The Fantasy Book on Bayley’s Rehabilitation in the WWE Raw Woman’s Division

Greetings to all the Time Travelers from Year 2217. I understand you have traveled here to discover how everything went so wrong, how America became a trash fire. That isn’t the topic of this column, but I can save you a lot of research. The answer you are seeking is: Trump.

With that out of the way, let’s talk some wrestling. Everyone’s favorite babyface underdog in NXT, Bayley, came up to the main roster with a lot of hope and promise. Everyone was excited to see her make the main roster finally, joining her Four Horsewomen of NXT friends Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. Granted, Bayley was the only one without a last name, but that’s okay. She came in with the support of Mick Foley and quickly became a main event level player. Her dancing balloon buddies and hug-loving personality helped her establish a fervent fan base as well.

But never let it be said that Vince McMahon knows when to leave well enough alone. No matter how great Bayley’s character was in NXT, her Raw character would change. Because Vince knows best. Or at least he thinks he does. Sometimes Vince is correct and is able to bring greatness out in people or characters. But just as often, he misses the mark.

In Bayley’s case, what made her special was her fight, her desire, her unwillingness to quit. She wanted to get better. She wanted to get to the top and wouldn’t stop until she did. A lifelong fan, she basically lived the cliche that this was what she had fought for her whole life. No matter the challenge, Bayley was going to try, try, try. She was the epitome of the fun in the chase.

So it would make sense to have Bayley begin a chase towards the WWE Raw Woman’s title. Whether the belt was held by Charlotte or someone else, Baylay could have come in and kept working until she got a title shot and won. Unfortunately, Vince took that storyline (which was basically her whole character) and scrapped it. Bayley won the title very soon after debuting, ruining any chance of a fun chase for the belt.

The version of Bayley that she was playing did not lend itself to the plucky babyface underdog character. She couldn’t be the chaser if she was the one being chased. So she fizzled. And they took the title off her. And now she is left in the odd position of no one really caring about her journey anymore. She lost to Alexa Bliss. She lost her rematch. She has been described as not being able to get “extreme” no matter how much she wants the belt. And, most recently, she lost in the first segment of a gauntlet match against Nia Jax.

So what’s left for Bayley? The Woman’s division is not that big, so she will still be around. She can’t disappear and come back later as the same character. The WWE has painted her into a corner. Let’s look at a possible way to re-establish her as a main event star.

The Woman’s division on Raw and on Smackdown seem to be attempting to one-up each other on Woman’s division “firsts.” An Iron Woman match. A cage match. A Money in the Bank match. A main event gauntlet match. I am sure that eventually we will get all sorts of matches with the women competitors, maybe even a Royal Rumble match. In that vein, let’s Fantasy Book this Bayley re-build.

I know Raw had that gauntlet match to crown a #1 Contender for Alexa Bliss’ title. Sasha Banks won, so let’s have her get that title shot. We will have Bliss retain the title, possibly even beating Banks at a couple big events in a row to establish herself as a strong champion.

Bayley could be much less visible during this time, still wrestling, but not involved in any major storyline. When she gets in front of a camera or microphone, it is normally to try to encourage her friends, telling them not to give up, etc. At some point, Sasha could get frustrated with this and snap at Bayley that she couldn’t even work up the strength to hit Alexa Bliss with a kendo stick, so why should she listen to her about being strong.

After a couple months of Alexa Bliss getting the best of Sasha Banks, Bliss will declare that she needs a new challenge and a new challenger. She claims no one on the roster is deserving of a title shot, so maybe she should go back to Smackdown and see if there is any competition there. Kurt Angle will interrupt and tell Alexa that she will get a #1 Contender, but she is right, she has beaten everyone so far. But part of being a champion is not just getting on top but staying on top. He will make sure her new #1 Contender is a worthy competitor. (At this point, it would be easy to debut Asuka or Nikki Cross or Ruby Riot or anyone else from NXT, but this column is about Bayley…)

He will announce a brand new match, a combination battle royal/cage match where the first competitor out of the cage wins. Involved in the match would be: Nia Jax, Emma, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, Mickie James, and Bayley. The first of those 8 women to escape the cage would become the #1 Contender for Alexa Bliss’ title.

The match would break down most often as the 4 heels against the 4 faces. They would switch up and fight against each of the other women in turn. There may be a few team ups to knock down a major threat like Nia Jax, but for the most part it will be a lot of 4 individual skirmishes going on inside the cage. At one point, all four heels (Jax, Emma, Fox, and Rae) would be knocked down and laying prone on the mat. Banks, James, Brooke, and Bayley would all have a similar idea and climb to the top rope in corner respectively.

As Sasha, Dana, Mickie, and Bayley all climb the corner turnbuckles, they look up and catch each others’ eye. Suddenly, they decide in an odd hive-mind moment to all scale the cage. Each woman would get to the top of the cage, look around, look at the audience, and look down at their opponents still on the mat. Then, Sasha would point to Dana, Mickie, and Bayley and they would all nod their heads. What follows would be a big highlight moment and the crowd would go crazy as they all dove off the top of the cage onto the heels below.

