It finally happened.
Bayley made her long-awaited main roster debut during this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Similar to Finn Bálor, the former NXT Women’s Champion’s delayed call-up resulted in an immediate push and instant credibility.
Raw general manager Mick Foley introduced Bayley as the “hottest free agent” of the New Era. He brought her out as the answer to WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte’s claim that there was “no one” worthy of challenging her.
Bayley’s debut felt like a huge deal and was arguably the highlight of the night. The biggest question is whether she can live up to the lofty expectations set by her NXT run.
The Huggster’s star power seemed to transfer over to the main roster during her first night. The Brooklyn crowd was anticipating her debut and responded with a huge reaction. That’s great, for now, but what’s going to happen long-term? Will WWE continue to treat the über babyface like a big deal, or grow tired of her act midway through her push?
Perhaps it’s not even the company that Bayley needs to worry about, rather the rabid fans of the IWC. I know what you’re thinking: “The IWC loves Bayley. Didn’t you hear that pop? No way they’ll grow tired of her.”
But let’s be honest, the IWC is the most fickle fan base in the world. If you’ve checked out Wreddit — the SquaredCircle thread on Reddit.com, arguably the most popular discussion board for pro wrestling — you’re aware of its somewhat hive-mind mentality.
In most cases, the IWC darlings are praised as you’d expect. Guys like Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are rightfully placed in high regard. Even the female superstars such as Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss and, of course, Bayley are admired by the majority of posters.
But that affection doesn’t always last. For instance, a large population Wredditors spent months asking for a Dean Ambrose push. But after just two months of Ambrose as WWE Champion, Monday’s top thread was “Ambrose is a boring wrestler” for several hours.
The female wrestlers aren’t an exception. During their NXT runs, both Sasha Banks and Paige were the internet’s darlings. Now, there is a growing population of smarks calling both “overrated” or “underwhelming” since being promoted.
It’s fair for people to change their opinions and trust me, this isn’t a complete shot at Wreddit. The website is very entertaining to read through when you’re bored on the Internet. Also, it may not be completely fair to assume someone with a suddenly different opinion and several others speak for an entire fan base.
But it shows that many internet wrestling fans are fickle with their so-called favorite superstars and will turn on them when they’re booking changes. Is it so hard to believe that if in two months Bayley is the strongest booked female competitor or her character goes through a slight change there will be a “DAE think Bayley is overrated” post?
Hopefully that won’t be the case. It would be nice to see Bayley remain over with the majority of the WWE audience. She has the potential to be one of the most popular female competitors in professional wrestling history given her appeal to both adults and children.
Bayley is entering an ideal situation with Raw lacking a top female star after Banks’ injury. Perhaps Charlotte’s victory Sunday took place to provide a transitional champion and build to another Bayley-Banks feud once the Boss returns.
Or, Bayley can chase the title for the next few months and build an appeal as the lovable underdog character she was early in her NXT run. WWE creative will need to decide which angle helps her character stay appealing to the audience. Hopefully it makes the right decision and the former NXT Women’s Champion stays over with the audience, including the fickle smark fans.