Charlotte vs. Natalya: Winner and Reaction from WWE Payback 2016

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2016

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - WWE women's champion Charlotte celebrates her victory at WWE WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for WWE)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

In her first title defense since the WWE Divas Championship was rebranded as the Women's Championship at WrestleMania, Charlotte defeated Natalya at WWE Payback in Chicago on Sunday night.

It was the Chicago Screwjob, as Natalya had yet to tap out after a Sharpshooter from Charlotte, but referee Charles Robinson called the match in favor of Charlotte, as WWE shared: 

It was eerily reminiscent of the Montreal Screwjob in 1997, when Natalya's uncle and ringside partner, Bret Hart, lost in a similar fashion.

WWE Universe showed Robinson's antics after he ruled Charlotte the winner: 

Both Natalya and Hart were predictably upset and took out their rage on Charlotte and her father, Ric Flair, via WWE:

Kevin Berge of Questionable Critics provided his take on the controversial finish: 

Following her victory over Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks on the Grandest Stage of Them All, Charlotte attempted to run down the rest of WWE's women's division, but the longest-tenured veteran had no interest in being belittled.

Nattie stood up to The Nature Girl and eventually earned a shot at the Women's Championship at Payback after making Charlotte tap during a tag team match.

With Natalya gaining momentum ahead of the pay-per-view, The Dirtiest Diva in the Game took on a woe-is-me attitude, per WWE Universe:

The inclusion of Flair and Hart represented a flashback to NXT TakeOver in May 2014, when Charlotte and Natalya vied for the NXT Women's Championship in the finals of a tournament. Flair and Hart were present for that match as well, and it ended up being a classic encounter that still stands as one of the best matches in NXT history.

It became clear during that contest that Charlotte and Nattie had great in-ring chemistry, which has continued in the two years since, as they seemingly always have strong matches whenever they're pitted against each other.

Their match at the Roadblock special prior to WrestleMania made that abundantly clear, and their clash Sunday at Payback was yet another entertaining chapter in what has become one of the best women's rivalries in WWE in recent memory.

Although some may argue that the buildup toward Payback wasn't ideal in terms of drawing on their history and making the match feel important, Charlotte and Nattie didn't allow that to negatively impact their effort in the ring.

Charlotte was victorious as WWE continues to build her up as the dominant heel champion, but Natalya proved her worth again by meshing well with the rising star and putting her over in a big way.

A rematch is possible, especially since WWE may not want to put Becky or Sasha back in the title hunt so quickly, but it seems clear that Charlotte's reign is far from over regardless.

Someone will eventually knock her off, and thanks to big wins like the one Charlotte scored over Nattie at Payback, it will mean even more when that happens.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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