Dave Fenichel, aka The Eternal Optimist, is a kitty punching, baby stealing, abominable excuse for a columnist. His excessively Optimist views on the world of professional wrestling are nauseating at best and deplorable at worst. If you hate yourself and are a glutton for punishment, can you follow him on Twitter @FFFightLeague
QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you feel about the Becky Lynch Heel Turn?
I think I have a problem. It’s my birthday. I’m writing a wrestling column. I might need an intervention.
Anyhow – this is likely to be a bit of a longer, more cerebral column than you’re used to getting from me. It’s generally my preference to write trash pieces that cause you to yell, scream, curse and/or laugh with (translation: at) me. However, Becky Lynch and the fan reaction to her heel turn piqued my interest to the point that the topic deserved a deeper dive than I’d normally provide. Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Why We Need To Boo Becky Lynch, and Why I’m All In On “All In” but All Out on Neville.
♠It’s Time To Boo Becky♠
With all of the major happenings of Summerslam weekend, I was surprised that the biggest talking point came not from Brock Lesnar being dethroned and not from Ronda Rousey becoming the Raw Women’s Champion, but rather from Becky Lynch throwing Charlotte through the proverbial barbershop window.
The pop she received was massive, but the backlash has equally gigantic. The message was sent loud and clear. The WWE Universe doesn’t want to boo Becky Lynch and doesn’t want to cheer Charlotte.
As much as I love to antagonize my readers, you aren’t wrong here. It is illogical for Becky to be the heel while Charlotte remains the face. There’s a running joke that Owen Hart should have been the face when squaring off against Bret during 1994. The parallel to the Charlotte/Becky situation is there and I have no doubt that had Owen/Bret happened in today’s universe, Owen would be the one getting cheered.
All that said, you need to swallow your pride and BOO BECKY LYNCH.
I completely get it. You love Becky Lynch and are tired of seeing Charlotte as the dominant female. You think that if you rebel against Becky’s heel turn, you’ll show the WWE how wrong they were and it will be glorious.
That’s not how this goes down. The only person that you hurt by cheering for Becky Lynch is Becky Lynch.
While the booking is illogical in a bubble, the WWE has a very clear agenda. The WWE is looking to run Charlotte v Ronda Rousey as the main event of Wrestlemania 35. This isn’t breaking news, as many have viewed this match as a foregone conclusion.
The reason this is important to the decision to turn Becky heel is because the WWE is not looking to make Charlotte v Rousey a traditionally “good v evil” storyline. The moment and concept of females headlining Wrestlemania is designed to be the culmination of the Women’s Revolution and celebration of Women’s Wrestling as a whole.
As such, the WWE is looking to build this match as the first “Icon v Icon” female battle. They want to mold this match in the image of Hogan/Warrior, Austin/Rock and Cena/Rock. Thus, the WWE has a vested interest in keeping Charlotte as a major face.
So what happens if the fans continue to cheer for Becky Lynch and start to revolt against Charlotte? The WWE is going to pull the plug on the Becky push and find someone else that will get booed. They have too much at stake to allow their Wrestlemania main event to be jeopardized.
I posed the idea that booing Becky Lynch was the way to go on social media, and the response was strong. Most wanted to compare her current situation to Roman Reigns and his relationship with the fans. On its face, that sounds good. Becky is now a heel that the fans want to continue to cheer, whereas Roman is a face that fans continue to boo.
However, I don’t believe that Roman is an apt comparison. Roman Reigns is bulletproof. He’s the WWE golden child. He’s this generation’s John Cena. The WWE is going to protect him no matter what and at any cost. Whether that’s a good idea or not is open to interpretation, but it’s the reality of the situation at hand.
Becky Lynch is not afforded the same luxury. Although beloved by the fans, she’s NEVER been protected from a booking standpoint and the WWE has NEVER given us any reason to think that Becky is a cornerstone that they are looking to build the company around. Unlike with Roman, the WWE isn’t going to continue to force the issue with Becky Lynch should she not get the reaction they are looking for. Instead, she’ll receive a swift push down the card.
I believe that Becky Lynch’s situation has a much stronger parallel with two others from the past.
The first is CM Punk’s heel turn in the Summer of 2012. Like Becky Lynch, CM Punk was an incredibly popular and likeable baby-face. Like Becky, CM Punk was not someone that the WWE brass had any interest in protecting.
The WWE turned CM Punk heel not because they didn’t feel that he was a popular baby-face, but because the NEED was for a top heel. John Cena was never going to be turned, and The Rock was ready for another round at Wrestlemania. The Rock, with his mainstream celebrity status, surely wasn’t going to be turned either. The main-event scene on the baby-face side was simply too crowded for CM Punk.
The WWE universe could have dug their feet into the ground and continued to cheer for CM Punk. Had that happened, he would have been de-pushed and the WWE would have found someone else to take his place as the top heel. Instead, Punk embraced it, the fans embraced the heel turn and Punk ended up squaring off with the freaking Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
Becky Lynch is at a similar crossroads in her career. Charlotte is inevitably heading over to Raw and as the top heel on Smackdown, Becky could be in line for a major title match at Wrestlemania 35. Her heel turn needs to work first, and that means the fans need to boo her out of the building.
