This Sunday, it all comes down to this. A feud that for many has been going on for the past eight months, and for others, for three years, comes to it’s grand conclusion. And unlike Lost, the final question will be answered. The final encounter (of this epic chapter in their storied feud) between the Women’s Champion and her arch-rival. It’s Sasha Banks vs Charlotte in a 30-minute Iron Man Match for the Raw Women’s Championship.
We’ve talked in great lengths before of the importance of this feud in comparison to other women’s rivalries. But this rivalry has become something much bigger than just a storyline to add to the annals of time. This has become the Genesis of a new reboot. This is setting the benchmark for the WWE women’s brands in much the same way that Hulk vs Andre defined the 80’s, that Bret vs Shawn defined the 90’s, that Stone Cold vs The Rock defined the Attitude Era. This feud wasn’t about dragging out two workhorses, it was about showing their even power and showing their indomitable spirit and letting them loose in the ring and on the mic. Regardless who wins or loses this Sunday, Charlotte and Sasha are the Rock and Austin of the Attitude Era (not resemblance wise, but in terms of being the two top draws who everyone else will aspire to hit the level of). Which a locker room needs. You have to see members of your locker room chase that brass ring and be inspired enough to follow their lead and make it your own. Along the way it brought along Becky Lynch, re-energized Natalya, lifted Alexa Bliss, and inspired Bayley.
But this Sunday’s match-up, Charlotte’s rematch for the title she lost to Sasha Banks on Monday Night Raw on November 28, will have the two long time rivals settle the score in a full throttle 30-minute Iron Man match. Iron Man matches are hallowed showcases. They are given to performers because they have achieved the peak perfection in ring psychology and have shown a willingness to improvise and inspire over a long period of time. Steamboat vs. Rude ’92, Bret vs. Shawn in ’96, Benoit vs. Angle in ’01, AJ vs Daniels ’05, Bayley vs Banks ’15. To entertain and engage for great lengths of time are not as easy as some would think. And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist over theirs only being 30 minutes opposed to an hour, the majority of televised Iron Matches since WCW first did Ricky Steamboat vs “Ravishing” Rick Rude at Beach Blast ’92 have been 30 minutes, including the classic between Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle at Backlash ’01. The one hour ones are the rarity. But Sasha has been there before – she was part of the first ever WWE women’s Iron Man Match at Takeover: Brooklyn in 2015 against Bayley.
But this time, expect Sasha Banks to emerge victorious. Because this match is the payoff for the entire story that’s been told since before Wrestlemania 32, when Charlotte was crowned the inaugural Raw Women’s Champion. It began on May 20, 2015, when Charlotte, teaming Bayley, defeated Emma and Dana Brooke at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. Since that Network Special Event (PPV), Charlotte has not lost on one. From her final NXT Takeover and heading into this Sunday’s Roadblock: End of the Line, Charlotte has had 19 straight victories. Just have a glance at The New Streak:
- May 20, 2015: NXT Takeover: Unstoppable, Charlotte & Bayley def. Emma & Dana Brooke (1-0)
- July 9, 2015: WWE Battleground ’15, Charlotte defeats Brie Bella and Sasha Banks in a Triple Threat (2-0)
- August 23, 2015: Summerslam ’15, Charlotte, Becky Lynch & Paige def. Team Bella (Nikki & Brie Bella and Alicia Fox) and B.A.D. (Sasha Banks, Naomi, Tamina Snuka) (3-0)
- September 20, 2015: Night of Champions ’15, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte defeats Nikki Bella (c) (4-0)
- October 25, 2015: Hell In A Cell ’15, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Nikki Bella (5-0)
- November 22, 2015: SummerSlam ’15, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Paige (6-0)
- December 13, 2015: TLC ’15, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Paige (7-0)
- January 24, 2016: Royal Rumble ’16, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Becky Lynch (8-0)
- February 21, 2016: Fastlane ’16, Divas Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Brie Bella (9-0)
- March 12, 2016: RoadBlock, Divas Championship Submission Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Natalya (10-0)
- April 23, 2016: Wrestlemania 32, Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte defeats Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch in a Triple Threat (11-0)
- May 1, 2016: Payback ’16, Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Natalya (12-0)
- May 22, 2016: Extreme Rules ’16, Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Natalya (13-0)
- June 19, 2016: Money In The Bank ’16, Charlotte & Dana Brooke def. Becky Lynch & Natalya (14-0)
- July 24, 2016: Battleground ’16, Raw Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Sasha Banks & Bayley in a Triple Threat (15-0)
- August 21, 2016: Summerslam ’16, Raw Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Sasha Banks (16-0)
- September 25, 2016: Clash of Champions, Raw Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) defeats Sasha Banks & Bayley in a Triple Threat (17-0)
- October 30, 2016: Hell In A Cell ’16, Raw Women’s Championship Hell In A Cell Match: Charlotte defeats Sasha Banks (c) (18-0)
- November 20, 2016: Survivor Series ’16, Raw vs. Smackdown Survivor Series Match: Charlotte and Team Raw def. Team Smackdown (19-0)
Charlotte now walks into Roadblock: End of the Line with something far more important than the title on the line. She now has a streak. She has a part of her legacy on the line.
And on Sasha’s side, while she has won three Women’s titles on Monday Night Raw, she has shown time and time again – five times actually – that one the big main events, on the grandest stages, that she cannot get the job done. Neither win the title nor defend it. She has something to add to her legacy.
And thus the final stage of the story. The Legacy vs. The Heart. Can Flair keep her streak going at the expense of Banks’ credibility as a bankable champion? Or will Banks finally prove the history books wrong and end Charlotte Flair’s streak one shy of a round 20.
Expect Sasha to put in a gutsy performance and retain. Charlotte has emerged as the best heel and one of the most intriguing characters in the WWE right now. It’s time for the Queen to move on to other peons to devour. And it’s time for the Boss Champ to prove her worth against some of the other warriors entering the battleground.
Main Photo: WWE.com