Well, we’ve reached the end of the year. The end of the first year of this blog. The end of a year that felt progressive for me in some ways and stagnant in others. And strangely enough, the end of my first year watching wrestling.
Getting into wrestling was such a strange thing. I couldn’t even fully explain it to my friends and at some point, I stopped trying. It’s not worth it to try for people who at best don’t get it and at worst would start questioning my intelligence.
Still, it became this thing for me that I fell back on when things would get rough. Either to unwind when I was stressed out or to inspire me when things got rough.
So who was my favorite wrestler of this year? I mean, I have a few. The smarmy Seth Rollins, the beautiful cinnamon roll of a demon named Finn Bálor, the underdog Roman Reigns and his extra aggressive BFF Dean Ambrose, the Boss Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and her tendency towards PUN-ishment, and the extra fabulous Carmella are a few that come to mind, but if I had to give my top wrestler of the year, it was none of these for me.
It was Bayley.Bayley was one of the first figures from NXT that I saw before I even started watching along with Sami Zayn. She was also in the second ever NXT match I ever watched when she was tagging with Charlotte against Dana Brooke and Emma at Takeover Unstoppable. After that and the Women’s Championship match between Banks and Lynch, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Four Horsewomen. I love all of them, but Bayley sort of became my secret favorite of the four. I loved her affable and enthusiastic nature and her bright color scheme. Not to mention her bubbly entrance theme titled ‘Turn It Up.’
But then she was gone.
Okay, that’s kind of dramatic. She injured her hand and was out for nearly two months while she recovered. In the meantime, that’s when the other three of the Four Horsewomen got called up to the main roster. While this was an exciting thing, it still felt weird that Bayley wasn’t there. She has been at NXT for so long! Why not her?
Lucky for us, it all worked out for the better and this is what took Bayley to the very top for me.The angle that played out from August to October with Bayley became about tenacity and respect. Bayley, the one with the constant smile and enthusiasm and who was constantly looked down on, tore through her friends and rivals to get to what she wanted the most. Bayley earned their respect along the way, and eventually the respect of Sasha Banks, the one who could never seem to give it to her.
That match in Brooklyn was easily my match of the year. I seriously cannot watch anything about it without crying. The angle that followed immediately after it that lead into that historic Iron Woman match was not just my favorite angle all year, but probably some of my favorite TV too. I then proceeded to ugly cry my way through that match. Sasha and Bayley have such undeniable chemistry that I could watch them wrestle forever and I would not be mad.
It wasn’t just that though. It was seeing Bayley bounce back and become the top dog the way she did. In a year where I felt stuck and felt like no one was taking me seriously, it was seeing Bayley earn the respect while not sacrificing her core self that truly resonated with me. Sami Zayn talked about “doing it your way” when he won the NXT Championship, but Bayley drove that point home by showing that doing it your way and not changing who you are to satisfy someone else wasn’t a fluke.People talk about how Bayley is a role model for young girls, but she’s a role model for me too. I’m about a year younger than her, but I need to be reminded that my dreams matter too and that chasing what you want doesn’t have to mean denying parts of yourself.
If there was one thing I hated about the NXT house show I went to, it was that I didn’t get to meet her and tell her what she means to me. Probably for the best because no one wants to see a crying goth demon. Still, if 2016 will grant me any sort of luck, maybe that will be included. If Bayley can start the year as champ, perhaps I can end next year as one too.