Whereas CM Punk showed the positive effects of a character turn getting over with the fans, the other comparison shows how a turn that bombs can irreparably damage a career. I’m talking about Lex Luger in 1993-1994.
Lex Luger was a huge star in WCW. It was a big deal when he signed with the WWE. He debuted with much fanfare and was immediately aligned with Bobby Heenan. He was a great heel, and he seemed poised for a main event run.
The problem? Yokozuna was already occupying the top heel spot, and he wasn’t going anywhere. The WWE was lost on the face side. They were looking for the next Hulk Hogan. While they really liked Bret Hart, they knew he wasn’t that guy. Thus, the WWE turned Luger face, made him an American hero and thought the rest would be history.
It wasn’t. While yours truly personally enjoyed The Lex Express, the majority of fans didn’t buy in. Much in the same way that Becky’s likeability makes fans want to gravitate towards her, Luger’s arrogance made the fans want to gravitate away from him.
Fans weren’t excited to see Lex as an American hero. Attendance and ratings were down. The WWE realized that he couldn’t fill the role they needed him to play, and pulled the plug by the time Wrestlemania X rolled around. The end result? Luger was de-pushed. He ended up wrestling the Blu Brothers in a non-title tag bout at Wrestlemania XI and left the company later that year.
This is the comparison that should scare Becky Lynch fans into booing her. If she doesn’t get the reaction the WWE is looking for, she’ll be replaced. It is SHE that will suffer. The fans will blame creative for not doing right by her, but it will have been YOU that did her wrong.
It’s time to boo Becky Lynch.
♠I’m All In On “All In” But All Out On Neville♠
Wrestling fans never cease to amaze me. “All In” is this weekend, and it should be an event that has the diehards salivating. An independent show sold out a gigantic arena on a weekend without the WWE in town. As Kevin Owens stated during a recent interview, that is an amazing accomplishment. Yet, all I hear are complaints about the quality of the show. I don’t get it.
First off, it’s a Pay Per View card that costs EIGHT DOLLARS. That’s incredible value even if you’re down on the lineup itself.
Second, I don’t see any issue with the quality of matches on the card. I don’t understand why people were expecting another Omega v Okada match. Why would NJPW allow another promotion to run that match? Furthermore, shows like this are amazing because of the FRESH possibilities that come from multiple promotions being featured under the same roof. What would be the point of running matches regurgitated from other promotions?
Nick Aldis v Cody Rhodes isn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but Cody spearheaded the event and you knew he was going to be featured prominently. Once you get past that, the card looks GREAT.
Omega v Pentagon, Okada v Scurll, and Ibushi/Bucks v Mysterio/Bandido/Fenix are all absolute blockbusters. These are matches I haven’t seen before and I’m all about them.
Joey Janela and Hangman Page are absolutely going to kill each other. Those of you that love the stiff style are in for a real treat there. Christopher Daniels v Stephen Amell is a really cool change of pace match. Amell puts the effort in and Daniels is such a seasoned pro that he’ll easily be able to carry The Arrow to a sufficiently acceptable match.
You know that there will be surprises aplenty as well. Cody and everyone involved has gone so far out of their way to say that Flip Gordon isn’t going to be booked that I reckon he’ll be heavily involved in the show. My best guess is he’ll win the Over Budget Battle Royal as a surprise entrant and beat Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title. That should be a very cool moment.
All In looks to be a stellar card that should far outkick its coverage. The IWC should be embracing it and everything it stands for, not trying to undercut it at every turn.
On the other hand, I cannot wrap my brain around the love being given to Neville. Now that he’s been released from his WWE contract, everyone is acting like he’s the second coming and the answer to every other promotion’s problems. I just don’t see it.
Neville is a bland performer. He can’t cut a promo and he’s boring in the ring. He has a really flashy finishing move, but his mat-based, rest-hold heavy style wreaks of the 1980s. Certain wrestling hipsters laud his run on 205Live as champion. Why? None of his matches told a good story, and none were aesthetically pleasing. They consisted of him beating down his opponents for an exorbitant amount of time before finally winning. Most were glorified squash matches.
Can anyone really argue that 205Live has missed a beat since he left? I’d argue the opposite. I think the show has improved TREMENDOUSLY since his departure. Wrestlers like Drew Gulak, Cedric Alexander and especially Mustafa Ali have been THRIVING. The match quality has shot up several ticks to the point that I’ve returned to watching the show every week.
Combine that with the fact that Neville has NEVER moved the needle for that show in any way shape or form and I simply CANNOT understand all of the excitement for him. He’s just another guy in any promotion he goes to. Tickets aren’t being sold because he’s in the building. Neville might be the most overrated wrestler in the business today.
That’s a wrap kids. Make sure you check me out on The Doc Says this Wednesday. We had a great discussion about all things WWE, and I even went 90 minutes without taking a giant dump on the booger eaters. Thank you for reading. Sound off below!