Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bayley: #3 in the Wrestling Weekday Top 10 Wrestlers of 2015, presented by ESO-PRO

Image credit:
If you told me at the beginning of 2015 I would be writing a Top 10 post for Bayley at the end of the year, I would probably have scoffed at your idea. Going into the year, she was a distance fourth among the "Four Horsewomen" of NXT and coming out of the fatal four-way match that gave Sasha Banks her run with the title, she was injured and out of action. It didn't seem like 2015 would shape up to be a superb year for Bayley.

That changed as the company ramped up for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. With Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks already on the main roster, Bayley beat both Becky and Charlotte on her road to challenging Sasha at the event. And oh, did she challenge Sasha. Many have called it arguably one of the best matches of 2015. I call Bayley and Sasha Banks' epic battle the match of 2015. The match featured every exciting spot the two women could concoct, but it also told a story of an underdog fighting to prove herself as the new top dog of NXT. When Bayley picked up the win, she not only won the title but also the legacy of being the final Horsewoman standing in NXT.

That wasn't the end of her road by any stretch of the imagination though. She went on to a successful feud with Alexa Bliss, battle The Authority's machinations to help Eva Marie and overcame a massive size difference to beat Nia Jax. Bayley is arguably the most dominant champ WWE has today, even while still playing the underdog in many of her matches. It is an interesting dichotomy, especially when you consider how many power moves she actually has in her regular repertoire.

Oh, and did I mention she was one of the first women to ever main event a WWE pay-per-view?

Most interestingly, she does it all as a strong babyface character without the darker edges WWE often feels its stars need. And unlike Cena or Reigns, it never seems to come with the backlash many fans give, perhaps because Bayley rose up through the indie ranks and has stronger in ring credentials to the main roster's aces. As John Morgan Neal puts it, “Babyfaces can work in today's wrestling!”

As 2015 turns into 2016, she enters her fifth month as NXT Women's Champion. She's firmly cemented right now as the top dog as the division rebuilds without Charlotte, Becky and Sasha, but it seems likely that a few more good healthy months will lead to Bayley jumping to the main roster as well. Personally, I think it might prove dangerous for Bayley as outside NXT fans might not buy into her gimmick. And like Becky and Sasha, she's in danger of being overlooked once she reaches the big stage. Mike Gordon summed up that fear as he talked about her 2015: “I'm glad she wasn't added to the main roster because she'd likely be wasted.”

Whatever the future holds for Bayley, she had an amazing 2015 where she did things no woman in a major promotion has ever done before. It may be impossible for her to have a 2016 nearly as good, but I suspect Bayley will do everything in her power to try.

No comments:

Post a Comment