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Bayley: A Coming of Age Story?

Bayley in NXT Brian Smith, via Flickr


Bayley: A Coming of Age Story?

So, if you haven’t been living under a rock (insert Dwayne Johnson joke here), then you know that the WWE Universe have been steadily behind the women’s revolution; which has been going on a steady course for the last few years.

And while it has had it’s bright spots and blight spots (nude leaks, be damned), there has been one name that stood above the rest. Of course, we are talking about the plucky underdog Bayley.

The happy-go-lucky wrestler that every little girl in the WWE Universe idolizes. She is often seen entering her matches with her trademark tee, headband and wacky inflatable waving arm men. And while she is a hero to many little ones, her journey was a tough one.

A bit of history on Bayley…

Starting at the age of 18, Bayley started earning her stripes as a part of Big Time Wrestling, under the tutelage of Jason Styles. Wrestling under the name of Davina Rose, she would make her mark on the indy wrestling scene; making her way through BTW, NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and SHINE.

It wasn’t until she arrived at ROH affiliate promotion SHIMMER, that she would gain attention from bigger companies. She would meet her mentor Serena one year prior to her joining SHIMMER. Debuting in October of 2011, she lost her first four matches during the tapings for SHIMMER volumes 41-44.

Much like her situation during her journey to the NXT Women’s Championship, Bayley would finally get her first real win in on Volume 48; teaming with Mia Yim (currently Jade of TNA) and securing a victory against Melenie Cruise and Mena Libra.

The Birth of Bayley…

Bayley in NXT, 2015

Bayley in NXT, circa 2015. Photo by Hector Olguin, via Flickr.

Davina Rose’s work in SHIMMER, as well as other notable promotions led to her signing in 2012; where she signed a developmental deal with the WWE. She first made her in-ring debut in January of 2013, wrestling under a mask.

But, opting to lose the mask, she finally debuted as Bayley on March 20th of that year, unsuccessfully facing off against Paige. Bayley would adopt the character she is known and loved for on the June 12th, 2013 episode of NXT.

Much like her run in SHIMMER, she suffered loss after loss, losing to the likes of Alicia Fox, and AJ Lee. But, history repeated itself, and in a tag match that saw her team with Charlotte Flair against Fox and Aksana, she secured her first victory on September 4th, 2013.

Bayley would earn her stripes with the WWE Universe, as she would feud with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Facing each, realizing loss, before finally fighting for the win.

This would run through years 2014-2015.

By August of 2015, however, Bayley’s journey into the main stage was finally realized; she defeated then NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, becoming NXT Women’s Champion in spectacular fashion.

The celebration of her victory, which was essentially a female’s version of the infamous curtain call by The Kliq, saw Bayley surrounded by Flair, Lynch and Banks. All shedding tears, standing in unison as the Four Horsewomen of the WWE.

Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte Flair, The Four Horsewomen

Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte Flair, The Four Horsewomen. Photo by PW Lunatic, via Flickr

It was a perfect start to a tough road for the now top dog in the Women’s division.

The year that followed saw her fend off challenges from the new crop of hungry competitors. From Nia Jax, to Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie to Carmella, she fought them all off.

The End of an Era…

Asuka/Bayley - NXT Takeover: Dallas

Asuka unseating Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Dallas. Photo by Audrey Le Pennec, via Flickr.

For 233 days, she was on top of the Women’s Division in NXT. But, it reached it’s conclusion on April 1st of 2016, when Asuka toppled Bayley for the title. The loss came with an injury that sidelined the former champ for a short time. Upon her return, however, she would wind up in a feud with Nia Jax.

Jax went on to “injure” Bayley, leading to Jax taking her spot against Asuka at NXT Takeover: The End. Leading up to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II, the former Women’s champ gained a new purpose, regaining the championship. Finally healthy enough, Bayley challenged Asuka for the title at Takeover, but, like their last encounter, came up short.

This would be her swan song, as she bid farewell to the NXT Universe. Bigger things laid ahead for her.

Realizing the dream…

Bayley debuting on RAW - Aug. 22nd, 2016

Bayley debuting on Monday Night Raw, August 22nd, 2016. Photo by Danny Parker, via Flickr.

Two days after her loss at Brooklyn II, Bayley made her official main roster debut, being introduced by then Raw General Manager Mick Foley. Unlike her SHIMMER and NXT debuts, however, she won her first match on Raw, defeating Dana Brooke.

She then went on to challenge for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship, facing off against Sasha Banks and champ Charlotte Flair. Unfortunately, it was an unsuccessful fight.

Her drive to realize her dream led to her feuding with Charlotte’s “protege”, Dana Brooke. That feud lasted for a short time, culminating in a match at Hell in a Cell, which Bayley won. The next night on Raw, she was added to the Raw Women’s Survivor Series team, which they won after she secured the pinfall.

Her and Charlotte were the lone survivors of that team. Charlotte attacked Bayley, citing that she “stole her thunder”, i.e., her big moment. The feud ran it’s course, from the Royal Rumble match that saw Charlotte retain, to the big moment of Bayley’s career. On the February 13th, 2017 edition of Raw, with an assist from Sasha Banks, she would finally defeat Charlotte for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship.

Bayley’s Championship Run…

Bayley would live out her dream as champion for roughly two and a half months, defending both on TV and in house shows. Facing off against the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax, as well as numerous other challengers.

Successfully retaining at both Fastlane and WrestleMania 33, she would eventually drop the title against Alexa Bliss at Payback. Upon beating Bayley, “Little Miss Bliss” took to task making Bayley’s life a living hell. Going so far as to embarrass her on an almost nightly basis, their feud led to Extreme Rules this past weekend.

Bliss retained.

What’s this all mean?

If one were to truly dissect Bayley’s run in the WWE, they would notice that she is the perpetual underdog. Much like Sami Zayn, she’s the one with the most heart and the never say die attitude.

But, after the terrible reception that the feud with Bliss received, there have been talks of writing her off of television for a short while. Perhaps the company is looking for a way to revive her character. Maybe they are looking to repackage her, like they have done with other talent that have run their course.

But, something came to mind while discussing Bayley with a friend of mine in the wrestling business. Being that the “underdog” character can only go but so far, what can they do to keep interests in Bayley?

Well, they could go the route of turning her heel, if even as an experiment, but doing so would run the risk of losing the support of the younger female demographic.

No, if you have truly paid attention to Bayley, then you could see exactly what the company has been doing. Slowly setting her up to evolve as a character, perhaps even making her slightly more mature as a person.

In other words, what better way to have a role model stay a role model than a coming of age story? The WWE is all about entertaining the fans, and if they truly wished to keep her young fans happy, then it would be a smart idea to have a coming of age storyline, where in the end, the hero emerges stronger than before.

The next step.

Where we are at now in the ascension of Bayley story is the all important self-doubt stage. You see it in every film and book, the hero reaches a point where they doubt their every decision. They make mistakes, they take hard losses, nothing seems to go right for them.

They come to that realization of what they have done wrong, and what they need to do to fix it. Soon enough, we may see Bayley change, not for the worse, but for the better. You can expect her to come back much stronger, much smarter, and even less naive than in the past.

Because she is a hero to many a little girl, and to them, she is something to aspire to. Let’s see what the WWE does with the underdog hero, perhaps Bayley will become greater than she was before.

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