At one point, it seemed as if Bayley’s sole purpose for having the RAW Women’s Championship was to facilitate a heel turn for Sasha Banks when she eventually took the title away. However, things took a detour when Nia Jax was added to the championship match at WrestleMania. WWE moved even further beyond this with Alexa Bliss being the one to dethrone Bayley.
Even though the possibilities of this storyline are dead in the water, I was so intrigued by it that I traveled back in time to rebook a few key moments in RAW’s Women’s division. In this column, I explore the alternate timeline of Sasha Banks and the Slow Burn Heel Turn
The stipulation of the Roadblock: End of the Line(!) match between Charlotte and Sasha Banks was that the loser would effectively be barred from the title picture for as long as the winner had the championship. Sasha, knowing this, used Bayley as her ticket back into the spotlight.
Let’s recall Sasha interfering to help Bayley win the Women’s Championship on RAW. Sure, it’s easy to see that Sasha was evening the odds against Charlotte and Dana Brooke. What’s harder to explain, however, was Sasha Banks’ interference on Bayley’s behalf during her Fastlane title defense. Dana wasn’t even at ringside and Sasha still interfered, seemingly for no reason, to help Bayley retain the title. This was more than simply a face helping out a friend; it wasn’t Sasha’s friendship with Bayley that compelled her to interfere
Helping Bayley become, and stay, champion accomplished two things for Sasha Banks: it kept the title away from her mortal enemy, Charlotte, and put the title onto someone that Sasha could easily manipulate.
Remember the segment when Stephanie tried to get Bayley to relinquish the title because she didn’t win it fairly? I was initially pissed off because it was so uncharacteristic of Bayley to say “Hell no!” and be defiant. She’s usually a morally virtuous person, so I was taken aback by her not doing the “right” thing. When I rewatched the segment, I noticed how Bayley looked as if she was about to hand over the title to Stephanie
Bayley wasn’t behaving uncharacteristically at all; she was appealing to utilitarianism (the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority). Her line of thinking was “I may not have won the title under the best circumstances, but I can really be an inspiration to people all over the world as champion! I’m going to make the best of this!”
Charlotte reveals that Bayley is being manipulated by Sasha, but Bayley doesn’t believe it because she has a good heart and doesn’t want to think the worst of her friend; she’s gullible (right in line with the child-like character we know Bayley to be) and believes that while Sasha may be misguided in her actions, she’s pure in her intent. Charlotte hates Sasha for being responsible for kicking the Queen off her throne, Charlotte hates Bayley for being a fool, Bayley hates Charlotte for trying to sow seeds of discord in her friendship with Sasha and for just being an all-around terrible person, and Sasha hates them both for simply existing.
With this, we move into a triple threat match for the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania (because Nia has no place in this story) and Sasha Banks wins the championship from Bayley. She turns heel and reveals that she was pulling the strings behind-the-scenes all along. I for one thought the moment of Bayley winning the RAW Women’s Championship felt weird and rushed (you’d think that a big babyface’s first title win would be built up as a much bigger moment than this one turned out to be). We introduce that as part of the onscreen storyline with Sasha talking about how Bayley was never an “authentic” champion, she was just a caretaker until the title found its way back to its rightful owner.
Bayley has dreamed about being a champion in WWE since she was a child. To Sasha, having Bayley be the RAW Women’s Champion was nothing more than an extended version of letting fans take pictures with your title at a meet & greet. Sasha Banks, rather than denying Bayley her dream, lets Bayley live it out but then actively turns that dream into a nightmare. She talks about how Bayley’s title reign was tainted and it will be etched in history as such. Bayley has not only lost her best friend and her title, but all of the memories of both of those things are corrupted. She ultimately realizes that not relinquishing the championship was a mistake that was maybe rooted in selfishness; this would be like her “Spider-Man moment” when he realizes if he hadn’t let the criminal get away, Uncle Ben would still be alive (both Peter Parker and Bayley committed critical flaws that forever altered the course of their lives).
While her first championship win was used as a plot device, this story would’ve provided character development and perspective on Bayley’s actions (and Sasha’s as well) and set up an even bigger moment of triumph and redemption for the future: Bayley doesn’t need to just win the Women’s Championship now, she needs to defeat Sasha Banks to do it.
It would’ve been a continuation of their already epic saga from NXT by adding new layers and an interesting twist that amounted to a great story.