Bayley has seen her wrestling character succeed at all ends of the spectrum throughout her career. Originally achieving stardom in NXT with her over the top, babyface character with streamers and hugs, that character didn't work as well on the main roster. Eventually, this year, Bayley transitioned to a heel persona on SmackDown and knocked it out of the park. The stereotypical babyface became a dastardly heel seemlessly, leading to one of the most memorable stories of 2020.
Character work wasn't always Bayley's strong suit, and she discussed how she struggled to grasp the portrayal of her original character in NXT while speaking on The New Day's podcast this week. What she revealed is that it was the legendary Dusty Rhodes who coached her into the success that she achieved.
"Everybody always talks about Dusty [Rhodes], but he just had that eye for finding what's special inside for everybody and blowing that up when it wasn't even something I thought could work. One of the first promos he had me do was with Summer [Rae]. It was literally just going up there and talking about Summer Rae - just stare at her and talk about her. So I just started talking about her and putting her over basically, and that was kind of how it came about," said Bayley.
She then discussed coming to the realization that it was time to try her hand as a heel.
"I think because I did that whole character for so long, and as much as it was me, it all felt kind of reality with my age, what I was doing with my life, and where I was with my career. I started as a super bubbly babyface; I was in awe to be there. I felt myself growing up from having these championship matches at NXT, to winning the title in Brooklyn, to kind of being the leader of the locker room once Sasha, Charlotte, and Becky got called up. It was a real gradual growth," Bayley said.
"It took a couple of years but I kept feeling like it was time for a change, and I just didn't want to be the same character for the rest of my career. I had felt like I had more to give. I didn't think they were ever going to give me that chance until I had this random thing where I hit Becky with a chair. The last Hell in a Cell [in 2019], I cried when I lost the title, and I was like, 'I can't come back the same person.' So I really fought for the change and for everything to kind of take my career in a different direction."
Even so, making the shift was frightening, as Bayley recalled.
"Honestly, it was the scariest but the best decision that I ever made. I'm so happy they allowed me to do that. In the first years of my WWE career, I dedicated it to the fans and gave them – I gave back to the little-kid-me in what I wanted and how I believed in my heroes. I wanted to be that for the kids. I feel like this end of my career is now about me," stated Bayley.
"Now, I'm going to do what I need to do to get to that next level. I can't be down here anymore, I need to get to the next level. In a way, I kind of feel like I don't care about them. I care about me and what I'm going to do to succeed. It kind of just fit perfectly in a crazy pandemic world that we're living in with no fans. It just fit perfectly for me when I shut off the fans. It was like, 'I don't need you guys anymore. I did everything I could.' Now, I need to focus on me, because now, I didn't have to pay attention to them. It was a focus on me because there's nobody in the arenas, just focus on my opponents, my character.0comments
"So it kind of felt like the perfect time, and it worked out for me this year where I could focus in on what I need to do to become a different performer, but also, make sure people see I'm up here."
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcript.