Bayley made her return to the WWE on the September 18 edition of Monday Night Raw. The former Raw women's champion came out following Nia Jax's win over Alexa Bliss, and she asserted herself alongside Sasha Banks against the Samoan Superstar.
The crowd popped for Bayley, which is a good thing. With any luck, she will now reconnect with the WWE faithful.
Bayley's recent fall from grace had little to do with anything she did, but more because of how she's been booked. This came as no surprise to anyone paying attention; fans are accustomed to seeing the WWE fumbling to the point of dropping when it comes to the talent.
However, for Bayley, it was a bit surprising.
She is squeaky-clean, and that traditionally doesn't always get over. But she was successful in NXT, and that success translated to the main roster when she came in. Fans loved her from the start and wanted nothing more than to see her every week alongside her Women's Revolution cohorts.
Bayley fit right in. Of course she did; she's one of The Four Horsewomen, and fans have always respected that. But somewhere along the way, she lost her way.
Bayley's pure-as-snow personality began to come across as a bit too pure. She seemed incapable of having an edge, which became obvious when she faced Bliss in a Kendo Stick on a Pole Match back on April 30. That was a great opportunity for the WWE to give Bayley some teeth, to show fans that she could turn the volume up and go to the next level.
But that never happened.
Instead of Bayley's character evolving, she lost a step. Insisting on hugging everyone she came into contact with didn't help her cause either; what seemed cute at one time suddenly seemed too silly for anyone to believe.
Fun and perky works in small doses. But when it comes to Bayley, the WWE is all-in every time she's on TV. That's who she is, and that's how she's booked. The likelihood of that changing anytime soon is probably slim.
Bayley is Bayley, and that's just how it is.
However, now that she's back in the mix, it's a prime opportunity for her to finally get back on track. Fans that grew tired of her booking must give her a chance and remember why they fell in love with her to begin with. Bayley is a sugar-sweet babyface, and that has worked against her, but she's also dedicated. She loves the business, and this is all she's ever wanted to do.
WWE fans respect Superstars with heart. This is why The Miz may be a top heel, but he's also cheered and given props by fans that appreciate his work. They know he loves what he does, and he does it with more heart than many of his peers.
Bayley's cartoonish exterior screams 1980's WWF, but that's part of her charm. It's surely not done just to give her a hook, or to endear her to old-school fans. It's done because, at her core, Bayley is an old-school fan herself and it's been her dream to be a WWE Superstar.
Despite how many times that fact has been stated, fans must remember that Bayley is the real deal. This is not a gimmick for her.
She's been compared to John Cena, and with good reason. Like Cena, Bayley has never changed, and she continues to be who she's always been. She has lost a step, that much is true. But judging from the reaction she got on Raw, Bayley still has that underlying connection to fans.
As long as that is the case, then she still has a chance to succeed once again. That success may come on September 24, when she steps into the ring with Emma, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Bliss for the Raw Women's Championship.
She could walk away as the new champion. Or the WWE could pull a swerve and Banks will turn on her. Or perhaps an even bigger swerve could happen and Bayley could turn heel. Anything could happen, but if that anything results in an unrealistic character change for Bayley, then it would be the wrong move.
Bayley will weather the storm, and she will come out better than ever before. Maybe she already has.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio. Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com