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Predictability, missed chances hurting Banks-Charlotte feud

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR 2K - WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks speaks with WWE Superstar Xavier Woods, left, on the red carpet at the WWE 2K17 SummerSlam Kickoff Event in New York, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. (Adam Hunger/AP Images for 2K)
(Adam Hunger/AP Images for 2K)

As much as WWE wanted to push Sasha Banks’ recapturing of the Raw Women’s Championship as a sentimental, feel-good moment of triumph where Banks “did the impossible” and “marched into the queen’s castle and knocked Charlotte off the throne,” it didn’t quite come off that way.

This is her third time doing so in the last four months.

That’s right, Banks is now a three-time Women’s Champion after defeating Charlotte in the main event Monday. Despite the narrative WWE wants to try to force, it is actually kind of sad and disappointing. The main roster feud between Charlotte and Banks might be the best thing to happen in WWE’s women’s wrestling history (minus the original NXT women’s boom from 2014-15), but is being harmed by WWE’s booking and various flaws. In an odd mixture of predictability, bad timing, instability and missed opportunities, bruise after bruise is being left on WWE’s top female rivalry.

Heading into Raw, knowing Charlotte and Banks were having a title match, the lingering worry was there. It seemed almost too predictable that WWE would once again switch the women’s title by having Banks win and close out Raw with a sentimental post-match celebration. Come on, you can’t switch the titles again. And you certainly cannot have Banks win it on Raw as she had done the two previous times as well, right? Even WWE has got to realize there are more options to go with rather than the same exact route already taken twice beforehand. Take this great feud into a new direction to give it a shot in the arm.

But what seemed to be too predictable is indeed what happened.

What makes it sad and disappointing is the fact Charlotte and Banks are fully capable and deserving of the positions they are being granted. It’s not that the two of them are responsible for the feud falling short is certain aspects. Their matches together have been good matches at worst, with this Falls Count Anywhere main event being a great end to Raw. Their talent and work have absolutely made an impact on the business. But the decisions being made behind the scenes are holding it back from its full potential.

Banks’ first time winning the title felt special. It was July 25 and we got to see Banks hold WWE gold for the first time on an episode of Raw. What many expected to be a moment saved for SummerSlam, or even WrestleMania, we got on a Monday night, and that was pretty cool to witness.

But then less than a month later, Charlotte got the title back. And about five weeks after that, Banks won the title back… again, on Monday Night Raw. Less than a month later, Charlotte (the heel, mind you) defeated Banks on the very first WWE pay-per-view ever headlined by women. If that was not bad enough, Charlotte took the title from Banks that night in Banks’ hometown.

Here we are now, once again less than a month removed from the last title change, and Banks has the title again already. And yes, as noted, it happened on Raw again. Oh, and Banks beat Charlotte, this time in Charlotte’s hometown.

Regardless on whether one thinks it was a good or bad move booking-wise, it cannot be denied that any sense of it feeling “special” is basically gone at this point. That is not to say the title trading cannot have its purposes. There is something to be said about a rivalry between two competitors who come off as equals. And there is certainly something to be said about a title that is actually being defended on a regular basis, unlike other WWE titles. But if that is the feel WWE is going for, the added feeling of WWE trying to force Banks’ wins as feel-good moments comes off more as hotshot booking for short-term value. Never mind the addition of Ric Flair himself coming out to endorse Banks which just pushed that sentiment over the edge into ridiculousness.

Keep in mind, WWE could have actually used the opportunity for other, more effective means. At the very least, Charlotte could have retained in order to breakup the repetitiveness of Banks winning the Raw main events, and to keep the title on someone longer than a month this time. At best though, WWE could have used this opportunity to make some actual changes.

Anyone familiar with Banks’ NXT work knows how ineffective her main roster character has been. She might still be called “The Boss,” but in actuality her main roster character is a bland babyface that does not work for her in the slightest. Banks was robbed of the attitude and swagger that made her “The Boss” to begin with. Now her promos come off cheesy and disingenuous, and she is not that likable of a character.

Especially being in Charlotte’s hometown, a heel turn could have done wonders for Banks. Charlotte could have turned babyface as well, but even without that, Banks turning is something that needs to take place sooner rather than later for her own good. At least if she has to have the title again, it would not feel as repetitive if she felt like a new, more dynamic character.

But as it is, it does not feel special at all. For comparison, bear in mind Banks is now a three-time Women’s Champion. It does not feel that way, because there is no real meaning behind it. It is oddly reminiscent of another three-time champion on the roster with the same issue — Roman Reigns. Because he is a three-time WWE World Champion himself, but since only one of his title reigns had some significance to it, the designation feels rather empty. So too does Banks’, which is a direct result of the hot potato-ing of the title between her and Charlotte.

The obvious solution here is remembering there is a whole women’s division on Raw, not just Charlotte and Banks. It’s been too much, too soon for a feud that could be so much bigger.

 

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