At the end of 7th October 2015, Bayley and Sasha Banks had just concluded a 30-minute Iron Woman match.
A match which was the first of its kind for female competitors in WWE, the longest women’s match in the WWE (at the time) and quite possibly the best women’s match in WWE history. Now they are embroiled in a feud that goes in and out of fashion for the WWE writing team more times than people’s limbs in the Hokey Cokey.
I will look at how the feud came to be, what has been good about their development so far and what could be done better.
After Bayley defended her title at TakeOver: Respect in the above-mentioned Iron Woman match, Sasha Banks fully graduated to the main roster. At the same time, Bayley moved on to defend her NXT Women’s title against future Raw and Smackdown women’s champions, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax and Carmella among others. The title reign would eventually conclude with Bayley losing her championship to the Queen of Tomorrow, Asuka.
The first time the majority of the WWE Universe got to see Bayley was as Sasha Banks’ mystery tag-team partner at Battleground in July of 2016, to take on Charlotte and her then protegé, Dana Brooke. The Banks and Bayley connection, which needs a moniker combining the start of one name with the end of the other, like Ba-yley.. Oh never mind. Either way, this was but a cameo for Bayley, but there they were as firm friends, on the same team and supporting one another to vanquish their opponents.
Fast-forward to 2017, where both Sasha and Bayley are active members of the main roster and in March where they have their first match against one another, whilst Bayley is feuding with Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship. Sasha gets the submission victory, and the two team up on episodes of Raw until July where they have another one-on-one match, this time Bayley gets the victory against Sasha, to leave them one-all in singles matches.
The two didn’t come face-to-face in true one-on-one competition again for the rest of the year, either being on the same team, or involved in multi-woman matches. However, there was a genuine frisson of excitement with Wrestlemania 34 on the horizon, as it looked like they might re-visit their feud properly from NXT.
First they made history as competitors of the first ever Royal Rumble, Sasha entering as the very first entrant, and Bayley at number 29. Typically in Royal Rumble matches, entrants of such disparate entry points wouldn’t be likely to cross paths, but cross paths they did. Shortly after Nia is eliminated and competitors are recuperating, Sasha grabs Bayley and throws her over the top rope, in a defining act, well, it felt defining at the time, but WWE held off on going all in with the feud.
The next and main moment that generated a swell of excitement and made thousands of fans cheer ‘finally!’ in unison occurred at Elimination Chamber 2018. Due to the mechanics of the match, Bayley was left to fight both Sonya DeVille and Mandy Rose from Absolution on her own, with Sasha watching on, unable to influence the situation. This all changes when Sasha is the next entrant to the match, evening up the odds and giving Bayley an ally.
They work together for large portions of the match until there’s only them and Alexa left, and with Sasha and Alexa atop one of the pods, Bayley is not quite there and is climbing to reach them this is where the switch happens. Banks had her arm outstretched to aid her ally, and then with a move that would have Scar proud, Banks kicks Bayley to the pod floor, although there are no Wildebeest in the Elimination Chamber – come to think of it, it would be more dramatic if they were introduced. Vince – book it.
It was around this time that Bayley and Banks started taking their feud online and using Twitter to bolster it, with both of them posting the same photo of them with a coach, Norman Smiley, with the other excluded from the photo. Things started to be building nicely towards Wrestlemania 34.
If you told 2015 me, that Sasha and Bayley would go up to the main roster, be in a feud and interest would be waning, I would say who are these people and what is this NXT you speak of? However, if you told 2016 me the same thing, I would say, you mean the two women who have had arguably one of the best women’s WWE matches in history and could be this generation’s Trish and Lita? Their feud is struggling for momentum? That’s crazy talk.
But here we are, Sasha Banks and Bayley are feuding but the WWE has played such a long game that the initial spark that ignited the fire, produced only a smouldering flame with no real period of heat and now it is mere embers. This feud needs more kindling and something to reignite the flame and restore it from the ashes.
Recently, they’ve had sessions with Dr. Shelby and tried teaming up to no avail, Sasha has turned on Bayley and equally Bayley has turned on Banks, in a famous outburst where Bayley uttered the now immortal words ‘You ain’t shit Sasha’. Moving on from this, Sasha got disqualified in a tag match on the side of Bayley, for stepping in to a run-of-the-mill beatdown from Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke against her teammate. Banks gave explanation for this by stating that only she’s allowed to fight Bayley, because she loves her.
To me, this represents a key cross-roads for the WWE, they could either take this love to be meant as a sororal, best-friend type of love, or a literal type of love where Sasha and Bayley are in a relationship. The latter would represent a bold step, which would have a huge reward for the WWE and present a more liberal stance for the company. Alas, they have gone for the sisterly love, with Banks and Bayley declaring the following week that they’re best friends.
So far, if these two are to feud properly and have a blow-off Pay-per-view match, the WWE has a brilliant selection of snippets from matches to fill up a promotional video. Sadly the build to this has been so slow, that I would’ve said if it were to go any slower, it would be going backwards. That being said, the feud seems to be off again, and the two are back to being teammates, with matching ring-gear no less.
What we’re getting is an ice-cool feud that may be building up to Evolution in October, and might kick into top gear post-Summerslam in August. What I want to see, is probably the least likely, but my wish is that the WWE develop the relationship element and have the two as lovers. They could use writers from outside the business to help them write compelling storylines that don’t make a mockery of the LGBT community. They could even use help from the LGBT community itself, from both within and outside of the company to help them with their storyline choices.
It’s a bold step to take, but in this era of inclusiveness, the WWE would be remiss to pass on such an opportunity, with two such amazing and talented wrestlers.