Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Guest Article: The Women of WWE - Part 4 (Lily Lestrange)

Remember that time when I said that I was done with my "Women Of..." series on this guest blog? I LIED.

In all truth, this blog was meant to be something completely different but with time constraints (i.e. me gallivanting about for NXT, doing Christmas stuff and just general arsing around) I didn't get round to doing it. Card subject to change 'n' that. SO, since I had the pleasure of watching the NXT women at both the Glasgow and London shows, I thought I'd do a general wee thing about them and how bloody good they are.

Let's face it; from looking at past events, NXT are absolutely spanking the main roster at everything. Storyline, character development, the wrestlers and the matches they put on... it's just brilliant. Every minute detail of the show is cleverly thought out and the delivery of the product just blows everything else about the WWE out of the water. There's no fannying about with 20 minute promos at the start of every show, no ridiculous storylines and an hour of the show isn't made up of ridiculous adverts. Everything about NXT just works.

Something that ring announcer Greg Hamilton said at the Takeover show last week before they started recording really got me. It was the tiniest, most daft little thing but it got me buzzing more than anything that's happened on Raw in the past 6 months. When I write this you'll be thinking "what the fuck is all the fuss about ya daft cow?" but bear with me. He said, "the Superstars and women of NXT are backstage and they can't wait to come out and show you guys a good time", or something along those lines. See that though? The WOMEN of NXT. Not Divas. Women. They don't want to produce what the main roster are... they don't want Divas. They want a new breed of female wrestler and they're doing a brilliant job at it, and they're making sure that we know that they're different. That's my take on it anyway, but it got me giddy.

Of course, it doesn't matter what you call them. NXT Women, WWE Divas, it's all irrelevant. They could be called the Lassies of NXT, the Pink Glittery Mammary Glands of WWE... IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THEY'RE CALLED. What matters is that the storylines they're put into and their delivery of it; their performance. Their heart, their soul, their rock 'n' roll. Their passion. Their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. Their... ach, I digress. The point is, recently called up wrestlers aside, the NXT women have been outperforming the main roster ladies for a good long time.

One of them in particular has stood out, more so than ever over the past year. The world's best and most enthusiastic hugger, the woman who has more hairbands than actual strands of hair (and that's a lot of lovely, silky hair)... The darling of NXT and our current NXT Women's Champion, Bayley.

Bayley's come a long way from her humble beginnings in NXT in 2012; her development as a character has been outstanding to watch, a true underdog who fought tooth and nail to get to the top. She started out as a fangirl who doted on the other wrestlers then from there she constantly relied on the friendships she formed with other bigger, stronger, more confident people to get by. She started by aligning with Alicia Fox and Aksana, then after Charlotte started picking on her she moved on from person to person in an attempt to get away from her and that's basically been the story between them ever since. Their feud has been crucial to both of their careers and it never got boring; it allowed Bayley to move on from being the little girl she was at the start to being the woman and Women's Champion that she is today and it gave Charlotte's character a lot more depth. At first glance it just seemed like Charlotte was a bully, merely picking on Bayley because she was young and fearful and well, because she could. Charlotte was the Regina George of NXT and Bayley was a dweeb who ate her lunch in toilet cubicles and wore socks with sandals.

As the feud moved along, it became more apparent that Charlotte wanted Bayley to become better, more confident and less scared. She pushed her and kept pushing her until Bayley eventually started biting back. She saw something in Bayley, a great contender in the battle for the title... and in the end she was right. Bayley went from hardship to hardship, with her injured knee and her friends constantly picking on her and eventually turning on her, and in the end it was all worth it when she defeated Sasha Banks to win the title. Not only that, but she beat everyone who had ever given her any grief for not being "good enough" in the process. And she's been continuously getting better ever since; unlike most champions who usually plateau after a certain amount of time, Bayley has done nothing but improve. She and Sasha Banks were the first women to ever compete in an Iron Man match, not only in NXT history but in WWE history.

The best thing about it though, is that Bayley has stayed true to who she was all along: a positive, cuddle-daft, wacky-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-man-loving cutie pie with a heart of gold. Not once has she sacrificed her goodness to get to the top, and that's why everyone loves her above everything else.

What is currently lacking though, is a serious contender for her title. We've seen her defend against Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie and Nia Jaxx so far... but nothing has been good enough to stick. Her last title defence was against Nia Jaxx at Takeover in London and despite Bayley doing well in it, I doubt it's a feud that will last much longer. I've no doubt that she'll have that belt for a good while yet but at the same time, we want to see a decent feud come out of it too. The two people I had in mind were Emma or Asuka but they're both currently kicking lumps out of each other so who knows what's next for the champion. It would’ve been nice to see her feud against her old pal Becky Lynch but she’s been banished to the confines of the main roster.

All I know is that 2015 has been an outstanding year for wrestling, especially for NXT. They've grown from being developmental, the "feeder school" for WWE, to their own strong brand who are about to conquer the globe. I can't wait to see what happens next for them.

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