WWE: Bayley Iconic Matches/WWE: Sasha Banks Iconic Matches
Starring Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke.
Three matches each featuring two of the biggest female stars in WWE today, charting their rise from NXT to the top of the tree on the main roster.
In the era of the WWE Network providing instant access to almost every wrestling match ever performed, it’s always slightly odd to look at a match compilation DVD. These discs, by their nature, can only be aimed at casual fans who might pick up the occasional DVD, but aren’t big enough fans to shell out a tenner a month to watch the rest of the product. Either that, or they exist to pull in people who’ve never watched a moment of wrestling before, with the hope of enticing them into the world of WWE fandom.
If the latter idea is the goal, then WWE could do a lot worse than these two compilations. Each features three matches from the back catalogue of the star on the cover, with two NXT bouts and one from their main roster careers. Fittingly, given their status as two of the Four Horsewomen of WWE, each woman looms large on the other collection.
The Bayley disc opens with perhaps the greatest women’s wrestling match of all time – her clash with Banks from the NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn event from 2015. It’s a violent and emotional odyssey of a wrestling match, enlivened by a crowd who were desperate to see Bayley finally win the NXT Women’s Championship after months of attempting to take down Banks, who was an absurdly arrogant heel champion at the time. The match is a perfect combination of enormous high spots, complex storytelling and pure emotion.
There’s less emotion in the second match on the Bayley disc, which is her defence of the title against Nia Jax at the London NXT TakeOver event in Decmber 2015. It’s a battle based around psychology, as Bayley has to work out a strategy to take down her much larger foe, but lacks the outright excitement value of the first bout. The same is true of the show-closer, which is Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair and Dana Brooke from WWE Battleground in 2016. The match, in which Bayley appears as a mystery partner for Banks, is underwhelming, but significant only as Bayley’s main roster debut.
Over on the Banks disc, proceedings begin with a trip back to February 2015, in a fatal 4-way match featuring all of NXT’s Four Horsewomen. It’s a fun, fast-paced clash that gives all four of the women a chance to shine in a big way, which makes it a near-perfect way in for those unfamiliar with the female wrestling scene in WWE.
The second bout is certainly not for wrestling novices, as it’s the 30-minute iron man match between Banks and Bayley from NXT TakeOver: Respect. For fans, though, it’s a hugely impressive match and it features Banks turning the heel dial right up to 11, making Bayley’s biggest fan cry in the front row due to her brutal treatment of her idol. It’s a cranked-up tale of wrestling drama, building to a tense and explosive finish.
Thankfully, the Banks disc keeps the momentum going and culminates in a blockbuster WWE Women’s Championship match from a July 2016 episode of Raw, in which Banks challenges Charlotte Flair for the belt. It’s a tremendous TV bout that has everything anyone could ever want from Banks as a babyface, including a very entertaining nod to her hero, Eddie Guerrero. The disc could have featured just about any match between Charlotte and Banks from 2016, but this first title bout feels like a logical choice.
For fans who have already seen these matches before, there’s very little that’s new in these discs. There’s no new commentary from either Banks or Bayley and only minimal promo packages to contextualise the wrestling in story. However, for those new to these two women, it’s a great primer on just how good both of these all-time great female talents can be.
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.