Everyone except Bayley, that is. Bayley will not leap with Banks, Brooke, and James off the top of the cage. She will remain perched on the top of the cage and watch the craziness unfold. Eventually, the crowd will realize she is still up there and wonder what happened. Did she slip or stumble? Is she too afraid to make the leap? Is the height of the cage too extreme for her?

Bayley will shrug her shoulders and then casually climb down the outside of the cage to win the match and become the new #1 Contender. The crowd will not know what to do. Should they cheer? Did Bayley just turn heel? What happened?

The next week, Corey Graves would conduct an interview with Bayley one-on-one in the ring. Graves would ask Bayley what happened the previous week, even asking if the dive from the top of the cage was too “extreme” for her. Bayley would laugh a little and tell Corey that she’s been thinking about that for a while now. Not about the match last week, but about not being extreme enough. Since her matches against Alexa Bliss a couple months ago actually. It was really bothering her that people were thinking she was weak for not wanting to be ultra-violent. But then she had a moment of clarity.

That moment of clarity came when she was on top of the cage last week. She realized that an extreme dive like that could cause damage to her opponents and make it harder for them to win. But it could also cause damage to herself, making it harder for her to win herself. As a long time fan of wrestling, she thought back on how many times she has seen someone do some crazy move off the top of the cage. She would list the Hardy Boys, Kurt Angle, even all the way back to Jimmy Snuka. It dawned on her that she couldn’t recall any of those people actually winning those cage matches.

On top of that cage, Bayley says, she made a decision. She has always wrestled with her heart. And she is proud of that. But she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the business as she’s been studying it her entire life. So she made the decision to not just wrestle with her heart any more. Now she was going to wrestle with her brain as well. She was not going to wrestle extreme, she was going to wrestle smart.

Bayley explained that she made the smart decision to climb down the cage and win the match because now she was the #1 Contender for the Raw Woman’s Championship. When extreme measures are warranted, she’ll take them, but she is comfortable in her knowledge. She knows she can out-wrestle Alexa Bliss, she can out-heart Alexa Bliss, and she is positive she can out-smart Alexa Bliss.

Alexa Bliss will then come out and get in Bayley’s face. After a minute of arguing, Bliss will attack Bayley and attempt to beat her down. But with every attempt Bliss makes to get the upper hand, Bayley will block or counter, leaving Bliss frustrated.

A similar dynamic will happen in a match Bayley will have with Nia Jax the next week. Jax will attack with her normal strong methodology, but Bayley will counter everything she tries. She will use Jax’s momentum against her often, throwing her off balance and out of position. Bayley will get the victory with a Bayley-to-Belly after Jax misses a big legdrop. After the match, Bliss will attack Bayley again, this time with a Kendo stick, but Bayley, after taking one or two shots, will refocus and counter Bliss again and again.

The eventual title match will continue this storyline of Bayley frustrating Bliss by countering and reversing almost everything she does. Bliss will get the upper hand for a while due to a cheap shot outside the ring with the referee distracted somehow, but eventually Bayley will regain the momentum and pick up the win and the title again.

In short, this is sort of what the WWE is trying to do with Carmella over on Smackdown. It is also similar to what wrestling companies have tried to do with Damien Sandow, Lanny Poffo, Triple H, and The Four Horsemen as a few examples over the years. The smart wrestler has almost always been a heel. Intelligence, study, mental preparation has almost always been a heel trait in the wrestling business. Yes, we see babyfaces come to the ring to “scout” their opponents sometimes, but that is often just an excuse for a physical confrontation. But smart heel wrestlers are often able to trick and manipulate their opponents to gain victory and the faces are often left looking foolish. Hell, Sting made a career out of looking like a chump at the hands of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.

But this gimmick would be a little different. Bayley would be the person who was first at the arena and the last to leave. She would work on her physical skills, but also be seen constantly studying film of her opponents. She would no longer be the plucky underdog, she would be the hardest working person in sports entertainment to ensure that she would be successful. As much as I hate to even type it, she would become the Tom Brady of the Raw Woman’s Division – not as physically gifted as some, but smarter than most and willing to work harder than almost all. Except she would be 4000 times more likeable.

This way, with this shift in Bayley’s character, she could reign as the Raw Woman’s champion. She would be a “beatable” champion in that you could always make the case for someone going over her, but she would be able to keep the belt often because of her intelligence and study. It could be a very good way for the WWE to showcase a role model who didn’t think intelligence was a bad thing.

Hey, I guess this did tie in to Trump after all, didn’t it?

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked today’s Fantasy Book. If there is anything you would add, or think that it wouldn’t work and would change something, or you just want to tell me that none of this will matter when Asuka finally arrives on the main roster, please do so in the comments.

Next week we will take a look at how the WWE could manage an extended title reign for Brock Lesnar. Until then…

 

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