As 2018 comes to a close, and most writers, fans, pundits and those in the know start to gather their respective end of the year lists, Wrestler of The Year is the category that drives the most conversation and debate within the wrestling community.
It’s ultimately what most great matches or moments come back to. Before one gets to NXT, for the WWE Main Roster in no order, I see credible arguments for AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, and the subject of this piece Charlotte.
Throughout the year each of those performers has had a moment where they just took over, from either a match standpoint like Seth Rollins January-July, AJ Styles, Aug-Dec, or exploded culturally within wrestling from a flashpoint like Becky Lynch following Summerslam after her months of winning matches on Smackdown.
Daniel Bryan has come on really strong to close the year with his heel turn and WWE Championship win, and Ronda Rousey has been a revelation in most of her PPV matches, even if her promos left something to be desired.
However floating under the radar, Charlotte has quietly authored several memorable moments that will not only be remembered as some of 2018’s finest moments but will advance her into the pantheon Women’s wrestling lore. She’s been fortunate to shine against 3 massively different opponents in Becky Lynch, Asuka, and Ronda Rousey. Is it a case of opportunity? Yes. However, you still have to produce.
Charlotte has backed up WWE’s tendency to move her to the front of the pack on every level she’s been on going back to NXT. This is the second time she has main evented a PPV, and it seems like the goal has been to make Charlotte a main event level wrestler at all costs in 2018 to get her ready for Ronda, and following TLC, there’s nothing to say except mission accomplished.
She took part in all but two Smackdown Women’s championship matches on PPV this year, with THREE of them being WWE Main Roster MOTY level (Asuka vs Charlotte WM 34, Charlotte vs Becky Lynch Evolution, and Asuka vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch TLC 2018). She once again was the peak performer at this year’s Wrestlemania giving her the cool nod of having the best match at Wrestlemania 2 of the last 3 years.
After the booking at Summerslam nudged her close to the dreaded Roman Reigns territory you don’t ever want your baby faces going toward, WWE pulled back her dominance but Charlotte only became even more motivated to shine in defeats, withstanding tremendous punishment and submitting versatile performances against Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey on 5 days’ notice.
Charlotte is a classic case of being underappreciated in 2018. She’s not the supernova culturally that Becky Lynch has been because she simply doesn’t make people feel the way Lynch does, but she’s every bit her equal or more as a wrestler. Unless she’s thrown in with someone at a beginner level, Charlotte simply does not disappoint in big matches.
Charlotte has had a number of weird moments character wise where she has not been the easiest to define, especially with Becky Lynch talking circles around her, and her new tendency to kendo stick her way out of matches without actually turning heel which is confusing as all hell. That’s more of a function of WWE, and she’s thrived in spite of these odd moments. Who can forget when she went through a few weeks where WWE seemed to be actively making her into Becky Lynch #2? Through all that, she kept her wrestling intense and her PPV matches anticipated, bringing an aura to every big match she was in from October on.
She’s 1 half of WWE’s best feud and an integral part at that. She played the role of being rebelled against incredibly well, and did what wrestlers have been getting love for doing for decades…getting someone else more over than they were. In Becky’s case, she was going up no matter what, but Charlotte acted as a projectile, without forgetting to perform herself.
I’m not even arguing that she has been the top wrestler in WWE, but it’s interesting I haven’t seen more buzz around her. Laying out her resume, and week to week performance, Charlotte is as solid as any performer in 2018, regardless of gender and like it or not, she’s set up for a MONSTER 2019.
Extra Thoughts on TLC
WWE had a hell of a show at a time it really needed one. The Raw ratings had been generating all types of bad energy that was flooding the product to the point it’s been actively made a storyline. It was a show where the good guys prospered, which needs to happen much more. During every point of the show I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but luckily it never did. Aside from the total whiff of Rollins-Ambrose, TLC landed better than nearly any PPV this year on the main roster. Check out my full review video below.