When Charlotte Flair steps into the ring at the Royal Rumble to defend the Raw Women’s Championship, she won’t be the least bit nervous or have even the tiniest hint of doubt in her mind.
Having already found success at the largest attended Wrestlemania last year, the massive Alamo Dome will be just another large crowd fortunate enough to bare witness to her greatness as far as she is concerned.
She enters the match with a 15-0 record on pay-per-view and though this will be her first title defense of her fourth reign, Flair is more than prepared to go to war.
However so is her resilient challenger Bayley. For Raw’s resident hugger this is not only her biggest opportunity to date but a chance to finally exact a measure of revenge against the woman who has long caused her much pain and suffering.
When Charlotte first burst onto the scene in NXT, she was the rookie with natural athleticism and the pedigree of being Ric Flair’s daughter. With a smile on her face, she was determined yet humble as could be to just compete in Full Sail University.
Who should she just happen to defeat in her debut match? None other than Bayley who was just as star struck then as she is now after being in the same room with Ric an then-NXT GM Dusty Rhodes when the match was made.
A short-lived partnership was formed out of that bout but Flair eventually showed her dark side. When the pair took on the duo of Summer Rae and Sasha Banks, Flair turned on Bayley and joined what would become the BFFs (Beautiful Fierce Females).
When Charlotte captured the NXT Women’s Championship, Bayley quickly established herself as the top contender with a pinfall victory over her in a six woman tag followed by a #1 contender’s win over Banks.
At NXT Takeover: Charlotte successfully defended her title against Bayley but wound up respecting her resolve and effort in the end. While they wouldn’t be exchanging Christmas cards, the bitterness of their rivalry would cool off for the rest of their respective NXT tenures.
Fast forward to July 2016 and that all changed in an instant. By the time Battleground rolled around, Charlotte had been dominating the Women’s Division for several months flanked by protégé Dana Brooke. When Sasha Banks needed an ally to combat the number’s game, she turned to Bayley.
Banks and Bayley went on to defeat Flair and Brooke but it wouldn’t be until the night after Summerslam that Bayley would officially become part of Raw’s roster.
Bayley would go on to score a pair of non-title victories over Flair as well as be one of the sole survivors at Survivor Series where a team led by Flair defeated a Smackdown Women’s team led by Becky Lynch.
Flair didn’t take any of this lying down and wound up having one of her losses expunged due to her shoulder being off the mat at the time a three count was administered. She then made it her mission to put as many obstacles in front of her rival as possible.
She thought she had successfully derailed Bayley with a win over her thanks to crooked special guest referee Brooke but that only further motivated the former NXT Women’s Champion even further.
With a little assistance from Sasha Banks, Bayley would defeat Nia Jax to officially earn her title shot at the Royal Rumble.
Fully aware of the threat poses to her reign, Flair opted to take a page out of her famous father’s playbook and engage in some psychological warfare. However it may have backfired as much, if not more, than her previous attempts to snuff out Bayley’s aspirations.
Charlotte painted a picture of Bayley never being able to succeed because she is too “common” and too defined by her long life fandom of professional wrestling. She declared that type of mindset is what would always prevent her challenger from ever reaching the pinnacles she has.
Bayley fired back that the very traits Flair labeled as hindrances were actually what will propel her to the top of the mountain. While Flair has enjoyed privilege and the finer things in life, she was out there as a fan meeting her favorite wrestlers and cultivating a life long passion to compete and be the very best.
Several factors are at play when it comes to their title match.
There is a sense of familiarity given their long-term past. It will likely call for both of them to develop new counters and strategies to keep the other off guard.
Neither one is going to give anything less than 150% when that bell rings.
The key difference is Flair has shown she has no limits when it comes to doing what it takes to win and maintain her championship status. Throughout her series with Banks, she demonstrated a ruthless game plan that often left The Boss battered and bruised with each match that occurred.
What Bayley may lack in a taste for rule breaking she more than makes up for with heart and the true grit it takes to be a champion. Many doubted her against Banks in NXT but in Brooklyn she proved every naysayer wrong in an epic victory. There is little reason to believe she isn’t capable of the same thing in San Antonio.
The match should be an ultra competitive struggle; whoever can set the pace and not let up may very well see her hand raised in the end.
It will be Superior Genetics vs. Hug Life and you won’t want to miss it on Sunday only on the WWE Network!