Charlotte Flair returned last night (December 30), and in a move that is at least partially designed to troll a portion of the online fanbase, immediately captured her 14th main roster singles championship .
This led to a lot of complaints and/or rolling eyes, and I get that. but me? I was too busy asking myself, “Self, are they really trying to push Charlotte as a babyface again?”
Then I saw the clip of the post-show interview with the new SmackDown Women’s Champion, and I didn’t bother to respond. He himself knew.
But you know what? This is a great babyface interview. Combine this with the reaction we got in the arena on Friday, and it’s enough to make even a longtime Charlotte optimist like me.
There are plenty of reasons why Char’s past appearances have been met with mixed reactions (at best). The most commonly cited one is that flares are meant to be heels. This means that it’s hard to play the hero when you’ve got to brag about being great, and that the charisma of Nature Boy and his daughter pales in comparison to Tom Hanks than to Kim Kardashian.
She didn’t say much last night, but what she did say sounded less haughty and entitled than we’re used to hearing from the Queen. More importantly, Flair’s delivery sounded more natural. Not that a babyface can’t have an arrogant streak, but they either have to be really entertaining or be relatable in some way. Charlotte Will Never Be The Rock, But What We Finally Got Is A Glimpse Of A Cody Rhodes-Like Character smack down of 2022.
But really, the biggest thing working in Flair’s favor this time around is who WWE pitted her against. Fans who are usually hesitant to cheer Charlotte will do so when she has a feud with Ronda Rousey. And Ronda, with her more natural alignment — heel — should have the right response for everyone, no matter how long this chapter of their rivalry lasts.
If this wasn’t just the result of a rushed decision to bring back Flair, then it’s a good sign. This means that Triple H and team know that Charlotte needs some help to get the majority of the regular audience behind her, at least for now. Eventually, as she grows into this version of her act and she wins over more doubters, it may be possible to set her opposite a tweener or another face. But at first some of us won’t be cheering for him as much as we are against his opponent.
And let’s face it, SmackDown needs him in this role. Liv Morgan has her adoring fans, but she needs to be more before she becomes a full-time main eventer. Hatch seems to want people like Raquel Rodriguez and Tegan Knox to get there, and they may be – but they’re not there yet. Unless a draft balances out the women’s divisions of the brands, they’re not going to find a big Friday and SmackDown needs a hero.
Will this work? Let’s put a pin on this topic until after the Royal Rumble. But if you’re feeling oddly optimistic, you’re not alone.