Charlotte Flair's Return Happens Differently Than Expected

John Cena was not the only major return on the December 30 edition of "WWE SmackDown." Following Ronda Rousey's successful defense of the "SmackDown" Women's Championship, Charlotte Flair re-emerged on the scene and issued an immediate challenge for the title. Against the better judgment of Shayna Baszler, who knew Rousey had had a tough fight already that night in beating Raquel Rodriguez, Rousey accepted, putting the belt on the line then and there for an impromptu match. She was defeated by Flair in under two minutes, falling victim to a roll-up with a handful of tights coming in for the assist and thus crowning a new "SmackDown" Women's Champion; for Flair, it became her 14th title reign. 


But it appears that wasn't always the plan. While creative had been working on ideas for Flair's return, according to "Wrestling Observer Radio," Flair's comeback was originally penciled in to take place sometime over the summer — a long way off from her return date near the calendar flip.  

Flair had been out of action for nearly seven months, dating back to WrestleMania Backlash in May when she lost the "SmackDown" Women's Championship to Rousey in an "I Quit" Match. A sustained injury during the bout — a fracture of the radius — was given as the reason for her temporary departure from the ring. During her time away from the company, Flair got married, saying "I do" with AEW's Andrade El Idolo, who is currently on the shelf with an injury of his own — a torn pectoral muscle.