As part of WWE’s Four Horsewomen, Bayley was the last to be called up to the main roster from NXT and debuting on an episode of RAW in 2016. Initially called upon to help her former rival Sasha Banks against Charlotte Flair and Dana Brooke in a Tag match at Battleground, Bayley never left. As the year went on Bayley established herself on the brand trying to capture the fans’ imagination that captivated her into the hearts of the NXT fan base.
Bayley was loved by the NXT faithful, but as she moved over to the RAW brand she didn’t have that same connection with the masses as she once did at Full Sail. She tried hard and kept her character very similar on RAW, but something didn’t click like it once did, and being booked as the underdog went for too long and hindered the Californian. Survivor Series 2016 would see her and Charlotte Flair as the survivors of the elimination match, but instead of being left as equal to Charlotte and shown she can hang with the queen. Flair would attack Bayley afterwards leaving her down, with the champion Flair standing tall.
This should have given the underdog a little bit of bite and be seeking revenge. Bayley would gain two non-title wins over Charlotte in the run-up to the new year but unfortunately, they were meaningless wins, just another case of WWE booking their champions to lose non-title matches. On the January 2nd episode of RAW, Bayley would overcome Nia Jax in a number one contenders match to earn a championship opportunity at the Royal Rumble. But the showdown between Charlotte and Bayley failed to have a big match feel like it should have. It could have and should have been bigger with the underdog finally getting her chance to beat the bully who left her down at Survivor Series and win the big one. But their match at the Rumble would see Charlotte hit the natural selection on the ring apron and then pick up the win and retain her championship.
On the February 13th RAW, Bayley would receive a rematch against Charlotte for the RAW Women’s Championship and with the help of Sasha Banks, would pick up a pinfall victory and claim her first RAW Women’s Championship. While it was great to see Bayley pick up the win and the title, it was another reason for her star potential to diminish. She won the title on a random episode of RAW, in a throwaway rematch. Instead, we should have seen a scenario where her character is built up to a magical moment at a pay per view, maybe even a WrestleMania, but definitely back at the Royal Rumble. The fact that Bayley had been portrayed as unequal to Charlotte and for her to lose at the Rumble left this victory with a little less prestige.
The fact that they didn’t go deep into the story of maybe Bayley wasn’t good enough, and she showed signs of self-doubt that she couldn’t do it. This would have led to a better pay-off again, Charlotte would have her rematch at Fastlane a month later and WWE creative would miss another huge moment that should have meant more.
The Fastlane event would see Bayley retain her championship against Flair and this would end Charlotte Flair’s 18-match unbeaten pay-per-view streak. Can you imagine how big of a moment it could have been with Bayley winning the championship and ending the undefeated PPV streak? WWE had been mentioning the streak on shows for a while and wasn’t something that they ever mentioned.
It’s a shame that these things happened not long before Wrestlemania. What a moment it could have been if Bayley and Charlotte were kept apart longer after Survivor Series and had a slow build until Wrestlemania where Bayley could have overcome the odds and won the championship in heroic fashion and defeated her pay per view streak. Instead at Wrestlemania, Bayley would retain her championship in an entertaining four-way match.
It is my belief like many others who voice their opinions on WWE that they missed a massive opportunity with Bayley. She was a huge star for children and loads of adults were fans too. They could have easily made her a bigger star by putting her in stories that would make her stronger. Her fans were covered in her merchandise and that’s without the megastar she could have become. I feel that Bayley was the female version of John Cena when it comes to merchandise for kids. There has been plenty of money left on the table in the past with WWE and this could well have been one. Bayley as of writing is the WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion and has been for almost a year, it’s a pleasure to see her doing so well after the start she had to her main roster run.
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