WWE SmackDown: What went wrong with Bayley’s heel turn?

WWE, Sasha Banks, Bayley Credit: WWE.com
WWE, Sasha Banks, Bayley Credit: WWE.com /

This past Tuesday on SmackDown Live, WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley opened the show fresh off a monumental heel turn the previous night on Monday Night Raw, attacking Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch with a steel chair to close the show.

When she opened WWE SmackDown, it was the perfect time for Bayley to cement the heel turn and move her act into a new era. Excitement was high.

Unusually, it didn’t take long to notice Bayley’s usual, bouncy, child-friendly music was still ever-present.  Her intentionally childlike side ponytail to further endear her to the kids was still there. Her big, wide smile was still there, as was her usual routine poses on the entrance ramp. Hell, even the Bayley Buddies, those massive dancing inflatable tubes that you usually see being vaguely annoying at car dealerships, were still there.

Nothing about this entrance screamed “I was a jerk last night.”  It was peculiar, but not unheard of; plenty of heel turns go down after the audience are tricked into thinking everything is fine again, right before the performer tears them a new one.

Then, Bayley started to talk.

Bayley said that she attacked Becky Lynch because of her own friendship with the recently returned Sasha Banks, which seemed fair enough; Sasha Banks has returned in full blown heel mode, something almost approaching vintage ‘Boss’ that saw her so beloved and despised in NXT.

But then … It all went a bit downhill.

Bayley spoke about how she attacked Lynch so that she could “be the best SmackDown Women’s Champion that [she] can be”.  She repeatedly, incessantly referred to the crowd as “you guys” like she was still talking to a group of her best friends.

Eventually, after Bayley carried on meandering for a minute or two, Charlotte Flair came to the ring, and immediately cut a heel promo, complete with the usual level of arrogance that The Queen’s heel character brings to the table. She cut this promo directly at Bayley, saying that she “better hug that title tightly, because at Clash of Champions…” etc, you can fill in the rest. It was pretty standard fare.

This gave Bayley’s BFF Sasha Banks an excuse to come to the ring, obliterate Charlotte with a steel chair, then take it turns with Bayley to continue attacking The Queen with the chair, passing it between them like a toy.

The entire segment was disappointing, at least looking at Bayley. Even though she ended it by walloping someone with a steel chair, this wasn’t particularly believable as a heel act; Charlotte Flair is both a heel herself and had been threatening Bayley not two minutes beforehand. The entire preceding promo was cut in the exact same way as every babyface promo that ‘The Hugger’ has cut in the past lord only knows how long.

It’s in that last sentence of that previous paragraph lies the problem; this entire promo segment was ‘The Hugger’ Bayley. I noted to myself while watching the show that it seemed as if a particularly vocal pro-Bayley live crowd had hijacked what was about to be a fairly generic “I did it because none of you believe in me” heel turn explanation. It wouldn’t have been ideal (it’d have been very similar to when they tried the exact same thing with Becky Lynch, literally while the crowd were chanting her name), but it would have been something, which was better than what we ended up getting.

If WWE are going to turn Bayley heel, then they need to do it properly and drastically, because after spending so long as a sugar-sweet babyface loved especially by the younger portion of their fanbase, it’s going to take more than hitting people with a steel chair and acting as if nothing happened to do the trick.

There are instances where heel turns can work well with the newly minted Baddie genuinely believing they’ve done nothing wrong, sure thing, but that isn’t going to cut it here. A Bayley heel turn is something that WWE either have to go all in on, or not bother doing at all.

A perfect example of how to do it has happened recently and in WWE as well. Look at Io Shirai on NXT; her turn to the dark side came complete with new jet black ring gear, new moody entrance music, a complete and startling change in demeanour in Io, a changed up repertoire of in-ring moves to better suit someone nasty, the whole nine yards. It’s been absolutely great and Io Shirai is loads, loads better for it.

Bayley needs something similar; ‘The Hugger’ needs to be put away until the inevitable babyface turn back in about nine months, and a whole new character needs to emerge.

There’s still time for Bayley’s heel turn to be fixed. If she comes to the ring in new moody ring gear, great. If she adapts her moveset to suit, then even better. But at the very least, to cement this turn away from good, she needs to stop playing best friends with the crowd, stop smiling constantly like she’s Finn Balor after a gorilla position meeting with Vince McMahon, and get rid of the damn Bayley Buddies.

dark. Next. WWE: Bayley needs to go full throttle on potential heel turn

It simply did not work on SmackDown Live, and the entire angle is at risk until something changes.