WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
Civil war consumes the Four Horsewomen: How WWE's key quartet reignited the women's division
New persona for Bayley signals fresh injection of life into women's division
Last Updated: 04/09/19 10:26am
The WWE women’s division dominated the talking points in pro wrestling this week - and all because of the return to power of the Four Horsewomen.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch were all over both the broadcast of Raw and SmackDown and the online discussions of both. After a spell on the sidelines for Banks, the quartet are very much back with a bang.
Bayley showed a fresh, steely edge by hitting first Lynch and then Flair with a steel chair and delivering a promo on SmackDown which raised eyebrows across the board.
It was a promo which pointed to a cognitive dissonance on Bayley's part but was also a reflection of the blurring of the lines which, while commonplace in wrestling, is something that can be hugely effective on even the smartest of fans.
The initial reaction to the chair shots on Raw was to cheer, and even for a 'Yes' chant to break out, before the arena filled with boos as Bayley and Banks slowly made their exit up the ramp.
Then on SmackDown the chair shots were again cheered, and then the crowd began to chant for Becky Lynch. Who's the face and who's the heel? Who is in the right and who's in the wrong? Arena crowds don't seem to know, and it's creating a fascinating situation.
It's been a great week for WWE's women's division and it feels like this is just the start of what could be something very special. A key element of this (admittedly somewhat brief so far) success is that all four of the Horsewomen have developed characters.
Lynch is the self-styled 'Man' who has a messiah complex and believes - perhaps somewhat correctly - that she is the one that has elevated the division to new heights. Flair is selfish and nepotistic but also very aware of her heritage and the opportunities her name have given her in the business.
Banks is unquestionably manipulative, but that trait has not shown itself yet, and so far her return to WWE has simply been about re-asserting her position as the alpha female of the division, and dethroning Lynch to do so.
And then there's Bayley; owner of by far the most changed persona this week and someone with whom there now exists a huge amount of interest. It's been a subtle tweak, too; yes, there is little subtlety in hitting someone with a chair but this new character isn't that different to the one she has been for years.
Bayley still wants to be the role model to the fans, she still wants to elevate the women's division and she still wants to give feature matches and the spotlight to competitors who have perhaps previously been overlooked.
But it's being down with an extreme disconnection from reality and a sense of loyalty to Banks which, while an admirable trait and one befitting a role model, is hardly something to look up to when it manifests itself in extreme violence.
She is the heel who does not realise she is a heel. She is not reliant on the 'cheap heat' of a hometown insult or more directly villainous actions. When she talks of being a role model to young fans the implication is that their parents are not being said role models. When she talks of her loyalty to Banks it is as though she is talking of a great deed, of which your average WWE fan has no concept.
There are shades of Kurt Angle's early heel work in play here, as well as a knowing acknowledgement of the criticism Bayley faced for her earnest babyface promos which constantly referenced the fact that she had been a WWE fan as a youngster.
From this point, there is so much they can do with these four. Flair and Banks have title matches against, respectively, Bayley and Lynch at Clash of Champions on September 15. In the space of a week, those two matches have become the most hotly-anticipated on the card.
The pay-per-view for October is Hell In A Cell - what price a fatal four-way between all four with one of, or maybe even both, singles titles on the line? Or maybe a two-against-two in which Flair and Lynch are forced to formed an alliance which would be deeply uneasy considering the brutality of their feud over the past year.
Survivor Series is after that, and again will host the champion-against-champion matches. Lynch missed out last year due to her Nia Jax-inflicted injury, with Flair taking her place against Ronda Rousey. That storyline, as well as the perennial Bayley-Banks rematch, is one which could be revived. The possibilities are almost endless.
If WWE want to really build up to something special, they should map out storylines for these four which lead all the way to next year's WrestleMania.
If it is written and built correctly, the tale could be told of the Four Horsewoman gradually putting their differences aside and uniting to face a common enemy - the four-woman group led by Rousey.
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It's a long shot, and a lot would need to happen between now and then but imagine it: the WWE Four Horsewomen against Rousey's MMA Four Horsewomen in a steel cage at WrestleMania. It wouldn't get much bigger than that.
But such matters are a long way off. The women's division is red-hot again in WWE, and there will be plenty of opportunities for intrigue in the coming weeks and months as the Four Horsewoman's personalities come to the fore.
The Four Horsewomen are back, and while they might be in a state of civil war, their importance to WWE has this week been enormously reinforced.