As I sat in front of my television analyzing the Extreme Rules pay per view hours after it was over, only one moment kept popping back into my head for no reason in particular. That moment was a series of boo’s that echoed through the arena as Bayley’s music hit and she began her usual trip to the ring with a bevy of “wacky, waving, inflatable, arm flailing tube men” dancing around in their awkward motions as Bayley held her arms out with a smile on her face and her signature pony tail intact, ready to once again play everyone’s favorite underdog.
The problem in that equation is that the WWE Universe is losing enthusiasm and have begun to see Bayley’s current gimmick for what it is; A dead horse that WWE is continuing to beat into the ground.
Only one year ago, I was sitting in a small arena in Salina, Kansas watching Bayley take on Alexa Bliss and Asuka in a triple threat match. The crowd was into it and involved. The fact that Bayley had played a long time underdog, only to lose her title to Asuka weeks before made the fans love and clamor for her more. On this occasion the crowd was very pro Bayley for that reason. So how did these first hand cheers I experienced turn to groans in only a year’s time?
A few weeks ago I attended WWE RAW in Kansas City, MO and found the Alexa/Bayley promo portion of the evening an ample time for most fans to quickly jet to the restroom as the two dueled on the microphone in ring. It was a C+ effort at best; and that is being generous. To say the two had zero chemistry with one another leading up to the Extreme Rules pay per view would be an understatement. In fact, I have found that using ice water to attempt to make a fire grow works much easier than trying to stomach fans attempting to defend the “Disasterpiece” that was the “This is your life” segment on RAW a couple of weeks back; A segment WWE has seemingly taken the blame for as they have made multiple jokes about it on air, openly admitting that it was nothing more than a faux pas they wish to forget.
How did we get to this point? The formula for the Bayley character was great in the beginning and on through her NXT run. There was something loveable and endearing about Bayley’s character at that time. The young girl who grew up infatuated with professional wrestling and becoming a future champion was akin to the dreams of many who turn on the television weekly and watch with hopes that someday it will be their turn, and for this reason we all loved and identified with Bayley whole heartedly. Bayley was the superstar that was never supposed to be champion and became one. Her story is one of inspiration and if there was ever a single, solitary superstar on the roster for someone to choose as your child’s role model, without question that person should be Bayley. For these reasons…we fell in love with the young NXT champion and couldn’t wait to see what she had to offer the main roster.
That is when everything changed.
WWE creative has consistently waded in the shallow waters with the Bayley character, often turning her kindness to weakness at every turn. Instead of showing some evolution to a woman who has conquered every hardship while in NXT, they have made it appear that Bayley is a “delicate child” of sorts; Incapable of being aggressive, mean or even perturbed at best through even the worst of situations. For these reasons, the Bayley character is beginning to run face first into a brick wall and the fans are reacting accordingly.
In a rush to develop two shows, WWE fast tracked Bayley to a title reign that could have benefited more from a lengthy underdog build; a formula that was working perfectly in NXT that saw Bayley competing in some tremendous battles which culminated in her ascent to the top.
Instead of playing out in a way that benefitted Bayley, her rushed reign translated into little more than a great WrestleMania bout and not much else. It is almost as if they are running Bayley in reverse. Instead of making Bayley grow and ascend, they instead write her into this shell of a woman stuck in an imaginary dream world. Through every main roster feud, everyone competing against Bayley has taken the same pot shots at her past as if reminding her that she took a hard road to becoming an unlikely hero is a bad thing.
How in the world can being so mentally poised and following your dreams hinder you in the bigger picture? I ask myself this question regularly as WWE creative drags Bayley through the mud with the same tired insults and promo plot points each week. We get it, WWE. Bayley wrote a report saying she wanted to be champion as a child and somehow this is the basis of every feud Bayley has had on the main roster.
While Bayley remains one of my favorite superstars on the roster, I feel it is important for her to grow as a character rather than remaining a stagnant star meant to sell t-shirts and bracelets to children. Evolution is important in the sport of professional wrestling and in Bayley’s case WWE needs to allow her to find some strength, toughness and brute qualities her character is sorely lacking. Currently, the Bayley character non-verbally tells the world that she will not act or defend herself when faced with a challenge, that she will back down from a fight if the fight is too violent and that she is a akin to a wounded child when faced with adversity as if her happy childhood and the fact she lived out her dreams are somehow a slight on her as a person. Bayley’s current status can be compared to a piece of Fruit Stripe gum; It was colorful and fruitful in the beginning, but the taste has worn off and people are ready to spit it right out. Bayley deserves way better than this.
The time for hugs is over. Hopefully in due time, WWE will realize it too.
For more articles and stories be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter.
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