Charlotte Flair's time in the title picture on WWE SmackDown Live seemingly came to an end at Evolution at the end of October, when she failed to regain the gold against Becky Lynch. But her loss that night merely marked the beginning of something much more meaningful for her character.
Since resurfacing on SmackDown over the summer following a six-week hiatus, Charlotte has felt fairly stagnant as a character. Despite capturing the SmackDown Women's Championship, she has largely fallen out of favor with fans because the newly turned Becky Lynch has eclipsed her in terms of popularity.
Flair's in-ring abilities are second to none, as seen during her strong series of matches with Lynch, but she has been in desperate need of some sort of change for a great while. Coming off her latest loss to Lynch at Evolution, however, she may finally be on the verge of a much-needed career resurgence.
Two days removed from WWE's first all-women's pay-per-view event, Charlotte was approached backstage at SmackDown Live by general manager Paige about being the captain for the blue brand's women's team at Survivor Series.
Instead of taking Paige up on her offer, Charlotte declined and implied that she wasn't worthy of the honor. That angle continued on the latest edition of SmackDown, during which she refused to join the rest of the team in the middle of the ring.
This is a departure from what we have come to expect from the multi-time Raw and SmackDown women's champion, which is what makes it so intriguing and gives members of the WWE Universe a reason to remain invested in her in the weeks ahead.
How Charlotte's string of shortcomings will affect her confidence, mindset and morale is the top question on fans' minds. Never before has she been booked to look so dejected by her defeats because she's usually the one winning, especially when it matters most.
Charlotte's self-doubt will be an intriguing angle to follow in addition to whatever champ Becky Lynch will be a part of going forward. It isn't imperative for Charlotte to be competing for the championship at all times, and this latest development will prove that to be true.
The Flair family scion should take on the role of captain for Team SmackDown at Survivor Series, but having her emerge victorious would prematurely end what could be a compelling long-term story arc for her.
After all, Raw is bound to have a much more well-rounded group of women compared to the blue brand come Survivor Series—at least on paper. Thus, it would be a mistake for a Charlotte-led Team SmackDown to win at the event.
As a result, Charlotte would have yet another reason to be frustrated and to want to redeem herself. Other female stars on SmackDown could even manipulate her into thinking she no longer has what it takes to be the centerpiece of the division and convince her to walk away from WWE TV temporarily.
All of these things would result in Charlotte showing signs of human emotion for a change and becoming the babyface she should have been this entire time.
As much chemistry as Charlotte and Lynch have together as rivals, WWE would be foolish to revisit that rivalry anytime soon. They can clash again down the road to allow Charlotte to get the big win over her former friend that she has always wanted, but in the meantime, Lynch will benefit from defending her title against fresher faces such as Asuka and Naomi.
Charlotte shouldn't need to be in contention for a title in order to remain relevant, which she has shown since Evolution. Don't be mistaken, though; she should be the odds-on favorite to come out on top in January's women's Royal Rumble match and go on to challenge Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35.
That moment will mean that much more if Charlotte can continue to branch outside of her comfort zone by experimenting with this new-found discouraged character she's been portraying before reclaiming her spot as SmackDown's alpha female.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.