WWE: The mistakes with Bianca Belair vs Becky Lynch at SummerSlam

Apr 10, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Sasha Banks (green attire) and Bianca Belair (silver attire) during their Smackdown Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Sasha Banks (green attire) and Bianca Belair (silver attire) during their Smackdown Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Professional wrestling is about big moments. There’s a slew of examples across history, and a major one occurred on Friday at AEW Rampage. WWE had similar moments at SummerSlam the night after, but they made a serious miscalculation with the return of Becky Lynch. Stepping back to look at that situation and moment, it’s easy to understand why so many fans are upset with the way the WWE handled it, harming multiple members of the SmackDown women’s division at the same time.

Sasha Banks versus Bianca Belair was one of the more anticipated matches of this year’s SummerSlam. Days before the event rumors were boiling at the idea of it being called off when Belair and Banks were pulled from live events. The week of SummerSlam there were reports that the women were “cleared” but then Banks wasn’t at SmackDown the day before.

The situation worsened at SummerSlam when the promo package for the match played multiple times, even right before Belair walked out. The ring announcer made a throwaway statement that Banks was unable to compete, bringing out Carmella instead. That’s when the first moment happened. Becky Lynch’s music hits and the crowd went nuts, as expected. She returns, dispatches Carmella with ease, and turns her attention to Belair. They shake hands and less than thirty seconds later, Lynch has pinned Belair to become the WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion.

WWE could have handled this much better

First, one must wonder how long the WWE knew this was a potential problem. Wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer tweeted that WWE knew Banks would be out eight days prior to the show. WWE continued to promote this match, even during the event, as if it was going to happen, knowing that Banks was unable to perform and had been removed from other shows prior. If they did know eight days in advance, that’s eight days they could have done something to present a new challenger to feed to Belair at SummerSlam.

Second, let’s look at the embarrassment done to Carmella. Carmella is a performer who has widely exceeded expectations since joining the promotion in 2013. In nearly eight years she’s become an entertaining performer, performing well with nearly anything that’s sent her way. Plus, she’s improved in the ring, being looked at as a veteran that can help newer names establish themselves. She didn’t need to get brought out in front of fans at Allegiant Stadium, just to be tossed out like trash.

The disdain was palpable when her name was announced. Fans weren’t even in the mood to boo. Carmella didn’t deserve to be embarrassed in such a fashion and it speaks to the way the women are booked across main roster WWE.

Third, Lynch didn’t need to pin Belair. The minute the match was announced her victory was cemented, but the same effect could have been achieved if this match was switched to a triple threat. Then, Lynch could pin Carmella and get the title, while protecting Belair. Or imagine Belair squashing Carmella then having a face-off with Lynch to build to for the first post-SummerSlam SmackDown. Lynch’s return was a powerful moment, but more fans will remember the outcome rather than the excitement that was sparked when her music played.

Then there is the impact on Belair. In 2021 Bianca Belair went from winning the Royal Rumble, being one of the first two Black women to main event WrestleMania. All that goodwill is tossed aside in just twenty-six seconds.

Belair has consistently reached levels of fandom with the WWE Universe, despite the booking that is thrown her way. She did it on NXT and she did in on the main roster. Her title run was marred with bad storytelling and needless rematches. Nothing of value occurred outside of the feud with Bayley. Creating a long-term story with her and Lynch would have done wonders for Belair. Instead, WWE rushed it for a “moment” that will live on for infamy more than leadership understands.

Plus, this move completely deflates Black wrestling fans. This situation was immediately compared to when Kofi Kingston was squashed by Brock Lesnar in 2019, but in many ways, it’s worse because it’s another example of WWE showing that they do not put any care into the women’s divisions. Wrestling fans can point to several examples of Black women on the roster being misused. Naomi and Mia Yim have all but disappeared. Belair was brought up and placed on Main Event for months without any direction. The track record is even worse throughout history. Belair’s rise seemed like a concerted effort to make a change, but that was all blown up in a matter of moments at SummerSlam.

Next. WWE SummerSlam: Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch return. dark

There’s a lot to take away from Becky Lynch’s return at SummerSlam. In many ways, it’s 180 degrees different than CM Punk’s return at AEW Rampage. It’s different for all the reasons that many fans rail against the WWE. It’s a recurring tale of nonsensical booking that doesn’t need to occur. Carmella, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, and the entire women’s division were hurt by this outcome. Sadly, there’s no trust that WWE will fix it via proper booking in the future.