Flair, Asuka, Jax, Bliss, Banks, Bayley) will be best utilized as participants in the Royal Rumble match rather than held out for one-on-one championship matches.
There are also time constraints to keep in mind. 2018 was the first time WWE ever included two separate Royal Rumble matches on one card. Due to the lofty time requirements of those matches, there were only four other matches booked on the main card of that event. There were 53 minutes and 27 seconds of bell-to-bell match time dedicated to those four matches. The women’s titles were not defended on that night.
Whenever there have been two different top men’s titles (WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Universal Championship) in existence, both titles have always been defended on the Royal Rumble main card. So it’s a pretty safe bet that two of the four non-Rumble matches at Royal Rumble 2019 will feature the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship. That leaves two available slots for potential women’s singles matches.
Sure, it’s possible that two women’s championship matches will be selected for those final two spots, but considering the sheer number of men who will also be vying for a spot on the card, it seems unlikely to me.
Assumption 4: Ronda Rousey will wrestle Charlotte Flair at either Royal Rumble 2019 or WrestleMania 35.
Charlotte Flair stole the show at Survivor Series 2018 by beating the hell out of Ronda Rousey with a kendo stick after their match was over. Rousey came out on Raw the next night and said the following:
“After I’m done with Nia, the next chapter of Ronda Rousey versus Charlotte Flair is going to be written. Some way, somehow, I’m going to find you Charlotte Flair, and we’re going to finish what we started last night.”
It’s clear there is going to be a rematch soon, and it’s going to have to take place on a major card like Royal Rumble 2019 or WrestleMania 35.
Putting it all together
Assumption 1 means that once TLC is in the rear-view mirror, Ronda Rousey will still be the Raw Women’s Champion and she will be finished with Nia Jax. Rousey’s status as champ means she will not compete in the upcoming 30-woman Royal Rumble match.
When that is combined with Assumption 2, it means that Rousey will need a new opponent for a singles match at Royal Rumble 2019. She will be given one of those two available matches outside of the Universal Championship match, the WWE Championship match, and the two Royal Rumble matches.
Adding Assumption 3 to the mix helps to show why Rousey versus the SmackDown Women’s Champion is an optimal match for Royal Rumble 2019.
There probably isn’t time for two separate women’s championship matches at Royal Rumble 2019. Instead, it makes the most sense for Rousey to have a grudge match with either Flair or Lynch, based on what happened circa Survivor Series 2018. There doesn’t need to be a championship on the line.
Look around that Raw roster. Is there anybody who deserves a title match once Rousey is done with Jax? I don’t see a single name on the roster who would be a believable threat to Rousey right now. I guess they could try the Natalya heel turn, but it feels like a stretch to think Natalya can take out Ronda right now. If Rousey is going to wrestle on the Royal Rumble card, the most sensible opponents based on the story are either Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch.
However, it’s not ideal for Rousey to face a SmackDown star who isn’t the champion. Let’s say Becky is the champ heading into Royal Rumble, but Rousey versus Flair is the booked match. That means Becky probably has no match on the Royal Rumble card (due to Assumption 3), and the Royal Rumble match suffers from the absence of both Lynch and Flair. It’s optimal for Rousey to face the champ, because the remaining woman is then free to compete in the Royal Rumble match. None of the major stars will be sitting on the sidelines if Rousey faces the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
In this scenario where Rousey wrestles against the SmackDown Women’s Champion at Royal Rumble 2019, that means Asuka won’t win the title at TLC, because there’s no reason for Rousey and Asuka to fight each other right now.
So which woman does Rousey want to rip to shreds ASAP, between Charlotte and Becky?
Assumption 4 is based on a quote where Rousey states that she will immediately target Charlotte Flair once she is done with Nia Jax. That’s clearly who Ronda wants to fight right now. Therefore, Rousey versus Flair is a strong possibility to take place at Royal Rumble 2019.
This is really no different from what’s going on with Braun Strowman right now. In November, Strowman said that first he is going to destroy Baron Corbin, and then he will take out Lesnar next. Lo and behold, WWE has set up a stipulation where if Strowman beats Corbin at TLC, he gets Brock at the Royal Rumble. Strowman and Rousey have already told you who they intend to fight after TLC. Babyfaces don’t usually lie to the audience, so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for them to target someone else in a major match before then.
So, how exactly would Rousey versus Flair work if they are on separate brands? Rousey has already accounted for that uncertainty by saying “Some way, somehow, I’m going to find you Charlotte Flair.” WWE is teasing right there that Rousey is willing break the rules of the brand split in order to get her hands on Flair.
Based on all of these assumptions, it seems to me that Rousey versus Flair will take place at Royal Rumble 2019. And for the Royal Rumble match to maintain maximum star power, that means Charlotte Flair needs to walk into Royal Rumble 2019 as SmackDown Women’s Champion. But don’t fret Becky fans, because this scenario also lines up The Man for a Royal Rumble victory and a match with Rousey at WrestleMania 35.
That’s the logic I’ve used to convince myself that Charlotte Flair is going to take Becky’s title at TLC. But there are an awful lot of stated and hidden assumptions in there that are far from certain.
How do you see it playing out, Cagesiders?