Bayley and Sasha Banks have defined WWE programming so far in the summer of 2020.
As the world deals with the coronavirus, pro wrestling remains disjointed with empty arena shows desperately seeking a crowd. But there are moments, though fleeting, when the shows are naturally compelling. For WWE, those flashes of brilliance most often take place when Bayley and Banks appear on screen.
Bayley is SmackDown champ and Banks just won the Raw title this past Monday, and they are WWE’s reigning Women’s Tag Team Champions. While not everyone is thrilled that all the titles are in the possession of just two talents, there is no denying that Bayley and Banks have added a jolt of electricity to WWE this summer.
“Everybody keeps saying, ‘It looks like you’re having so much fun,’ and it’s so awesome that people can tell,” said Bayley. “This is the most fun I’ve had on TV, and that’s because I love being around Sasha. We get along so freakin’ well, it’s been awesome.”
Watching Bayley and Banks star over the past two months on Raw, SmackDown, and NXT, with the shows largely built around them, it is easy to forget their long roads to success in WWE. On multiple occasions, it appeared there were no long-term storylines for Bayley, and Banks’ short title reigns were easily interpreted as a lack of faith in her as champion. Yet this run, packed with significant television time, has allowed the two to seize control of top spots in the company.
“It took a long time for us to get here,” said Bayley. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of being held back, a lot of doing a lot for nothing. One of the things we heard a lot was, ‘We can always count on you.’ We believed they could count on us to run the whole company. It took a lot of proving, but that’s what we’re doing now.
“We are very vocal about what we believe is right and what we want to do to help the company and help the division. It’s finally being able to shine through, and it’s very rewarding.”
Bayley defends her title on this week’s SmackDown against Nikki Cross. While they are locked into a feud with each other, there is also a lot of behind-the-scenes history between the two.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but there was a point where a lot of the coaches at the Performance Center were asking me who should come in for a tryout since we wanted to grow our roster,” said Bayley, who is in her eighth year with WWE. “Sasha, Charlotte, and Becky had just gone to Raw or SmackDown, and Nikki was one of them.
“She’s been around everywhere, and since I met her at Shimmer Wrestling, she has this certain passion. She knows who she is and she’s not afraid to show who she is to the world.”
In addition to highlighting different talent in singles matches, such as Cross, Bayley has also tagged with Banks. One of the most entertaining matches of the summer took place when Bayley and Banks wrestled NXT’s Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart last month, an experience that left Bayley eager for more time in the ring against two of wrestling’s rising stars.
“I see a lot of myself and Sasha in Tegan and Shotzi because they’re just so hungry,” said Bayley. “Tegan has overcome so much with her injuries. The first thing I heard about her was from Candice LeRae, and I think Candice is amazing and I really value her opinion. Candice told me that, out of all the people she’d ever wrestled, Tegan was her favorite. So I trusted right away that Tegan was really good, and she is amazing.
“I know Shotzi from my home in the Bay area. She has a soft spot in my heart because she’s from there, and they’re both awesome. They hadn’t teamed much together before they wrestled us, and they had all their stuff down together. I would love to have a match with either of them.”
Bayley’s in-ring confidence is genuine, and a lot of that stems from working directly with Banks.
“Sasha is the best in the world, without a doubt,” said Bayley. “It’s very different working in the PC, but she is so innovative and unique.”
Despite working without crowds during in a stretch where Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are both off WWE programming, Bayley and Banks have continued to find a way to thrive.
“Good luck to both Becky and Charlotte,” said Bayley. “I’m excited for Becky’s new little family and I hope Charlotte is resting up and healing, but we’ve got this under control.”