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Bayley: Wrestling’s Most Improved Star

Clash of Champions #4

Hey everyone! Let’s continue with our breakdown of matches from Clash of Champions. This article is going to talk about the most improved wrestler all around during Covid-19. I’m not sure she would have made this unbelievable jump without the virus. Now, Bayley may be not only the best women’s wrestler in WWE but the best all-around women’s wrestler right now, period. Definitely the best heel. Let’s discuss Bayley.

The Smackdown Women’s Championship Match in Jeopardy Because of Covid-19?

We’ve been talking about how Covid-19 really came to a head during Clash of Champions, but this was the match it most effected. The story that was going around all day long was of the rumors of Covid-19 hitting certain WWE superstars. Since Killian Dane didn’t appear on NXT and Nikki Cross didn’t appear on the Friday Night Smackdown go-home show, they were two superstars suspected of being around someone with Covid-19. To be clear, we have no legitimate reports that either have Covid-19 or have been quarantined. All WWE has said is that Nikki Cross was not medically cleared for her match. 

Many on Twitter and Reddit immediately were debating who Bayley would now take on for her Smackdown Women’s Championship. It seems like none of those fans truly wanted to see the same old matches like Naomi or Lacey Evans for the PPV. The consensus seemed to be for starting the newly rumored upcoming storylines of Carmella appearing as the Smackdown mystery woman to challenge Bayley, or even starting the Sasha Banks vs. Bayley war early.

Match Introduction

Before the match, WWE wanted to create suspense and didn’t want it leaked as to who would be taking on Bayley for the championship. So we hear Bayley’s music and she comes down the ramp with this huge smile and her normal cocky walk. She is carrying the chair that she used to beat Sasha and tried to break her neck with. When she gets to the ring, she talks about how she’s gotten some sad news, that poor Nikki Cross can’t compete tonight. So, she has had to forfeit the match because she can’t get medically cleared.

The Three Horsewomen and Bayley

I think to truly demonstrate my argument about what the turning point was of Bayley becoming a great wrestler, we have to go back to the beginning. To me, Bayley has grown so much in the last six months that I don’t know any other way to say it. I have been totally fascinated with her evolution. Probably more than any of the other horse women, who I’m sure you know way better.

Charlotte

I think everyone knows Charlotte Flair’s story. She became the first breakout star of the four and was widely considered the best in beginning. I mean, so many saw her in the crowd at her dad’s shows, so she was known by fans from a young age.

Of course, being a child of a wrestler doesn’t always mean you are going to get into wrestling or be any good at it if you do. When she was younger Charlotte was into other sports like basketball, cheerleading, track, and volleyball. Earning a volleyball scholarship at Appy State before graduating from North Carolina State, Charlotte had no intention of joining the wrestling bubble.

Yet, it wasn’t until John Laurinaitis asked the then 25-year-old Charlotte Flair why she wasn’t wrestling like her dad that she began contemplating it. She signed with NXT the next year and along the way has won 11 championships already. But need I remind you, if you won 11 titles, then you also lost 11 times too.

Becky Lynch

To hear a lot of fans talk, you would think Becky Lynch was the underdog of the group that the fans  clutched to their hearts and carried her to adoration. Maybe that’s true. Becky came from Ireland, where she has a huge following. She worked her way through Europe and started to get her break when she got hurt.

After her head injury, Becky stepped away from wrestling for about six years. From there we all followed her rising star as she took on and beat Ronda Rousey while becoming a fan favorite. During it all she met the love of her life and became pregnant. But was she the best all-around wrestler? I think it remains to be seen. I personally look forward to seeing if she chooses to come back to wrestling after motherhood.

Sasha Banks

I must say Sasha Banks has always seemed to be a bit of an enigma to me. Some fans want to read her as standoffish or even aloof, but I don’t believe it is that at all. Sasha moved all around the country as a child while her mother looked for the best schools for her autistic brother to attend (Personal note: school is always hard for ASD people and their siblings). She ended up in Boston, but introverted Sasha Banks had already learned it was best not to be too outgoing because you might leave. She decided to attend an online school to get her high school degree. In the process, she began watching different styles of wrestling like Japanese and Lucha.

At 18 years old, Sasha Banks decided she wanted to be a professional wrestler. Many considered Sasha to be the one of the group that could tell a story in the ring as well as on the mic. She is always wanting to further her wrestling education and learn new techniques. After WrestleMania 2019, Sasha took some time off to center herself. She went to Japan and studied some different styles there. It is one reason I hope that during their upcoming war, she and Bayley show us what they really have.

