The penultimate match of Fastlane 2017 provided what many consider to be one of the shocking outcomes of the night, with Bayley overcoming the challenge of Charlotte to retain the RAW Women’s Championship. With the help of Sasha Banks she was able to once again lift the belt high above her head, leaving the entire Wisconsin crowd in disbelief. It was a match heavily expected to climax with a Charlotte victory, regaining her old championship and lengthening her pay-per-view winning streak as a result. Yet, Bayley emerged triumphant, exiting the Bradley Center with the championship perched proudly on her shoulder.
It’s safe to say that no one expected this to happen, in fact, it was seemingly guaranteed that Charlotte would win the match and take the title to Orlando for WrestleMania 33. With Bayley spending most of the bout on the ropes it looked as if the evening would take this predictable turn, but with the help of Banks, she was able to claim the gold via pinfall. It was an interesting intervention from Sasha, who despite grappling with Charlotte in front of the referee’s eyes, didn’t force a disqualification, which would have made better sense in the build-up to WrestleMania. Sasha and Bayley were even made out to be heels in how the affair was won, Banks looking to stop Charlotte at every possible turn. Therefore, a promising match lacked a clean finish, in what was an underwhelming conclusion to the rivalry we’ve seen between the two in the past few weeks, something of a missed opportunity for the WWE.
It also seems strange to choose Fastlane of all places to end a 16 month pay-per-view streak that had Charlotte dominating the divas division, especially so close to WrestleMania. For many fans, the ideal place for this to happen would be in Orlando, Charlotte potentially losing the title to Bayley then, instead of earlier this year on RAW. By doing this, the WWE would add value to the division, and strengthen Charlotte’s case to be the headlining diva currently in the company, which I think is a must.
The character of Bayley stems from the traditional viewpoint of David vs Goliath in modern combative sports, hyping her up as the underdog in comparison to the bigger names currently in the division, like Sasha Banks or Charlotte. Underdog storylines often involve this concept of one superstar appearing weaker than the other, facing someone who is considered to be a strong favourite. How can the WWE Universe truly believe in Bayley as an underdog, when she either has help to overcome the odds or isn’t given enough momentum in the build up to a title win? It hardly feels as if she’s accomplished much, with Sasha’s intervention, and simply because it was at Fastlane. In other words, why not do it at WrestleMania?
Ultimately, Charlotte’s pay-per-view streak wasn’t yet ready to be broken, and was an ongoing, integral feature of her character that justified the arrogance and egotism she routinely displayed week after week on RAW. The match result provides some ambiguity to the possible direction of the RAW Women’s Championship, but what does remain clear is that the creative team should’ve held on that little longer for Charlotte to lose her streak, with the only place befitting of this being WrestleMania 33. Heads now turn to tonight’s RAW in order to see what will now happen with the championship, as the road to WrestleMania continues…