The rivalry between Sasha Banks and Bayley will be the biggest story in wrestling. How should Sasha respond in her first promo after being betrayed?
Bayley didn’t just turn on Sasha Banks on the Sept. 4 episode of WWE SmackDown after the two women lost their second Women’s Tag Title match to Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
No, Bayley destroyed Banks. She used the steel steps to tear Sasha’s knees apart. She used a steel chair to Pillmanize Sasha’s neck. But most of all, she stabbed Sasha in the back emotionally, straight through the heart.
We got our response from Bayley one week later. The Golden Role Model was as remorseless and eloquent as you’d expect. She came prepared.
First, Bayley said that, of course, she enjoyed everything she did to Sasha Banks last week. The steel steps, the steel chair, the trash talk, the pain and punishment inflicted. It all felt good to her.
Bayley told Sasha Banks that she was using her
But she went a step further. Bayley added this,
"“When you saw me at the top of my game, you needed to be Two Belts Banks, didn’t you? You pretended to be my best friend, but all along you were using me. And you know how I know that? Because I was using you!”"
Because I was using you. Let that sink in.
The whole time, according to Bayley, she had no feelings for Sasha. She was just stringing Sasha along, using her to further her own means as the dominant SmackDown Women’s Champion, out of fear that Sasha was using her in a long game to win the title.
Bayley said that she knew Sasha had always been eyeing her title. She knew Sasha wanted the SmackDown Women’s Championship, which is the only title The Boss has never won in her WWE career. We all saw that, too, especially in the build to WrestleMania 36.
Bayley undermined Sasha frequently despite being her tag partner. There were so many times where she spoke over Sasha this summer or threw her in random matches, such as against Tamina, whenever another member of the SmackDown roster wanted to step up as a contender. Later, Sasha would do this tactic, too, but the games all started with Bayley.
Bayley’s heel promo had a kernel of truth
Still, Bayley, despite hiding the entire truth and failing to admit that she did have feelings for Sasha on this run, had a valid point. Sasha was going for the title, and their story has always been about this endless battle of two of the best wrestlers in the world trying to prove that one is better than the other. They will forever be locked in this way as contemporaries, as equals, as legends. How could she be sure that Sasha wasn’t planning on using her?
Heels in wrestling are no different from villains in any other medium. They take one point that is valid and have motivations you can understand, but the way they go about their business is contemptible and cruel. Seth Rollins wants to help up-and-coming stars on Raw, but he does so by inflicting massive punishment on those who stand in his way. Randy Orton wants to stop legends of the past from wrestling and injuring themselves, such as Edge, but he hypocritically does this by injuring them himself.
Bayley’s heel character is more developed, more nuanced, and just better than those two right now. Because everything she said about Sasha that night on SmackDown, you can feel it. You can believe it, even if you know, in your heart, what she’s saying is more than just an egocentric exaggeration. It is, as a matter of principle, wrong.
So how does Sasha Banks mount her defense? She will either appear in the arena or “via satellite” on the Sept. 18 episode of SmackDown, ready to respond to what Bayley told the fans in her Eddie Guerrero-inspired promo on a chair in the middle of the ring.
Sasha Banks is going to be the biggest babyface in WWE
Since Bayley has been WWE’s best heel over the past year and has dominated the division, Sasha will be the opposite. She needs to be the ultimate babyface as the one who finally defeats Bayley, humbling the longest-reigning champion in the Blue Brand’s history.
Sasha already put herself on the map as a massive babyface with both her in-ring performance in the tag match before the turn and the way in which she was brutally beaten by Bayley. Her selling is probably better than anyone else in the world, and that’s going to continue to be important as this rivalry develops this Fall.
So Banks needs to tell the truth. That, yes, she was eyeing the SmackDown Women’s Title. Who wouldn’t? She wants to be the best, and she thought that as a supportive friend, Bayley would understand that. Remember in 2018 when Bayley and Banks were close to having a feud, Sasha ended the issues between them by professing that she has always loved Bayley.
They might fight from time to time, but Sasha has always loved Bayley. She can reiterate that point, because it’s true and it’s true that Bayley reciprocated those feelings. At no point was it her goal to use Bayley, contrary to what the champion said to the audience.
Then after being vulnerable and honest about her intentions, Sasha can start talking about the heinousness of the attack. She can talk about how upset she was about losing the titles in the first place but how she wanted to make it up to Bayley by giving it her all. Before the matches, it seemed like the two tag team partners had reconciled after a testy SmackDown prior to Payback.
Sasha Banks can showcase why she’s a great promo
After talking about the heartbreak, Sasha can turn her attention to dismantling some of the half-truths and inaccuracies in Bayley’s heel promo. Both women are among the best promos in the company right now, and this can be a great opportunity or Sasha to get a hell of a babyface promo on Bayley, showing wrestling fans that she is on par with the best of them on the mic in her own right. She often gets the appropriate respect for her greatness in the ring, but I still feel like some fans don’t give her proper due for her promos. This is her chance to blow everyone away.
Have Banks show that fire, that intensity that made so many fans watching Raw in late 2016 during the Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair rivalry consider the Boss their favorite wrestler. The beatdown Bayley gave her? Sasha will repay that ten-fold. The fear Bayley had of Sasha winning the title and proving she was better than her former best friend? Sasha will take that title from Bayley – with interest. Those are the points to get across, succinctly but with power.
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley is a rivalry fans have been waiting years for. Even though they saw both women put on classics at TakeOver specials that will forever stand the test of time, their interest has not waned in seeing them feud again. And now with the heel and face roles reversed and with so much changed for both performers since then, the story will be unique without the need for detailed comparisons to their work in NXT, though the toying of callbacks will be aplenty.