The Underrated Underdog

I think the most fascinating story of all of them to me has been Bayley. Her childhood love of wrestling that she shared with her dad and younger brother really mirrors the love of wrestling that I got from my grandmother. I know how it can stick with you and become a passion.

Bayley has even mentioned in different podcast interviews about getting teased and borderline bullied because of her style of dress or her love of wrestling. Bayley admits she couldn’t wait to turn 18 years old to join her local wrestling training program with Jason Styles. After some time on the independent circuit, she caught a break when one of her wrestling opponents mentioned her to WWE.

Bayley signed with WWE in 2012. She began working on her character and wrestling skills with Serena Deeb and Dusty Rhodes. She has talked about her struggles—finding a character inside herself—and how Dusty Rhodes told her that was the only way to truly connect with the audience. To let the fans see you. Well, they got Bayley to let all of us fans connect to “The Hugger”: the 10-year-old fan in all of us that marks out about everything wrestling.

The Other Three Leaving

The Four Horsewomen were split up for a little while as the other three went up to the main roster. I’m sure this had to be extremely hard on Bayley. She had to be questioning herself. Of course, this led to her being who she is now as a wrestler. The old saying is you don’t truly understand something until you can teach it. In her extra time at NXT, Bayley put this saying to the test. She worked with newer talent and learned to lead a locker room, but she also learned what is missing so much in today’s wrestling…making others look THEIR best in the ring. You will still hear even Cody and Dustin Rhodes promote their father’s beliefs about how can you look good when your opponent has no clue.

That time without the other three in NXT was one of rapid growth for Bayley as she discovered not only new leadership techniques but new confidence in herself. Both Triple H and Shawn Michaels have said her ring psychology is off the charts. Many express wonderment at how she can grasp a story arc and explain it so well. It’s no wonder she has hopes of one day opening her own wrestling school.

The Boredom That Led To The Change

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed “The Hugger,” but was she my favorite wrestler? No way. As some of you who read my articles and listen to my podcast know, I’m a huge John Cena fan. It’s because of his edge though. I never felt like Bayley ever developed the edge. I found myself feeling like she was too predictable and almost boring. Well, Bayley felt that way too. She got to the point where she started questioning herself…can I do this character for another 15 years? Heck, can I do this character another 5 years? Then it became a question of when was the right time to change her gimmick and could she pull it off?

Finally, she went for it in Sept./Oct. 2019. The problem I had with the heel change, and I think others did, was that it wasn’t real. You could feel it wasn’t true. We as fans knew the struggle Bayley went through to figure out how to let the fans see her in the character. Bayley struggled for months finding the right part of her personality to be this character. To make it real. It is part of all of our personalities to be mean or cruel at times, but to go from 100%+ positivity to her character now was a total 180.

Covid-19 Change

I challenge any of you that doubt that Bayley is the best all-around women’s wrestler right now to go back and watch her work from the start of Covid-19 until now. Watch her character growth. She starts out as an “I want to be a heel, but I’m not sure” type. You see the dorky or nerdy sidekick heel that basically gets on your nerves. Then we got the cocky, confident, obnoxious joke-telling heel.

As Bayley’s hair gets shorter and she starts getting different things shaved in the back on it, then you see her grow. Now, she comes across as a smarter, conniving, methodical heel. With her war coming with Sasha Banks, will we see her go over to the Randy Orton side of playing heel? Will Bayley cross the line to the sociopathic sadistic heel and if she does…will she stay there for awhile, plotting and planning the demise of the other horsewomen?

Character Isn’t The Only Change

I know I have been showing you a lot of how her Bayley has changed, but so has her wrestling. However, I think it has been a slower change and can’t be tied to Covid-19 at all. It is tied to Bayley’s love of wrestling and learning. Seeking out Tyler Breeze and FTR’s help on tag team wrestling last year helped both her and Sasha Banks. They started concentrating on cutting the ring in half, ring awareness and working on one section of the body during a match. Bayley also has added numerous moves back into her repertoire from her indie days. If you watched her against Shayna Baszler then you had to be surprised by how many different submission holds she pulled out of her bag. Bayley is growing before your very eyes. Don’t miss it!

