Liv Morgan has long been a fan favorite of the WWE Universe. She was beloved as one third (and at times, one half) of the popular but ill fated tag team The Riott Squad. When World Wrestling Entertainment’s frequent talent releases gutted the team, Morgan remained as the last woman standing. Morgan’s solo run brought her the biggest opportunity of her career up to that point, as she kicked off 2022 with a shot at the Monday Night Raw women’s championship at the inaugural Day 1 pay per view. She lost to then-champion Becky Lynch, who was also a frontrunner to win this year’s Money in the Bank women’s ladder match.
It wasn’t to be so, for Lynch. On July 2 Morgan outlasted Becky Lynch, Asuka, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, Shotzi, and Raquel Rodriguez to win the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. As the ppv wound down, Morgan wasted no time in using her championship opportunity, cashing in on Friday Night SmackDown champion Ronda Rousey to claim the SmackDown women’s championship. It was the first championship win of Morgan’s career, and the culmination of her childhood dream to be a WWE champion. The turn of events signifies that Morgan will be moving to the SmackDown women’s roster.
Morgan’s social media presence, the legitimate ups and downs she has faced in her WWE career, obvious in-ring talent and transparency about how dreaming of a future in WWE helped her overcome a difficult childhood have endeared her to WWE’s fans. A title run for her has been long awaited. However, now that her ‘girlhood dream’ has come true, she’ll have to defend her prize. Her challengers include:
Underdog vs. Underdog: Lacey Evans
After returning to WWE from maternity leave, Evans dropped her ‘Southern Belle’ comedic heel gimmick in exchange for a persona based on her own hardscrabble background. WWE prepared audiences for her in-ring return with a series of video packaged promos in which Evans talked about her difficult childhood and her triumphant escape to a life of decorated service in the US military. While these vignettes had the desired effect, cultivating Evans’s likeability, the luster was dimmed by rumors that she would be turned heel at some point following her return. Still, like Morgan herself Evans has a compelling real life backstory that resonates with many in the audience, which could make a face-off between her and Morgan for the SmackDown title thematically compelling.
The Rising Babyface
Raquel Gonzalez was a top heel on NXT, a tag team and women’s champion who dubbed herself ‘Big Mami Cool’ in homage to another colossal and leather clad WWE wrestler, none other than Kevin Nash. It was a gutsy moniker, to be sure, but Gonzalez easily rose to the top of the women’s division vying against tough competitors like Candice LeRae, Ember Moon (Athena), and Io Shirai. When NXT was overhauled into NXT 2.0, Gonzalez dropped her title to Mandy Rose and formed a mentor-and-mentee tag team with Cora Jade.
As the newly renamed Raquel Rodriquez, however she bears no resemblance to her ‘Big Mami Cool’ iteration. Gone is the leather, motorcycle, and ruthless aggression. Instead, the towering performer has been recast as a smiling babyface on Friday Night SmackDown. Her championship match against Ronda Rousey on May 27 was conducted in an old-fashioned air of respect, with the two opponents even shaking hands at the end. Rodriquez also had a strong showing in the women’s ladder match at Money in the Bank. Although Morgan is also a popular babyface, given Rodriquez’s rapid rise it’s likely she will be in the mix to challenge Morgan for SmackDown’s top women’s title.
The Inevitable Charlotte Flair
Former SmackDown women’s champion Flair took some time off to marry All Elite Wrestling’s Andrade El Idolo, but her return to WWE TV is most likely imminent. Despite distancing themselves from her famous father Ric Flair, WWE still crafts Charlotte’s persona after the elder Flair’s pro wrestling character: a frequent champion who will resort to underhanded tactics to score yet another win. The contrast between Charlotte Flair’s and Liv Morgan’s characters is a stark one: the hardworking longtime underdog Morgan, and the duplicitous, ruthless Flair. With such a clear-cut difference between the two, and Charlotte’s frequent place in championship contention, the two are no doubt headed for a collision whenever Flair returns.
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