It was a WWE storyline straight out of real life – Bayley winning the RAW Women’s Championship was indeed the realization of a childhood dream. But what can we expect from Bayley at WrestleMania 33, and what’s next for her after WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year is over? New reports point to what could be a title defense at the Payback pay-per-view in April, which will be taking place in her hometown of San Jose, California. But that also brings to fore one of WWE’s notable booking quirks, one that may suggest another short-term women’s championship reign in the post-brand split era.
A new report from WrestlingNews.co suggests that the plan for Bayley at WrestleMania 33 may still be a RAW Women’s Championship victory in a match that may also include Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Nia Jax. Based on what Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter wrote weeks back, this may mean Bayley will drop her title to Charlotte at next month’s Fastlane pay-per-view, and regain it in the above-mentioned four-way match at ‘Mania. This scenario would allow Flair to retain her pay-per-view winning streak in singles matches for another month, thus making Bayley’s feat at WrestleMania appear more meaningful.
As for what happens after WrestleMania 33, the report suggests that Bayley will be defending her title at Payback, which is scheduled on April 30 at the SAP Center in San Jose. WrestlingNews.co didn’t mention any potential opponents, but WrestleZone reported earlier this month that Sasha Banks is rumored to be turning heel at Fastlane, which could set up a Sasha vs. Bayley feud after WrestleMania.
As Bayley’s post-WrestleMania 33 booking plans suggest that she will be defending her RAW Women’s Championship at home, one who hasn’t been avidly following WWE’s product recently may assume the company will want to make her look good in front of the San Jose audience at Payback. However, WWE has had a tendency in recent years of booking hometown wrestlers to lose, with one of the most notable examples as of late being Sasha Banks’ RAW Women’s title loss to Charlotte Flair at Hell in a Cell 2016, which was held at the TD Garden, in Banks’ hometown of Boston.
Speaking to Wrestling Inc. in 2016, former WWE Creative team member Matt McCarthy talked about his former boss Vince McMahon and what appears to be a penchant for making wrestlers lose or be humiliated when WWE would have shows in their hometown.
“There was always an awareness of, ‘Well, what town are we in, oh so-and-so is from here, Vince is probably going to want him to lose,'” McCarthy explained. “I never, ever got an explanation for why that was. Even a general booking philosophy of why you’d do that.”
McCarthy added that he believes WWE likes making wrestlers “do the job” in their hometown because it diverts from the time-tested formula of hometown heroes doing good by their fans.
“I don’t know. I know Vince can get hung up on not wanting to just do the same old thing. That’s kind of a problem when you’re in your 70s and you’ve been doing this job your entire life and you’ve seen it all and done it all.”
At this point in the new brand split era, the RAW Women’s Championship has changed hands seven times in just as many months. If Charlotte beats Bayley at Fastlane, that’s going to be an eighth title change, and if Bayley wins it back at WrestleMania 33, that will make for a ninth. Will there be a tenth post-brand split title change at Payback? We can’t say for sure yet, but if WWE’s tendency to make hometown heroes lose continues, that might be the case, and the virtual game of “hot potato” with the RAW Women’s title may continue in the months to come.
[Featured Image by WWE]