In 2016, Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair enjoyed one of the most successful years of any competitor in recent history. But with a title defense against Bayley now set for Royal Rumble on Jan. 29, one can’t help but wonder if The Queen’s 2017 will start off on a considerably less triumphant note.
Through Charlotte’s many achievements last year — among them, being crowned the first WWE Women’s Champion, capturing the Raw Women’s Title three times and staying undefeated in singles matches on pay-per-view — she remained uncharacteristically vulnerable against one Superstar: Bayley.
The Huggable One twice defeated Charlotte on Raw, and a third “W” was academic until Flair’s high-powered team of attorneys — citing “referee error” — forced Raw officials to expunge the final victory from the record books. A subsequent rematch was won by Charlotte but did little to settle the score in any objective sense, considering Flair’s protégé, Dana Brooke, served as the special guest referee, and a plainly biased one, at that.
The playing field will be level at Royal Rumble, however, and history shows that plays to the strength of Raw’s favorite ponytailed underdog, who overcame Nia Jax to earn the No. 1 contendership. Charlotte might insist that the long lag between the arrivals of Bayley and the other Four Horsewomen to WWE indicates Bayley’s low ranking on the totem pole, but let there be no confusion: Bayley has captured not just the hearts of the WWE Universe, but also one pivotal victory after another, slowly but surely building the case for why she might be the most dangerous threat of all in Raw’s Women’s division.
Will Bayley’s feel-good story reach a heartwarming crescendo in the form of a championship win at Royal Rumble? Or will The Queen’s rule hold steady inside San Antonio’s Alamodome? Watch the Raw Women’s Championship Match when Royal Rumble airs live on WWE Network Sunday, Jan. 29, at a special start time of 7 ET/4 PT