It is no surprise that Bayley has a lot of first attached to her in illustrious pro-wrestling career and she is now preparing for another first – taking on one of the most standout performers in WWE in Bianca Belair for the RAW Women’s championship Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - in a Last Women Standing Match.
And it seems fitting for the first ever women’s Triple Crown Champion and Grand Slam winner in WWE history and the first women to defend a WWE title in Saudi Arabia (2020) that someone of Belair’s caliber gets to share the grand stage with 15-year veteran of the industry.
Ahead of her WWE Crown Jewel Championship match with Belair, News18 Sports caught up with Bayley to discuss this incredible feud with Belair, her long journey back from a lengthy injury layoff and a bit about NXT.
You were part of the first women’s championship match contested in Saudi Arabia, how does it feel to be going back Saudi Arabia after three years?
When I went there in Feb 2020, it was such a great experience. I didn’t really know what to expect and I knew I was a little bit nervous because it was new and it was such a big show and just like you said being a part of the first ever Women’s Championship defended over there it was, you know, I didn’t take that lightly it was a huge honor. So any chance that I get …. to go back and to feel the energy of those fans and to experience the just the whole culture and everything about it really was very special. I know that I can’t miss Crown Jewel, I was sad that I missed the past couple once so I’m very excited to be going back this time
It’s a stacked card and which is that one match you are looking to the most forward to and why?
I think I’m looking forward to Roman Reigns and Logan Paul because I’ve seen Logan Paul train at the performance center you know in the past, and he seems really willing to learn what he needs to do. And someone needs to knock Roman Reigns off you know, so it could be a big surprise, and I think he’s gonna surprise a lot of people.
You were away for over a year – before you made a return at SummerSlam. How difficult is to make a return after such lengthy layoff – you had all the momentum with you before the injury happened – and it’s basically starting from scratch?
Yeah, it was difficult; but it was really humbling and it was not as I expected - the injury process to be like. it was very humbling like I said, but I knew when I came back I wanted to come back a little bit different and that’s you know why I got Io (Sky) and Dakota (Kai) with me just to kind of evolve myself, evolve the division and show how much more I could give and not just give what I offer, but how much these women have to offer to the division into the whole company. So I think, it was a little weird at first, but I’m finally starting to find my place again and taking my spot at the top.
Tell me more about Damage Control – how did it come about, what was the talks backstage regarding putting you three together - Dakota of course re-signed with WWE – what was the basic idea behind it – did you have inputs in from a creative stand point?
Well, without giving away all my secrets it this is something that I looked forward to doing for a long time and I never knew if it was actually going to happen. But, I’ve been you know friends with Dakota for years before she got to WWE and Io is just, you know, she speaks for herself, her in-ring work speaks for herself and I knew these were two girls that I wanted to see succeed and the fact that Dakota was able to get re-signed by the company for this was just a dream come true.
I still can’t believe we’re all doing this together but, yeah it was definitely something I wanted to do and that they were very keen to be a part of and I kind of just had that don’t give up on this vision because I see there’s a lot to it
How does being in a faction work for you, does it help in character development?
I think they just bring out different sides of me and it’s different people for me to interact with. The only other person that I’ve been in a tag team with or held the Tag Team titles with was Sasha so just being able to interact with different characters different personalities and also watching them in the ring also teaches me and helps me learn different styles like Io is from Japan, obviously Dakota is from New Zealand and they bring a different style with them than what I have learned in the past and they’ve traveled all over, wrestled in Japan and Mexico and all that, so they just bring something more to the table and I just learn a lot from them.
You and Bianca Belair has been going on for long, even before the injury, and it seems fitting that you are chasing the title with Belair even now. Your thoughts on her? Similar to you she made heads turn at NXT and the transition to main roster has been so well received – some compelling story lines as well for her… your thoughts on her progression?
Yeah, you know she’s one of the people that I think had just such an easy adjustment and it’s not just because she’s athletic and can easily pick up things in the ring, but she really has dedicated herself to this and I think that’s really what it takes when you become a WWE Superstar because it’s one thing to be able to learn what we do in the ring and learn the moves and show up and go to the shows, but it’s another thing to do it consistently and at the level she’s been doing it for years now. To be in these main event matches the type of pressure that is on somebody especially at her level, I think she’s only been doing this for four years at most, but she’s constantly putting herself in that position and succeeding at it.
She wants to learn you know. she feels this, you could tell when you’re in the ring with somebody. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. you can tell when you’re in the ring with someone if they truly feel it if their emotions are there, if their energy is there or if they’re just putting on a show. When I’m in the ring with Bianca Belair I feel that and that’s what fuels me to make me want to get better and make me want to beat her every single time.
How difficult or easy is it for you to be in the ring with some like Belair - super athletic, from a performance point of view right up there – and you have had so many matches that’s pure storyline gold from a storytelling perspective – when a feud like this, a slow burner, goes on how do you manage to keep the audience engaged?
Personally, working with her I think it works really well because we’re such opposites she has such different beliefs than I do right now. And she’s a fan favorite; I am I’ve been there like everything she’s experiencing with the fans I’ve already been there, I’ve already been through that, I’ve been Champion, I’ve hugged the kids, I’ve done all the appearances, I’ve you know put on a smile on my face, I’ve done all that stuff so I’m just waiting for her to step on the other side and kind of realize like okay sometimes you gotta be a little selfish with this, but she is easy to tell stories with because I know her better than she thinks I do, and she’s just that nagging annoying little chip on my shoulder
I cannot but ask you about NXT – you were such an integral part in making the black and gold brand the big hit it became. A lot has changed though, but it is still brimming with incredible talent. Your thoughts on the women’s roster there – and any stand outs for you?
I love NXT. I think it grows every single show and I’ve spent a lot of time there with a lot of the talent and I have watched them train every single day when I was there for rehab. There’s so many talented people there and just a lot of them it’s just an experience you know and we weren’t in front of crowds for a long time because of the pandemic so just for them to get out there and be in front of people it’s just going to take repetition, but there’s so many dedicated wrestlers over there.
And for the women, I just see such good things there’s - Corey Jade and Roxanne Perez are like 20, 21 years old; Zoe Stark is like incredible and I’ve never seen anyone really move like her, and Indy Hartwell — she’s one of my favorite people there. She’s someone I see that really connects with the crowd and the fans and they love her, so I think whenever she gets to RAW or Smackdown, she’s really going to have such a great successful time and there’s lot of girls down there that I can see big things for.
Any message for the Indian Fans and on when we will get to see the WWE in India again?
I can’t personally wait for WWE to come back to India. I know it’s been a really long time and I always see their posts on social media, I always see their support and their tweets and all the things that we get tagged in on Instagram like that just so you know I do see that and I appreciate your guys’ support and I can’t wait to come perform for you one day.
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