If you think back to the era of NXT which gave rise to the brand’s Four Horsewomen and kicked what would eventually become WWE’s Women’s Evolution into high gear, you’ll remember the young Bayley superfan who sat ringside with her family at Full Sail Live. Izzy was part of a seminal moment in the Hugster’s feud with Sasha Banks, when The Boss made the little girl cry by yelling at her and stealing her headband during TakeOver: Respect.
Almost three years have passed since Izzy’s 15 minutes of fame on WWE Network. Depending on how you look at it, she and her parents have either capitalized on the moment to help make their daughter’s dream come true, or exploited it for some other purpose.
Either way, Izzy’s been training to become a wrestler in Florida for a little while now. And this weekend, she paid off a Twitter feud she’d been having with indie wrestler Effy Gibbes in the ring with the Punk Pro Wrestling Internet Championship on the line:
And she won!
Storybook moment, right?
As is the case with most almost everything in the world today, reaction is passionately split.
On one side are fans saying, “Good for her!” She seems to be a genuine fan who wants to be participating as part of a wrestling show, not much different from a child actor or youth sports competitor. Assuming she’s working with pros and is properly protected while performing, she should be safe. It’s not like fans haven’t happily shared stories of people like Paige starting training at a very young age, or videos of Maxel Hardy running the ropes with his old man.
On the other, we never really know how much say an 11 or 12 year old has in these things. Maybe she just doesn’t want to let the folks down?
And that’s without even getting into the optics of a grown man chokeslamming a child, which runs counter to years of “Don’t try this at home” public service announcements from WWE. Or the inevitable backlash from industry veterans who will be angry because putting over a kid is “exposing the business”.
Throw in the fact Izzy initially* trained at a school run by Chasyn Rance, the registered sex offender at the center of Kenny Omega’s CEO x NJPW controversy from earlier this year...
The debate will rage on. It even has folks in WWE’s employ on different sides of the argument:
All the while, Izzy will be taking bumps. And for now at least, holding a title.
* While there’s some debate over whether Izzy’s parents knew about Rance’s history prior to her attending a lesson with him, both sides agree he is no longer training her. She’s now working with Orlando’s Pro Wrestling 2.0 school.