Becky Lynch defeated Shayna Baszler to retain the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36. With the win, Lynch continues a reign that started at last year’s WrestleMania. She remains the longest-reigning champion in WWE, having held her title just a few days shy of a full year.
Lynch is one of WWE’s top stars, so it makes a certain amount of sense that she’d win at the biggest show of the year. It still feels like a missed opportunity for both women, and the division as a whole, for Lynch to still be atop the mountain.
For Baszler, it denies her what could have been a star-making moment. The loss severely diminishes the dominant reputation she cultivated in her two year run in NXT, as well as her recent performances at the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber.
Lynch defeated Baszler by the skin of her teeth, so the loss shouldn’t completely sink her run on Raw, but it does rob her of the bragging rights a win over Lynch would give her. That’s something she could dine out on for her entire career, much as Chris Jericho did with his victories over the Rock and Steve Austin in the same night. It also would have given her something that differentiated her from her friend and fellow MMA Horsewoman, Ronda Rousey.
For Lynch, the Baszler feud offered a chance for the character to get back to what made her so popular in the first place. Lynch got over as an underdog with a chip on her shoulder. Her brash, me against the world attitude made sense when she was fighting an uphill battle against rivals like Rousey and Charlotte Flair. It doesn’t work as well when she’s been champion for a year and turned back every one of her challengers. Segments like the one where Lynch wore a crown, diamond-studded sunglasses, and a fur coat to watch Baszler’s match with Kairi Sane make her seem bored with her competition.
What Lynch needs is for her story to take a cue from cinema’s greatest underdog, Rocky Balboa. Specifically, Rocky’s arc in Rocky III (which WWE die-hards might remember as the one that featured Hulk Hogan). The film saw a Rocky whose time as world champion made him complacent. He was defeated by hungry up-and-comer Clubber Lang and had to fight his way back to the top, with the help of old rival Apollo Creed.
The best path forward for Lynch as a top babyface would be to emulate Rocky’s journey. It would give her a chance to get back in touch with her roots as an underdog with something to prove. She could regain the chip on her shoulder that made her “the Man” without it seeming like the arrogance of an unbeatable champion.
Even though Baszler lost at WrestleMania, she could still be the reason why Lynch loses the titles. Even if she doesn’t get a rematch for the title, Baszler could always snap and cost Lynch the title by injuring her. That would give Lynch a reason to forfeit the title or, more likely, WWE to strip a character as stubborn as Lynch of it. An injury angle would give Lynch a chance to take some needed time off. It would also give someone a chance to step up in Lynch’s absence.
With Charlotte winning the NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, a new face would have to emerge to take Lynch’s place. There are a few candidates already on the Raw roster.
Since coming back from a television sabbatical, Liv Morgan has shown some chops as an underdog babyface. She would have a chance to hone them in a feud with Baszler. Morgan’s untested as a singles wrestler, but there are other options.
Kairi Sane or Asuka could also fill the role, also. Sane was Baszler’s best foil in NXT, with Sane being the only woman to hold multiple victories of Baszler until Rhea Ripley came along. Asuka has shown how lovable she can be in her popular YouTube videos. That charisma combined with her formidable in-ring skills could spell a career resurgence for the “Empress of Tomorrow,” who has largely been overlooked on the main roster after a dominant run in NXT.
Lynch’s absence could also be a chance to elevate a fresh face from NXT. After losing an “I Quit” match to Kay Lee Ray, NXT UK’s Toni Storm is clearly ready to transition to the next phase of her career. Storm’s look and skills have long made her seem like a huge star in the making. Another possibility is Rhea Ripley, who seemed destined for superstardom once she defeated Baszler for the NXT Championship. Trading places with Flair would give her a chance to reach those heights sooner than expected.
Lynch has to lose the title someday. For the health of the division, it should be as soon as possible. In order for the Raw Women’s Division to live, “the Man” must die.
One year ago, Becky Lynch redefined women's wrestling. Now, for the division to thrive, The Man's run needs to come to a close.