The question isn’t “did Becky Lynch turn heel?”
Or, I guess it is, but we don’t have enough information to fully answer that yet. What we saw on screen at SummerSlam on Sunday night (Aug. 19) in Brooklyn looked like a traditional heel turn. Charlotte Flair won the SmackDown Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat built with Carmella as the entitled, undeserving villain. Becky was frustrated Flair was quickly placed into the match by General Manager Paige to lessen Mella’s chances of retaining, reducing her own odds of capturing the title in an opportunity she scratched and clawed for. But Lynch accepted her friend’s proposal they compete honorably and push each other to greater heights, like they always do.
In the match, Charlotte seized an opening to hit her Natural Selection finisher on the Lasskicker while she had Carmella in the Dis-Arm-Her submission, earning a pinfall victory and taking the belt for herself. Sucks for Becky, definitely. But also playing within both the rules of the match and the deal Flair & Lynch agreed to heading into it. So when Becky accepted a hug, but used it as an opening to attack her friend - that’s a textbook heel move.
There are plenty of reasons to withhold judgement. For one, there’s the fact a similar story between the other two NXT Horsewomen has featured attacks by Sasha Banks on Bayley and vice versa which never lead to either becoming a bad gal.
For another, it’s because there’s another read to the storyline laid out above, and it’s one fans who’ve been cheering for Bex very quickly made during SummerSlam: Flair is also an entitled character who didn’t deserve to even be in the match. Pinning Lynch when she was poised to finally win the belt was one thing. Expecting her friend to celebrate with her was a bridge too far. Asking those fans to do anything other than cheer a character and performer who just weeks ago was thanking the WWE Universe for supporting her on her journey back to the top, or to boo the one who kept her from reaching the mountaintop, is a tough sell.
WWE’s fallout videos for both women leave the heel turn question open. Lynch’s especially screams “TUNE IN TUESDAY!” She’s angry, yes. But everything else hinges on how she, and the SmackDown creative team, play it on WWE’s last night at Barclays:
Flair’s seems less ambiguous, at least at first glance. Still crying from the scene their segment ended with in the arena, she’s mourning the loss of a friend.
But Charlotte’s story about the roots of Becky’s issues stretching back to a post-WrestleMania car ride is interesting. At the end, she spins it as Lynch not appreciating the hard work she’s put in to achieve success. In doing so, however, she again bypasses an opportunity to recognize the advantages her father’s legacy provides and empathize with her friend’s challenges.
The seeds for Charlotte to start playing a privileged, selfish villain are there. The tears, the tale of broken friendship, even interviewer Cathy Kelley’s sympathetic demeanor aren’t painting that picture, though.
So I’m not terribly concerned with whether this was a quote-unquote heel turn yet. We’ll get that answer tomorrow night, most likely. But if WWE thinks audiences anywhere except maybe in North Carolina will cheer Flair in the program? That’s pretty crazy.
Perhaps they really are telling a detailed, nuanced story about the difficulty of being friends in a competitive field, and there won’t be a heel or a babyface. The elements are all present, and with the long-rumored Four Horsewomen feud looming, this would be a good time to not suddenly make one of the NXT version an antagonist to another.
But I won’t believe that until we see it, because history.
I’ll keep an open mind for now. As long as Dr. Shelby doesn’t show up on SmackDown, we should be alright.