In 2018, WWE set-up a feud for Bayley and Sasha Banks... then sent them to counseling instead of booking them in a match.
In 2019, the pair took the tag team ball and ran with it. Instead of a cross-brand reign, they got jobbed out to an act the company often forgot to put on television.
So if in 2020, with both wrestlers playing heel characters, and Banks possibly being on a limited schedule due to injuries, you’re reluctant to get your hopes for the main roster equivalent of one of the programs that put NXT on the map... I don’t blame you.
But a big seed was planted last night (Mar. 20) on SmackDown. And it was done in such a way that these women may finally be about to get the chance to work their magic on one of WWE’s biggest stages. No, that stage won’t be WrestleMania. But the one they could land on would be even more appropriate. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Paige isn’t a General Manager any more, but she still got to announce the six-way for the blue brand’s Women’s title. Bayley will defend her belt against a weird assortment of talent. No offense to Dana Brooke, Tamina, Lacey Evans or Naomi. I wouldn’t even be shocked if one of those last two names leave Orlando with the belt after April 4 - 5.
But (Team B.A.D. reunion aside) they’re not the story, because the story is that Paige named Bay’s bestie Sasha as the final challenger.
And The Boss didn’t totally hate it, at least in the moment...
...gulp. pic.twitter.com/w4mJ8KKeo7— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) March 21, 2020
Since then, WWE, Bayley, and Sasha have been working overtime online to downplay any issues between the The Boss ‘N’ Role Model Connection.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO #SmackDownOnFox pic.twitter.com/0RKfTYJzva— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) March 21, 2020
I’m NOT!!! That was a nervous smile— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) March 21, 2020
Will everyone just stop complaining?!??? Everything is fine!!!! I’m fine!!!! Sasha is fine!!!!! Just shhhhhhhhhhhh— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) March 21, 2020
Don't worry.#SmackDown #WomensChampion @itsBayleyWWE & @SashaBanksWWE are tighter than ever heading into #WrestleMania! pic.twitter.com/3wcTxSns8a— WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2020
Banks is even playing up her “I don’t want to wrestle, Vince McMahon pays me to lounge and be fabulous” schtick in the Fallout video:
All of which is EXACTLY WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING IF THEY’RE SETTING UP A LONG-TERM STORYLINE.
At WrestleMania 36, the pair mostly stay on the same page... but with at least a couple of moments where Sasha’s desire to be a champion again overpowers her love of Bayley. More signs of tension pop up between them over the coming weeks, leading to The Boss getting into the Money in the Bank ladder match against her friend’s wishes. She wins, and announces she’s going to cash-in... at SummerSlam in her hometown of Boston.
You may be saying, “Sean, a heel wouldn’t announce her cash-in in advance like that!” And you’re right. But since I’m fantasy booking already here, my preference would be to turn Banks face for this program.
Unlike my main man Geno, I actually think Bayley is working much better as a rudo than she ever did on the main roster as a do-gooder. She’s smart enough to work a match either way, but her promos seem much smoother since she broke bad. Even if she stumbles or the material gets cringey, that works because we’re not supposed to like her. Insecurity has always been the Hugster’s defining trait, and that works just fine for a villain.
Sasha shouldn’t be a “say your prayers and eat your vitamins” character all of a sudden, but she connects to audiences because she believes herself to be the best. That can be played as arrogance or confidence, and the latter gets cheers. Think Kazuchika Okada, or Velveteen Dream.
A badass Boss looking to re-establish herself as one of the best in the world versus an increasingly paranoid champion trying to cling to the run that finally validated her? Yes, please.
‘Mania would have been great for that, of course. But SummerSlam works really well, and not just because it’s in Boston (another reason to make Sasha the hero of the story - she’ll get cheered regardless). The match that changed their careers, and the business, happened on the eve of The Biggest Party Of The Summer back in 2015.
There’s a poetic symmetry to doing it again, with the roles reversed, five years after TakeOver: Brooklyn.
I know I said I wouldn’t blame you for not getting your hopes up. But it’s too late for me.
I think they may finally be doing Sasha & Bayley right.