After a slight scheduling delay, Jonathan Coachman’s weekly ESPN SportsCenter segment on WWE aired last night (Thurs., Sept. 22). Along with a Hispanic Heritage Month tribute to Eddie Guerrero and the usual highlights from Raw and SmackDown Live, his guest was former NXT Women’s champion Bayley.
The Hugster acquitted herself quite well. She hit on the standard “Women’s Evolution” talking points, and hearing her discuss her childhood fandom again will probably cause a few cynics to roll their eyes.
It’s when Coach asks her what she sees as her role in wrestling that she demonstrated an understanding of how her story can not only break barriers, but drive business:
I want people to buy tickets to see the women’s matches.
And, in an answer both her McMahon bosses probably love, she emphasizes the “putting smiles on people’s faces” part of the company mission statement as a way to sell shows:
I remember being on the other side of the guardrail, I remember how cool it is to just think that you see your favorite Superstar look at you, or think that they see you sign - and maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but just the feeling that you get - that you’re in the same building with some of your favorite Superstars and being able to touch their hand. Just any little intimate interaction is the best thing and that’s what I try to do when I walk out. If I could touch everyone’s hands, I would. If I could give everyone hugs, I would. But there’s only so much I can do and I try to give out my headbands just like Rey Mysterio would give out his mask, or like Bret Hart would give out his glasses, because I know how much that means to everybody, and I want someone to walk away with a memory every single night.
Bayley is a gifted in-ring performer, but it’s understanding how her story and very presence creates connections with the audience which will probably serve her best as the WWE’s women’s movement marches on.
She also spoke about watching the other three-quarters of the Four Horsewomen debut on Raw a year before she’d get the call, and her special - and immediate, going back to their first practice matches - chemistry with Sasha Banks:
They close it out by plugging her first main roster Women’s title shot this Sunday at Clash of Champions.
Anybody buying a ticket (in Indianapolis or on WWE Network) to see Bayles?