COMMENTARY – I learned a long time again, thanks to an old college professor, that there are always to sides to every pancake no matter how flat it is. The lesson Dr. White taught me could be applied to the way WWE has handled Bayley’s move to the main roster and the rise of the Raw Women’s Champion.
As a former NXT Champion and one of the most beloved women to grace a WWE ring, the appeal of the girl-next-door in wrestling gear is a marketing tool the company undoubtedly will use to help further the cause of the women’s division. As a performer in the ring, Bayley’s shtick works, but it isn’t as dynamic as Charlotte or has the style of Sasha Banks. At some point, and possible right now, it could be viewed as stale.
Will there be changes in the near future and how will the match at WrestleMania 33 with Banks and Charlotte with the title in the balance help the 27-year-old become an even bigger star in a promotion of edgier characters?
I thought Bayley’s move to the main roster was rushed, but injuries forced the company’s hand. Despite the women’s title being thrown around like a hot potato, Charlotte has been the most dominant wrestler to come along since Beth Phoenix. Bayley’s “good girl” act was the perfect balance. Banks, with her edginess and her over-the-top style was the right middle ground for fans to get behind. After that, there is Nia Jax, who isn’t ready to lead the division, and Dana Brooke who is miscast and is nothing more than a sidekick.
Andrew Swift of cagesideseats.com made a compelling argument that WWE is in fact doing the right thing with Bayley. I beg to differ.
“Many fans seem to believe that WWE has damaged Bayley’s babyface character… It’s not true, and in fact WWE is in the process of presenting a smart arc for the Bayley character. But for a number of reasons—some kayfabe, some reality—any possible storyline they’re building in Raw’s women’s division is destined to go un- or underappreciated.”
I wouldn’t go that far. I like the idea of the little girl with the big dreams story. Fighting adversity and reaching for the brass ring. The only problem is it cliché and has been used over and over again. Bayley’s appeal in NXT was so successful because of the dynamics of the product in Orlando. The closeness to the crowds in arenas, the NWA-style performances most of us 40-somethings grew up on. And the ability to reach the masses with more character development. Somewhere along the way, the company forgot those principles with its main roster programming and stars like Bayley are bound to suffer.
WrestleMania 33 will more than likely signal the end of Bayley’s title run. I expect Banks to win and turn on her BFF, thus setting up the feud we want to see at SummerSlam between the two women. What happens with Charlotte is now anyone’s guess. Seeing her and Jax in a program is appealing, but the neophyte is still green and the former women’s champion would carry that kind of program.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact Bayley has given this division some “humanity” with her story. Fans identify with it. But maybe it’s the wrong storyline at the wrong time. Bayley will grow into one of the best female wrestlers WWE has ever had, but for now she may need a little change to make her more dynamic.
While we all like her, we want more of her. That’s not a knock on the performer. That’s just a knock on the character she portrays.