There are matches in pro wrestling history that can change a company, a fan’s perception, and a division for the better. Countless matches in WWE have turned the tides, bettered the company, and even saved it. Places like New Japan Pro Wrestling saw massive spikes in worldwide popularity when Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada faced each other for the first time on their biggest stage of Wrestle Kingdom 11. In WWE, and more specifically NXT, there was one match that seemed to awaken everyone as to what women’s wrestling can be. While there were fans outside the WWE that were very aware, WWE diehards didn’t totally understand it yet due to how they were treated. Enter Sasha Banks and Bayley.
It was not only an important match to NXT but one that was a true awakening for an entire evolution in the biggest wrestling company in the world. 5 years later, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn remains the greatest women’s match and one of the biggest matches in WWE history. Here’s a closer look.
The Feud: A Boss vs. A Hugger
Sasha Banks was the NXT Women’s Champion and the actual definition of her “Legit Boss” gimmick. Her attitude carried plenty of demands and a whole lot of swagger. On the opposing side was Bayley, the ultimate underdog who fans adored and all she wanted to do was give out hugs. It was a perfect mix, with a classic bullying angle from Banks to Bayley being the main feud as Banks didn’t think there was ever going to be a way that Bayley walked away as a champion. With the fans by her side heading into the biggest match of her life on NXT’s biggest event to that point, the stage was set for greatness to go down between Banks and Bayley. And they would deliver.
The Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship
There’s something to be said about magic and professional wrestling. On Aug. 22, 2015, magic went down in the ring when Sasha Banks and Bayley came to blows for the NXT Women’s Championship. This was expected to be another special match in a line of eye-opening women’s bouts on NXT TakeOver’s. But on the big stage of Brooklyn inside the Barclays Center, Banks and Bayley changed history once and for all. This came one month after WWE realized it was time to change the way the main roster women were treated as Stephanie McMahon welcomed Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Banks to the main roster. It was a time of change, and this was the exclamation point they needed to mark that change.
A match full of grit and the ultimate determination of a challenger is what made this so special. Banks and Bayley told the story they wanted and the Brooklyn crowd ate it up. The action was perfect, as the match is highlighted by an incredible reverse frankensteiner from the top rope by Bayley. The finish came as she reset her ponytail and hit a Bayley to Belly to win the match and prove her biggest doubter wrong as she was the new NXT Women’s Champion.
The Legacy: The True Spark Of The Evolution
Change. WWE long had a problem of changing for the better and many will say they still do. However, when it comes to WWE and women in their company, they finally changed. And thanks to this match, that was brighter than ever. Every evolution, revolution (whatever you may prefer) needs something to really spark it into full gear. For WWE to even realize a change was needed, #GiveDivasAChance had to trend on Twitter. Then had to be WWE moving up three of the Four Horsewomen. Finally, it was this match that awoke the evolution once and for all and put it into full effect. The signature moment and match as Bayley and Sasha Banks tore the house down in unbelievable fashion.
The legacy this match has is historic. While some may look to the first-ever women’s WrestleMania main event as the gigantic moment of the evolution, it was this match that established itself as WWE’s greatest women’s match and the one that will carry on into history to be looked back at as the turning moment. Now, people can complain as to what WWE has done since, but for the better, it helped the women earn the respect that was long overdue.
And five years later, it’s still one of the most beautiful matches and moments WWE has produced in a long time.
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