Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair
SmackDown Women’s championship match
Becky Lynch’s long awaited return from maternity leave left a good deal of people disappointed.
It wasn’t because folks didn’t want to see the Irish superstar return to the ring. People have been buzzing for her return for awhile. If WWE used an earlier possible plan, folks would have absolutely loved it. At SummerSlam, it wasn’t the Lass Kicker who had some fans disappointed. It was the creative decision that followed.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair was scheduled to face Sasha Banks, the woman she defeated in the main event of night one of WrestleMania to win that title. For reasons unknown, Banks was not cleared. So WWE went with Becky Lynch (after a Carmella fake out).
We were ripe for a big time title match. But then Becky Lynch delivered a move we’ve never seen her use as a finish and won the title in 26 seconds. Fans were left with a poor taste in their mouth.
It was difficult to see how this could do rising star Bianca Belair any favors. Becky Lynch didn’t cheat to win. She offered a handshake, Belair took it and was sucked into a move that finished her in less than 30 seconds. There’s no way to look at that and think that she didn’t look like a complete chump.
Word soon came out that this was an attempt at a heel turn for The Man, perhaps at her own request. That also elicited eyerolls. WWE has tried to turn Becky Lynch heel in the past, and it was thoroughly rejected by the fanbase. She has been missed in her absence. Were they going to be able to get fans to boo her again?
It turns out they would. And a big reason of that is how good Bianca Belair is.
To get fans to turn on a favorite, there needs to be a strong hero standing opposite her. Given Becky is sharp on the mic, that hero would need to be able to hold their own in that respect. In her first promo face to face with Lynch, Belair did just that.
Bianca has always had the charisma and was a solid promo, but it feels as she elevated it during this feud. She had to. She can’t be out there stumbling against Big Time Bex. She needed to be able to give the fans someone to cheer so Becky could work on getting the boos.
WWE did not shy away from promo segments either, with a total of four in this buildup. This showed that creative had confidence in Belair that they didn’t need any frills to sell this feud, and more often than not, simpler is better. Bianca stood her ground in each time. This allowed Becky to play the heel to a crowd who wanted to cheer for her opponent.
Standing toe to toe with one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE the last five years actually elevated Bianca’s status. Perhaps the plan at SummerSlam wasn’t completely misguided. Surely it could have been in done in a way that protected Belair a bit more. Nothing is going to wipe out the fact she lost to a slam in 26 seconds (it hurt that no one knew that was her finish, despite that actually working in the story). But they’ve done a good job shining a spotlight on Belair afterwards.
But now what?
I find it hard to believe Becky is going to lose the title right back to Bianca. And anything short of finishing this feud with the EST holding the championship will make this worth it.
The best case scenario tonight is Becky gets herself disqualified or counted out because she can’t keep up with Belair. Then they can make this a series of matches or come back to it in the near future.
SummerSlam seemed like a poor decision. In the end, it may still be. But the story has been promising so far because both performers brought their A game. Let’s see what they do tonight.
Bianca Belair will try to get her revenge and win back her title from Becky Lynch at Extreme Rules tonight, airing on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network every where else starting at 8 PM. Keep it here to CagesideSeats.com for all of your Extreme Rules coverage.
Who will win?
This poll is closed