SRS: Becky Lynch And Ronda Rousey Breaking Babyface Molds

At first, I wasn't quite sure what to make of the Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey promos and story. Then I realized I'd been conditioned to watch pro wrestling one dimensionally for so long. 

Becky Lynch is drawing a lot of comparisons to the rise of Daniel Bryan, which from what people in the company tell me, couldn't be more untrue. Every step of the way with Daniel Bryan, WWE made an attempt to place the heat he had on someone else, or move in a direction that didn't involve him at the top of the card -- even briefly turning him heel. 

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With Becky Lynch, WWE recognized what they had with Lynch just after Summerslam. With the exception of the Smackdown Live two days later, you didn't see Lynch attacking the crowd that wasn't going to boo her no matter what. She was behaving as a heel, getting a face reaction, and WWE stopped forcing things.. kind of.

WWE decided to stick with what brought them to the dance in order to manipulate Becky's reaction. The Lynch character is still very much a "Becky vs. the Machine" type of angle, and they knew what adding boos into videos would do. They've seen what happens when their announcers fawn all over a talent. It's not cool anymore, and Lynch's ascent was too precious to ruin. Compare that to Braun Strowman, who was also getting once-every-few-years level reactions on the men's side and still had a top-level face run sacrificed to help gain Roman Reigns a babyface reaction that just wasn't coming.

So when Becky Lynch entered a program with UFC star-turned WWE superstar Ronda Rousey, it was reasonable to expect the same. Ronda Rousey is the girl made of gold for WWE, is picking the business up well and has a ton of crossover appeal. After years of fairly predictable and frustrating booking in that sense, WWE just didn't do it. Nope. Instead they went a 3D route, opting to allow their characters to have qualities that break the mold of traditional babyface and heel personas.

Becky Lynch is beloved and isn't getting booed. At all. It's just not happening. I don't think it's much of a secret that Paul Heyman has been helping Ronda Rousey with promos since the last two weeks of her Bellas program. If it is a secret, oops, I guess. Paul Heyman is a wily veteran of heat-getting, and I think he also recognizes social changes, and the reactions that many of Rousey's "OH NO YOU DI-UUUUUUUUNT" disses will get. Nikki Bella's ex boyfriend? Bringing up avocados and milliennials? Taking shots at a woman on social media that the world knows WWE won't let compete? Those are traditional heel tactics for a character that WWE wants to get a traditional babyface reaction.

The entire imagery of Becky Lynch fighting through a broken, bloody face was a babyface image that will last forever. Nothing about her is cookie cutter. Regardless of what you think of Rousey's run thus far, nothing about her promos of late have been cookie cutter, either. Keep in mind, Rousey has three firmly heel Horsewomen buddies in NXT. 

Add Charlotte Flair to that mix after her brutal beating of Ronda Rousey on Sunday, that has me eagerly anticipating the Tuesday Smackdown Live. The wild card in all of this is Nia Jax, and how the counter-reaction will be to her after she slugged Lynch last week. Will this affect plan?

Maybe I'm giving WWE too much credit. The shades of gray aspect works for an awful lot of characters, and can lead to confusing trajectories for others. But let's just go ahead and abandon that "babyfaces only have good qualities," and "heels only have bad qualities" approach that pro wrestling has taken for so long. With WWE's competition being in the form of compelling television, interesting personalities is what they're truly battling -- and sometimes maybe themselves.

 

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