When Becky Lynch returned to WWE in Las Vegas at SummerSlam and defeated Bianca Belair in less than 30 seconds to become the new SmackDown women’s champion, many wrestling fans immediately thought of Kofi Kingston losing the WWE championship to Brock Lesnar in a quick squash match. Or better yet, it was reminiscent of Hulk Hogan showing up at the end of WrestleMania 9 (also in Las Vegas) to remind everyone that he was still the top good guy in WWF, not Bret Hart.
There was a lot of anger among fans at Belair losing to one move and having her championship reign end like that, all to put over a top star who didn’t need to be rushed into an immediate championship reign upon her return.
The possibility that Lynch might be going heel didn’t even cross my mind as the angle played out. I just figured it was Hogan/Yokozuna/Hart all over again, where WWE was doubling down on their top babyface, even as it came at the expense of another important babyface on the roster who has the potential to reach that level.
When I first saw the fan speculation floating around that Lynch might become a heel, I immediately dismissed it. I couldn’t fathom the idea that WWE would turn Lynch heel after she was the most over babyface in the company from late 2018 through mid 2020. I thought back to how WWF’s business took a sharp turn down after Steve Austin turned heel in 2001, and how that influenced Vince McMahon’s decision to never turn John Cena heel after he became the top babyface in the company circa 2005. That right there was enough for me to think it’s folly to turn Lynch heel when there is still so much money to be made on The Man as a babyface.
But drilling down deeper than that, it also makes no sense to turn Lynch heel because the current WWE roster is already dominated by three major heel characters - Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, and Charlotte Flair. WWE is typically seen as a babyface promotion, but that hasn’t been the case in 2021. Now that Daniel Bryan is gone from the company and reportedly signed with AEW, who is the most over babyface in WWE? Drew McIntyre? RK-Bro? Belair? New Day? None of these babyfaces are the obvious slam-dunk, top-of-the-promotion babyface that Lynch was during her previous run in WWE. That’s not necessarily a knock on them. Rather, it’s more about how super popular babyface Becky Lynch was as The Man.
One of the reasons why WWE is so heavily dominated by heels is because their booking on the babyface side of things has generally been very bad. So when they are fortunate enough to have that top level babyface return to the promotion, it should be a no-brainer to position her in the same spot from before. That’s where the WWE roster is at its weakest, making this an obvious call.
This is why I’m confounded by the latest report and rumors, which suggest that Lynch actually is turning heel, and it’s happening at her request. The concept just sounds like a terrible idea in general, and especially for what WWE programming needs right now.
I guess it’s one of those things where WWE is so ridiculously profitable, regardless of the quality of their television programming, that they can go ahead with baffling decisions like this; the Peacock, television, and Saudi money will still come pouring in regardless. That’s why this isn’t like Austin turning heel in 2001, or the company’s stubbornness about never turning Cena heel.
This all comes with the caveat that it’s still very early in the angle, and so we still don’t know with 100% certainty that the reports are true. The coming weeks of television will let us know with higher confidence where the Becky Lynch character is headed in terms of her alignment.
If Lynch does indeed turn heel and this plays out with Belair somehow being elevated to Lynch’s former spot as the top babyface in WWE, then I’ll look like an idiot for being so skeptical of this concept.
But if Lynch is now a heel, a lot of focus will have to be placed on establishing Becky in that top spot. Just like with Roman Reigns, she will need to feed on a lot of babyfaces to get there. One problem with that is the women’s division is lacking in depth compared to the men’s division, so it will be even more difficult to stretch out a long heel run on top with fresh opponents. It’s at least possible that Belair will just be a pawn who is used to get Becky over as heel, just like she quickly fell to Lynch at SummerSlam.
I love Lynch as a performer and don’t doubt that she can do a great job as a heel, but I need more balance with the heel and babyface side of the equation on WWE television. This decision is only going to tip the scales even more heavily in favor of the bad guys. We already have heel Roman Reigns, heel Bobby Lashley, and heel Charlotte Flair taking up all the oxygen in the room. There’s just no need for Becky Lynch to go there too, especially when WWE programming is so desperate for a main event level babyface star.