Daily DDT Headscratching Moment of 2021: Lynch beats Belair in 26 secs.

Aug 21, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Becky Lynch (black attire) returns to WWE to challenge and defeat Bianca Belair (blue/white attire) in the WWE Smackdown Women's Championship match at SummerSlam 2021 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Becky Lynch (black attire) returns to WWE to challenge and defeat Bianca Belair (blue/white attire) in the WWE Smackdown Women's Championship match at SummerSlam 2021 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Twenty-six seconds. That’s all the time WWE needed to kneecap the momentum of one of its biggest homegrown stars as though it was testing out the Tony D’Angelo gimmick. And, as usual, the promotion carried out this bit of booking malpractice for the same reason it always does: HEEEEAAAATTTT!

Let’s rewind to SummerSlam 2021 in Las Vegas. Then-SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair, who was over four months into her reign at the time, stood in the ring awaiting the scheduled challenger for her title: Sasha Banks. There was one problem, however: Banks wasn’t cleared to participate in the pay-per-view, a fact that WWE allegedly knew for a week prior to the show.

Of course, this didn’t stop WWE from pretending that Banks would appear until it literally couldn’t anymore, as the company waited until Belair was already in the ring to dash the hopes of anyone who paid their money to see this WrestleMania 37 rematch and, more specifically, “The Boss”.

Needless to say, the crowd didn’t see Banks’ announced replacement — Carmella, who had already lost two straight title matches to Belair weeks prior (and who was also placed in a no-win spot by WWE) — as a suitable substitute, but seeing Becky Lynch return shortly after certainly changed their tune. Then Lynch challenged Belair to an impromptu title match and everything changed for the worse.

Becky Lynch pinning Bianca Belair in less than 30 seconds was voted as the Most Headscratching moment by Daily DDT writers.

To be clear, if Lynch had returned and worked a full-fledged match with Belair before winning the title, some fans would’ve still been annoyed at the decision, but most would’ve been fine with it (though it’s understandable if WWE held off on that due to Lynch not quite being ready for such a match).

Heck, considering that WWE designed this match/angle to launch Lynch’s heel turn, even booking something where Lynch did something definitively hellish to screw Belair out of the title would’ve at least made more sense, though it would’ve still been frustrating to watch.

But to have Belair essentially get punked out with a simple slap once the match started and lose after taking the Manhandle Slam (which didn’t even look that impactful) undid most of the work Belair (and WWE, to some extent) put in to reach the top of the card.

Much like when Brock Lesnar squashed Kofi Kingston to win the WWE Championship back in 2019, this sent the message (intentional or subconsciously) that Belair was merely a placeholder for the REAL stars, even in a company where said stars are growing increasingly scarce. The fact that WWE made this choice at the expense of a Black woman on the rise in the company made it all the more insidious.

Plus, it also succeeded in garnering little actual heat for Lynch, who was a universally beloved babyface prior to this match (and still is to some extent, but more on that in a bit). Again, this was crafted to establish “Big Time Becks” as an antagonist (a turn that she apparently requested, which is justifiable given how WWE often books its babyfaces) but no one was mad at Lynch for this turn of events.

As usual, all of the fan animus went directly to the company that booked this nonsense in the first place. And while Lynch has remained her usual entertaining self in this heel role since SummerSlam — and has even tried to elevate the likes of Liv Morgan and Doudrop in the process — she has run into the same issue that came up the last time WWE tried to turn her into a villain: no one wants to boo her and it often takes cheap heat tactics to get the fans to react accordingly.

In other words, this angle accomplished next to nothing for either woman.

Sure, the familiar cries of “let it play out” rained out from those still willing to give WWE the creative benefit of the doubt (as of anything the company has done over the last decade or so has warranted such blind faith), but if several rematches where Lynch cheated to beat Belair and retain her title weren’t enough to break the spell for these folks, then rumors of Ronda Rousey returning to overshadow the entire women’s division again (including projected Royal Rumble favorite Belair) definitely will.

Even if nothing comes of that rumor and Belair wins her second straight Rumble en route to winning the Raw Women’s Title (don’t ask about how Lynch ended up with that belt), it won’t serve as some sort of vindication of WWE storytelling.

Instead, it will be another example of WWE correcting a mistake that it very easily could’ve avoided. Far too many times, the company that positions itself as the standard for pro wrestling takes good things that fall into its lap and tosses them into its trash compactor of a status quo only for it to present the twisted remains as something other than the cube of garbage that it is.

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While it isn’t unsalvagable — “The EST” is too talented for that — Bianca Belair’s 2021 booking became another casualty of this process.