Negative reaction from some WWE fans to Sasha Banks’s and Bayley’s frustrations points toward a larger issue with questionable motives.
WrestleMania season has come and gone as the focus now changes to what’s next. While many WWE fans are looking forward to what is next for Kofi Kingston, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch, there’s two women who lost at Mania that we should be concerned about. Sasha Banks and Bayley dropped the tag team titles to the IIconics in a move that was surprising.
Rumors have circulated that Banks and Bayley are both “frustrated” (via Fightful) about dropping the titles, and they are the newest names added to a list of disgruntled wrestlers on the WWE roster. While there has been support of their woes, the loud voices opposing them are unfortunate to hear.
Banks and Bayley are recognized as two of the top performers on the roster, regardless of gender. Their match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn back in 2015 is widely considered the best women’s match of all time and one of the better matches that year. They flourished in NXT, but their main roster run has been filled with misstep after misstep.
Even though both women have held the Raw women’s title, their combined reign of 158 days pales in comparison to those held by Charlotte, Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey. When they joined together as the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, it seemed like they were securely in the mix for the women’s tag team titles, which occurred back at Elimination Chamber in February. Their reign as champs ended at 49 days which opened the door to the recent reports of their unhappiness.
This is something that’s happening more and more often. Names such as The Revival, Dean Ambrose, Tye Dillinger and others have multiple headlines chronicling their desire to leave the WWE due to issues with their career trajectory. Often, these reports are met with support from fans, wanting to see their favorite wrestlers find greatness.
Yet, that same response hasn’t come to Banks and Bayley. As expected, there’s a contingent of voices that are looking to belittle both women during this tough time in their career. Bayley and Banks strive for excellence in the ring and we’ve seen them deliver many examples of such. But if one was to read the response on the social sphere or provided from the multitude of podcasters covering wrestling, you’d think this was an unknown wrestler demanding something that was unearned.
The question that needs to be answered is “why are they receiving such a response?” Is it because they are women? Is it because they are minority women? The WWE has long struggled with its elevation of both women and ethnically minority performers. Even though we are still flying high from #KofiMania, there is still a lot of work to be done. Look back at how WWE Evolution was promoted in 2018. The majority of the main marketing featured white women front and center. Recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Torrie Wilson was promoted as the “All-American girl.” But what about the women on the roster that don’t fit that cookie cutter mold?
If we want to blatantly answer the question above, it is because these are two women of color voicing their discontent with their career direction that has brought out the anger of fans and some of their peers.
We’ve seen it time and time again, whenever a woman of color in wrestling pushes for change, they are called “spoiled,” “entitled,” “brats” or any other derivative of the word. Both Nia Jax and Naomi went through this recently. What’s even more intriguing is that these women are usually among the first to take a stance that uplifts all their peers on the roster, regardless of race or creed, but rarely do we see that from those that are frequently pushed to the top.
Even some other wrestlers are taking shots at Banks and/or Bayley for wanting out of this situation. Take Rusev, another misused talent, taking to Twitter for this post:
Botch Master is unhappy! Be gone
— All Might Big Rüs (@RusevBUL) April 12, 2019
Bayley and Banks have the right to be concerned about their career. The two women are frequently called on to carry major matches like the 2018 women’s elimination chamber, the women’s rumble and more. But after a tag team title reign that was cut short at only 49 days, Bayley is already jobbing out to Bliss on the next Raw, with rumors swirling that the same was poised to happen to Banks. To go from reaching history to meaningless matches would frustrate anyone in this business.
We can all agree that WWE has a problem with using their roster to the fullest potential. Whether that performer is Ambrose, The Revival, Asuka, Banks or Bayley – the responses to each should be measured and the same. To denigrate one while cheering another raising other questions that point to reprehensible social ills. And that is a conversation that professional wrestling will have to takedown at one point or another. But right now, we can all agree that Sasha Banks and Bayley deserve better.