One suspension and one injury thinned out Raw’s Women’s Division in the matter of a week. Paige is serving the suspension, while Sasha Banks has taken some time off to recuperate from nagging injuries. That put a significant dent in the number of opponents for WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte.
Considering she’s Charlotte’s sidekick at the moment, rule out Dana Brooke. Nia Jax is still running through local jobbers on a weekly basis. That left Alicia Fox and Summer Rae. Nothing against those ladies, but they haven’t exactly been booked as major forces in the Women’s Division over the past few months.
Charlotte needed an immediate contender – someone who could continue the burning momentum of women’s wrestling. So, it was time to call up Bayley.
Some may be surprised to read that Bayley’s journey started in earnest in 2008. Of the eight years she’s been wrestling, four were spent in NXT. Over the course of those four years, Bayley honed her craft. More importantly, she won audiences over with her tenacious in-ring aura and lovable personality.
Now, she’s taken her rightful spot on the main roster alongside the other constituents of the Four Horsewomen.
Though with Bayley, something’s different. While each of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Banks have their own unique qualities that has enabled them to elevate women’s wrestling as a whole, Bayley possesses the potential to transcend the division.
First and foremost, Bayley can flat out go between the ropes. She boasts a catalog as good as any woman on the roster. Her match opposite Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn was considered by many to be the best wrestling match of 2015. The rematch took place later that year when the two became the first women to headline a WWE Network special in an Iron Woman Match. That, also was a fine example of Bayley’s repertoire.
She was the NXT Women’s Champion. Banks, Charlotte, and Lynch were on the main roster. It was then that her wrestling ability was truly allowed to shine. Bayley had fantastic contests against Carmella. She was able to mask the inexperience of Nia Jax while making her look credible at the same time. At a time when fans were ready to riot at the mere sight of Eva Marie, Bayley managed to put on a good match with her. When it was time to hand the reins over to Asuka, she did so admirably.
This run showed that she’s not only a dependable worker, but capable of creating special moments through storytelling.
Uniting children and middle-aged fan boys seems like a pipe dream for the WWE, but it has been accomplished on rare occasion with great success. See: Daniel Bryan. This sort of phenomenon is somewhat dormant within Bayley for the moment. As the broader demographic of main roster WWE gets to know her, it will begin to grow.
She’s an inspiration to little girls everywhere. Hell – the kids are going to pop for the whacky flailing inflatable tube men alone. But, the older fans can appreciate her talent. If Banks, Charlotte, and Lynch broke the mold on what woman in wrestling looks like, Bayley is about to shatter it.
Five year olds and 50 year olds alike are already wearing her shirts.
Obvious passion for wrestling is an underrated characteristic of successful wrestlers. It’s something that translates well to audiences. Crowds respond to someone who is laying his/her heart and soul into a match. That’s a part of what has made superstars like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Cesaro so popular.
When combined with wrestling talent and marketability, exuberance for the business can create a legend. Of course, you can point to Bryan again. But, this is also evident for wrestlers such as John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Eddie Guerrero.
Bayley had to leave NXT in order for the developmental brand to transition into life after the Divas Revolution. Behind her, she leaves a celebrated and important legacy. It’s one that demonstrates the virtue of patience, hard work, and gratitude. Now that her predecessors in the evolution of women’s wrestling have laid a foundation, Bayley will be the one to give it that last little boost it needs to reach levels its never seen before.
I’d be willing to bet that, with Bayley, we’ll see a WWE Women’s Championship match headline a pay-per-view within the year. It’s not impossible for that show to be a Wrestlemania, either.
People have called her the female John Cena because of the ability she has to move merchandise. Crowds were never wholly behind him the way they are with Bayley, though. What we’re witnessing is closer to a phenomenon of Hulkamania magnitude – Bayleymania, if you will. As they did in the late 80s and early 90s, the WWE may as well start printing their own money.
If the Divas Revolution represented women knocking on the door of unyielding gender equality in wrestling, Bayley will be the one to knock that door down.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.