In my last blog, I talked about the problems with WWE’s Diva Revolution.This go around I will try to stay more positive, and focus on one of the shining lights in WWE, and wrestling in general, NXT Womens Champion Bayley.
Bayley has gotten barely a mention on main WWE programming, despite having a long history with many of the new crop of “Divas” (I try not to roll my eyes every time I type that word). Her near one year quest for the NXT Womens Title reached its climax in late August when she dethroned Sasha Banks to finally claim the title. It was a very celebrated moment that some fans claim even outshone the main event of Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens.
This past week, her first major title defense made history. For the first time in recent memory, a major show produced by WWE was legitimately main evented by a womens match. Not just a standard match, Bayley and Sasha Banks wrestled for 30 straight minutes in an Ironman Match for the NXT Womens Championship. This wasn’t about a “Revolution”. This wasn’t about being a “Diva”. This wasn’t about looking pretty. These were two rivals going to war to prove who was better.
This is the type of timeless story pro wrestling can tell when it’s good.
It’s also a story that seems so fresh when two women are front and center… Even though nothing else has changed. It may be a bit of a sensational example, but if you were to take two top male rivals in WWE, say John Cena and Randy Orton, and use them in the above video package, the end result would be the same. You have two rivals who may not like each other, but respect each other based on experience.
But when you look at the top female heroes in WWE proper, there are just no deeply developed characters. As great as Sasha Banks comes across in the above trailer, even as the villain, she barely gets any character defining traits on the main WWE roster.
And Bayley? What is the appeal of Bayley anyway? She isn’t like the typical WWE “Diva”, or even what the average American might think of when they hear “womens wrestling”. She doesn’t look like a Maxim cover girl. She doesn’t come out and dance or shake her thang like so many other gals in the industry do.
Bayley comes out and wrestles. She competes. She’s a likable underdog that you want to see win. She exemplifies the belief that if you work hard and be determined, you will earn success. That type of vibe takes a special something that very few have. The term within the industry is “Natural Babyface”.
If Bayley had the face of a Revlon model and the body of a Maxim girl, she’d be front and center in WWE programming. But having all that would go against what makes her natural appeal work, and that’s something no amount of physical appeal will ever make up for.
My concern is whether she will be repackaged when she gets the eventual call up to the main roster. As anybody who watches both WWE and NXT can tell you, the main WWE shows are heavily scripted and produced, with every line prewritten. It’s “Sports-Entertainment” and not “Wrestling” by The McMahons’ own admission. So how do you take a person with such natural appeal, and especially inspiring to young girls, and start scripting her a “Character”? All you have to do is watch a Miz TV segment with “The Divas” to get concerned.
Let’s hope WWE doesn’t try to get too “creative” and mess with something that works naturally.