Next week, when the WWE hits Glasgow for the first time since the brand extension got underway, the fans of Scotland will be treated to a title match between Alexa Bliss and the recently returned SmackDown Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch. This bout was scheduled as a result of Lynch’s impromptu surgery last month. The details of which have yet to be disclosed, forcing the original date for Bliss’ championship opportunity at No Mercy to be postponed.
Though Becky is back in top form, it’s worth wondering if the damage has been done from her near-month absence, and if action should be taken in next week’s title match to rectify that.
As a champion, it’s Becky’s priority to set a precedent as the gold standard of her division; a role which she’s sunken into nicely since earning the title. Yet, as a result of the champ’s disappearance from weekly programming, fans have been able to witness Alexa Bliss as the top active woman on the SmackDown Live roster in her stead, and it’s actually proven to be quite exhilarating.
It’s amazing what Bliss is capable of as a heel on top of the blue brand, and over the last few weeks she’s proven it in her efforts to carry the SmackDown Women’s Championship rivalry essentially on her own. This begs the question – should WWE continue on with its apparent original plans, or strap a rocket to Alexa Bliss and go all in on her as the leading woman on SmackDown?
Make no mistake about it, Becky Lynch has deserved every ounce of success she’s acquired since being the first female draft pick for Team Blue. “The Irish Lasskicker” has been bred for success from a young age and it shows each and every time she laces up her boots.
That being said, often times when a star takes a dip in momentum as a result of injury or storyline forcing them away for however long it takes, it can start to show cracks in their ability to perform on the level they’re used to, or with the fan support they usually have under their belts.
A prime example of this, is Rusev’s post-SummerSlam absence to rehabilitate from kayfabe injuries that he suffered from Roman Reigns before their scheduled U.S. Championship match.
Upon his re-emergence on WWE television, he had lost all hype as the United States Champion, while Roman Reigns had risen up through the ranks of the mid-card to justify himself as a much worthier candidate. Rusev’s absence from Monday Night Raw had been a huge blow to his push since the start of the summer, and he basically had to hit reset before the fans rejected him.
Now, in many ways, Becky Lynch’s situation is different – given her status as the face of SmackDown’s women’s division and her popularity with the fans since her days in NXT – but it’s not exactly a polar opposite situation. Much like with Reigns, Alexa Bliss has more than proven her worth in Becky’s absence, as somebody that could do a fine job with a championship under her belt, and given what seems like weeks of foreshadowing, who’s to say she doesn’t deserve it?
Heading into the original match at No Mercy, there was little doubt amongst the fans that the fiery champion would be walking out with her arm raised well above her head.
Her reign was just beginning after a hellacious six-pack challenge at Backlash saw her become the inaugural champion, and it would have made little sense – with regards to both the title’s image and Becky’s momentum – to have the championship change hands merely a month later.
Heading into next week’s title defense, however, the circumstances are substantially different. Becky hasn’t been around to represent SmackDown like Alexa has, so to return with the title and beat Alexa after building up so much steam over the last month would feel like an opportunity wasted.
If Alexa Bliss wins the title, it’ll allow Becky Lynch to get back in the driver’s seat in relation to her fan support, because nothing’s going to get her back in the fans’ collective hearts faster than a title hunt. It’s Pro Wrestling 101 – a great heel champion allows for an even greater babyface challenger, and Becky Lynch will benefit greatly from having to earn back her spot on top of the division.
Throw in the fact that Nikki Bella – who isn’t even in the title picture – is going to be captaining the blue brand’s female team heading into Survivor Series, and that’s a whole other reason why Becky should have to fight her way back into the limelight on SmackDown Live.
Naturally, one might’ve hoped for Becky Lynch’s championship reign to be more fruitful than it has thus far, but the WWE has to play the hand it’s been dealt. Right now, Alexa Bliss as the SmackDown Women’s Champion might just be the best move for the women’s division on Tuesday nights.