Charlotte has snapped. The former SmackDown women’s champion, who has been spinning her tires as a babyface for the last several months, went heel in her match last night at Survivor Series against Ronda Rousey. She “spoiled” a good back-and-forth match, as Michael Cole put it on commentary, beating Rousey with a chair and a kendo stick.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of WWE not understanding (or not caring) about its audience.
Just like when Becky Lynch went crazy and attacked Charlotte earlier this year, Charlotte was cheered when she attacked Rousey. The fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles chanted, “Thank you Charlotte!” It was the biggest babyface reaction she’s received in months.
Why? Why did WWE reject Becky Lynch as a heel and now, when they’re not supposed to, they’re cheering Charlotte?
Violence. That’s why.
WWE doesn’t recognize that its testosterone-fueled audience, which is a bigger segment than they like to admit, likes violence. So when Becky Lynch viciously attacks Charlotte, or when Charlotte snaps and beats Rousey with a kendo stick and a chair, the live audience eats that up.
Contrast that with the reaction to Daniel Bryan received when he came out for the champion vs. champion match against Brock Lesnar. Bryan just turned heel on Tuesday, attacking AJ Styles.
Bryan has acted like a crazed heel, and while he’s certainly been violent — see his attack on Styles this past Tuesday — he seems to be pushing the right buttons as a heel. He began his Yes! chant last night when he was introduced, and then immediately he stopped. Taking that joyful element away from the fans. It worked.
During their match, the crowd was silent at times. Sometimes too silent, I think confused as to how they should react to Bryan in particular, but at least they didn’t reject him. They didn’t overtly cheer for Bryan over Brock Lesnar. They were excited at exciting times in the match, but it stopped there.
The opposite happened with Charlotte. The moment she was supposed to draw the ire of the fans, she was being embraced by them.
That’s not Charlotte’s fault. Just like it wasn’t Becky Lynch’s fault before her. It’s the fault of WWE’s creative team, which again hasn’t figured out what the audience wants or what makes a heel a good heel. Violent attacks aren’t going to get a heel booed. It’s going to get the heel cheered.