The Clash of Champions Match

No, I didn’t forget the match, but we needed to see how it came together. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, Bayley is being obnoxious and telling the referee to get in the ring to raise her hand. She said, “I offered an open challenge and no one answered, so raise my hand to give me my forfeit”.

Then Asuka’s music hits. This was an awesome touch. Asuka has been Bayley’s nemesis throughout the whole Covid-19 era.  She has beaten her numerous times and gave her great hard-fought matches other times. So we are getting a great match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Or not.

Let me explain. Both are great technical wrestlers, but what I love is that they will tell you a story if you let them. The story they want to tell is here is how Asuka knows about Bayley’s previously (2017) separated right shoulder, something that Bayley has only recently stopped taping. She has used this shoulder against Bayley before, and Sasha Banks isn’t here to save her this time. But now Asuka has a hurt left arm courtesy of Zelina Vega earlier in the night. Who is going to be able to take the pain dished out? But also, how far is one of them willing to go to dish out the pain? Will they cross a line?

The Start

Right away, Asuka starts teasing Bayley by doing her dance and then she hits a German suplex on Bayley. Bayley has to eventually roll out of the ring and looks like she is going to leave the match until Asuka grabs her and pulls her back into the ring. Asuka applies an armbar then transitions to the Asuka Lock. I absolutely loved this, just because it is another area in which Bayley has grown. You need to go back and watch it. This might be where Bayley grew the most during the pandemic. Her selling.

There were many times in the past where I wanted to beat Bayley myself with a kendo stick for overselling. I felt like she just didn’t get it. Especially when Bayley flopped around like a fish, bugging her eyes out and yelling. But not now. Now you can see that she is confident in her skills, knowledge of the storyline, and the psychology of the match. So when Asuka puts her in the first Asuka Lock, you can see the pain in Bayley’s face without her overdoing it. It is almost like you can see Bayley saying to herself, “Yes, I have tapped to this before, but I’m not losing my title to this or to you.” So she reaches for the rope and gets the break.

The End? Or Just The Beginning?

As the match continues on, you can see Bayley’s cockiness grow. She’s getting a plan together to end this. Asuka ends up chasing her outside the ring and is getting ready for the head kick. She follows up with a German suplex, but Bayley grabs her new friend that she can always count on…a chair. She starts wailing on Asuka with it, causing the champion’s advantage to kick in with a disqualification. Bayley keeps her championship at the ending of the match. You can see how proud Bayley is of herself to have remembered she can use that rule to keep her title.

Of course, it isn’t the end and Bayley quickly realizes it as she feels the sting of a chair nailing her in the back. Sasha Banks, with a soft collar neck brace on, is back early. Of course, the announcers inform us that she’s still hurt and not medically cleared yet. Bayley shoves her into the desk and then into the ring before making the ultimate heel mistake of throwing too many weapons in the ring. Sasha ends up with a kendo stick and makes Bayley pay. I’m betting in real life they are having a little talk because I’m pretty sure Sasha caught Bayley good at least twice.

Hell In A Cell? Too Quick?

Yes, I know so many of you out there are saying “it’s happening too quickly—what the hell? No way. We have been waiting for Bayley vs Sasha Banks for 3-5 years.” Well don’t worry Vince McMahon being an impatient little boy, wanting his Christmas now. I was hoping we would get this build-up for WrestleMania. It deserves its Mania moment.

In fact, I was hoping to hold off just a little longer, allowing Bayley to swing more to the sadistic side and to get Sasha Banks into the babyface hero role more. It could go on until a rubber match with a special stipulation at WrestleMania if it is done correctly. I guarantee both of them are watching as many different wrestling history feuds as possible nowadays. They will do their research.

Personally, I’m willing to put it out there right now…I think this war between them could go down in wrestling history. Not women’s wrestling history, but wrestling history, period. This will be the one many talk about getting them into wrestling for years to come.  Both are ready and experienced enough to finally tell this story correctly. They will get you to feel it. Starting with Hell in a Cell…starting on Friday night, October 2nd.

What do you think about this match? What did you think of Asuka being Bayley’s opponent at Clash of Champions? Do you think that Sasha Banks will get her babyface comeuppance? Let us know about it at Sports Obsessive!

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Written by Samantha Sayre

2 Comments

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  1. If Bayley doesn’t change back to The “Hugger,” I’m gonna kill myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

    • Why? She is really enjoying herself now. She was getting bored after 7 years of being perfect. Let her have a little fun. 🙂

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